Teaching American History

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Utah 2008 Grant Abstracts
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Grantee Name:Davis School District
Project Name:History Underscores Belief
Project Director:Chris Hall
Number of Teachers Served:105
Number of School Districts Served:1
Number of Students Served:65,000
Grade Levels:Grades K-12
Partners:Weber State University, Utah Historical Society, Center for Civic Education
Topics:Year 1: U.S. and American Indians relations; Year 2: Inventions; Year 3: 20th Century immigration issues
Methods:Professional learning teams, lectures, field studies

This project offers the district's teachers opportunities for continuous support and collegiality with mentors, content experts, area partners, and their peers. The project's goals include assisting teachers to improve their historical knowledge and perspective, as well as historical analysis and interpretation skills, and training teachers on how to purposely frame U.S. history content in order to challenge and cultivate their students in ways that they may acquire historical knowledge and perspective. In the end, this project will produce a policies and procedures manual (for purposes of replication), an evaluation toolkit (containing all forms, instruments, etc), a project website (including audio podcasts of lectures, videos of trainings, and teacher research reports) and national and local publications and presentations. In addition, the project will immerse teachers in college-level history content related to the theme "Ordinary People, Extraordinary Events!" This theme is based on the premise that people make history, and history, in turn, makes the people. Historical topics to be studied include mass movements, inventions, known and unknown heroes, documents, court cases, ties to current events and local history, and the role of youth in American history.

Grantee Name:Washington County School District
Project Name:Utah Teaching Academy for American History
Project Director:Chris Snodgress
Number of Teachers Served:72
Number of School Districts Served:1
Number of Students Served:25,000
Grade Levels:Grades 4-5
Partners:Southern Utah University, University of Utah, Dixie State College
Topics:Year 1: Foundation of Our Nation; Year 2: Impact of Expansion; Year 3: Rights of the People
Methods:Summer institutes, study groups, mentoring

Most district fourth and fifth grade teachers lack the content knowledge and instructional skills necessary to implement the new Utah Elementary History and Life Skills Core requirements or teach history in ways that are engaging or meaningful to their diverse students. The district also faces the challenges of having some of the nation's largest class sizes and staffing at least one new school each year. In order to address the needs of its large, diverse population, Washington County School District has created this professional development project to develop school-based Learning Communities of fourth and fifth grade teachers who are skilled at teaching traditional American history as a separate subject and in ways that are meaningful and engaging for a wide spectrum of young learners. Priority for participation will be given to teachers who are not Highly Qualified or teaching in schools identified for improvement. Recognizing that it takes significant time, ongoing support, and individual attention in order to change classroom practice, the project will offer over 225 hours of services each year. The project's content will explore the essential questions and enduring understandings of traditional U.S. history outlined in the Utah Core requirements. Year 1 will focus on the colonial era, the Revolution, and the Civil War; Year 2 will focus on Westward Expansion and the experience of Native Americans; and Year 3 will focus on suffrage, civil rights, and Latin American relations.

Last Modified: 08/14/2008