Teaching American History

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FLORIDA 2009 Grant Abstracts
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Grantee Name:Citrus County School Board
Project Name:Nature Coast Liberty Fellowship
Project Director:Michael Ballard
Funding:$833,330 over 5 years
Number of Teachers Served Overall:200
Number of School Districts Served:1
Grade Levels:6-12
Partners:University of Central Florida, Franklin’s Opus, American Institute for History Education, National Council for the Social Studies, Bill of Rights Institute, National Constitution Center, American Revolution Museum, Italian-American Heritage Commission
Topics:Year 1: The Empire vs. the Colonies
Year 2: From Unity to Division: The Agrarian South and the Industrial North
Year 3: From Division to Unity: War, Reconstruction, and World Power
Year 4: Liberal Democracy vs. Totalitarianism
Year 5: Liberal Democracy vs. Totalitarianism redux
Methods:Colloquia, summer institutes, videoconferences, classroom coaching, readings, Talking History network

Citrus County, Florida, is rural and remote—teachers must drive about 75 miles each way to pursue university training opportunities. The district has not made Adequate Yearly Progress for six years, and district schools have performed only somewhat better. Because reading and writing have been weak, Nature Coast Liberty Fellowship activities will include a focus on integrating literacy into history instruction. Each year teachers can attend two 2-day colloquia, two half days of research, a 3-day summer institute, and 12 videoconferences (which are open to all district teachers). The project will offer turnkey replication of training. An annual cohort will consist of a core group of 35 fellows and five teacher leaders. The teacher leaders will train intensively to replicate project activities to nonparticipating district history teachers in Year 2. To help teachers take a professional historian’s approach, the project will instruct fellows on how to conduct research, write historical narratives, and create substantive lessons and lively Web-based activities. Approaches will include Binary Paideia, Understanding by Design, and classroom coaching to support transfer of new strategies into practice. Fellows will study the American Institute for History Education's historical frameworks, signature strategies, and 12-step process for creating classroom lessons, and they will participate in its Talking History network. All district teachers will have access to fellows' lessons and to training on creating substantive lessons themselves (through CICERO, a Web-based collection of history resources). After receiving turnkey training, every history teacher will create one lesson a year. Partner organizations will maintain ongoing contact with fellows in support of their efforts to replicate training across the district.

Grantee Name:Florida Virtual School
Project Name:Turning Points in American History
Project Director:Dianna Miller Wakefield
Funding:$1,659,155 over 5 years
Number of Teachers Served Overall:30
Number of School Districts Served:67
Grade Levels:5-12
Partners:National Council for History Education, National Humanities Center, E-Learning Systems International, Colonial Williamsburg, Florida Humanities Council, Gettysburg College, George Washington University, University of South Florida, University of Florida, Library of Congress, National Archives and Records Administration
Topics:Year 1: Explorations, Revolutions, and Reforms
Year 2: Expansion, Civil War, and Reconstruction
Year 3: The Gilded, the Gritty, and the Great War
Year 4: Boom, Bust, and Global War
Year 5: Cold War, Civil Rights, and Terrorism
Methods:Colloquia, field studies, book discussions, online meetings and professional development sessions, teacher leaders

Florida Virtual School, the first and largest statewide Internet-based public high school in the United States, serves 64,000 students across Florida. It has been charged by the state legislature to give priority to minority and rural students and students in low-performing schools. Teachers will be recruited for Turning Points in American History (Turning Points) through an application process that incorporates a needs assessment as the main selection tool. Each year, participating teachers will engage in a 3-day, face-to-face National Council for History Education colloquium; online professional development and networking that includes readings, workshops, book discussions, and lesson development; and 3- to 5-day field study academies at historical sites and museums. All American history teachers in Florida Virtual School will have access to WebLessons, an online lesson development resource. A cohort of 30 teachers will receive services throughout all five years of the program. Project coordinators will identify a subgroup of 10 lead teachers who will provide ongoing professional development to all Florida Virtual School history teachers; six of these teachers will be eligible to attend a national history conference each year. Turning Points will explore watershed events that have changed American history—political and cultural revolutions, social and religious changes, new technologies, and explorations of unknown places. Teachers will learn to integrate primary documents, art, and thematic connections between literature and U.S. history into their instruction, as required by Florida’s new state social studies standards. Teacher-created lessons and enrichment activities such as podcasts and virtual field trips will be shared through the Florida Virtual School Web site.

