Teaching American History

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Virginia 2009 Grant Abstracts
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Grantee Name:Bedford County Public Schools
Project Name:American History in International Context
Project Director:Joel Hodson
Funding:$743,399 over 3 years
Number of Teachers Served Overall:25
Number of School Districts Served:7
Grade Levels:K-12
Partners:Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library, Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, Civil War Institute of Gettysburg College
Topics:Year 1: Native America and the Columbian Exchange; The Atlantic System and the American Colonies; The American Revolution in Global Perspective; the American Republic
Year 2: Immigration and the American Economic Miracle; Free versus Slave Societies; Industrialization, Urbanization and the Rise of the Consumer Society; Imperialism at Home and Abroad
Year 3: Woodrow Wilson and American Internationalism; The Depression and World War II; The Cold War and Civil Rights; Globalization
Methods:Summer institutes, workshops, site visits, coaching

American History in International Context is a professional development project for history teachers in seven underserved Virginia school systems within the Bedford Consortium in the mountains of western Virginia. Four districts in the consortium have not met their Adequate Yearly Progress goals, and five of the consortium's 49 schools have been designated as being in need of improvement. Each year, teachers in the program will participate in a 5-day summer institute that incorporate lectures, topical sessions specific to various grade levels, and lesson plan development; a program of structured readings; two day-long workshops; an individual project such as a scholarly paper or book review; at least four school-level discussion groups; and a visit to a key historic site. Teachers will also receive individual attention from an instructional coach and be eligible to receive stipends and six credits toward a master’s degree. A single cohort of 25 teachers will participate in all three years of the program. The unifying theme of American History in International Context is the interplay of domestic and international factors in traditional American history, with attention to how those factors led to the founding of our nation and its emergence as a world leader. Participating teachers will learn how historic documents, artifacts, and narratives can be used to interest students and how to integrate technology in history instruction. In addition, they will learn methods to enhance student literacy, analytical skills, and interpretive skills. The program will create an enduring community of teacher historians within the region and will promote teachers' continued independent study and scholarship.

Grantee Name:Charlottesville City Schools
Project Name:America on the World Stage
Project Director:Andrew Tyler Mink
Funding:$1,694,372 over 5 years
Number of Teachers Served Overall:180
Number of School Districts Served:5
Grade Levels:K-12
Partners:University of Virginia, University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill, American Historical Association, Organization of American Historians, Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, Mount Vernon, Jamestowne, Library of Virginia, National Archives and Records and Administration, U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum
Topics:Year 1: The Declaration of Independence, Constitutional Convention, Political Debates of a Young Nation
Year 2: Slavery, Returning the West to the World, Civil War, Emancipation, and Reconstruction
Year 3: Urbanization and Industrialization in the 19th Century; the U. S. in the World Wars
Year 4: The Civil Rights Movement, Migration History, Social Conflicts of the 1960s and 70s
Year 5: Race and Citizenship; the Great Depression; the Cold War and Global Hegemony
Methods:Field excursions, history labs, coaching, teacher network, turnkey training

America on the World Stage will be implemented by five public school divisions in central Virginia, four of which have not met Adequate Yearly Progress goals. These districts serve an increasingly diverse population of learners in rural and urban areas, including many students whose first language is not English. The professional development design for the program offers several levels of participation to meet varying needs among teachers. The design features two 8-week instructional modules (Grades 5-12) and one 4-week module (Grades K-4) during the school year. Each module will incorporate hands-on history labs, curriculum analysis, refinement and publication of history lessons, and delivery of in-service training by participants. During a weeklong summer field excursion, 12 teachers will digitally document historical site visits. The program will serve up to 180 teacher participants over the life of the grant, including a cohort of 30 pre-identified teacher scholars who will receive special training and work independently to create digital supplements to specified history textbooks. Preservice teachers from the University of Virginia will join the teacher scholar cohort each spring. The framing lens for the program will be the Organization of American Historians America on the World Stage: A Global Approach to U.S. History, which will explore global and international perspectives on the American history narrative. Teachers will learn about inquiry-based instructional strategies for developing literacy and historical inquiry skills. In addition, they will learn to incorporate multimedia tools and resources into the curriculum. America on the World Stage will create an online professional network and library of academic and instructional materials created by participants.

