Teaching American History

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Virginia 2007 Grant Abstracts
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Grantee Name:Chesterfield County Public Schools, VA
Project Name:Foundations of a Nation
Project Director:Patrice Armbrust
Number of Teachers Served:120
Number of School Districts Served:1
Number of Students Served:58,000
Grade Levels:K-5
Partners:Virginia Historical Society, the Valentine Richmond History Center, the College of William and Mary, and the University of Richmond
Topics:Native Americans, Jamestown, the Louisiana Purchase, the Constitution and Bill of Rights, the American Revolution, 18th Century life, George Washington, James Madison, Thomas Jefferson
Methods:Seminars, summer institutes, tours to historic sites, lectures

The Foundations of a Nation project will provide three year-long training institutes that focus on pivotal events of early American history for elementary school teachers in central Virginia. Annual cohorts of 40 teachers will attend three two-day seminars during the academic year and two three-day intensive experiential summer seminars in Richmond and Philadelphia for a total of 12 days of training. Chesterfield's location between the historic cities of Richmond and Petersburg presents significant opportunities for deepening understanding of the nation's history. Seminars include travel to sites along with lectures and discussion. Content explores the culture of two of the oldest Indian settlements, new Jamestown discoveries and the roles of Captain John Smith and Sir William Berkely, creation of the Virginia General Assembly, Thomas Jefferson and James Madison, the Constitutional framework, religious freedom, social history of the 18th century, establishment of a constitutional republic, and the American Revolution.

Grantee Name:Halifax County Public Schools, VA
Project Name:American Origins: Hidden Histories in Our Midst
Project Director:Melanie Ann Stanley
Number of Teachers Served:24
Number of School Districts Served:4
Number of Students Served:No Information Available
Grade Levels:4, 7, 8, and 11
Partners:University of Virginia, Southern Virginia Higher Education Center, Virginia Foundation for the Humanities, Halifax Historical Society, Danville Museum of Art and History, Coleman African American Museum, Virginia Historical Society, Virginia Association of Museums
Topics:Year 1, The American Revolution; Year 2, the Civil War; Year 3, Civil Rights
Methods:Graduate courses, stipends, historic sites

"American Origins" will implement and test a sustainable professional development model to increase teacher content knowledge and instructional practices in U.S. history. Focused on an underserved area of southern Virginia, the project will develop a leadership cohort of American Origin Teaching Fellows capable of taking full advantage of the rich array of local, regional, and state historic sites/resources. Making the link between history content and local resources will illustrate how many of America's most important episodes, issues, and turning points are in their midst. Course content will explore: the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom, the English in America, the Revolution in the South, Free Blacks in the antebellum South, African American history, the coming of the Civil War, "Israel on the Appomattox," Reconstruction and Jim Crow, the history of the NAACP, Martin Luther King, Jr., poverty, race, and Civil Rights in the 60s. A range of historians will provide content on colonization and conflict, exploration to the Revolution, Revolution and the new nation, expansion and reform, the Civil War and Reconstruction, and Virginia studies. The curriculum is designed to meet state standards of learning for elementary, middle, and high school.

Grantee Name:Montgomery County Public Schools, VA
Project Name:Connecting to the Promises of Democracy: Citizenship, Conflict, and Opportunity
Project Director:Sharon Zuckerwar
Number of Teachers Served:230
Number of School Districts Served:1
Number of Students Served:No Information Available
Grade Levels:K-12
Partners:Virginia Tech, Virginia Historical Society, historians from University of Virginia, Radford University, Roanoke College, and Hollins College
Topics:Democracy: Promises and Responsibilities of Citizenship; Resources, Opportunity, and Enterprise; and A Nation in Conflict
Methods:Monthly seminars, one-week summer conferences, mentoring, field excursions, lesson demonstrations, classroom observations

The project will address the need to increase teacher knowledge and raise student achievement scores in traditional American history through a district-wide initiative that will enhance teachers' content knowledge and ability to teach American History in an engaging manner. The project will create a sustained collegial professional network supporting change and improvement in the classroom and continuing collaboration with mentors and historians. Specific topics within three overarching themes include: Declaration of Independence, Constitutional Convention, women's suffrage, civil rights movement, plantation economies, industrialization and rise of big business, rail industry, Great Depression, War on Poverty, Civil War, U.S. in world wars, and conflicts of the 1960s and 1970s. Primary source documents and historic site visits will illustrate the content.

