Teaching American History

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Illinois 2008 Grant Abstracts
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Grantee Name:Hancock-McDonough Regional Office of Education
Project Name:"Disseminating Traditional American History to Teachers"
Project Director:Wilma Lewis
Number of Teachers Served:465
Number of School Districts Served:21
Number of Students Served:155,526
Grade Levels:Grades 6-12
Partners:Western Illinois University
Topics:The Revolutionary War, The Civil War, Boston history , New Orleans history, Atlanta History
Methods:Workshops, site visits

This proposed grant will develop, implement, and strengthen programs that teach traditional American History as a separate academic subject (not as a component of social studies) within the middle level and high schools to increase curricula in 11 Regional Offices of Education counties in west-central Illinois. Specific traditional American History content will be covered in all phases of the grant by the Western Illinois University (WIU) History Department professors. The grant will use the combination of the first two successful grants to implement this new grant for a five-year timeframe. All components of this plan will meet and carry out the statutory requirement of carrying out the activities of the partnership. Course content will include the following: the Role of New England in the Formation of American history; the development of a unique American civilization; Katrina and the aftermath; Cajun culture and history; the Battle of New Orleans; New Orleans and the birth of jazz; the Battle of Vicksburg; Atlanta and Martin Luther King; Sherman and Atlanta; and the Civil War, the South, and national memory.

Grantee Name:Maine Township High School District 207
Project Name:American Dreams
Project Director:Lisa Oppenheim
Number of Teachers Served:60
Number of School Districts Served:6
Number of Students Served:3,000-5,000
Grade Levels:Grades 6-12
Partners:University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago Metro History Education Center, National-Louis University, Newberry Library, McCormick-Tribune Freedom Museum, National Archives and Records Administration - Great Lakes Region, Loyola University, Chicago History Museum, Constitutional Rights Foundation, the Illinois Labor History Society
Topics:Year 1: Legacies of the American Revolution and Constitution; Year 2: Slavery and Emancipation; Suffrage and Citizenship; Year 3: War and American Society; Reform and Its Limits
Methods:Summer institutes, seminars, study groups

The academic performance of the high schools represented in the consortium is of particular concern. All of the high schools listed above have been identified either for corrective action, are currently in state academic watch status (AWS), or are at risk of falling into corrective action because they did not make Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP). The consortium anticipates that at least two-thirds of the teachers who participate in the program will come from the high schools listed in the application. State achievement data at these schools suggest an even more striking academic disparity when special populations are taken into consideration. American Dreams aims to strengthen the teaching and learning of traditional American history in a consortium of culturally and economically diverse suburban Chicago middle and high schools. The project's focus is on building teacher capacity through rigorous professional development that weaves together traditional American history content, historical practice, and effective strategies for planning and delivering quality history instruction. The two primary goals of American Dreams are to: 1) improve the knowledge and classroom performance of U.S. history teachers, and 2) increase academic achievement in U.S. history by students. Course content will explore: Foundations of American Dreams: Legacies of the American Revolution and Constitution; Americans Dreams to 1877: Many Dreams of Freedom and Boundless Frontiers; Colonial Encounters and Early American Dreams; Slavery and Emancipation; Suffrage and Citizenship; American Dreams past 1877: Fighting for Democracy Working for the American Dream; War and American Society; Reform and its Limits.

Grantee Name:Rockford Public Schools #205
Project Name:Freedom Project
Project Director:Elizabeth N. Homewood
Number of Teachers Served:220
Number of School Districts Served:1
Number of Students Served:29,400
Grade Levels:Grades 5,7,8,11
Partners:Northern Illinois University, Rockford College, Rock Valley College, Aurora University, Veterans Memorial Hall, Midway Village & Museum Center, Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum, Organization of American Historians, Rockford Public Library, Colonial Williamsburg
Topics:Building a Nation: Exploration & Discovery through the Founding of the New Nation (1400's - 1820); The New Nation: Growth and Turmoil: (1776 - 1900); Becoming a World Power: The Emergence of Modern America (1890 - Present)
Methods:Symposia, workshops, summer institutes, field studies

