Teaching American History

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Connecticut 2009 Grant Abstracts
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Grantee Name:Area Cooperative Educational Services
Project Name:With Liberty and Justice for All: American History for Elementary Teachers and Classrooms
Project Director:Joanne Manginelli
Funding:$1,570,405 over 5 years
Number of Teachers Served Overall:65
Number of School Districts Served:7
Grade Levels:K-5
Partners:Yale University History Department
Topics:Year 1: Beginnings to 1607; Colonization, Settlement, and Communities, 1607-1763; Revolution and the New Nation, 1763-1815
Year 2: Expansion and Reform, 1801-1861; Crisis and the Union, 1850-1877
Year 3: Development of Modern America, 1865-1920; Modern American and the World Wars, 1914-1945; Contemporary America, 1945-Present
Year 4: The Role of Connecticut and New England in the Nation’s Past
Year 5: Civil Rights and Defining Who Is an American
Methods:In-school coaching, technology support, seminars and workshops, summer institutes, curriculum development

Grant partner Yale University currently manages another TAH grant for middle and high school teachers. Building on this experience, this grant will serve the elementary teachers in the urban and urban fringe districts in south central Connecticut. Here, several schools are in need of improvement, corrective action, or restructuring, and large achievement gaps are not uncommon. Each year, participating teachers will be engaged in developing curriculum units to share with other teachers and post on the project Web site. Other annual activities will include a summer institute/field trip and eight seminars provided by noted historians who will organize lectures around concepts, themes, and primary sources that underlie the development of American liberty. Project leaders estimate that about 65 teachers a year will participate in selected activities. Because participants will determine their own level of engagement, staff expects 35 teachers each year will attend at least 75 percent of activities, and the goal is that these will be the participants recruited from the schools with the greatest needs. With Liberty and Justice for All aims to help students be engaged with the story of our nation and contribute to the ongoing story of American liberty. To support greater student engagement, grant activities will include instruction that helps teachers apply high-quality curriculum, critical thinking, close reading, and collaborative leadership skills. Outside the seminar settings, this will be accomplished through school-based coaching and technology training. The project will increase the quality and quantity of instructional resources available to all teachers and build an online collection of instructional units for all teachers to use.

Grantee Name:Bridgeport Public Schools
Project Name:Making History
Project Director:Anne Cunningham
Funding:$1,612,567 over 5 years
Number of Teachers Served Overall:400-500
Number of School Districts Served:1
Grade Levels:5, 7, 8, 10, 11
Partners:National Council of History Education, Connecticut Historical Society, Bridgeport Public Library, Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art
Topics:Year 1: Using primary and secondary sources to construct historical interpretation
Year 2: Historical research and constructing a historical narrative
Year 3: Multiple perspectives and interpretations
Year 4: Historical periodization, globalization, continuity, and change
Year 5: Teaching traditional American history and integrating new educational technologies
Methods:Colloquia, Professional Learning Communities, workshops, seminars, book discussions

The Making History project serves Connecticut’s largest city, where 13 percent of students are English learners who come from 70 language groups. In 2009-2010, one year of American history is being added to Grade 7 and a semester to Grade 10, meaning that teachers who have never taught American history will need extra support. Teachers will receive 50 hours per year of professional development delivered in five stages: (1) a summer colloquium, (2) content-focused seminars, (3) a field trip, (4) workshops on pedagogy, and (5) practica for implementing innovations in the classroom. Annual cohorts of 80 or more elementary, middle, and high school teachers will learn together, share content knowledge, and instructional strategies, and support one another in implementation. Making History will focus on the human elements of history, especially presidents and other "history makers" from the Revolution to World War II. Teachers will explore the "history of history" as an academic discipline. Seminars will include sessions such as "Picturing American History", where teachers learn about interpreting pieces of art as historical artifacts. Instruction will include learning historical habits of mind, using document-based questioning, and initiating student research and presentation. At the end of the project, the district will have a group of eight to 10 key lead teachers who are history specialists and advocates and a standards-based curriculum. All activities, lessons, and/or units of study created during the project will become Assured Experiences—things all district teachers are required to teach—and will be included in the electronic curriculum.

Grantee Name:Cromwell Public Schools
Project Name:American Voices
Project Director:Dr. Elizabeth Rose
Funding:$986,901 over 3 years
Number of Teachers Served Overall:75
Number of School Districts Served:12
Grade Levels:4-8
Partners:Central Connecticut State University, Connecticut Historical Society Museum
Topics:Integrating History and Literacy; Native American/European Communities and Conflict; Colonial Communities; American Revolution; Conflict and Compromise in the Early Republic; Conflict and Compromise in the Expanding Nation; Slavery and Reform: The Civil War
Methods:Book studies, summer institutes, interactions with project historians