Grantee Name:School Board of Brevard County
Project Name:Becoming an American: Continuity Through Change
Project Director:Irene Ramnarine
Funding:$1,664,200 over 5 years
Number of Teachers Served Overall:80
Number of School Districts Served:1
Grade Levels:4, 5, 8
Partners:Florida Humanities Council, National Council for History Education, Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, eLearning Systems, Center for Interactive Learning and Collaboration, Brevard Public Schools
Topics:Cohort One
Year 1: Exploration, Settlement, and Communities
Year 2: Revolution and the New Nation
Year 3: Growth and Expansion
Cohort Two
Year 3: Growth and Expansion
Year 4: Development of Modern America
Year 5: Conflicts and Change—Contemporary America
Methods:Professional Learning Community, mentoring, colloquia, field experiences, online courses, workshops

Brevard County, Florida, is home to the Kennedy Space Center and a range of technology industries, yet the district has never made Adequate Yearly Progress. More than half of Title I schools are in improvement, corrective action, or restructuring, and few teachers have adequate history backgrounds. Becoming an American historians and scholars will support teachers as they research and discuss history during summer colloquia and workshops. Field experiences will immerse teachers in living history, and academy coaches (secondary teachers from a previous project) will mentor the participants. Early in their experiences, teachers will take online courses; by completion, they will be qualified to conduct such courses. Two groups of 40 elementary and middle school teachers will participate for three years (overlapping in Year 3), and selection criteria will favor teachers from schools with the greatest needs. The project theme is embedded in its name—Becoming an American: Continuity Through Change—and it will address the five turning points in American history named in the topics above. The project will focus on instructional strategies that include project-based learning, using technology and practicing differentiated instruction. Teachers will learn to identify historical patterns, establish cause-and-effect relationships, find value statements, establish significance, apply historical knowledge, weigh evidence to draw conclusions, and make defensible generalizations. The project's continuing impact on history teaching will come from its products, including a quasi-experimental study measuring student gains, teacher-created lessons on the project Web portal, classroom instruction that incorporates online lessons or virtual visits, mentoring of other history teachers in the district, and a teacher-designed standards-based student history assessment.

Grantee Name:Lake County School District
Project Name:Inheriting a Legacy of Freedom
Project Director:Patricia Weisbach
Funding:$1,000,000 over 4 years
Number of Teachers Served Overall:140
Number of School Districts Served:1
Grade Levels:3-5, 7-8, 11-12
Partners:Organization of American Historians, University of Florida, Florida Humanities Council, Orange City Regional History Council, Lake County Library System
Topics:Year 1: Colonization, Settlement, and Communities (1607-1763); The Revolution and the New Nation (1763-1815); Expansion and Reform (1801-1861)
Year 2: The Revolution and the New Nation (1763-1815); Expansion and Reform (1801-1861); Civil War and Reconstruction (1850-1877)
Year 3: Same topics as Year 1
Year 4: The Revolution and the New Nation (1763-1815); Expansion and Reform (1801-1861); Civil War and Reconstruction (1850-1877); The Development of Modern America (1865-1920); Modern America and the World Wars (1914-1945); Contemporary America (1945-present)
Methods:Summer academies, book studies, podcasting, Professional Learning Communities, coaching and modeling by lead teachers, action research

Lake County School District in central Florida includes 42 schools, 12 of which have been identified through Florida's Differentiated Accountability Model as in need of improvement. Since 2001, Lake County's population has increased by more than 38 percent, and the district has hired hundreds of new teachers in response to increased student enrollment. Inheriting a Legacy of Freedom will target schools in need of improvement and address district-identified gaps in teachers’ content knowledge and qualifications through a program of interrelated activities: 8-day summer academies that focus on document-based questioning strategies, school and district-level Professional Learning Communities that meet throughout the grant period, technology-based learning that includes monthly book study sessions and podcasts of historians’ lectures, and action research that encourages participants to examine their teaching practices. Four separate cohorts of 35 teachers will receive professional development, and lead teachers will be chosen from these cohorts each year to coach other teachers of American history on topics such as meeting individual student needs and integrating technology into classroom practice. Lead teachers will also model effective teaching practices for American history teachers at schools in need of improvement. Inheriting a Legacy of Freedom will incorporate several overarching themes, including constitutional interpretation and American identity, culture, and religious development. The primary instructional strategy employed to convey content will be document-based questioning, which develops students' skills in reading, writing, and critical thinking. Teacher participants will create museum-like interactive exhibits, accompanied by curriculum support guides, for use by educators across the district.

