Teaching American History

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Wisconsin 2008 Grant Abstracts
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Grantee Name:Cooperative Educational Service Agency #12
Project Name:Great Lake, Great Nation, Great Stories
Project Director:Jonathan Pollack
Number of Teachers Served:30
Number of School Districts Served:24
Number of Students Served:24,732
Grade Levels:Grades 4-12
Partners:USDA Forest Service, National Park Service, Fish and Wildlife Service, Wisconsin Historical Society, University of Wisconsin, Friends of the Center Alliance, Ltd.
Topics:Year 1: Documents and Stories that Built our Nation; Year 2: Documents and Stories that Divided, Ignited, and United Our Nation; Year 3: Documents and Stories of Conflict and Cooperation in the 20th Century
Methods:Summer colloquia, school-year retreats, discussion board

Great Lake, Great Nation, Great Stories will provide sustained history content and professional development for 30 Grades 4-12 teachers from 24 northern Wisconsin school districts. The majority of the teachers come from small, remote, rural schools with multiple preparations each day and few opportunities to network or engage in dialogue with peers or historians. Project goals include (1) advancing teachers knowledge of history, (2) improving teacher's pedagogical understanding of American history content, (3) increasing student knowledge of American history content, and (4) developing a history education network of regional teachers and historians. Some of the expected outcomes are (1) teacher-developed history units and learning trunks of materials to support history content available to share with other teachers through the CESA #9/12 Instructional Media Center; (2) improved student understanding; (3) improved participation in National History Day; (4) some teachers earning National Board Certification in Social Studies/History; and (5) teachers sharing content and new teaching strategies with other teachers of other disciplines within their home school. At the heart of this project's design are one-week residential colloquia with content delivered by national and regional historians, master teachers, and National History Day staff. One and two-day fall and spring retreats and ongoing online model sharing will sustain the network through the school year. Content will rely on primary documents and will range from the French Voyageurs to the Cold War spies. Other content that will be covered includes the French and Indian War, the Treaty of Paris of 1763, the Revolutionary War, Jacksonian democracy, the Antebellum period, the Civil War, the Spanish-American War, World War I, World War II, and the Cold War.

Grantee Name:Milwaukee Public Schools
Project Name:Founding Documents
Project Director:Christina Flood
Number of Teachers Served:30
Number of School Districts Served:1
Number of Students Served:87,000
Grade Levels:Grades 5, 8
Partners:Gilder Lehrman, Cardinal Stritch University, Marquette University, Herrick Research, Bill of Rights Institute
Topics:Legacies of America's Founding, the Trails of Tears, sectional conflict, New Era/New Deal, the city in American history, the Monroe Doctrine, U.S.-Latin American relations, Presidential foreign policy
Methods:Summer seminars, online course accreditation, historic visits

About half of the questions on the Wisconsin Knowledge and Concepts Examination (WKCE) in history deal with U.S. history. The achievement gap between the district and state on the history sub-skill area is 18% at Grade 4 in 2006-07, 22% for Grade 8, and 41% at Grade 10. The greatest chance to make an impact in these scores will be in the fifth and eighth grades, the two other grades where U.S. history is taught. This project, Founding Documents, is designed to ensure improved levels of teaching and learning in U.S. history as a separate academic subject area. The main goal of the project is to raise student achievement by improving teachers' knowledge, understanding, and appreciation of traditional American history. The objectives of the project are to improve the content knowledge of U.S. history teachers allowing for them to offer effective instruction in their classrooms, improve the ability of U.S. history teachers to develop and use assessments aligned to district learning targets, and improve students learning and achievement in U.S. history at Grades 5 and 8. This project will engage teachers in a three-year long professional development experience that will increase their knowledge of traditional U.S. history by engaging them in content-rich materials themed around the founding documents. Course content will explore the following: Beginnings to 1607; Colonization, Settlement, and Communities (1607-1763); the Revolution and the new nation (1763-1815); expansion and reform (1801-1861); crisis and the union: Civil War and reconstruction (1850-1877); the development of modern America (1865-1920); modern America and the World Wars (1914-1945); contemporary America (1945-present).

Last Modified: 08/14/2008