Teaching American History

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South Carolina 2006 Grant Abstracts
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Grantee Name:Berkeley County School District, SC
Project Name:Patriot Project
Project Director:Edward Moore
Number of Teachers Served:18
Number of School Districts Served:35
Number of Students Served:6,200
Grade Levels:4-5, 11
Partners:The Citadel, the Post and Courier Foundation, the Old Exchange Building and Provost Dungeon, Patriot's Point Naval and Maritime Museum, Friends of the Hunley, Old Santee National Park, the Berkeley County Museum, and the National Park Service
Topics:grade 4: Exploration of the New World to the Civil War, grade 5: Reconstruction to the present, and grade 11: U.S. History and the Constitution
Methods:graduate coursework, district staff development, field trips, and summer institutes

Of the 35 schools in the county, only 10 met Adequate Yearly Progress in the 2004-05 academic year. Project participants will be trained as "instructional specialists" who will be responsible for meeting regularly with colleagues to identify training needs, clarify project goals and expectations, review elements of selected instructional pedagogy, and pilot test the pacing guides and curriculum documents that will be developed as part of the Patriot Project. A significant portion of project funds will be used to develop a curriculum management system and software to aid in the development of curriculum guides, pacing charts, and benchmark tests. This software also will be used to track student performance.

Grantee Name:Chester County School District, SC
Project Name:American History: Telling Our Story
Project Director:Brooke W. Clinton
Number of Teachers Served:472
Number of School Districts Served:9
Number of Students Served:66,000
Grade Levels:4-5, 11
Partners:the University of South Carolina (Lancaster), cultural and heritage museums, and local historical societies and sites
Topics:founding documents in American history; issues, episodes, and turning points in American history though local field experiences, and individuals in American history
Methods:summer institutes, topical workshops series, development of American history kits, field experiences, development of student projects, website, and an American history conference

State student assessments revealed significant gaps in social studies academic achievement within the consortium. Of the 4th grade students, 23.6% scored "below basic" and 47.8% scored "basic" on the assessment. Of 5th grade students, the figures were 36.2% and 39.3%, respectively. Of the high school students enrolled in Advanced Placement American history, only 36% passed the final exam. Consortium teachers, too, declared themselves lacking in American history knowledge. A survey showed that only 5% rated themselves "very knowledgeable" in American history. Planned project activities will advance the teaching of American history, as a separate academic subject in grades 4, 5, and 11 by increasing the content knowledge and improving the teaching strategies of the consortium's 472 American history teachers. The consortium's American History Conference, an event packed with quality breakout sessions covering various topics in American history, will serve as the project's capstone. This conference will foster collaboration, networking, best practices, and sharing among the 472 American history teachers.

Grantee Name:Sumter County School District 2, SC
Project Name:Exploring Our Past
Project Director:Julia S. Newman
Number of Teachers Served:No Information Available
Number of School Districts Served:1
Number of Students Served:9,300
Grade Levels:K-12
Partners:the South Carolina History and Archives Center, the Sumter County Historical Society, and Colonial Williamsburg
Topics:issues in colonial America, teaching Republicanism, the Constitution, Native Americans, colonial social history, Ben Franklin, stages of women's history, prejudice and pluralism, immigration and ethnicity, slavery, the Civil War, Reconstruction, the Progressive Era, child labor, the New Deal, civil rights, and the consumer revolution
Methods:technology workshops, content workshops, and field trips to Williamsburg, Washington, D.C., and Philadelphia

About half of the students are African-American; 71% of students are eligible for free/reduced lunches. Only 12% score better than "basic" in state social studies tests, and only 12% of teachers were history majors in college. This project will help overcome the physical and intellectual "provincialism" that affects this rural, poor, and relatively isolated school district. Nationally prominent content experts will prepare 15 sets of PowerPoint lectures that teachers will incorporate into lesson plans. On the 12-day "staff ride" teachers will encounter firsthand the great sites, documents, and museums from Virginia to Pennsylvania. Accompanied by senior history professors, teachers will experience the places that made American history and will be able to incorporate these experiences into their lesson plans. In addition, a content workshop component will focus on the content of traditional American history, and the best practices and historiography of teaching it. The teachers will meet 10 days a year with a senior history professor, supported by email and readings.

Last Modified: 12/28/2006