Teaching American History

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Minnesota 2008 Grant Abstracts
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Grantee Name:Itasca Area Schools Collaborative
Project Name:Headwaters American History Collaborative
Project Director:Cecelia McKeig
Number of Teachers Served:40
Number of School Districts Served:8
Number of Students Served:8,400
Grade Levels:Grades 4-12
Partners:Minnesota Historical Society
Topics:Year 1: Tradition, Trading, and Sovereignty: American Indians in Northern Minnesota; Year 2: Forests, Iron, and Shipping: Economic History of Northern Minnesota; Year 3: Government and Industry on the Mississippi: The History of the Twin Cities
Methods:Workshops, peer coaching, historic site visits, National History Day participation

This project is designed to bring much-needed professional development opportunities in American history to a group of seven school districts and a partnering tribal school in rural, northern Minnesota. The structure of the academic program for teachers is designed to offer rigorous and relevant workshops, institutes, and school-based support services that will increase content knowledge, improve instructional practice, and create sustainable relationships between the participating schools and project partners. The academic content for this project will build from a foundation of the traditional narrative of American history and develop further connections to American Indian and Minnesota history. The inextricable link of American Indian nations to the history and geography of this region and the large population of Native students in participating schools requires that a consistent thread of American Indian history be incorporated into the academic program. Significant periods, such as Colonial America, the Revolutionary War, the antebellum period, the Civil War and Reconstruction, and the Great Depression will be studied. Instructional rigor will be enhanced through co-curricular participation in the National History Day program.

Grantee Name:Lakes Country Service Cooperative
Project Name:American Crossroads: Teaching American History on the Great Plains
Project Director:Jeremy Kovash
Number of Teachers Served:60
Number of School Districts Served:1
Number of Students Served:32,000
Grade Levels:Grades 4-12
Partners:Minnesota State University - Moorhead, Minnesota Historical Society, Colonial Williamsburg, Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, Newberry Library
Topics:Year 1: The Collision of Cultures, 1492-1806; Year 2: Forging Freedom, the Tumultuous 19th Century, 1807-1914; Year 3: Developing Democracy at Home and Abroad, 1914-present
Methods:Seminars, professional learning communities, lecture series, History Day and AP History workshops

This project is designed to overcome the isolation that many American history teachers experience while working in small, rural schools on the isolated northern plains where winter weather can prohibit travel over half the school year. Participants will network in person and online with regional colleagues and will have a positive and continuing relationship with local professors. The project will provide history content seminars for area teachers, create Professional Learning Communities to promote and perfect history-driven pedagogy, foster teacher collaboration and disseminate the lessons and methods of the project, forge lasting partnerships between teachers and organizations, and host a series of workshops and professional development activities open to teachers throughout western Minnesota. Participating teachers will experience over 120 hours of contact time a year in addition to their online activities. The content of the project is divided into three separate periods, from Columbus' discovery of the New World to the Louisiana Purchase, the antebellum period to pre-World War I, and World War I to the present. Specific topics to be covered include imperial rivalries in the invasions of North America, the American Revolution, Minnesota statehood, the Civil War, the Homestead Act and the development of the northern plains, and America's emergence as a world power.

Grantee Name:Northwest Service Cooperative
Project Name:We, Too, Are The People
Project Director:Faye Auchenpaugh
Number of Teachers Served:70
Number of School Districts Served:39
Number of Students Served:28,000
Grade Levels:Grades 5-12
Partners:Smithsonian Institution, Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, National Humanities Center, Minnesota Historical Society, Bemidji State University, Hamline University, eLearning Systems International, Cooperative Ventures
Topics:Year 1: "Gilded and the Gritty: 1870-1920"; Year 2: "America Between the Wars: 1920-1940"; Year 3: "Second World War and Beyond: 1940-1954"
Methods:Summer institutes, workshops, travel study

Schools in the 14,698 square miles that comprise the Northwest Service Cooperative (NWSC) region in northwest Minnesota are economically depressed, sparsely populated, geographically isolated, and performing below state averages in reading assessments. This project represents a multi-dimensional professional development plan that involves a variety of respected state and national partners to improve teachers' knowledge, understanding, and appreciation of traditional American history. Among the districts to be served are the nine that have been cited for not making Adequate Yearly Progress. The coordinated series of activities provided through the "We, Too, Are the People" project align with an instructional improvement review model that will deepen and broaden the content knowledge and instructional skills of 70 American history teachers in Grades 5-12. Each year, specific time periods in American history will be explored by teachers and scholars during intensive summer institutes and travel study trips. School year workshops will focus on helping teachers understand how the history of their geographic area fits into the national historical context for the time periods being studied. Teachers will study traditional American history from the perspectives of exploration, settlement, freedom, power, religion, domesticity, expansion, equality, progress, world relations, and the common man. Specific topics to be covered include the reunification after the Civil War, cultural assimilation of immigrants, incorporation of the American West, the role of women, the banking system and the Great Depression, and World War II. Travel study trips will be made to the southeastern United States, Montana, and Washington, D.C.

Last Modified: 08/14/2008