Teaching American History

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Ohio 2006 Grant Abstracts
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Grantee Name:Educational Service Center of Cuyahoga County, OH
Project Name:Sounds of American History
Project Director:Jennifer A. Felker
Number of Teachers Served:72
Number of School Districts Served:103
Number of Students Served:500,000
Grade Levels:4, 8, 10
Partners:Cleveland State University, IdeastreamSM, the Rock-n-Roll Hall of Fame, the Library of Congress, the University of South Carolina, Georgia State University, the University of Buffalo, and the University of Virginia
Topics:year 1: the sounds of democracy, 1750-1880 (e.g., 19th Century music and folk traditions and slave narratives), year 2: oral history and the sounds of industry and immigration, 1880-1940 (e.g., radio broadcasts of FDR's fireside chats and jazz, blues, and music clubs), and year 3: oral history and the sounds of post-war America, 1940-2006 (e.g., American leaders on tape and modern music)
Methods:workshops, mentoring, and recording equipment

The Ohio Department of Education classifies 27 of the districts being served as having "high poverty" or "very high poverty," while others enjoy a "high median income." Judging from proficiency test scores, student achievement in history remains problematic for much of the eight-county area. Nearly 40% of the schools being served fall below the median in Ohio, which identifies these 38 districts as being on "academic watch," "emergency," or "continuous improvement." "Sounds of American History" will explore sound in all of its dimensions: voices (e.g., oral histories), technologies, music, and the aural worlds of everyday experience, including sounds heard at work, at home, and at leisure. Using a variety of multimedia materials, teachers will increase their content knowledge by creating lesson plans, mentoring their colleagues, and participating in distance learning meetings. Among the various topics to be covered are colonial America, the nation's founding, the growth of slavery, the Civil War, Jim Crow, the Great Migration, World Wars I and II, the Depression, the Civil Rights Movement, and the Cold War.

Grantee Name:Franklin County Educational Service Center, OH
Project Name:Hands-On History (HOH): The Central Ohio History Project
Project Director:Jody A. Blankenship
Number of Teachers Served:120
Number of School Districts Served:1
Number of Students Served:80,000
Grade Levels:3-5, 8
Partners:Ohio Dominican University and the Ohio Historical Society
Topics:Westward Expansion and growth, the Constitution and governance, changing technologies and economies, migration and immigration, and 20th Century conflicts
Methods:summer institute, research workshops, seminars, and field trips

The region's student population is 18.11% minority, and more than 19% receive free/reduced lunches. Central Ohio is expected to receive 20,000 new Somali immigrants in 2007. In addition, all students must pass the Ohio Graduation Test (OGT) to graduate from high school. The OGT includes a significant American history component, focused on content knowledge and skills application. Hands on History will immerse teachers in historically significant documents, objects, and sites that are lasting reminders of the ideas and people that laid the foundations of American freedom and democracy. Through participating in Hands of History, Central Ohio teachers will gain an in-depth understanding of five key historical themes aligned with the Ohio Academic Content Standards, learn how to locate, appraise and analyze primary sources, and learn how to transfer the knowledge and skills to their students using best practices in American history education.

Grantee Name:Hamilton City School District, OH
Project Name:America's Journey: the Beacon of Liberty 1492-1965
Project Director:Everett C. Mann
Number of Teachers Served:50
Number of School Districts Served:3
Number of Students Served:20,000
Grade Levels:4-5, 8, 10
Partners:Miami University (Hamilton), the Michael J. Colligan History Project, and the Lane, Middletown, and Mason public libraries
Topics:year 1: E Pluribus Unum: industrialization, immigration, reform movements, global power, World Wars I and II, the Cold War, Wall Street, and civil rights (1877-1965), year 2: Making the Nation: the Declaration of Independence, the Louisiana Purchase, the Civil War, the Mexican-American War, Reconstruction, immigration, and slavery (1775-1877), and year 3: A City on a Hill: Native American cultures, European cultures in America, the French and Indian War, the Trail of Tears, and religion (1492-1850)
Methods:summer institutes, academic-year seminars, a Website, field trips, DVDs, and CDs

Hamilton and Middletown schools serve a large population of students living in poverty, and the problem is increasing. Approximately half of all students in both districts are considered economically disadvantaged. In Mason schools, concern centers on enormous growth. For the last five years, enrollment has grown by nearly 8% each year, which translates to approximately 20 new classrooms per year; growth is not expected to slow until 2010. Diversity also has increased in all three districts, as the Hispanic population has grown substantially. The project will increase teacher knowledge of American history content. Participating teachers will read and discuss a variety of lively primary documents, individual biographies, and respected works by the best historians, which will give them a deeper understanding of the dynamic of liberty and democracy at the center of our nation's experience. All Ohio academic standards for U.S. history will be included in project subject matter.

Grantee Name:Mid-Ohio Educational Service Center, OH
Project Name:History in the Heartland II: Explore History
Project Director:Stuart Hobbs
Number of Teachers Served:108
Number of School Districts Served:77
Number of Students Served:58,000
Grade Levels:4-5, 8-10
Partners:Ohio State University and the Ohio Historical Society
Topics:Frontiers and Borderlands: Native Americans and the Settler Experience. From Farm to Factory: Rural Life and the Impact of Industrialization. Presidents and Politics: Ohio and American Political History. Dominion of War: American Military and Technological History
Methods:seminars, summer institutes, field trips, a website, and the recruitment of master teachers

Among urban districts in the project area, schools in three cities are on "academic watch," the state's second lowest rating, one of which is a single year out of "academic emergency," the lowest rating. Many of the districts are largely rural or small town, and lack resources and opportunities for enhanced education and professional development for teachers. Explore History's design is based on the profession's benchmarks for professional development and is combined with the resources of its fully committed partners. The project will have a long-term impact on the teaching and learning of traditional American history in the target area and beyond.

Grantee Name:Western Buckeye Educational Service Center, OH
Project Name:History Partners Educating, Enlivening, and Reviewing Ourselves
Project Director:Christine Feichter
Number of Teachers Served:1,500
Number of School Districts Served:18
Number of Students Served:23,000
Grade Levels:K-12
Partner:Ashland University
Topics:the American Revolution, the founding of America, sectionalism and the Civil War, the Civil War and Reconstruction, and the Progressive Era
Methods:summer institutes, the use of primary documents, local TAH Website updating, seminars, action research teams, distance learning, and site visits

Only 2% of K-12 teachers in the project have specific training in traditional American history. They teach in an area that is largely agricultural and has a small industrial base, and its school districts are suffering deficits due to declining enrollments, reduced state funding, declining property values, and factory and bank closures. There is no funding for advanced-placement courses in American history. The project will bring a renewed vigor to teachers and their students, who, as of March 2005, must master concepts in American history, from the nation's founding until the present day, to pass the history portion of the Ohio Graduation Test. To do this, our teachers will participate in a series of intensive institutes and seminars on the most significant events, issues, and turning points in American history. They will analyze original historical documents from throughout American history, and they will study the actions of the men and women who have struggled to shape our country.

Last Modified: 08/18/2006