Teaching American History

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Wisconsin 2009 Grant Abstracts
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Grantee Name:Cooperative Educational Service Agency 10
Project Name:Constructing and Reconstructing "Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness" From the Age of Revolution to the Present (Constructing Liberty)
Project Director:Susan McLeod
Funding:$1,689,564 over 3 years
Number of Teachers Served Overall:420
Number of School Districts Served:308
Grade Levels:K-12
Partners:Chippewa Valley Museum, University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, Wisconsin Historical Society
Topics:Year 1: Revolution and the New Nation (1763-1815), Expansion and Reform (1801-1861)
Year 2: Crisis and the Union: Civil War and Reconstruction (1850-1877)
Year 3: The Development of Modern America (1865-1920), Modern America and the World Wars (1914-1945), Contemporary America (1945-present)
Methods:Summer institutes, travel seminars, workshops, distance learning

Constructing Liberty will serve half of Wisconsin's student population and nine-tenths of its land area through a consortium of 308 school districts, giving priority to schools designated as being in need of improvement. The consortium includes the metropolitan Milwaukee-Madison area and many small, rural districts that are challenged by professional isolation and lack of access to professional development. Annual activities will comprise a 3-week summer institute (which includes a 1-week travel seminar during which teacher-fellows may connect with colleagues in other Teaching American History projects) and an academic-year workshop series that offers two tracks—one for teachers of history with Grade 1-8 licenses and another for those with Grade 6-12 licenses. Teachers will also network and work on individual research and lesson-development projects online. Forty teacher-fellows will be recruited each year to take part in all activities; 100 teachers will be recruited each year to attend the workshop series only, either face-to-face or online. Multi-year participation will be encouraged, and the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire will offer graduate credit to teacher-fellows who are working on advanced degrees. The program will connect local and national narratives and will help teachers and their students understand how the rights of "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness" have expanded over more than two centuries of American history. Teachers will learn how to incorporate literacy strategies into the teaching of history and how to work with primary source materials in the classroom. Online networking will enable participants to share media presentations, interviews, lesson plans, blog entries, and research projects with other Wisconsin teachers.

Grantee Name:Milwaukee Public Schools
Project Name:Foundations of Democracy
Project Director:Christina Flood
Funding:$1,666,666 over 5 years
Number of Teachers Served Overall:45
Number of School Districts Served:1
Grade Levels:K-12
Partners:Bill of Rights Institute, Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, DBQ Project, Center for Civic Education, Marquette University Cardinal Stritch University
Topics:American Democracy and Freedom: Authority, Justice, Privacy, and Responsibility
Methods:Summer institutes, workshops, lectures, field trips, online graduate courses

Milwaukee Public Schools, which serves a diverse student body in Wisconsin, has not made Adequate Yearly Progress in reading and mathematics for four consecutive years. Foundations of Democracy was designed to align with the literacy component of the district's improvement plan. The program will deliver sustained experiential professional development to history teachers in a variety of formats.  In a typical year, a participating teacher might attend a week-long summer institute, three 1-day workshops during the school year, 12 paid hours of afterschool workshops on history strategies, and six paid hours of lectures and field trips outside of school hours. Also, over the course of five years, each participant will be required to take at least three online graduate courses, attend a Gilder Lehrman summer seminar, and submit proposals to present at state and national conferences. There will be a district-wide student exhibition in Year 4 and a district-wide history teachers conference in Year 5. The district will select 45 teachers for the program, with priority given to high school teachers, those teaching in schools in need of improvement, and those teaching history without a license in history. The program's overarching theme is how four components of freedom and democracy—authority, responsibility, justice and privacy—have shaped America’s social, political, and legal institutions and relationships. Instructional strategies for Foundations of Democracy will incorporate culturally competent programming, formative assessment, document-based questioning, critical reading and writing skills, and project-based learning. Participating teachers will provide professional development at their schools and facilitate sessions at a culminating district-wide U.S. history conference.

Grantee Name:Superior School District
Project Name:Defining America: Times of Crisis and Recovery
Project Director:Kyle Smith
Funding:$1,065,418 over four years
Number of Teachers Served Overall:40
Number of School Districts Served:55
Grade Levels:4-12
Partners:University of Wisconsin-Superior, Northern Great Lakes Visitor Center, Wisconsin Historical Society, Douglas County Historical Society, St. Louis County Historical Society
Topics:Year 1: Planning, teacher recruitment, and kick-off workshop
Year 2: Out of Many, One: The Birth of the United States
Year 3: A More Perfect Union? Civil War and Beyond
Year 4: A New Deal: Remaking America in Depression and War
Methods:Summer colloquia, retreats, seminars, field trips, online courses

Defining America is a combined effort of two regional educational service agencies—one in northwestern Wisconsin and the other in northeastern Minnesota.  Together, they serve 55 mainly rural districts plus several Native American schools and have a total of 10 schools in need of improvement. Project activities will provide opportunities for history teachers to work directly with master teachers, curriculum experts, and archivists. Face-to-face experiences will include 5-day summer colloquia and one and a half-day retreats and seminars of various lengths.  Online activities will include creation of a Moodle site where project staff and participants can share ideas and practices and conduct online discussions. When project staff select the 40 teaching fellows, their priority will be on recruiting teachers from schools in need of improvement. The theme of Defining America is examining critical eras when, at the national level, the meaning of "America" was created or significantly redefined. History content will include the relevant national events and people, and will also make connections to local and Native American history. Teachers will learn to identify historical resources, incorporate historical thinking into teacher-created lesson plans and classroom activities, and use best practices in instruction. When teaching fellows complete their 3-year Defining America experience, they will have a pool of lesson plans to share with other teachers and will be a resource for colleagues in their districts to improve history instruction across all schools.

Last Modified: 09/22/2009