Teaching American History

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Illinois 2009 Grant Abstracts
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Grantee Name:Bloom Township High School District 206
Project Name:Time Travelers: Teaching American History in the Chicago Southlands
Project Director:Elizabeth Orr
Funding:$833,001 over 5 years
Number of Teachers Served Overall:32
Number of School Districts Served:2
Grade Levels:K-12
Partners:Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, Constitutional Rights Foundation - Chicago, Newberry Library, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum, eLearning Systems
Topics:Year 1: Beginnings through 18th Century: Shaping a Nation
Years 2 and 3: 19th Century through World War I: Conflict and Resolution
Years 4 and 5: 1920s through Modern Day: Continuity and Change
Methods:Workshops, summer academies, seminars

The Chicago Southlands districts comprising this project occupy an area with a rich history tied to the Industrial Revolution. The ethnically diverse area suffers from poverty, crime, high mobility, and high-risk industry. The curriculum does not present U.S. history as a stand-alone subject until high school, so students generally arrive with little background knowledge. In separate but parallel avenues of professional development, Time Travelers historians and professors will deliver content knowledge through school-year workshops and summer institutes, while a university scholar will facilitate and support teachers as they design and implement curriculum materials related to American and local history. Ten teachers a year will join in Years 1 to 3, for a total of 20 high school, four middle school, and six elementary teachers, plus two vertical team leaders. At least one teacher from each district will teach English as a Second Language and/or special education; all teachers will be asked to mentor colleagues. The Time Travelers theme is one of connecting local and state history to national history. Teachers will work in vertical teams to create strong support for sustaining the project in the future. All teachers will study the same topics, approaching them in grade-appropriate ways. For example, elementary and middle school teachers will focus on the administrations of Washington to Lincoln, learning about Manifest Destiny, slavery, early industrialism, and sectionalism. High school teachers will cover the same issues but with emphasis on dissent related to foreign policy and social issues. The curriculum materials produced during Time Travelers will be available to all area history teachers.

Grantee Name:St. Clair County Educational Cooperative Board
Project Name:People and Places: Our Story of Freedom, Liberty, and Equality
Project Director:Katie Hoerner
Funding:$1,721,944 over 5 years
Number of Teachers Served Overall:120
Number of School Districts Served:27
Grade Levels:4-6
Partners:Southern Illinois University - Edwardsville, McKendree University, Lincoln Library, Truman Library, National Constitution Center, Library of Congress, Jefferson Expansion Memorial
Topics:Year 1: Exploring Our Beginnings
Year 2: 19th Century America
Year 3: 20th Century America
Methods:Workshops, summer institutes, seminars, study tours, mentoring, Professional Learning Community

The People and Places consortium is in southern Illinois just east of the Mississippi River and near St. Louis. It has 23 schools in need of improvement, corrective action, or restructuring. Many elementary teachers do not have history teaching endorsements. Secondary teachers who participated in a previous Teaching American History grant will mentor elementary teachers as they design lessons and create Web-based portfolios related to the content of seminars, summer institutes, study tours to historical sites, and other activities. Participants will network with teachers outside the project and with preservice teachers in quarterly reading seminars, Web-supported discussions, and 1-day workshops. People and Places is designed to support the elementary teachers who introduce students to their first experience with U.S. history. To this end, it hopes to develop at least one teacher leader per building in consortium schools. Three cohorts of 40 teachers will participate for three years each and experience identical content organized around the theme of exploring the nation through the historical contexts that shaped and transformed its ideological heritage. During this exploration, teachers will engage in rigorous, research-based strategies such as higher level questioning and differentiating for different ability levels, integrating technology into teaching and learning, and applying historical thinking skills. The content of this professional development will rely in part on local and national primary sources, and teachers will learn how to turn their classrooms into historical laboratories. People and Places participants will share units of study they develop during the project and join a county-wide cadre to improve American history education.

Grantee Name:Urbana School District
Project Name:American History Teachers’ Collaborative
Project Director:Katherine Barbour
Funding:$1,719,950 over 5 years
Number of Teachers Served Overall:300
Number of School Districts Served:7
Grade Levels:K-12
Partners:Early American Museum, Champaign County Historical Archives, Illinois State Archives, National Archives and Records Administration, Missouri History Museum, McLean County Museum of History, Tennessee State Library and Archives, Wisconsin Historical Society, National Civil Rights Museum, University of Illinois, Bradley University, Organization of American Historians, Center for Civic Education
Topics:Year 1: Freedom and Democracy
Year 2: Voices that Shaped a Nation
Year 3: Turning Points in U.S. History
Year 4: Conflict and Cooperation
Year 5: Revolution, Reaction, and Reform
Methods:Summer institutes, workshops, learning trips, discussion groups, coaching, mentoring, blogging, turnkey training

Led by the Urbana School District, the American History Teachers' Collaborative includes seven school districts in central Illinois; four of these districts have been in improvement status for 5 years. Each year, the collaborative will provide professional development to K-12 history teachers in the form of a week-long summer institute, four Saturday workshops, a 3-day experiential learning trip, and four evening discussion groups during which teachers will analyze books and lectures. Participating teachers will also conduct local history research, present at local or national conferences, participate in a blog, and become history teacher leaders in their schools. Each summer, 20 teachers will also complete internships with a museum or archive partner. The program will serve 60 teachers each year. Eight teachers who participated in a previous Teaching American History grant will assist with program planning and act as classroom coaches, mentors, and small group facilitators. These teachers will provide extra support to beginning teachers and to elementary school teachers, who must translate history content to grade-level-appropriate lessons and activities. Participating teachers will learn to appreciate, analyze, synthesize, and evaluate the national historical record by looking at national themes and events through the lens of local history. Instructional strategies will include best practices in the teaching of American history and will focus on meaningful ways to engage students in historical analysis. The American History Teachers' Collaborative will develop a community of teachers, historians, archivists, and curators who collaborate to enhance the teaching of American history. A program Web site will catalog lesson plans, local primary documents, and examples of best practices.

Last Modified: 09/02/2009