Teaching American History

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Iowa 2009 Grant Abstract
Archived Information

Grantee Name:Des Moines Independent Community School District
Project Name:The Clio Project
Project Director:David Johns
Funding:$1,666,665 over 5 years
Number of Teachers Served Overall:225
Number of School Districts Served:1
Grade Levels:5, 8-12
Partners:Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, Iowa State University, Des Moines Area Community College, State Historical Society of Iowa, Fort Des Moines Museum and Education Center, Living History Farms
Topics:Year 1: Conflict and Compromise
Year 2: Revolution, Reaction and Reform
Year 3: The Struggle for Freedom
Year 4: Turning Points in American History
Year 5: America’s Global Presence
Methods:Summer institutes, mid-year institutes, book studies, field experiences, individual projects, on-site coaching

The Clio Project serves Iowa's capitol, where the student population is diverse and gaps in student achievement are becoming urgent in the middle and high schools. The district intends to redesign its history curriculum to include primary sources and historical thinking, along with a learner-centered approach to instruction. Clio will address student achievement through activities that strengthen teacher knowledge about increasing student engagement, providing experiences with primary sources in print, multimedia and digital formats, and studying artifacts, historical sites, and oral history with historians and scholars. During project activities, Clio teachers will contribute to redesigning the American history curriculum and developing authentic student learning assessments. The project will recruit teacher participation at three levels: Level I teachers will be core group members (35 each for middle and high school) and will work toward leadership roles to support implementing the new curriculum. These teachers must attend at least 80 percent of activities. Level II teachers will attend 75 percent of activities to receive professional development credit, and Level III teachers will attend sessions of their choice with no participation requirement. Clio, the Greek muse of history, serves as the project's thematic guide for deepening teachers' knowledge, understanding, and appreciation of American history. The instructional strategies for this purpose include developing historical thinking skills, working with primary sources, and using authentic research. Attention will be paid to differentiating instruction, teaching literacy in content areas, problem-based learning, and other research-based approaches. In addition to teacher-created lessons, the Clio Project will make an important contribution to the district's new curriculum and assessment tools.

Last Modified: 09/02/2009