Grantee Name:School Board of Miami-Dade County, Florida
Project Name:Teaching American History in Miami-Dade County, Phase 2
Project Director:Iraida Mendez-Cartaya
Number of Teachers Served Overall:290
Number of School Districts Served:
Grade Levels:5, 8, 11
Partners:Florida International University, American Institute for History Education, Learners Online
Topics:Elementary: Colonialism, American Revolution, Constitution and New Government, Westward Expansion, Slavery, Civil War, and modern history Intensive Study: Colonialism, Slavery, Civil War, Expansion, Defending Democracy Masters: New World Societies; American Revolution to 1783; Historical Methods; Gender and American Slavery; Civil War; Race, Class, and Politics in the Modern U.S.; American Foreign Policy
Methods:Workshops, summer institutes, graduate courses, travel study

Miami-Dade County has many students from immigrant or first-generation families and many teachers who feel underprepared to teach American history. Teaching American History activities will address these needs in a variety of ways. Elementary teachers will meet for six Saturday workshops, a one-week summer institute, and two online workshops on using Web lessons. Intensive study teachers will have seven 2-day workshops, and master teachers will complete a 3-year program to earn 30 graduate credits. The three types of cohorts will be constructed as follows: elementary cohorts will include 30 teachers, with a new group participating each year of the project; intensive study cohorts will have 30 different teachers each year for four years; and the master teachers cohort will consist of 20 teachers who participate for three and a half years. An overall goal of the project is to build capacity within the district, and the three types of cohorts will enable both immediate improvement in the classrooms and long-term support for history teaching. During elementary workshops, everything will be structured around essential questions: historians will present content and discuss its application in the classroom, and then participants will complete project-specific assignments. During five intensive study workshops, teachers will focus on content; the remaining two workshops will address instructional strategies. The master teachers program will include 10 graduate-level courses and an original research paper. In Years 2 to 5, scholar-guided travel will take 20 participants to national historical sites for five to seven days. The Professional Learning Communities that develop among cohort members will contribute to sustaining and expanding the project's impact.

Grantee Name:School Board of Pinellas County
Project Name:Circle of We: From Civil War to Civil Rights
Project Director:Linda Whitley
Funding:$821,626 over 3 years
Number of Teachers Served Overall:60
Number of School Districts Served:1
Grade Levels:9-12
Partners:University of South Florida, St. Petersburg, Florida Humanities Council
Topics:Year 1: The Development of Modern America (1865-1920)
Year 2: Modern America and the World Wars (1914-1920)
Year 3: Contemporary America (1945-present)
Methods:Lectures, colloquia, workshops, summer institutes, online learning community

Pinellas County, on Florida's west coast, has embarked on a high school redesign plan intended to improve the performance of all district high schools. To that end, the Circle of We project will be paying special attention to the 10 low-performing high schools in the district. The district's increased focus on academic rigor and student engagement will be reflected in the project’s annual activities, which will include three 3-hour lectures followed by full-day colloquia, two day-long workshops, a summer institute, and an ongoing virtual learning community. Each year a cadre of 20 teachers, ranked by need, will be recruited to participate in 175 hours of professional development. In addition, teachers will receive tuition-free graduate coursework toward dual-enrollment certification. The project will examine the ideas behind “We the People” and how it has been debated, defined, defended, challenged, and redefined over the past 200 years. This examination will extend to the democratic principles of freedom, justice, inclusion, and equal opportunity that underlie our constitutional rights, and to the social, legal, and civic institutions that embody these principles. Middle school teachers who completed a similar TAH project in 2008 will open their classrooms so that the high school teachers can observe effective teaching practices, such as document-based questioning. Circle of We will create a Moodle site that will become part of a permanent infrastructure to support history professional development, and teachers who complete the professional development will constitute a high school cadre with period-specific content expertise and content-specific pedagogy.