In 2006-07, a total of 24 Rockford Public Schools (RPS) did not make Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP). Illinois State Assessment Test (ISAT) scores for 2006 and 2007 show that the AYP of RPS students only increased by 0.6%, from 65.2% to 65.8%. These AYP scores reveal that RPS students and teachers are making insignificant headway and must reach a much higher level of achievement very soon. The RPS is proposing the Freedom Project, a project dedicated to transitioning from an emphasis on social studies to a curriculum committed to true, traditional American history. A seamless transition from social studies to American history will occur in these grades, centering on the integration of content and pedagogy throughout. Curricula will provide a substantive historical continuum. The Freedom Project goals are to: 1) Raise student achievement through improved teacher understanding, knowledge, and practice in history content; 2) Enhance existing and develop new community partnerships with local organizations, museums, colleges, universities, and libraries; and 3) Modify scope and sequence to transition from a social studies based curriculum to an American history curriculum aligned to Illinois State Standards. Course content will include the following broad topical areas: Building a Nation: Exploration & Discovery through the Founding of the New Nation (1400's - 1820); The New Nation: Growth and Turmoil: The Constitution, Expansion, War and Reconstruction, and the Industrial Era (1776 - 1900); Becoming a World Power (Growing Pains): The Emergence of Modern America; from Industrialization to the Great Depression, Civil Rights Movement through Contemporary United States (1890 - Present)

Grantee Name:School District U-46
Project Name:Roadmap of American History
Project Director:Jeffrey Feucht
Number of Teachers Served:65
Number of School Districts Served:1
Number of Students Served:11,428
Grade Levels:Grades 9-12
Partners:The Illinois State Historical Library at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum, the Elgin Area Historical Society and Museum, Northern Illinois University, and the Constitutional Rights Foundation Chicago.
Topics:Year 1: Civil War and Reconstruction; Change and Conflict in the American West; Age of Innovation and Industry; Progressive Era; and Imperialism (1890-1920). Year 2: World Wars I and II; The Roaring Twenties; The Great Depression/New Deal; the Cold War. Year 3: Civil Rights, the Vietnam Era, and the Carter Presidency.
Methods:Seminars, summer institutes, group study

None of the five high schools in School District U-46 made Adequate Yearly Progress on the State of Illinois Prairie State Achievement Exam in 2007. Students in all but one of the five comprehensive high schools in the district perform well below the state average in both ACT composite measures and the "meets and exceeds" standard of the Prairie State Achievement Exam. The "Roadmap of American History" is open to all high school U.S. history teachers. Recruitment efforts, however, will focus on participation by particular categories of district teachers: (1) teachers in schools that have been placed on Academic Watch Status, and (2) teachers with less than five years of experience, and (3) teachers interested in furthering their undergraduate and/or graduate work in American history. Therefore, Illinois School District U-46 proposes to establish the "Roadmap of American History," a three-year professional development program for American history teachers at the high school level. Each year, the partnership will involve the majority of U.S. history teachers from all five high schools in a coordinated twelve-month program of intensive study, classroom instruction, and professional reflection including an introductory two-day spring symposium, a series of one to five-day institutes related to the 14 content titles of the U-46 "Curriculum Roadmap" for high school American history. Course content will explore the following: Civil War and Reconstruction (1846-1877); Change and Conflict in the American West (1877-1900's); Age of Innovation and Industry (1870-1900); Progressive Era (1890-1920); and Imperialism (1890-1920); World War I (1914-1920); The Roaring Twenties (1920-1929); The Great Depression/New Deal (1929-1941); World War II (1931-1945); and Post War America: Cold War and the 1950's (1945-1960); Civil Rights (1950-1968); 1960's and 1970's change in America (1960-1979); Vietnam Era (1959-1974); and Carter Presidency - Today (1979-Present).

