Teaching American History

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Massachusetts 2010 Grant Abstracts

Grantee Name:

Arlington Public Schools

Project Name:

Freedom and Rights in the American Mosaic Experience

Project Director:

Kerry Dunne

Funding for Years 1-3:

$999,990

Number of Teachers Served Overall:

100

Number of School Districts Served:

6

Grade Levels:

K-12

Partners:

Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, WebLessons, Teachers Curriculum Institute, Gilder Collection History Museum, Framingham State College

Topics:

Creating a Government of Laws, Not Men; Creating an American Identity; Conflict and Compromise; Origins of America; Shaping America

Methods:

Colloquia, workshops, graduate courses, on-line lessons, field studies

In this eastern Massachusetts consortium, needs assessments have indicated that 115 of 800 social studies teachers have not attained highly qualified status and that, overall, students have scored below the national average on the National Assessment of Educational Progress. The project activities will feature six history immersion institutes per year, a 2-day summer colloquium, 18 hours of face-to-face historical encounter sessions with Framingham State College professors and instructional support. At the end of each month, grade-level teams will meet to integrate content and teaching strategies. The professional development will consist of lectures and guided readings by expert historians, immersion in the Gilder Collection History Museum's extensive repository of rare original manuscripts and materials, and guided field experiences at some of Massachusetts' most significant historic sites, studying how the area's history has been affected by national events. Cohort 1 (Years 1-3) will involve 50 American history teachers in Grades K-7, and Cohort 2 (Years 3-5) will include an additional 50 teachers in Grades 8-12. Year 3 will be a transition as Cohort 1 mentors Cohort 2 on learning strategies, instructional materials and content information. The themes will explore the documents that established the framework for the United States and how that framework had an impact on key turning points, individuals and events. The project will address a lack of high-quality educators with history degrees by providing participants with three annual hours of graduate class credit in American history. A Web site will feature videos of historical encounter sessions, vignettes by the history professors and links to activities.

Grantee Name:

Gateway Regional School District

Project Name:

Memorializing Promise and Conflict: A Monumental History of U.S. Democracy

Project Director:

Patricia Gardner

Funding for Years 1-3:

$958,247

Number of Teachers Served Overall:

140

Number of School Districts Served:

6

Grade Levels:

9-12

Partners:

Center for Teacher Education and Research, Westfield State College, Veterans Education Project, Historical Journal of Massachusetts

Topics:

Year 1: Extending American Democracy — 1950 to present
Year 2: Preserving American Democracy — World War I and World War II
Year 3: Democracy on Trial — The Civil War and Reconstruction
Year 4: Democracy Moves West — Westward Expansion
Year 5: Securing and Defining American Democracy — The Revolutionary and Constitutional Period

Methods:

Field studies, seminars, book groups, technology training

Teachers in this project's western Massachusetts districts noted that they are least knowledgeable about recent history, which also is the most likely historical period to be limited by time constraints at the end of a year; therefore, it will be addressed in Year 1 of the project. Each year will begin with an immersion field trip to visit monuments and historic sites; the Veterans Education Project will provide personal accounts of people who witnessed related history, and funding will help teachers create "archive boxes" of primary sources and artifacts for classroom use. During the school year, participants will attend four seminars that deliver content, pedagogy and historical thinking skills; they will also take part in after-school workshops that include book groups and technology training. The number of teachers participating each year (35) will eventually produce a cadre of teacher leaders who can support their colleagues and sustain the benefits of the grant. The theme of American democracy will serve as the medium through which the content of each historical period will be filtered. The content addressed during each 50-year block of history will be presented so as to align with state standards. Teachers will learn to use fiction and graphic novels for history teaching, along with differentiated instruction, primary sources and technology tools, such as wikis, podcasts, digital storytelling and Web-based archives. Grant activities and products will be posted on a Web site, giving all history teachers access to virtual museum tours, videos of activities and examples of classroom teaching, examples of student work, blogs, podcasts and more.

Grantee Name:

The Education Cooperative

Project Name:

The Idea of Freedom: Three Centuries of Struggle for Human Rights

Project Director:

Gail Ross-McBride

Funding for Years 1-3:

$997,660

Number of Teachers Served Overall:

675

Number of School Districts Served:

16

Grade Levels:

3-12

Partners:

Suffolk University, Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, John Adams National Historical Park, Massachusetts State Archives/Commonwealth Museum, Massachusetts Historical Society

Topics:

Year 1: Foundational Documents
Year 2: Democracy and Human Rights
Year 3: Citizenship and Human Rights
Years 4-5: Same as Years 1-2

Methods:

Graduate courses, summer institutes, field experiences, colloquia

A needs assessment of these 16 districts in the greater Boston area indicates that the teachers are interested in taking graduate-level courses and working with the museum and higher education partners involved in this project. Each year, a new cohort of 35 teachers will participate in a week-long summer institute with full-day workshops at the partner sites; immersion experiences at places like Gettysburg, Antietam and Washington, D.C.; training to incorporate technology nto history instruction; the Using Primary Source for Critical Thinking and Understanding course; graduate-level colloquia; and online professional development courses. In addition to the five 35-teacher cohorts, 100 new teachers per year will attend graduate courses — taught by Suffolk University faculty — to develop core content knowledge in American history and historical thinking skills. The overarching project focus is to examine how America's founding documents have defined freedom and democracy and to trace these ideals and the lived realities for different groups of Americans over 300 years. The content will explore the evolving struggle for human rights and justice, emphasizing the essential framework of American democracy, 19th-century social movements that challenged constitutional guarantees of freedom, the impact of the Civil War and Reconstruction with regard to these freedoms, and 20th-century challenges to human rights at home and abroad, including the civil rights movement. The teachers will work together in district-based teams and develop Web-based teaching resources. At the conclusion of the coursework, participant teams will create a comprehensive unit that will be disseminated across the consortium districts and beyond.


 
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Last Modified: 11/23/2010