Teaching American History

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Texas 2008 Grant Abstracts
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Grantee Name:Clear Creek Independent School District
Project Name:Journey to the Past: Using Museums, Primary Documents, World Wide Web, and Historiography to Explore the American Experience
Project Director:Felicia Andrews
Number of Teachers Served:50
Number of School Districts Served:1
Number of Students Served:35, 528
Grade Levels:Grades K-12
Partners:University of Houston - Clear Lake, Galveston Historical Foundation, Houston Museum of Natural History, San Jacinto College - South, San Jacinto Monument
Topics:Year 1: Regional and Texas history; Year 2: National history to the 1860s; Year 3: National history since the 1860s.
Methods:Technology workshops, history content workshops, museum work

The interviews conducted by the Clear Creek Independent School District with 39 teachers show a strong devotion to teaching but weak background in content. Only 10% had a graduate level history course; none have training in museums or archives. All have visited local museums but none have extended experience in East Coast museums. These teachers are ready to take full advantage of this project. The goal of this project is to increase the depth and scope of knowledge of teachers of traditional American history; develop a familiarity with some of the main locations where history happened; learn with artifacts how to incorporate the best pedagogical approaches of the nation's leading museums; and enlarge their ability to use online resources, technology components, and primary sources. First, a technology component will bring teachers and their students up to speed regarding the usefulness of online information resources and tools like digital cameras and PowerPoint. Second, a workshop component will be offered focusing on the content of traditional American history and the best practices and historiography of teaching. The third component of the project provides a national perspective and access to the invaluable teaching resources, with several days working at local museums and 12-day guided tours in Years 2 and 3 of many of America's most significant historic sites and most educationally effective museums. Course content will explore the Declaration of Independence, pluralism, republicanism, and national leaders who have impacted republicanism.

Grantee Name:Education Service Center Region 12
Project Name:Journey Through America's Past and Present
Project Director:Deborah Green
Number of Teachers Served:75
Number of School Districts Served:4
Number of Students Served:143,277
Grade Levels:Grades 5, 8, 11
Partners:Baylor University, Law Focused Education, Inc., Lyndon B. Johnson Library and Museum, Plimoth Plantation, National Humanities Center
Topics:Year 1: Colonial America and the American Revolution (1492-1783); Year 2: Founding of the American Republic (1783-1865); Year 3: From Past to Present-Modern America (1865-present)
Methods:Seminars, colloquia, travel study

This project will respond to Competitive Preference Priority 1 which includes four school districts, for which nine campuses that did not meet Adequate Yearly Progress standards. The students of these campuses all have low academic scores, low AP enrollments and low state standard accomplishments. Forty-eight percent of district history and social studies teachers are not certified, and the remaining 52% of the teachers are also in need of professional development. The goals of Journey Through America's Past and Present are to increase the number of "highly qualified" history teachers within ESC 12; allow access of teachers to an effective Learners Online curriculum; improve instruction that promotes quality learning and increased achievement among students; and encourage development and implementation of American history programs as a separate subject within one year of program implementation. This project is significant in that it will assist in the development of strategies for teaching American History that are directly aligned to the concepts, knowledge, and skills pertinent to the special linguistic needs of students. Course content will explore the following topics: Native American societies, colonial settlements, slavery, Benjamin Franklin, the Boston Massacre, the American Revolution, the Constitution, the Louisiana Purchase, the War of 1812, the Texas Declaration of Independence, the Trail of Tears, the Civil War, Texas statehood, World Wars I and II, the Red Scare, the Great Depression, and the Cold War Crisis, among other topics.

Grantee Name:Fort Worth Independent School District
Project Name:INSIGHT
Project Director:Tracy Marshall
Number of Teachers Served:35
Number of School Districts Served:1
Number of Students Served:80,336
Grade Levels:Grade 8
Partners:Texas Christian University, University of Texas at Arlington, National Archives and Records Administration, Amon Carter Museum, Texas Civil War Museum
Topics:Colonial America, Rise of Republicanism, Democratization of American Life, North & South
Methods:Seminars, summer institutes, lectures, workshops

The Fort Worth Independent School District (ISD) proposes a three-year plan to raise the achievement level of eight grade students in American history by implementing a research-based comprehensive plan to improve teachers' knowledge, understanding, and appreciation of traditional American history. As the largest public school district in Tarrant County, with a student population over 80,000 in grades pre-kindergarten through 12, it is among the fastest-growing public school district in the nation. Fort Worth ISD has a high poverty rate, with 70.6% of students eligible for free or reduced-price meals. Of the thirteen campuses targeted for funding, eight have not achieved Adequate Yearly Progress as defined by the No Child Left Behind Act and have been identified for improvement. Project INSIGHT (Investigation of Nation-Shaping Individuals Grant for History Teachers) will affect student understanding of American history by introducing a comprehensive professional development plan that encourages teachers to develop a deeper understanding of traditional American history as a separate subject matter within the core curriculum for the District. Teachers will receive extensive staff development from experts in historical content, including four full-day history lecture and investigation sessions per year as well as participation in the annual summer institute, which will emphasize on-site and hands-on historical research pertaining to key individuals and issues included in content development. Course content will explore the following topics: plantation culture, religious ferment, New England and the urban North, roots of colonial resistance, the Constitution, political democracy, economic democracy, social democracy, slavery, and the Civil War, among other topics.