Grantee Name:School Board of Polk County
Project Name:Our Heritage: Our Future
Project Director:Rozy Scott
Funding:$1,595,545 over 5 years
Number of Teachers Served Overall:288
Number of School Districts Served:1
Grade Levels:5, 8, 11
Partners:National Council for History Education, Charleston Museum, Plimoth Plantation, Old Sturbridge Village, Bill of Rights Institute, Foundation for Teaching Economics, College Board
Topics:Track 1: Three Worlds and their Meeting in the Americas (Beginnings to 1607); Colonization, Settlement and Communities (1607-1763); The Revolution and the New Nation (1763-1815); Expansion and Reform (1801-1861)
Track 2: The Bill of Rights, Supreme Court Cases that Changed History, Presidents and Federal Power, Immigration in American History, Development of U.S. Foreign Policy, Economic Foundations in American History
Methods:Summer institutes, field studies, workshops, online “meet the historian” mini-courses, networking

Polk County Public Schools in central Florida includes 37 elementary schools identified by the state as being in need of Improvement. The district serves a growing number of Spanish-speaking migrant students whose knowledge of American history is limited. To meet the needs of elementary and secondary American history teachers, Our Heritage: Our Future will offer a dual-track program of professional development. Track 1 (Grade 5) teachers will participate in a summer institute consisting of a 3-day colloquium, a day with a historian, and a 5-day field study; a 2-day spring training on using Reader's Theater and primary sources; a 1-day fall seminar on a history topic; a 1-day curriculum alignment workshop; regular online “meet the historian” mini-courses; and lesson development activities. Track 2 (Grades 8 and 11) will involve teachers in a variety of day-long and after-school professional development events and collegial learning. Track 1 will include 144 teachers (one 36-member group a year for 4 years, followed by a year of collegial work and delivery of district wide professional development). Following the same pattern of cohort engagement, Track 2 will expand the district's existing teacher-leader development network. In addition, eight to 12 teacher leaders will revise district curriculum maps based on new Florida American History standards. Our Heritage: Our Future will involve teachers and students in reading and experiencing American history to help them become more informed, productive citizens. Classroom instruction based on the Learning-Focused Strategies model will emphasize vocabulary in context, visual tools such as graphic organizers, and Reader's Theater. Teachers will create lesson plans and materials for district-wide dissemination.

Grantee Name:School Board of Sarasota County
Project Name:Casting the Net
Project Director:Bernadette Bennett
Funding:$1,645,908 over 5 years
Number of Teachers Served Overall:125
Number of School Districts Served:1
Grade Levels:5-12
Partners:University of Central Florida, Ringling Museum, Sarasota County History Center, Historic Spanish Point, Facing History and Ourselves
Topics:Year 1: America’s Role in a Changing World
Year 2: Gatherings and Interactions of Peoples, Cultures, and Ideas
Year 3: Change and Continuity in American Democracy
Year 4: Economic and Technological Changes and their Relation to Society, Ideas, and the Environment
Year 5: Changing Role of America in the World
Methods:Workshops, retreats, reading groups, summer institutes, Professional Learning Community

Located on Florida's Gulf Coast, Sarasota County has several elementary schools with a diverse student population in need of improvement. Casting the Net teachers will participate in summer institutes, book studies, and independent studies as they work with partners and historian mentors to develop a rubric for historical quality, revise curriculum, and build learning materials. Summer institutes will focus on NAEP eras, and related book study topics will be determined as the project progresses. Annual cohorts, with an expected enrollment of 25 teachers each year, will be open to all county teachers and pre-service teachers in Grades 5-12 who teach, or expect to teach, history. The project’s overarching theme is to cast a net to the next generation of Americans and engage them in examining the relationships among national, state, and local history to create a dynamic picture that provides relevance and sets a context for studying the past and learning from experience. Casting the Net content and instruction will focus on incorporating critical reading strategies, primary sources, and technology into history instruction, and using research to develop materials and lessons that are relevant and hands-on. To this end, the project will provide mini-grants for action research and independent studies. With project staff and the steering committee, teachers will contribute to a new district curriculum that aligns with new state standards and that fosters rigorous study of American history. They will also create high-quality, field-tested learning materials and kits to accompany the core texts and a collection of video case studies that demonstrate student learning using engaging materials.

