The Education Innovator #25
Volume II
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The Education Innovator
 July 5, 2004 • Number 25
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What's inside...
History in Perspective Teaching American History Program, Manchester, NH
What's New
OII unveils Teaching American History grants throughout the month of July; the Department of Education releases two publications, "Helping Your Child Learn History" and "10 Facts About Education Funding;" Secretary Paige urges private business to support local school systems; and the Education Commission of the States issues report on the impact of charter school districts on collective bargaining.
Innovations in the News
The American History Cowboy Coalition in Casper, WY, receives a nearly $1 million grant to develop a student/teacher network of "historians," plus information on other Teaching American History programs, charter schools, school choice, and educational technology.

History in Perspective Program Sheds Light on the Content of History Teaching in New Hampshire and Maine
Elsie Domingo, a middle school history teacher in southern New Hampshire, is enthusiastic about discussing and researching American history. In order to enable her sixth graders to explore history topics in greater depth, Ms. Domingo developed a lesson about the Boston Tea Party. She then shared it with other teachers through History in Perspective's "Lesson Launcher" website. In this forum, Ms. Domingo's "Lesson Launcher" plan describes the Boston Tea Party and its relation to other events leading up to the American Revolution. It also includes questions other teachers can ask their students, websites for students to search, and activities for further enrichment. Teachers in 14 participating school districts in southern New Hampshire and Maine, who are members of the History in Perspective network, can use this plan and others from the "Lesson Launcher" to improve U.S. history instruction.

"Lesson Launcher" is just one aspect of the History in Perspective project for teacher professional development. The project is a partnership of the University of New Hampshire's History and Education Departments and New Hampshire's Somersworth School District. The ultimate goal of the project is to improve student achievement in social studies. Some of the schools served have a high percentage of students who score below the state average on the standardized social studies tests, so there is a definite need for a content-rich program for teachers. All of the participating districts require their students to take at least one course in United States history at both the middle and high school levels. Through these and other classes, History in Perspective aims to serve both low- and high-achieving students. To meet its goals, the project is built on technology-based instruction, intensive seminars for faculty, and the sharing of best practices to enhance instructors' understanding of major topics in American history.

In starting the program, directors such as Judith Moyer, an historian and a member of the faculty at the University of New Hampshire, sought to take history instruction into the electronic age. Technology, project directors believed, would solve the problem of the remoteness of teachers in outlying districts. It would also enhance the ability of participants to exchange ideas, extending learning opportunities past the formal face-to-face training. Most of the History in Perspective materials are crafted online, so teacher participants attend guided computer lab sessions to help them learn how to use computers to share teaching activities and resource materials.

History in Perspective makes sure that its teachers are also exposed to expert historians, so that they can develop "Lesson Launcher" materials that reflect the latest discoveries about historical events. Historians, such as Professors Bill Harris and Joe Onosko from the University of New Hampshire, conduct seminars for middle and high school teachers that are infused with historical analysis, teach the effective use of primary and secondary source materials, and identify key points for instruction.

For example, teachers attended an intense two-day seminar in January 2002 about the Civil War. One aspect of the seminar focused on "Abraham Lincoln, Southern Slaves, and Emancipation," and the other was on "Soldiers and Civilians During the War." The seminars were used to explore the bifocal vision of history: one viewing the facts from evidence revealed in primary sources, and the other seen through the lens of each historian's own perspective. Teachers took back this lesson to convey to their students: Understanding history is inherently complex.

Another History in Perspective goal is for the skills and content introduced in history classes to be transferred to other subject areas. For example, teachers of upper elementary grades are encouraged to use children's literature about U.S. history in writing and reading assignments. In this spirit, the History in Perspective program includes a variety of instructors who promote communication beyond the history subject area. Professors of higher education, media specialists, curriculum specialists, and the teachers who participate in the program engage in regular dialogue, both online and in seminars, to share proven practices.

The History in Perspective program received a three-year Teaching American History grant in 2001. This grant provides professional development for teachers on significant issues, individuals, and turning points in the history of the United States, and on the principles—like freedom and democracy—that have shaped America's struggles and achievements. The grant program is administered by OII.

Resources: Note: The program described is innovative, but does not necessarily have evidence of general effectiveness from a rigorous evaluation. The success of the program may not be replicable, depending on unique conditions in differing locations.