Grantee Name:Newport News Public School Board
Project Name:Voices of a Nation
Project Director:Sybil Young
Funding:$1,655,084 over 5 years
Number of Teachers Served Overall:200
Number of School Districts Served:1
Grade Levels:4-12
Partners:National Council for History Education, Virginia Historical Society, Organization of American Historians, Smithsonian American Art Museum, College of William and Mary, Hampton History Museum
Topics:Creating a Nation: 1600-1800; Testing a Nation: 1800-1898; Influencing a World: 1898-2000
Methods:Workshops, colloquia, technology institutes, field trips, graduate coursework, Professional Learning Community

Newport News, near the Chesapeake Bay in southeastern Virginia, is a high-need district with achievement gaps across all school levels and between student subgroups. Voices of a Nation will focus on vertical aspects of teaching U.S. history with the aim of creating a more cohesive program. Cohort members will commit to participating in activities, most of which will also be open to other teachers who have a U.S. history teaching assignment. Activities will include lectures, seminars, and Professional Learning Team (PLT) meetings during the school year, supplemented by summer graduate courses and technology institutes. Annual cohorts will have 40 teachers in Grades 4 to 12. Each cohort will become a Professional Learning Community and will break into four vertical PLTs of teachers from schools that feed into each other. The theme of Voices of a Nation is embedded in its name. Although all topics and eras will be covered each year, activities will vary and involve different partners. PLTs will meet several times to chat with professional historians, share teaching ideas, review primary sources, create collections of resources, discuss differentiating instruction, or conduct other activities; all activities will be documented online. Each PLT will complete three products: a curriculum map of one U.S. history strand from the state standards, a digital resource such as a SMART board lesson or virtual field trip, and one product to be determined by the team.

Grantee Name:Norton City Public Schools
Project Name:American Crises, American Solutions: A History Specialist Model for Traditional American History
Project Director:Barbara Willis
Funding:$1,666,667 over 5 years
Number of Teachers Served Overall:54
Number of School Districts Served:17
Grade Levels:K-12
Partners:University of Virginia
Topics:Year 1: The Age of Jefferson
Year 2: Reconstruction
Year 3: The Progressive Era
Year 4: The Great Society
Year 5: Mentoring

The American Crises, American Solutions districts are in far southwest Virginia, a rural, mountainous region. In 2008, 10 of the districts failed to make Adequate Yearly Progress or had accreditation problems. Many teachers have inadequate history preparation or teach on provisional certificates. Modeled on Virginia's successful Math Specialist Program, this project will prepare teachers for history specialist certificates and ready them for master's programs. Each year, participants will participate in three 1-credit courses that deliver both content knowledge and pedagogical training. A single cohort of 27 teachers will be trained, and each of them will mentor one additional teacher during Years 4 and 5. The cohort will include teachers considered the most promising from their districts, and mentees will be teachers who need extra support. American Crises, American Solutions aims to create teacher-leaders who can continue in the classroom themselves while they inspire, encourage, and move their colleagues toward effective instruction. These teachers will explore four eras of reform, using historiography to understand both the content and the way historians have written about it over time. Strategies will focus on incorporating local history to make history relevant and interesting for students, constructing lessons and units that differentiate for different abilities and include appropriate assessment, and learning how to teach colleagues. The project intends to create a replicable model, a sustainable cohort of American history specialists, and annual conferences for about 250 history educators from across the state, who will have an opportunity to be exposed to grant activities.