The 12 central Connecticut districts in American Voices cover rural, urban, and suburban areas, and include the state capital of Hartford. Many students in the region come from families where English is not the primary language. Voices will address both history and literacy by connecting teachers to members of the university history department and the education school's reading and language arts faculty. Each year, teachers will meet regularly in a study group where they will discuss readings with historians, identify materials to use with students, compare and assess classroom materials and strategies, and select topics for the summer institute. During the week-long institute, teachers will meet with scholars, visit museums, and develop artifact kits and classroom materials, including "historical scene investigations," to engage students. Voices will explore the theme of Community, Conflict, and Compromise to deepen knowledge about American history from colonization to the Civil War. Instructional strategies will emphasize integrating history with literacy, creating Web-based lessons and resources, and encouraging active learning through student investigations with primary sources. Content will introduce primary source materials and other resources related to local and national people and events in history. The classroom-ready lessons and historical investigation units created by Voices teachers will be available to the public on the project’s Web site.

Grantee Name:Shelton Board of Education
Project Name:Democratic Vistas: The Expansion of Freedom and Equality in American History
Project Director:Elizabeth Cannon Crosby
Funding:$1,683,655 over 5 years
Number of Teachers Served Overall:320
Number of School Districts Served:3
Grade Levels:5-12
Partners:Yale University American Studies Program, Sacred Heart University, Gilder Lehman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance, and Abolition
Topics:Year 1: Contemporary American History (1945-present)
Year 2: Modern America and the World Wars (1914-1945)
Year 3: Civil War and Reconstruction (1850-1877); Development of Modern America (1865-1920)
Year 4: Revolution and the New Nation (1763-1815); Expansion and Reform (1801-1861)
Year 5: Colonization, Settlement, and Communities (1607-1763)
Methods:Summer institutes, history forums, pedagogy workshops, field trips, teacher-designed classroom projects, on-site observation and coaching

In the Shelton, Trumbull, and New Haven Public School Districts, secondary school students have scored well below average on Connecticut's reading and writing exam, and in New Haven, only a third of the students who took the 2008 U.S. history exam scored at or above proficiency. To strengthen the quality of instruction in U.S. history, Democratic Vistas will offer eight history forums each year, supplemented by two follow-up workshops on pedagogy. Other activities will include several day-long field trips to regional historic sites, a week-long summer institute, online networking, classroom observations, and coaching. Over five years, Democratic Vista will serve at least 320 teachers. Annually, up to 160 teachers can participate in one of three ways: (1) participate in all activities and create a unit plan for graduate course credit or a stipend and Continuing Education Units; (2) participate in individual activities and study instructional strategies; or (3) participate in the summer institute and receive graduate course credit or a stipend and Continuing Education Units. The program will challenge history teachers to increase student interest and knowledge in traditional American history by making connections between the past and present, Connecticut and U.S. history, and history/culture and the arts. Instructional strategies will focus on concept-based teaching and development of historical thinking;, the lesson design frameworks of Grant Wiggins and Jay McTighe (Understanding by Design), and differentiated instruction. To sustain a Professional Learning Community of teacher leaders, the three partnering districts will create an online space for blogging, networking, and sharing curricular units, projects, assessments, and other resources.

Grantee Name:Windham Public Schools
Project Name:Themes of History: Expanding Perspectives on the American Story
Project Director:Ana Maria Olezza
Funding:$992,272 over 3 years
Number of Teachers Served Overall:50 teachers and 15 teacher candidates
Number of School Districts Served:35
Grade Levels:5-12
Partners:University of Connecticut; Brown University; American Antiquarian Society; Historic New England; Connecticut State Library; Connecticut Historical Society
Topics:Year 1: Freedom, Security, and Diversity
Year 2: Individual Opportunity and Social Responsibility
Year 3: Sharing Power: Federalism and International Relationships
Methods:Summer institutes, workshops, seminars, Lesson Study sessions, master teachers, online Professional Learning Community

Windham Public Schools is collaborating with a regional education service center (EASTCONN) in rural northeastern Connecticut to implement Themes of History. Windham Public Schools has been identified as a district in need of improvement, and 10 middle schools among the other participating districts have also been so identified. The program’s core professional development activities include a week-long summer institute, three evening presentations by guest historians (open to all educators in northeastern Connecticut), and three full-day workshops. Supplemental activities include three seminars on content-related pedagogy and three evening lesson-planning sessions based on the Lesson Study approach. Participants will also receive in-class support from master history teachers, participate in an online Professional Learning Community, and attend the annual conference of the state's Council for the Social Studies. Fifty history teachers will participate for all three years of the program. Also, each year, five graduate students who are preparing to teach history will be invited to participate. The thematic focus of Themes of History is on helping students see and understand recurring patterns and themes in American history, with an emphasis on significant events, people, documents, and turning points. Participating teachers will learn to incorporate primary and secondary documents, artifacts, and historical materials as they use inquiry-based instructional strategies in developmentally appropriate ways. Exemplary history lessons will be posted online, and work accomplished through the program will contribute to the development of a stand-alone American history curriculum for statewide use.

Last Modified: 09/02/2009