Grantee Name:Houston Independent School District
Project Name:Texas Teachers Teaching American History (T3AH)
Project Director:Angela Miller
Number of Teachers Served:60
Number of School Districts Served:26
Number of Students Served:200,000
Grade Levels:Grades 5, 8, 11
Partners:Harris County Department of Education, University of Houston, Bill of Rights Institute, Museum of Fine Arts Houston
Topics:Year 1: Revolutions in American Foreign Relations; Year 2: Revolutions in Economic and Social Domestic Policy; Year 3: Revolutions in the Political Realm
Methods:Summer institutes, workshops, field-based learning experiences

The Houston Independent School District (HISD) is recognized as one of the leading urban school districts in the nation. HISD, with more than 200,000 students and encompassing 301 square miles of greater Houston, is the seventh largest public school system in the nation and the largest in Texas. The ethnic composition of the HISD student body is 59% Hispanic, 29% African-American, and 11% White and Asian/Pacific Islander. Seventy-eight percent (78%) is economically disadvantaged and 93% qualify for Title I funds. In addition, many teachers on the low-performing campuses lack background knowledge and certification to be highly qualified American history teachers. The T3AH project intends to increase student achievement in American history at targeted priority campuses; to provide a systematic approach to increase teacher content knowledge and the quality of American history instruction at those priority campuses; and to create strong vertical teams of teachers to support rigorous American history standards. Ten vertical teams of six American history teachers from priority schools/feeder patterns in both HISD and Harris County schools will form the grant cohort. This teacher cohort and assigned mentors will engage in systematic, on-going programs to improve teacher history content knowledge and instructional methods. Course content will explore the following: the Monroe Doctrine and Manifest Destiny, American ways of war, the Cold War, Americans and the Middle East, and Constitutional history.

Grantee Name:La Joya Independent School District
Project Name:Recent Immigrant & Special Education (RISE)
Project Director:Dagoberto Ramirez
Number of Teachers Served:40
Number of School Districts Served:1
Number of Students Served:26,000
Grade Levels:Grades K-12
Partners:South Texas College (STC), Museum of South Texas History, Pennsbury Manor, Independence National Historical Park, Hopewell Furnace National Historic Site, Hampton National Historic Site, Fort McHenry National Monument, Eisenhower National Historic Site
Topics:The American Revolution, the Constitution, the Civil War and Reconstruction, Westward Expansion, the Great Depression, World Wars I and II, the Cold War
Methods:Workshops, field studies

More than 50% of the adult population in the district lacks a high school or general equivalency diploma (GED), and even more (66%) of the adults over 18 have less than an eighth grade education. According to home language surveys, two-thirds of La Joya Independent School District (ISD) parents rate their ability to speak English as very poor or none at all. In addition, the district serves a student population that is 99.6% Hispanic with 47.7% of students classified as English Language Learners. In this challenging environment, this project will have a significant impact on teaching and learning in the district. The project will concentrate its efforts on the teachers of the seven identified schools where teachers teach traditional American history to recent immigrant students, as well as to special education students. The quality of designing and delivering American history instruction will be improved by the teachers' participation in project activities and will be evidenced as their lesson plans and instruction are transformed through the intensive workshops and field trips. Course content will explore the following: the principles of democracy, the American Revolution, the Constitutional period, Constitutional change in the 19th and 20th Centuries, issues and events leading to the Civil War, the Civil War, and Reconstruction.

