Teaching American History

Current Section
 Office of Innovation and Improvement Home
Michigan 2009 Grant Abstracts
Archived Information

Grantee Name:Kalamazoo Regional Educational Service Agency
Project Name:Teaching American History Summer Institute for Middle and High School Teachers
Project Director:Lynne Cowart
Funding:$1,665,734 over 5 years
Number of Teachers Served Overall:125
Number of School Districts Served:42
Grade Levels:8-12
Partners:Kalamazoo Valley Museum, Chicago History Museum, Western Michigan University Archives and Regional History Collections
Topics:The Development of Modern America (1865-1920): Immigration, Labor Movements, Social Reform and Progressivism
Methods:Summer institutes, lectures, museum visits, field studies, extension days

The 42 districts in this consortium sit close to the southern tip of Lake Michigan, almost directly across the lake from Chicago. Twelve districts are high priority; that is, they have schools in need of improvement, corrective action, or restructuring, and teachers from these schools will be recruited first. This project will bring together academic historians and museum curators to lead 10-day summer institutes that incorporate museum visits, experiences with artifacts and primary source documents, and modeling of curriculum and instruction. Activities will include six days of rigorous content instruction, two days of field study in Chicago, one and a half days split among local museum and archives visits, and a final half-day spent working on teacher projects. Two full-day extension sessions will be held in the fall. Each summer, 25 teachers will be recruited into a new cohort, and teachers who complete the activities will receive a stipend or three graduate credits. Content related to the three main topic areas will be linked with larger themes. Teachers will explore how these themes contributed to the development of freedom and democracy. In addition, participating teachers will learn to use data to identify student needs and adjust instruction accordingly. During the summer and fall sessions, each teacher will write a paper that presents a period-appropriate thesis and defend the thesis using historical inquiry. Teachers will convert their research into multimedia lessons/presentations supported by primary sources, literature, and artifacts, and these will be available for all teachers to use.

Grantee Name:Lansing School District
Project Name:Frontiers of American History
Project Director:Melinda Dickinson
Funding:$1,683,278 over 5 years
Number of Teachers Served Overall:150
Number of School Districts Served:20
Grade Levels:K-12
Partners:Smithsonian Institution, National Council for History Education, Michigan Historical Museum
Topics:Year 1: A New Nation (1750-1820)
Year 2: A Divided Nation (1820-1865)
Year 3: Westward Expansion (1865-1910)
Year 4: Expanding Beyond Boundaries (1910-1945)
Year 5: A Global Nation (1945-present)
Methods:Colloquia, summer institutes, historical site visits, Internet-based learning, Professional Learning Communities

The Frontiers of American History (Frontiers) districts serve Michigan’s state capital and the surrounding region. Performance on state history tests has generally been poor—across consortium schools, 63 percent of students in the class of 2007 failed to meet state proficiency standards. To help teachers expand their content knowledge and teaching expertise, each year the project will offer two 3-day seminars by Smithsonian historians and education experts, a 5-day summer institute by NCHE academic historians and pedagogy experts, on-site museum excursions, and Professional Learning Community meetings. Project leaders will recruit teachers according to a tiered system, giving priority to teachers from schools with the greatest needs and including other teachers if space is available. Teachers will be encouraged to attend regularly and for more than a year, and participation in multi-grade cohorts will give context and perspective for the eras of history they teach. The Frontiers theme is investigating the physical, social, and political frontiers that have impacted development of American society. The project’s technology component will expand the reach and availability of project resources and activities, including blogs, videoconferences, presentations, primary source materials, and online learning for teachers. The learning community component will include a forum made up of teachers from all participating schools; they will meet to explore topics, teaching strategies, lesson plans and peer education. This collaboration across grades, schools, and districts will help teachers share best practices, conduct peer reviews, and develop standards and research-based lessons. The project will produce a Web site with resources, lessons, and classroom instruction that students find engaging and relevant.

Grantee Name:Waterford School District
Project Name:Digging Into the Past
Project Director:Carol Egbo
Funding:$499,689 over 3 years
Number of Teachers Served Overall:200
Number of School Districts Served:Information Not Available
Grade Levels:K-5
Partners:Oakland University, University of Michigan - Dearborn, Midwest Archeology Center, Henry Ford Museum, Michigan Historical Center, Oakland County Historical Commission, Oakland County Pioneer and Historical Society, Waterford Historical Society, Oakland Schools
Topics:Year 1: Patterns of Movement and Settlement, 1600-1800
Year 2: Patterns of Movement and Settlement, 1800-1900
Year 3: Exploring Common Threads, 1600-1800
Methods:Seminars, afterschool workshops, principal academies, book study groups, lectures, archeological excavations and field work, lesson development

An earlier Teaching American History grant in this Michigan district supported teachers in Grades 5, 8 and 10.  Fifth grade teachers noticed that students were arriving with insufficient background knowledge and historical inquiry skills.  Digging Into the Past activities are designed to help teachers prepare students in earlier grades. Content and instructional specialists will lead half and full-day seminars, afterschool workshops, book study groups, lectures, teacher projects with graduate credit available, and sessions on developing grade-level lesson plans. Six grade-level history teams will be formed to involve all elementary teachers in the district.  Using a two-track system—one more intensive than the other—will make appropriate amounts of professional development available to every teacher. Track 1, the more intensive, will consist of teachers in Grades 2 through 5; Track 2 will consist of kindergarten and Grade 1 teachers. The theme of Digging Into the Past is examining patterns of movement and settlement in American history and how the archeological record helps us understand these patterns. An archeology team will oversee excavations and bring specialized content knowledge into the activities, and each grade-level team will have historians assigned as mentors. K-4 teachers will learn to integrate history and literacy by using history-related books to bring history alive.  Grade 5 teachers will synthesize and connect earlier history experiences for students when they begin to study history as a separate subject. The principal academies will help principals learn to evaluate history instruction in the classroom. Throughout the project, teachers will collaborate to develop engaging lessons that integrate literacy and align with state standards.

Last Modified: 09/10/2009