Teaching American History

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Alabama 2008 Grant Abstract
Archived Information

Grantee Name:Auburn City School District
Project Name:American Heritage Academy
Project Director:Lynda Rainer
Number of Teachers Served:60
Number of School Districts Served:3
Number of Students Served:5,253
Grade Levels:Grades K-12
Partners:Auburn University, Persistent Issues in History (PIH) Network, Jule Collins Smith Museum
Topics:Year 1: Early Republic; Year 2: Westward Expansion and Overlanders; Year 3: American Indians
Methods:Summer symposia, mentoring, field studies

Located in central Alabama, Auburn City, Opelika City, and Lee County School Districts serve 19,500 students representing diverse backgrounds (43% free/reduced prince lunch and 36% minority). The 30 schools located in these districts face challenges of chronically low-performing students in general, as well as a rapidly growing special education population, as many families of children with special needs move to the area to be near Auburn University's award-winning special education program. The American Heritage Academy (AHA) activities will include intensive five-day summer symposia, monthly school-year activities (i.e., literature reviews, field research experiences, and study groups), ongoing one-on-one mentoring (based on Concerns-Based Adoption Model), and field studies. Participants will complete several assignments and be able to earn professional credit. AHA will explore traditional American history themes - entailing significant issues, episodes, turning points, individuals, and documents - that traverse the Alabama History Core. Content training will be embedded with a variety of instructional strategies, including problem-based historical inquiry (PBHI), integrating reading and writing into history instruction, using primary sources and online collections, and active learning strategies that are effective for a diversity of learners. Teacher participants will create standards-based curriculum units, multimedia research projects, and historical literature guides that will be posted online and be available for use by teachers statewide.

Grantee Name:City of Birmingham Board of Education
Project Name:Finding Common Ground: Building Communities of American History
Project Director:Jackie Jackson
Number of Teachers Served:30
Number of School Districts Served:1
Number of Students Served:30,959
Grade Levels:Grades 6-12
Partners:University of Alabama in Birmingham, University of Montevallo, Miles College, Alabama Department of Archives and History, Birmingham Public Library, Birmingham Civil Rights Institute
Topics:Year 1: Beginnings to 1607 and 1607-1763; Year 2: Civil War; Year 3: Civil Rights
Methods:Independent study, seminars, summer institutes, mentoring

"Finding Common Ground" (FCG) is a comprehensive program of professional development designed to strengthen American history teachers' ability to teach traditional American history as a separate academic subject by connecting them with: 1) local and national historians; 2) a variety of historical resources; 3) best practice teaching strategies and technological tools; 4) colleagues and their ideas and resources; and 5) a sustainable blueprint for excellent teaching. FCG participants will study traditional American history with an emphasis on finding common ground between diverse voices, events, and decisions. Historical periods and themes are taken from the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) U.S. History Framework. Each year, the project will cover a different era of American history beginning with colonization and settlement. Teachers' study will consist of primary and secondary source documents, books, multimedia, and online resources. FCG will provide teachers with high-quality, thematic study materials. Teachers' study of these resources will prepare them for participation in additional FCG activities. FCG project leaders will provide in-class mentoring to help teachers implement new teaching strategies and the use of historical content and resources. FCG will serve middle and secondary American history teachers as all seven district schools identified for improvement are secondary level schools. Also, the results of a district survey indicate that nearly three quarters of potential project participants have not taken a formal course on American history in over five years, and 35% of potential participants took only one or two American history courses during college.

Grantee Name:Madison County Schools
Project Name:Developing Teachers as Historians (D-TAH)
Project Director:Pam Gothart
Number of Teachers Served:30
Number of School Districts Served:9
Number of Students Served:18,151
Grade Levels:Grades 9-12
Partners:University of Alabama in Birmingham, University of Montevallo, Miles College, Alabama Department of Archives and History, Birmingham Public Library, Birmingham Civil Rights Institute
Topics:Year 1: Three Worlds Meet; Colonization & Settlement; Year 2: Revolution and the New Nation; Expansion and Reform (1801-1861); Year 3: Civil War and Reconstruction; Development of the Industrial U.S.
Methods:Summer academies, workshops, book study circles

Northern Alabama's Madison County Schools has joined with eight neighboring districts to form the Alabama American History Consortium (AAHC). The consortium represents 12 schools in Need of Improvement. Five of the nine districts serve schools that did not make Adequate Yearly Progress in 2006-2007. This project will serve a single cohort of 30 high school history teachers. The project will provide teachers with deep, scholarly inquiries into specific history content areas and help them rediscover the practice of historical inquiry they experienced during their college years, including how to appropriately bring historical inquiry techniques into the classroom. The seminal event of the project will be the annual summer academies. Each academy will be an immersive seven-day experience for teachers on location at sites directly related to the highest priority topics to be studied each year: two days in a classroom setting and five days engaging in professional development at historical sites and museums. Project activities will focus on two historic eras per year and will include the study of eight to 10 topics related to these eras. Some of the historical topics covered will include Native American history, colonial America, the Declaration of Independence, the American Revolution, the Constitution, secession, and Westward Expansion, among others.

Last Modified: 08/14/2008