Grantee Name:Richmond City Public Schools, VA
Project Name:The Richmond City Public Schools Teaching American History Academy
Project Director:Thelma Williams-Tunstall
Number of Teachers Served:105
Number of School Districts Served:1
Number of Students Served:24,226
Grade Levels:6-7, 11
Partners:University of Richmond, the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, Virginia Union University, the Pepper Bird Foundation Field Study Program, and the American Civil War Center at Historic Tredegar
Topics:Colonization to the end of Reconstruction, the Gilded Age to the turn of the 21st Century, colonization to the turn of the 21st Century
Methods:Colloquia, field study, conferences

The Richmond City Public Schools is 89 percent African American and its 74 percent poverty rate is the second highest in Virginia. Because Richmond-still known as the "home of the Confederacy"-championed resistance to desegregation and was once a major port for the African slave trade, many teachers are uncomfortable with teaching about slavery, the Civil War, and civil rights. The turnover rate for middle school teachers is high; 15-20 percent leave to work in other districts. This project will provide 35 teachers each year with 20 days of instruction during the school year and a six-day summer trip to historic sites. The first year primarily serves sixth grade teachers and addresses: colonial Virginia and the Chesapeake; the Revolutionary War; founding of the federal government; westward expansion and Indian removal; enslaved Americans; and the Civil War. Year 2 participants are seventh grade teachers. Their subjects include Progressivism and World War I, the Great Depression, World War II, the Cold War, the 1960s, and the Civil Rights Movement. Year 3 will serve elementary, middle, and high school teachers and provide an overview of American history from 1607 to 2000.

Grantee Name:School Board of the County of Spotsylvania, VA
Project Name:Forging Democracy: Change, Conflict, and Continuity
Project Director:Rebecca Eustace Mills
Number of Teachers Served:90
Number of School Districts Served:3
Number of Students Served:No Information Available
Grade Levels:5-7
Partners:University of Mary Washington, the Library of Congress, the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, the National Slavery Museum, the Smithsonian, the Fredericksburg Foundation, the Virginia Historical Society, the National Park Service, the Organization of American Historians
Topics:Exploration to 1620; Settlement, 1585- 1763; the American Revolution and new nation, 1754-1820; expansion and reform, 1801-1861; the Civil War and rebuilding, 1850-1877; industrial America, 1870-1900; social tensions in modern America, 1920-1945; politics, courts, media, and governmental change, 1945-2007
Methods:Graduate courses, historic sites, lectures, field experiences

The "Forging Democracy" professional development project in American history content knowledge and instruction focuses on the words and deed of key historical figures and events in the history of the U.S., from exploration to the present. The projects calls for two cohorts of 45 elementary and middle school teacher "Fellows" to engage in 18-month series of graduate courses, field experiences, lectures, and technology training designed to strengthen their skills and transfer their new knowledge to others. Each 18-month series is complete in itself; the first spans the period of exploration through 1877, and the second focuses on events between 1870 and 2007. Content addresses: European rivalries in the Americas, the impact of the Columbian Exchange, colonist motivations, trade routes, the French and Indian War, individual rights, the Hamilton/Jefferson debates, Manifest Destiny, working conditions in the North and South, the Monroe Doctrine, pre- and post-antebellum African American communities, immigration and urbanization, labor movements, the Spanish-American War, World War I and II, the Crash, Depression, and New Deal, Civil Rights, the women's movement, the Cold War, globalization, America's image abroad, and the rise of terrorism.

Last Modified: 10/24/2007