Grantee Name:Township High School District 211
Project Name:Northwest Suburban American History Consortium (NSAHC)
Project Director:David Freeman
Number of Teachers Served:1,538
Number of School Districts Served:2
Number of Students Served:24,826
Grade Levels:Grades 9-12
Partners:University of Illinois at Chicago, the National Council for History Education, Newberry Library
Topics:Year 1: American history from the Colonial Period to 1877; American Indian History as United States History; Year 2: the Age of Reforms (1900-1945); Race and politics in the United States since Emancipation; Year 3: American women's history; religious history
Methods:Graduate courses, summer colloquia, field studies

The Northwest Suburban American History Consortium consists of eleven high schools in the north suburbs of Chicago. The Consortium was created to improve access to high-quality instruction for students who hail from a broad range of socio-economic and racial/ethnic backgrounds. The schools have seen growth in their minority enrollment in the last decade, and the proportion of students eligible for free and reduced-price lunches continues to increase exponentially. A survey of the teachers who currently teach American history indicates that the vast majority of our teachers do not have the strong content preparation and continuing pedagogical support necessary to most effectively teach the class. Many of our teachers are new to the profession, averaging only 7.5 years experience teaching American history. Almost half have had no professional development opportunities in the content area. The Northwest Suburban American History Consortium (NSAHC) has designed a comprehensive program to meet the needs of various teachers while providing a mechanism for widespread dissemination of their work. This program combines various opportunities for teachers to deepen their personal content knowledge with multiple models of dissemination designed to widen the impact of the program to as many teachers, and consequently students, as possible. The program's main structure rests upon a series of graduate courses taught by university professors coupled with summer colloquia coordinated by the National Council for History Education and immersion seminars at local sites of historical significance. Course content will explore the American Revolution and Constitution, the Civil War, the Industrial Revolution, social and political reforms, World Wars I and II, the Cold War, the Civil Rights Movements, feminist and conservative movements, the New Deal, post-1965 immigration, and U.S. women's history, among others.

Grantee Name:Urbana School District #116
Project Name:The American History Teachers' Collaborative (AHTC)
Project Director:Katherine Barbour
Number of Teachers Served:180
Number of School Districts Served:6
Number of Students Served:24,000
Grade Levels:Grades K-12
Partners:Early American Museum, Champaign County Historical Archives, Illinois State Archives - Springfield, NARA Regional Depository - Chicago, California Historical Society, Boston Museum, Atlanta History Center
Topics:Relocation, Revolution and Resistance; Looking Westward; and Leaders, Campaigns, and Conflicts of Modern America.
Methods:Summer institutes, workshops, learning trips, discussion groups

The consortium includes many schools that have been identified as needing improvement or requiring corrective action as defined by the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001. A needs assessment will be conducted to focus on teachers' credentials and qualifications for teaching American history. The American History Teachers' Collaborative (AHTC) will provide content-driven in-service opportunities to teachers of American History in the public schools of central Illinois. This project has three specific goals. The first goal is to improve teachers' American history content knowledge. The second goal is to provide teachers direct access to historical artifacts and primary sources so that they can better view national issues in history through the lens of local events. The final goal is to disseminate content knowledge and foster communication of best practices in the teaching of American History in order to increase student achievement. One important outcome of this project will be the development of a self-sustaining community of teachers, historians, archivists, and curators who collaborate to enhance the teaching of American History. Course content will examine European Exploration of the Americas; the African Diaspora and the Early Slave Trade; the Black Hawk War; the War of Independence; Abraham Lincoln and the Civil War; American Indians in the West; Cowtowns, boomtowns, and ghost towns; the Gold Rush and immigration; Free blacks in the Progressive Era; Carnegie, Rockefeller, Morgan, and Ford; Chicago history; and urban issues, among other topics.

Last Modified: 08/14/2008