Teaching American History

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Virginia 2008 Grant Abstracts
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Grantee Name:Hampton City Schools, VA
Project Name:Communication and Citizenship in a Changing World: The Collision, Conflict, and Cooperation of Cultures throughout American History
Project Director:Irma Dietz
Number of Teachers Served:120
Number of School Districts Served:1
Number of Students Served:22,799
Grade Levels:2-8
Partners:National Council for History Education, Virginia Historical Society, Council of America's First Freedom, Hampton University Museum, Adam Thoroughgood House Museum, Old Dominion University
Topics:Early American history - post-Civil War period (to 1877); Post-Civil War to post-World War I; World War I - present
Methods:Technology camps, study trips, reflective collaboration sessions, summer colloquia, classroom outreach programs

Hampton City Schools serve two large military installations, a minority majority student population (59% African American), and an English as a Second Language (ESL) population that has tripled in the last 10 years. In addition, the majority of district teachers lack a U.S. history endorsement. To remedy this situation, the district will provide a content-rich professional development program that aligns with state assessment and curriculum standards. The project will focus on elementary and middle school teachers who lack history content as part of their teacher licensure. The project will offer three study trips and summer colloquia to improve teachers' content knowledge of specific historical periods. Visits to the National Archives and the National Museum of the American Indian are included. In addition, an American history technology camp and classroom outreach programs will enhance teachers' application of content knowledge to classroom practices. The grant will also include instruction on the incorporation of reading strategies into the teaching of history. The entire span of American history will be covered and presented with the first two years focusing on the Early American period through the Civil War and the last year focusing on the Civil War to the present. Some of the historical topics covered will be the early explorers, American Indians, European immigrants, the Westward movement, World Wars I and II, and the Civil Rights movement. The project will examine closely the diversity and blending of cultures throughout American history.

Grantee Name:Norton City Public Schools, VA
Project Name:Immersion in Traditional American History: Colonial Challenges, Civil War Conflicts, and Cold War Confrontations
Project Director:Barbara Willis
Number of Teachers Served:45
Number of School Districts Served:16
Number of Students Served:59,336
Grade Levels:5-6
Partners:University of Virginia, Virginia Historical Society, E-Learning Systems, Southwest Virginia Public Education Consortium
Topics:Colonial and Revolutionary America; the Civil War Era; the Cold War Era: America Post-1945
Methods:Annual history conference, field experiences, graduate courses, workshops

This project will serve one of the most financially needy regions in Virginia, where 32-69% of children are classified as "economically disadvantaged." In addition, a lack of training for history teachers and low achievement in the middle school grades emphasize the need for this grant. This project will improve the history content knowledge and pedagogical skills of teachers, create a sustainable cohort of American history specialists, and increase student knowledge and achievement as demonstrated through the state's Standards of Learning (SOLs) assessments. The project is modeled after the University of Virginia's "Math Specialists" program, in which teacher leaders with strong preparation in content and instruction support the professional growth of their fellow teachers. Specifically, the project will offer teachers annual history conferences, non-credit workshops, one-credit graduate courses, field experiences, and the on-line resources of WebLessons. Historical eras to be studied are the Colonial Era and the American Revolution, antebellum American society and the Civil War, and 20th Century urban, political, and diplomatic history. Some of the specific topics covered will be the Jamestown legacy, Pocahontas and Euro-Indian relations, 18th Century Virginia, battles and leaders of the Civil War, the Welfare State, the Great Society, America in Vietnam, the Civil Rights Movement, and the Cold War.

Grantee Name:Prince William County Schools, VA
Project Name:Freedom Rising: Teaching American History
Project Director:Kenneth Bassett
Number of Teachers Served:100
Number of School Districts Served:1
Number of Students Served:68,458
Grade Levels:6-7
Partners:National Council for History Education and the Bill of Rights Institute
Topics:Freedom, economic development, social and technological change, the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, a selection of Supreme Court cases
Methods:Summer colloquia, workshops, study groups

Prince William County schools serve a student population with large minority populations (22% African American and 22% Latino) and a significant number of students living below the poverty line (27%). In addition, most district teachers have reported completing less than two undergraduate courses in American history. To address these issues, the district has developed a TAH project based on the National Staff Development Council's standards for effective professional development that will improve teachers' knowledge of traditional American history and provide classroom support and resources. Each year the project will provide an intensive one-week summer colloquium, four one-day workshops with field study, and a series of bi-monthly study group meetings that will be followed by individual coaching sessions and practitioner demonstrations. The historical themes covered will include the following: Enlarging the Area of Freedom (1790-1877); Free Enterprise and Economic Development (since 1870); and Social and Technological Change in America (since 1920). Teachers also will examine closely the U.S. Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and selected Supreme Court cases. In addition, attention will be given to "Historical Habits of Mind" and reflective teaching practice, and all participants will receive a resource library.

Grantee Name:Waynesboro Public Schools, VA
Project Name:Critical Connections in American History
Project Director:Dr. Joel Hodson
Number of Teachers Served:25
Number of School Districts Served:4
Number of Students Served:14,089 +
Grade Levels:5-12
Partners:Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library, Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, Civil War Institute of Gettysburg College, University of Virginia's School-University Partnership
Topics:Year 1 - Native America and the Columbian Exchange; Year 2 - Immigration and the American Economic Miracle; Year 3 - Woodrow Wilson and American Internationalism
Methods:Summer institute, primary source seminars, historical site visits, reading program

This project will serve four school districts in Virginia that are economically disadvantaged small cities or rural counties. In fact, 40-47% of the students in the school districts qualify for free or reduced-price lunch. Academically, six of the participating schools are "in need of improvement" status, and almost 50% of the students scored in the "needs improvement" category on the history Standards of Learning (SOLs) tests. To address the many needs of the districts, the project will offer a professional development program that will strengthen teachers' content knowledge, provide instruction in the use of primary sources, and model best classroom practices and technological innovations. The project will offer teachers five-day summer institutes taught by eminent historians. Each institute will be reinforced by a year-long program of readings, two one-day discussion sessions, and visits to key historic sites, such as Jamestown, Gettysburg, and Washington, D.C. The history content examines 12 historical "intersections" of U.S. history that are aligned with the Virginia state historical studies framework. Four intersections will be studied each year of the project and include topics such as Native Americans, the American colonies, the Revolution, free and slave societies, industrialization, imperialism, the Depression, the World Wars, and globalization.

Last Modified: 08/14/2008