Grantee Name:Pasadena Independent School District
Project Name:From Kings to Presidents
Project Director:Helen Drab
Number of Teachers Served:170
Number of School Districts Served:1
Number of Students Served:50,747
Grade Levels:Grades 5, 8, 11
Partners:Texas A & M University, Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, George Bush Presidential Library and Museum, Lyndon Baines Johnson Library and Museum
Topics:Founding of a Country (1607-1820); Managing a Country's Growth (1821-1877); Road to Becoming a World Power (1878-1918); Road to Becoming a Super Power (1919-present)
Methods:Multi-media sessions, seminars

A total of 50,747students attend Pasadena Independent School District (PISD). Fifty-three percent are English Language Learners or bilingual and, therefore, have limited or no generational American history knowledge. From Kings to Presidents will provide PISD with significant resources to develop, expand, and define in depth American history content for 305 secondary school classes and 144 elementary school classes. It will also allow PISD to immerse 170 teachers in American history content and to integrate the content into the district's curriculum. From Kings to Presidents will result in increased teacher knowledge and understanding of American history as they will be trained to use conceptual instruction that connects events, makes content relevant, and keeps history from turning into an exercise of date memorization. From Kings to Presidents will use the model "Concept-Based Curriculum and Instruction for the Thinking Classroom" as developed by H. Lynn Erickson. Course content will include the American Revolution and its antecedents, the emergence of the Supreme Court, Andrew Jackson, Westward Expansion, the Trail of Tears, the Missouri Compromise, states' rights, slavery, the Kansas- Nebraska Act, Woodrow Wilson, Martin Luther King, Dwight D. Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy, the Cold War, and the Korean War, among other topics.

Grantee Name:Region 14 Education Service Center
Project Name:Rights and Citizenship in the American Democracy
Project Director:Myra Rains
Number of Teachers Served:150
Number of School Districts Served:42
Number of Students Served:45,000
Grade Levels:Grades 5, 8, 11
Partners:McMurry University, McWhiney Research Foundation, Grace Museum
Topics:Year 1: Rights and Revolution; Year 2: Constitutional Rights; Year 3: Civil Rights
Methods:Summer institutes, workshops, content courses, field experiences

Attracting and retaining qualified teachers is a challenge for districts in this rural area. Fifth grade teachers in the region have an average of 11.7 college hours in U.S. history - less than half the number of hours required by the State Board for Educator Certification. The majority of the elementary teachers took only the basic freshman-level history courses required for a degree. Rights and Citizenship in the American Democracy will meet the needs of teachers at all levels and create a strong foundation for American history studies. Project partners help teachers at all grade levels to connect vital concepts in the nation's history to create relevance as twenty-first century students study the history of America. The collegial network will allow teachers from small districts, who often make up the entire history department for their district, to connect with teachers across the region. The project's learning community will significantly improve teachers' knowledge, understanding, and appreciation of American history through sustained, on going, content-specific staff development. Teachers will become active learners engaged in research, in organizing materials and creating products to teach other educators and, ultimately to use in the classroom. Course content will explore the following: the War for Independence, the abolitionist movement, the Industrial Revolution, the Constitution, and the Civil Rights Act of 1964, among other topics.

Grantee Name:San Antonio Independent School District
Project Name:Creating Vertical Teams in U.S. History
Project Director:Amy Baker
Number of Teachers Served:100
Number of School Districts Served:1
Number of Students Served:11,790
Grade Levels:Grades K-12
Partners:Trinity University, Alamo and Witte Museums, College Board Regional Office, KLRN Public Television, Teacher's Curriculum Institute
Topics:Year 1: The Birth of a Nation: Colonization and Revolution (18th Century); Year 2: The Growth of a Nation: Expansion and Civil War (19th Century); Year 3: The Transformation of a Nation: To a World Power and World at War (20th Century)
Methods:Colloquia, Saturday seminars, AP training, field experiences

San Antonio Independent School District (SAISD) has a culturally diverse student population of mainly Hispanic and African-American students with 93% receiving free or reduced-price meals. In order to positively impact the academic achievement of SAISD students in regular, Pre-AP U.S. history, and AP U. S. history, teachers will study the people, ideas, events, and turning points that contributed to the development of the American experience. It will increase teachers' knowledge of how to teach writing at a higher level using document-based questions in American history, as per the College Board requirements. This project will establish a vertical team of teachers in middle and high school to collaborate on strategies to improve teaching instruction and academic achievement in traditional American History across grade levels. During each year, teachers will read narrative history; analyze primary sources; meet academic historians, master classroom history teachers, and specialists in history education; conduct research; visit historic sites; practice history's "Habits of the Mind;" and learn how to use exemplary teaching techniques. This project will improve the content knowledge of teachers of traditional American history courses in the SAISD as measured by a pre and post-test on the AP US History College level test. The project will also improve academic achievement in U.S. history as measured by the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (TAKS) in Grades 8 and 11. Course content will include the Mayflower Compact, the House of Burgesses, the Fundamental Orders of Connecticut, the Proclamation of 1763, the Declaration of Independence, Andrew Jackson, the Mexican-American War, the Compromise of 1850, the Lincoln-Douglas Debates (1858), the Civil War, World Wars I and II, the Marshall Plan, and the Vietnam War, among other topics.

Last Modified: 08/14/2008