Teaching American History

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Massachusetts 2006 Grant Abstracts
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Grantee Name:Boston Public Schools, MA
Project Name:The Rise of American Democracy
Project Director:Judy Berkowitz
Number of Teachers Served:150
Number of School Districts Served:1
Number of Students Served:28,000
Grade Levels:3, 5, 8-11
Partners:Boston University, the John F. Kennedy Library and Museum, and the Museum of African-American History
Topics:civil rights and majority rule in the U.S., the Constitution in American history, the apparatus of democracy, the choices in Little Rock, and a gathering place for freedom
Methods:seminars, institutes, mentoring, coaching, and field trips

Founded in 1647, Boston Public Schools is the oldest public school system in the nation. The majority of today's Boston students are economically disadvantaged and educationally at risk. This school year, 43% of all schools have failed to make AYP, and preliminary data show that this problem will likely increase during the next school year. The district will build on the accomplishments of its two previous Teaching American History grants. Upon completion of this project, 19% of history teachers in grades 3, 5, and 8-11 who are not certified will have taken sufficient coursework to become certified history minors.

Grantee Name:Malden Public Schools, MA
Project Name:Voices Rising: Assimilation and the American Experience
Project Director:Cynthia Fiducia
Number of Teachers Served:72
Number of School Districts Served:4
Number of Students Served:2,000
Grade Levels:3, 5, 8
Partners:University of Massachusetts (Lowell), Suffolk University, and local national parks and libraries
Topics:colonial life in New England, the American Revolution, colonial government, the French and Indian War, the War of 1812, the Civil War, industrialization, economic and labor issues, slavery, women's suffrage, notable leaders and individuals, and immigration and assimilation
Methods:summer institutes, history content seminars, and sessions with mentors

With a recent influx of immigrants, the four school districts have seen an increase in the number of students who have free/reduced lunches and the number of minority students. Of these, 13.5% of those aged 5 to 17 live below the federal poverty level. The need for professional development in American history content and analysis is most severe at the elementary and middle school levels, given the results of the districts' surveys that indicate almost no coursework or in-service credits in American history by teachers in grades 3, 5, and 8. Suffolk University and the University of Massachusetts (Lowell) will share the responsibility of providing yearly, week-long summer institutes, in addition to eight, three-hour, district-based content seminars per year, to twenty-four teachers per year from these school districts. Other teachers in the districts will videotape district-based seminars for future use in later years. Supporting this university-led effort will be six Boston-area national parks and historic sites that will offer a hands-on component to the classroom professional development by allowing teachers to experience first-hand the primary sources that these historic places embody.

Grantee Name:Reading Public Schools, MA
Project Name:Encounters and Exchanges in U.S. History
Project Director:Kara Gleason
Number of Teachers Served:150
Number of School Districts Served:4
Number of Students Served:25,234
Grade Levels:3-5, 8-11
Partners:University of Massachusetts (Lowell) and Primary Source
Topics:year 1: Colonial America, the French and Indian War, founding philosophies, the Enlightenment and political thought in the early Republic, ethnic groups and cultures, the U.S. Constitution, year 2: Religion and reform, slavery and abolition, the women's movement, foreign perspectives, the Barbary War, the Mexican-American War, and the War of 1812, the Monroe Doctrine, the Lewis and Clark expedition, trade and industry, and the Gold Rush, and year 3: Early Massachusetts history from the Pilgrims to the post-Revolutionary period and the Cold and Vietnam Wars, the Conservative Revolution, immigration, and race relations
Methods:summer institutes, seminars, field trips, workshops, study groups, and conferences

In 2001, an average of 79% of students received a "needs improvement" or a failing grade. Nineteen percent of U.S. history teachers in the districts are not certified in social studies or history, and only two of 166 grades 3-5 teachers have a degree in history (none are certified in social studies). The program's goal is to appreciably strengthen the district programs to teach traditional American history as a separate academic subject in grades three to five and eight to eleven. The program content spirals around the overarching theme "Encounters and Exchanges in U.S. History" as participants study the country's founding to the twentieth century. Activities include content-based summer institutes, school year content-based institutes and seminars, history book discussion study groups, history research and information management training workshops and institutes, mini-sabbaticals for research projects, an annual conference, the modeling of teaching with primary sources in the classroom, continuation activities, and a website.

Grantee Name:Springfield Public Schools, MA
Project Name:Creating, Challenging, and Sustaining Democracy
Project Director:Rosemary E. Kalloch
Number of Teachers Served:40
Number of School Districts Served:1
Number of Students Served:27,590
Grade Levels:3, 5, 8, 11
Partners:the Five Colleges, Inc. (Amherst, Hampshire, Mt. Holyoke, and Smith Colleges and the University of Massachusetts at Amherst), Historic Deerfield, the Wistariahurst Museum, the Springfield Library and Museums, and the Teachers' Curriculum Institute
Topics:year 1: the Declaration of Independence, the American Revolution, the Federalist debates, the Constitution, and the presidencies of Washington, Adams, and Jefferson, year 2: the presidencies of Jackson and Lincoln, abolition, the Civil War, emancipation, and Reconstruction, and year 3: Industrialization, immigration, urbanization, the Depression, the New Deal, 20th Century social movements, and America at war
Methods:summer institute, traveling field study, history academy, and the Teaching History forum

Seventy-seven percent of Springfield's residents live at or below the federal poverty line. Out of 49, only 12 elementary schools meet Adequate Yearly Progress. Springfield's secondary school students have a 79% failure rate in history as opposed to 44% statewide. This project will improve teacher knowledge, understanding, and appreciation of traditional American history, raise student achievement, build a network of American history teachers in the Connecticut River Valley, and build on the prior experiences of other TAH projects to develop a model program of content-driven professional development that can be disseminated nationally. The project will provide over 350 hours of intensive professional development in history content and pedagogy to a new cohort of 40 teachers from the district through annual two-week summer institutes, traveling field study experiences, academic-year history academies (book clubs, special topics, and technology and media), and an annual forum.

Last Modified: 08/18/2006