Grantee Name:School District Manatee County
Project Name:Foundations of Freedom Liberty Fellowship
Project Director:Pam Hamad
Funding:$1,661,725 over 5 years
Number of Teachers Served Overall:40
Number of School Districts Served:1
Grade Levels:3-5
Partners:University of South Florida, Looking for Angola Project, Franklin’s Opus, American Institute for History Education, National Council for the Social Studies, Bill of Rights Institute, National Constitution Center, American Revolution Museum, Italian and Italian-American Heritage Commission
Topics:Year 1: The Building of an English America—Beginnings to 1607; Colonization (1607-1763)
Year 2: The Empire vs. the Colonies—The Revolution and the New Nation (1763-1815)
Year 3: The Agrarian South and the Industrial North—Expansion and Reform (1801-1861); Civil War and Reconstruction (1850-1877); Development of the Modern United States (1865-1920)
Year 4: Liberal Democracy vs. Totalitarianism—Modern America and the World Wars (1914-1945)
Year 5: Liberal Democracy vs. Totalitarianism—Contemporary America (1945-present)
Methods:Summer institutes, colloquia, study trips, research sessions, Talking History Webinars, technology-enabled real-time lesson observations and reviews, turnkey training

The School District of Manatee County, located on Florida's west coast, includes 33 elementary schools, eight of which are Title I schools that have not achieved Adequate Yearly Progress for multiple years. Across the district, recent student performance in American history has been poor. The Foundations of Freedom Liberty Fellowship (Foundations) will give priority to teachers in low-performing elementary schools and provide 14 days of professional development each year: a 2-day fall colloquium, a 3-day winter colloquium, a 2-day study trip, four half-days of research and review, and a 5-day summer institute. A technology-enabled classroom coaching program will help participating teachers refine their lesson design and delivery. All 170 of the district’s teachers in Grades 3-5 will be encouraged to attend Talking History Webinars once a month and will have online access to CICERO teaching resources. Foundations will accommodate 40 fellows each year. Five experienced teachers from the initial cohort will be trained as teacher-leaders, and they will replicate portions of the fellowship training to help all district history teachers create engaging history lessons and activities. The thematic focus will be on how geography, economics, and political thought have contributed to events in traditional American history. Strong emphasize will be given to teachers and students reading and discussing American history issues, documents, events, and personalities. Teachers will be trained to use the American Institute for History Education’s Signature Strategies, including the Binary Paideia approach, to promote historical thinking and enhance classroom instruction. Historical narratives, “virtual field tours,” and other teacher-created resources will be posted on the project Web site.

Grantee Name:Volusia County School District
Project Name:Preserving Our Nation: The Civil War Era Liberty Fellowship
Project Director:Jason Caros
Funding:$1,665,310 over 5 years
Number of Teachers Served Overall:40
Number of School Districts Served:1
Grade Levels:5, 8, 10-11
Partners:American Institute for History Education, Franklin’s Opus, University of Central Florida; National Council for the Social Studies, Bill of Rights Institute, National Constitution Center, American Revolution Museum, Italian-American Heritage Commission
Topics:Year 1: The Empire vs. the Colonies
Year 2: From Unity to Division: The Agrarian South and the Industrial North
Year 3: From Division to Unity: War, Reconstruction, and World Power
Years 4-5: Liberal Democracy vs. Totalitarianism
Methods:Summer institutes, colloquia, study trips, Talking History Webinars, classroom coaching, online Professional Learning Community, turnkey training

Volusia County is located in central Florida and includes Daytona Beach. The suburban school district serves a growing Hispanic population and includes 56 schools that have not achieved Adequate Yearly Progress in reading and math. Each year, through the Preserving Our Nation fellowship program, participating teachers will receive professional development during a 1-day fall colloquium; a 3-day winter colloquium; a 2-day field-study trip; four and a half days of directed historical research and lesson development; classroom coaching; and a 5-day summer institute. Supplemental resources, including the American Institute for History Education’s monthly Talking History Webinars, and online access to CICERO teaching resources, will be available to all teachers in the district. The program will serve 40 fellows, including five teacher leaders who will deliver turnkey sessions for history teachers throughout the district. Each teacher leader will attend a certified Advanced Placement training course and a week-long turnkey training. Teachers will explore how geography, economics, and political thought contributed to events in traditional American history. Classroom instruction will incorporate CICERO, an online compilation of multimedia history resources; the Binary Paideia approach for developing historical thinking; and the American Institute for History Education’s Signature Strategies for delivering effective, grade-appropriate instruction. The project will publish a compilation of its events, teaching resources, and fellow-created materials (such as virtual field trips and lesson plans) on a Web site.

Last Modified: 09/10/2009