Teaching American History

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Texas 2006 Grant Abstracts
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Grantee Name:Alpine Independent School District, TX
Project Name:Teaching American History Squared
Project Director:Barbara Stooksberry
Number of Teachers Served:30
Number of School Districts Served:8
Number of Students Served:3,321
Grade Levels:5, 8, 11
Partners:Sul Ross State University, the Museum of the Big Bend, and the Alpine Public Library
Topics:year 1: Texas History, year 2: early American history, and year 3: the Civil War
Methods:content knowledge workshops, participation in National History Day activities, technology/teaching strategies training workshops, summer immersion institutes, and field study excursions

The Big Bend region of Texas encompasses vast expanses of deserts, hills, plains, and grasslands, but very few people. Most of the teachers were born locally, educated locally, and have traveled very little outside of the state. Most students are Hispanic, 63% of whom are economically disadvantaged. The project will broaden and deepen teacher and student knowledge of American history, and teachers will be able to experience history, through field study excursions to historic sites in Texas and Washington, D.C. Through an intensive, year-round program of workshops, lectures, summer institutes, and field studies, the program will ensure that teachers are well grounded in the history they teach. Professional development activities will bridge the gap between content knowledge training and classroom application, making history come alive for both the teacher and the student.

Grantee Name:Hays Consolidated Independent School District, TX
Project Name:Inspiring a Love of American History at Hays CISD
Project Director:Betty Harrison
Number of Teachers Served:60
Number of School Districts Served:1
Number of Students Served:10,600
Grade Levels:5, 7, 8, 11
Partners:Texas State University (San Marcos), Texas State College of Liberal Arts, Texas State College of Education, the Lyndon Johnson Presidential Library, the Harry Ransom Center, and the Texas State Archives
Topics:year 1: American republicanism, year 2: Republican citizenship, and year 3: the American political system
Methods:summer institutes, primary document workshops, teacher-leadership seminars, classroom observations and feedback from master teachers, and travel to Philadelphia

Fifty-eight percent of those teaching history at Hays CISD schools took two or fewer university-level courses in U.S. history. The project will improve knowledge of content through institutes and workshops, as well as address pedagogical issues that will lead to improved teaching practices. A master teacher will visit all Hays CISD history classrooms, and her recorded observations will be used to improve the instructional skills of those who teach American history in the district. Project participants will become teacher-leaders who will share their knowledge with colleagues on their respective campuses.

Grantee Name:Laredo Independent School District, TX
Project Name:Our America—Teaching American History
Project Director:Elias Alonzo
Number of Teachers Served:25
Number of School Districts Served:1
Number of Students Served:25,000
Grade Levels:5, 8, 11
Partners:Texas A&M International University, the Laredo Public Library, and the Webb County Heritage Foundation
Topics:exploration, settlement, migration and immigration, North American foreign policy, the American Revolution, the Civil War, World War II, the effects of Middle East tensions on the U.S. economy, civil rights, and the Cold and Korean Wars
Methods:summer institutes, workshops, field trips, staff development sessions, coaching sessions, colloquia, and web activities

The consortium serves the needs of a student population that is 98.4% Hispanic, 65.9% of whom have limited proficiency in English. In addition, 82% are at risk for dropping out of school. There is a very low level of academic attainment in American history among teachers, especially at the elementary school level. The goals of this project are not only to provide professional development to improve teacher proficiency in the area of American History, but also to provide teachers with a vehicle that will transform those acquired skills into a means of making our country's history relevant and vital to students. This will strengthen the scope of current district curriculum toward one that teaches traditional American history as a separate academic subject within the instructional day of the elementary and secondary campuses. Participants will be developed into "master" teachers who will, in turn, extend their expertise in American history throughout the district and create an oral and virtual history archive that will provide historic relevancy for the community.

Grantee Name:Region 1 Education Service Center, TX
Project Name:Learning and Living History
Project Director:Tina Atkins
Number of Teachers Served:100
Number of School Districts Served:13
Number of Students Served:352,000
Grade Levels:K-8
Partners:the University of Texas-Pan American, the Museum of South Texas History, Plimoth Plantation, Law-Related Education, Inc., Teachers Curriculum Institute, and Palo Alto Battlefield
Topics:colonial settlements, the American Revolution, the Declaration of Independence, Native Americans, slavery, the Boston Massacre, Benjamin Franklin, and the Texas Declaration of Independence/war with Mexico
Methods:colloquia, seminars, and travel study

The Lower Rio Grande Valley of South Texas is a region of high poverty; two target counties are classified as two of the three poorest counties in the nation, with an unemployment rate between 14 and 24%. Over 85% of the student population in participating school districts are economically disadvantaged, and over 95% are of Hispanic origin. Project administrators will select 20 teachers who will pursue a master's degree in American history at project partner UTPA. An additional 80 teachers will participate in other professional development activities that will increase teacher and student content knowledge of American history and create peer networks.

Grantee Name:Region 4 Education Service Center, TX
Project Name:Gulf Coast American History Academy
Project Director:Debra Williams
Number of Teachers Served:No Information Available
Number of School Districts Served:54
Number of Students Served:94,443
Grade Levels:K-12
Partners:the University of Houston, Digital History, and the Museum of Fine Arts-Houston
Topics:year 1: the American Revolution, the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, antebellum America, and the Civil War, year 2: Reconstruction, the Gilded Age, the Progressive Era, the World Wars, the post-war eras, and the Great Depression, and year 3: Constitutional issues since World War II, such as race, citizenship, gender, economics, and states' rights
Methods:summer institutes, seminars, colloquia, lectures, workshops, visiting content specialists, travel to Boston, Philadelphia, and Washington, D.C., mentoring, and online activities

Of the students served by the Region 4 ESC, 47.3% are economically disadvantaged, 16.2% have low proficiency in English, and 39.9% have been determined to be at risk. The region also includes 92,176 special-needs students, 42,778 of whom are learning disabled. In the districts that are underserved (more than half of the districts in the region), teachers often quickly "burn out" and many leave the profession. The project will create a cadre of 25 American history content specialists who will mentor and provide professional development activities for K-12 teachers within district schools. These specialists will also be prepared to "do history" by investigating and interpreting landmark documents in American constitutional history. The project's content will focus on the origins, framing, ratification, and interpretation of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights during six distinct eras of American history.

Last Modified: 08/18/2006