Teaching American History

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Missouri 2008 Grant Abstracts
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Grantee Name:Blue Springs R-IV School District, MO
Project Name:Establishing, Expanding, and Contesting Freedoms: Vital Themes of United States History
Project Director:Annette Seago
Number of Teachers Served:36
Number of School Districts Served:2
Number of Students Served:48,244
Grade Levels:6-12
Partners:National Council for History Education, University of Missouri-Kansas City, Truman Presidential Library and Museum, World War I Museum, St. Louis University
Topics:Year 1: Establishing American Freedoms: Perspectives on the Founding Documents; Year 2: Expanding American Freedoms: Historical Perspectives on Political Reform; and Year 3: Contesting American Freedoms: Decision-Making in Historical Context
Methods:Colloquia, summer institutes, workshops, distinguished lectures

This project will serve teachers in the Blue Springs and Kansas City School Districts, the latter of which is a large inner city district that is provisionally accredited and currently has eight percent (8%) of its secondary schools in "needs improvement" status. Collectively, the two districts have an urgent need for professional development, as 22% of district teachers have had only one to three undergraduate courses in U.S. history during their academic career. To remedy this, the project will offer teachers a comprehensive professional development program that will improve teachers' content knowledge in American history, provide training in best teaching practices, and create a community of teacher-historians. Additionally, teachers will have the opportunity to earn up to six (6) hours of graduate credit per year through the University of Missouri - Kansas City. This opportunity is aligned with the project goal of preparing more teachers to teach advanced level American history courses, including AP and Dual Credit American history courses. The historical topics focusing on the early Republic will include Colonial and Revolutionary America, the Constitutional Convention, the Federalist Papers, and the Bill of Rights. Historical topics for the 19th Century will include Missouri statehood, Dred Scott, and the Civil War, and topics relevant to the 20th Century will include the Spanish-American War and World Wars I and II.

Grantee Name:Carl Junction R-I School District, MO
Project Name:What is an American? Teaching American History through Biography
Project Director:Anne Shadwick
Number of Teachers Served:80
Number of School Districts Served:49
Number of Students Served:55,000
Grade Levels:K-12
Partners:Southwest Center for Educational Excellence, Missouri Southern State University, National Archives and Records Administration - Central Plains Region, Missouri State Historical Society, Missouri Historical Society, Powers Museum, George Washington Carver National Monument, Jefferson Expansion National Monument, Successlink, the Joplin Globe
Topics:Year 1 - American Founders: 1492-1787; Year 2 - Builders of America: 1787-1890; Year 3 - Americans of the 20th Century
Methods:Content seminars, summer travel institutes, workshops, field trips, lectures, in-class support

The districts served through the project are among the poorest in the state, and 70% of district teachers have had no professional development in U.S. history in the last two years. In addition, of the 49 districts represented in the project, four (4) have not met Adequate Yearly Progress for the last two years and 18 fall into the state "improvement" list. To address these needs, the project will offer a professional development program that will serve all U.S. history teachers at all levels. To enable more teachers to participate, the project will offer targeted content workshops, field trips, and discussion groups to teachers who cannot commit to a year-long program. For those teachers who can, the project will offer semester-long content seminars, professional learning communities, guest lectures by prominent historians, and summer travel institutes. One of the unique features of the project is that it will integrate the teaching of literacy skills with history content. Another unique feature is the presentation of history content through biography. Over the course of the project, teachers will study biographies of Powhatan, Cabeza de Vaca, and Betsy Ross for the early American period; famous Missourians such as Daniel Boone, Dred Scott, and Jesse James for the antebellum period through Reconstruction; and Theodore Roosevelt, Martin Luther King, and Harry Truman for the modern era, among others. Oral history, as well as regional and state history, will be emphasized throughout.

Grantee Name:Rockwood School District R-VI, MO
Project Name:History Matters! Teaching Traditional American History K-4
Project Director:Roxanna Mechem
Number of Teachers Served:135
Number of School Districts Served:4
Number of Students Served:45,042
Grade Levels:K-4
Partners:National Center for History in the Schools, Missouri State Archives, Webster University, University of Missouri - St. Louis, Lincoln and Truman Presidential Libraries and Museums, Smithsonian Institution, Scott Joplin House
Topics:Famous Americans, American symbols and landmarks, immigration, Missouri history
Methods:Seminars, field experiences, book studies, culminating workshop

This project serves four school districts, one of which is a rural district and three of which are on the state's "needs improvement" list. In addition, none of the district elementary teachers have earned a degree in American history, and most teachers have taken only American history survey courses. To address the need for American history professional development, the project will provide a sustained, multifaceted program that provides teachers with relevant content knowledge, pedagogical strategies, and teaching resources. The project will offer teachers a series of full-day and evening seminars, field experiences, strategies workshops, and book studies. In addition, the project will pay particular attention to the successful utilization of non-fiction in the elementary classroom as a means to increase student achievement in both reading and history. The historical topics covered will align with grade-level curricula: kindergarten teachers will study topics surrounding the American flag, the National Anthem, and the Pledge of Allegiance; first and second grade teachers will concentrate on Washington, Lincoln, and other famous Americans; third grade teachers will focus on immigration; and fourth grade teachers will examine Missouri history.

Last Modified: 08/14/2008