Teaching American History

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Georgia 2009 Grant Abstracts
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Grantee Name:DeKalb County School System
Project Name:SHIFT: Seeing History in Focus Together
Project Director:Kimberlynn Weston
Funding:$999,527 over 5 years
Number of Teachers Served Overall:150
Number of School Districts Served:1
Grade Levels:4, 5, 8-12
Partners:Georgia State University, Atlanta History Center, Martin Luther King, Jr., National Historic Site, Jimmy Carter Library, Georgia Council for Economic Education, DeKalb History Center, Georgia Department of Education Social Studies Program
Topics:The New Republic (1782-1861), Crisis of the Union: Civil War and Reconstruction (1850-1877), The Development of Modern America (1865-1920), America and the World (1940-present)
Methods:Lectures, readings, hybrid graduate-level courses, summer academies, field experiences, interactions with historians and master educators

Located in the Atlanta metro area, this district’s students are predominantly minority, ethnically and linguistically diverse, and from low-income families. Twenty-five of its 125 schools are in need of improvement. SHIFT participants will interact with respected historians at annual kick-off events, through two hybrid graduate-level courses each year, and during annual summer academies located at historical sites. Teachers will have funding to gather resources for their classroom libraries during field experiences and will receive other resources during SHIFT activities. The project will serve five cohorts of 30 teachers each, with teachers coming from all school levels and each cohort participating for two years. SHIFT will explore a variety of themes, including interactions of peoples, cultures, and ideas; change and continuity in American democracy; and the changing role of America in the world. Instructional strategies will focus on applying thoughtful exploration and critical analysis to understand history, and on making history an engaging, immersive, and relevant academic subject. Teachers will reflect, collaborate, and refer to the SHIFT blueprint for guidance on building an ideal classroom environment for history teaching and learning. Teachers who complete the professional development will have classroom libraries with multimedia resources, an expanded repertoire of teaching practices, deeper content knowledge, and collegial relationships that will support their future practice.

Grantee Name:Fayette County Board of Education
Project Name:Building Connections
Project Director:Robynn Holland
Funding:$1,341,489 over 5 years
Number of Teachers Served Overall:300
Number of School Districts Served:2
Grade Levels:K-3, 4, 5, 8, 11
Partners:University of Georgia, Atlanta History Center, Georgia Humanities Council, National Archives: Southeastern, Pacific, and Great Lakes Region
Topics:Tier 1: Origins of American symbols and biographies of significant individuals
Tier 2: In-depth focus on 1866 to 1940, emphasizing the struggle for equality, emergence of modern America, technology and cultural changes, and the Great Depression and the New Deal
Methods:Readings, lectures, training in research techniques, field experiences, summer institutes

The two metro-Atlanta districts participating in this project include several schools identified as in need of improvement, and one district has not made Adequate Yearly Progress for four years: student scores on state and other standardized tests have been below state averages. Building Connections teachers will interact with historians and colleagues from different grade levels as they attend summer institutes and evening lectures and visit national and local historic sites and archival facilities. Small cohorts will meet during the school year to discuss content and instruction and to collaborate on assignments. Stipends and a competitive application process will be used to recruit 250 Tier 1 teachers (50 per cohort, with one cohort in Year 1, two cohorts in Year 2, and two cohorts in Year 3) and 50 Tier 2 teachers (one cohort for three years, starting in Year 1), with preference given to those from low-performing schools. Throughout the project, themes will center on placing significant individuals, events, and issues into the context of our nation's foundation and civic ideals. Around this content, Building Connections will help teachers learn to integrate several instructional approaches into their practice, such as using nonfiction materials and primary source documents, conducting research, using technology, and incorporating history into reading and writing. During the 5-year project, each Tier 1 teacher will compile a portfolio that includes lesson plans, primary sources, visuals, portraits, and objects. Tier 2 teachers will produce learning packages that include lesson plans, artifacts, and primary documents. All lesson plans will be compiled and shared with other teachers.

Grantee Name:Northeast Georgia Regional Educational Service Agency
Project Name:Teaching American History in Georgia’s Classic Region
Project Director:Dr. Katherine Wright
Funding:$995,897 over 3 years
Number of Teachers Served Overall:60
Number of School Districts Served:13
Grade Levels:3, 4, 5, 8-12
Partners:University of Georgia, Georgia Humanities Council, National Archives - Southeast Region, Jimmy Carter Presidential Library, Digital Library of Georgia
Topics:Year 1: Political Roots of American Democracy: Revolution Through 1815
Year 2: The Changing Nation: Political, Social, and Economic Change in the United States Between 1877 and 1918
Year 3: Civil Rights, Social Change Movements, and Politics From 1950 to the Present
Methods:Lectures, discussions, book studies, seminars, field studies, summer institutes, Professional Learning Communities

Within the districts in this northeast Georgia region, 15 schools did not make Adequate Yearly Progress in 2008, and 13 schools are in need of improvement. On the 2008 history tests for Grades 4, 8, and high school, 35 percent or more of the region’s students did not meet state standards. Teaching American History in Georgia’s Classic Region will expand teachers’ content knowledge and help them develop their pedagogical skills. Seminars, field studies, and summer institutes will be led by historians and master educators who will help teachers gain an increased appreciation of traditional American history. Professional Learning Communities, meeting both face-to-face and online, will collaborate to create lesson plans. A cohort of 60 teachers will include 30 from Grades 3-5 and 30 from middle and high schools; priority will be given to teachers from the schools most in need of improvement. Instructional strategies for this project include Understanding by Design and using historical thinking skills. Each year, these will be applied to content from the selected topic area/historical period. The project will produce technology-based collaborative instructional units that incorporate primary sources, local history resources, Web sites, and databases. All units will be reviewed by an advisory board and mounted on the project Web site to share with teachers in Georgia and across the nation. In addition, materials related to the book studies, blogs, podcasts, lectures, and presentations will be available online for all teachers in the project service area. In addition, teachers will conduct model demonstration lessons in their local schools and districts to sustain the project’s impact over time.

Last Modified: 09/03/2009