What's New
OII's Teaching American History Grant Program Awards
Over the next month, 122 Teaching American History grants will be announced locally to coincide with Independence Day and other summer celebrations. The grants, made by OII, support programs that raise student achievement by improving teachers' knowledge, understanding, and appreciation of American history. (July 2)

Helping Your Child Learn History
The U.S. Department of Education has released Helping Your Child Learn History, a booklet with learning activities that parents can do with their children at home or on family field trips. The book is now available online and will be free from ED Pubs after July 16, order numbers EK0754P (English) and EKH0193 (Spanish) (July 2).

"10 Facts About Education Funding"
The U.S. Department of Education has released a new brochure, "10 Facts About Education Funding." The brochure explains federal, state, and local contributions to the overall education budget, which is estimated to exceed $501.3 billion for the 2003-2004 school year. (June 29)

Remarks by Secretary Paige at U.S. Chamber of Commerce
U.S. Secretary of Education Rod Paige spoke at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Committee of 100 Meeting, urging business to support quality education and to develop close ties to local schools, because a thriving economic policy depends on sound national educational policy. (June 28)

Education Commission of the States Report - Collective Bargaining and Charter Districts
The Education Commission of the States has issued a new report on the challenges that occur when district, union, and school leaders consider changing collective bargaining agreements to support the creation of charter districts. (June 22)


Innovations in the News

Teaching American History
The Mid-Ohio Educational Service Center received two grants totaling about $2 million from the Teaching American History program to conduct professional development programs for American history teachers in area middle schools and high schools. The programs will be run in partnership with Ashland University, Ohio State University, and the Ohio Historical Society. [More-News Journal] (June 29)

The American History Cowboy Coalition in Casper, WY, has received a Teaching American History grant. The nearly $1 million grant will be used for teacher training to encourage a systematic change in the way U.S. history is taught and to develop a community of teacher and student historians who are more active citizens, according to Joel Dvorak, the district's associate superintendent for curriculum and instruction. [More-Casper Star Tribune] (June 29)

Students from Los Angeles are recording the oral histories of Japanese Americans who were in internment camps during World War II. Through a Teaching American History grant, a California State Library grant, and as part of a History Channel program called "Save our History," leaders of the project hope to make audio and video interviews available at libraries and on the Japanese American National Museum website. [More-Los Angeles Daily News] (June 27)

Former President Jimmy Carter participated in the "Linking American History: Past to Present" program. Carter lectured to 50 educators from three Georgia school districts to improve their knowledge of and ability to teach U.S. history from 1945 to the present. This program was funded under OII's Teaching American History program. [More-Henry Herald] (June 30)

Project Mine, a Teaching American History project designed to enhance the teaching and learning of history in schools, held a summer institute in Greenbush, KS. Teachers learned about the history of childhood and the effect of family on the economy, emphasizing the role children have played in American history. [More-Morning Sun] (June 22)

Charter Schools
Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney vetoed a freeze on the opening of new charter schools in the state. Romney claims that the proposed moratorium was inconsistent with the State Legislature's budget, which included $37 million to reimburse districts for the money they send to educate charter school students. [More-Boston Herald] (June 24)

Yes College Preparatory School and KIPP (Knowledge Is Power Program), which are both nationally recognized charter school programs, have decided to share business costs. KIPP founder Michael Feinberg announced that the KIPP-Yes Partnership will share costs for buses, food service, and health insurance, among other areas. [More-Houston Chronicle] (June 22)

School Choice
Chicago's plan to reinvent its worst schools has created a marketplace of ideas. Leaders in education across the country are responding to the Chicago initiative as the city looks to charter schools as models. [More-Chicago Tribune] (June 27)

In Harvard, MA, at least 25 students from outside the district will have the option of attending school in the Harvard School System next fall. The school superintendent plans to add third grade classrooms to area schools, and to reapportion the number of students in each class. [More-Harvard Hillside] (May 26)

Educational Technology
Cyber-schools bring diversity to the way education is managed. For example, Ohio leads the nation in cyber-schools with 41, which operate as charter schools paid for with public dollars, but are often run by private, for-profit management firms. However, most new applicants to the Ohio cyber-market are public school districts. In addition, a cyber-school from Pennsylvania is crossing the border into Ohio. [More-Cleveland Plain Dealer] (June 27)

In Nelson, New Zealand, IBM and New Zealand Kindergartens Incorporated have announced the launch of KidSmart, an educational initiative designed to provide disadvantaged 3-6-year-old children with access to technology. The program provides custom-built PC-kiosks, educational software, and teacher training. IBM's KidSmart is part of the company's Corporate Community Relations program, which aims to make strategic investments that help benefit communities by using IBM's technological expertise. [More-Scoop] (June 25)


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Last Modified: 10/31/2007