Teaching American History

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Vermont 2010 Grant Abstracts

Grantee Name:

South Burlington School District

Project Name:

Turning Points in American History: Knowledge, Understanding and Perspectives

Project Director:

John Everitt

Funding for Years 1-3:

$999,993

Number of Teachers Served Overall:

540

Number of School Districts Served:

14

Grade Levels:

3-12

Partners:

Shelburne Museum, Institute of History, Archaeology, and Education, National Writing Project

Topics:

Year 1: Revolution, New Nation, and New State of Vermont
Year 2: Civil War and Reconstruction
Year 3: The Making of Modern and Contemporary America
Year 4: Colonization and Settlement of the Americas
Year 5: Expansion and Reform

Methods:

Seminars, study groups, field studies

Turning Points in American History will serve 70 public schools and 27 independent schools in rural northwestern Vermont; based on a survey, many of the teachers in these schools have a limited knowledge of American history. This professional development program will provide opportunities for long-term partnerships with local and regional historical organizations by centering activities around local museums. Events will include (1) three scholar-led seminars per year to build teachers' content knowledge and chronological-thinking skills; (2) book and primary source study groups, which will focus on one historical era per year; (3) summer field studies at national sites and local historic sites and museums; and (4) teacher leadership institutes, which will encourage teachers to discuss content and pedagogy through shared experiences and the new digital classroom. This model will (1) create inquiry-based study groups for teaching content and historical thinking, (2) add existing knowledge for best practice for creating digital learning communities, (3) produce new lessons around teaching with historical sites, (4) institute new policies around peer-to-peer professional development, and (5) build strong school-museum partnerships. The teachers will pre-read historical materials and attend lectures followed by small-group discussions with the scholars, learn to analyze and interpret primary sources and develop writing assignments to exhibit historical-thinking skills, and post their interpretations to a digital classroom for peer feedback. The project will create a Web site that features exemplary activities, lectures and other resources created by the project; in addition, it will produce new curriculum resources, including lessons, units, streaming video of study groups, historical writing assignments and benchmarks.

Grantee Name:

Windham Southeast Supervisory Union

Project Name:

E Pluribus Unum: Building a Nation From the Ground Up

Project Director:

Sarah Rooker

Funding for Years 1-3:

$958,512

Number of Teachers Served Overall:

45

Number of School Districts Served:

17

Grade Levels:

4-12

Partners:

Flow of History, Southeast Vermont Learning Collaborative, Vermont Historical Society, University of Vermont

Topics:

Year 1: The Making of Americans — Migration, Settlement and Cultural Contact in a New World
Year 2: Democracy and Slavery/Idealism and Conflict — Forging National Identity in the Crucible of War
Year 3: Merchants, Mines, Mills, Machines and Milkers — Industrial Revolution and Economic Transformations
Year 4: America and the World
Year 5: Citizenship, Civil Liberties and Civil Rights

Methods:

Workshops, summer institutes, field studies, book studies, mentoring

These contiguous Vermont districts are overwhelmingly rural, and some have above-average poverty rates. The project will organize its teaching fellows into four regional learning communities to help combat the rural isolation factor. Each learning community will have an experienced teacher who provides leadership and support. Teachers will discuss books, engage in primary source activities and look at student work. Fellows will be able to choose from additional activities that include providing professional development in their own or nearby districts, presenting at conferences, and publishing in the Flow of History newsletter. Summer institutes will begin in Year 2 and carry into the school year; teachers will select topics and begin historical inquiry during the institute, then continue the work with students in the classroom, thus working toward the project aim of building historical thinking skills. Each year, fellows will create portfolios of primary sources, activities and student work keyed to the historical content, historical thinking strategies and inquiry techniques discussed during the year. As teachers learn about major themes, issues and events in American history, they will learn to scaffold historical thinking skills that build from basic observation to more sophisticated forms of analysis and interpretation, culminating in conducting inquiry-based research. Staff from partner organizations, regional museums and historic sites will provide content information for workshops and field studies. Project activities will help teachers earn continuing education and graduate credits. The project’s advisory board will use a rubric to review materials produced by teachers, and completed materials will be available online through Web sites managed by two project partners.


 
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Last Modified: 11/29/2010