Grantee Name:Richmond City Public Schools
Project Name:Teaching American History Academy II
Project Director:Thelma Williams-Tunstall
Funding:$1,470,288 over 5 years
Number of Teachers Served Overall:60
Number of School Districts Served:1
Grade Levels:6-12
Partners:University of Richmond, Organization of American Historians, Virginia Union University, U.S. Department of State’s Office of the Historian, Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia State Library, Virginia State Historical Society, American Civil War Center at Historic Tredegar, Virginia Holocaust Museum
Topics:Year 1: 6th grade history: Colonization to Reconstruction (1607-1877)
Year 2: 7th grade history: Gilded Age to Turn of the 21st Century (1877-2000)
Year 3: 11th grade history: Colonization to Turn of the 21st Century (1607-2000)
Year 4: 6th grade history: Colonization to Reconstruction (1607-1877)
Year 5: 7th grade history: Gilded Age to Turn of the 21st Century (1877-2000)

This capital city district serves students who are overwhelmingly minority and who receive special education services at a higher than average rate (20 percent). The district has never made Adequate Yearly Progress, and five middle schools and three high schools are underperforming. The Teaching American History Academy II (TAHA II) will offer two 3-year professional development pathways: (1) the master’s track, in which 15 teachers will complete courses worth 30 graduate hours, plus workshops, an annual 1-day field trip, and an annual 4- to 7-day summer trip; and (2) the professional development (PD) track, which will provide 50 to 60 teachers with 100 or more hours of training in meetings during the school year and a 4- to 7-day summer trip followed by a 3-day institute (15 PD track teachers will participate in extra technology training). When cohorts are recruited, priority will be given to history and special education teachers who teach American history in the underperforming schools. TAHA II will focus on building collegiality among teaching colleagues and university historians. History content and instructional strategies will be delivered by historians, museum curators, and National Park historians, and retired mentor teachers. The master’s track teachers will earn a master's of education in curriculum and instruction for history and social studies from the University of Richmond; professional development track teachers will prepare curriculum materials to be posted on the project Web site. Over the course of the project, leaders anticipate that several teachers will attend and present at regional and national conferences.

Grantee Name:Virginia Beach City Public Schools
Project Name:Shaping America’s Identity and Legacy (SAIL) Into History
Project Director:Mary Ann Matika
Funding:$1,664,375 over 5 years
Number of Teachers Served Overall:100
Number of School Districts Served:1
Grade Levels:4-5
Partners:University of Virginia, Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, Colonial Williamsburg, Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation, Pamplin Historical Park, Chrysler Museum
Topics:Years 1, 3, and 5: Exploration, Colonization, Slave Trade, Revolutionary War, New Nation
Years 2 and 4: Civil War, Progressivism, World Wars I and II, Contemporary America
Methods:Summer academies, history days, mentoring, online collaboration

Virginia Beach is located in southeastern Virginia, about 200 miles south of Washington, D.C. Although none of its schools are classified as being in need of improvement, several elementary schools are performing below expectations on social studies assessments, and teachers in these schools will be targeted by SAIL for recruitment. Annual professional development activities will include a 10-day summer academy that includes historical site visits, four “history days” during the school year that feature lectures and activities, independent book studies supplemented by online book discussions, mentoring associated with the Lesson Study approach, and online collaboration. Because SAILargets elementary school teachers who have been prepared as generalists rather than historians, program activities will emphasize best practices in history education, and 10 participants will be selected as master educators who will mentor and train other teachers in the district. SAIL will serve 100 teachers in four cohorts of 25 each, with each cohort receiving two years of history instruction and pedagogical training, beginning with one cohort in Year 1. The unifying theme for SAIL will be the considerable contributions that “ordinary” men and women have made over the course of American history.

Strategies for developing students' literacy and historical thinking skills as they interact with historical fiction and nonfiction will be aligned with the SAIL blueprint, a description of an ideal elementary school history classroom that is based on the Concerns-Based Adoption model. The program will sustain a community of practice by creating an online workspace where teachers can collaborate and share student artifacts and lessons plans.

Last Modified: 09/10/2009