Teaching American History

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West Virginia 2009 Grant Abstracts

Grantee Name:Hampshire County Schools
Project Name:American HEART: Framing Our History
Project Director:Dr. Lynn Rupp
Funding:$1,614,073 over 5 years
Number of Teachers Served Overall:40
Number of School Districts Served:8
Grade Levels:5-12
Partners:West Virginia Wesleyan College, National Council for History Education, National Constitution Center, Bill of Rights Institute, Morehouse College in Atlanta, Shepherd University, eLearning International
Topics:Year 1: Creating a Government of Laws, Not Men
Year 2: Protecting Individual Liberty
Year 3: The Rights of Citizens
Year 4: The Constitution and Congress
Year 5: The Constitution and Executive Power
Methods:Summer colloquia, field studies, discussion groups, seminars, workshops, Professional Learning Community, mentoring

Located in the eastern mountains and Eastern Panhandle of West Virginia, the eight county-wide districts involved in Framing Our History have 20 middle and high schools that have not made Adequate Yearly Progress for one or more of the past three years, and many teachers in these schools are not highly qualified to teach history. The project will address participant needs through colloquia, institutes, field studies, and other activities that promote greater content knowledge, build pedagogical skills, and create a Professional Learning Community. The project also will provide interventions to nonparticipants at struggling schools and conduct a research study in one district on the project's long-term effects. A total of 40 teachers will participate for the full 5-year period, 30 of whom will be selected from low-performing schools and 10 of whom will be teacher-mentors, who will participate in all project activities. Framing Our History aims to develop teacher-historians who make history relevant to today's students by instilling historical thinking skills and habits of mind. During the summer colloquia, teachers will interact with historians, master teachers, learning/curriculum specialists, and preservice teachers from the higher education partner to explore content as professionals and develop pedagogical skills such as action research. All activities will integrate educational technology and emphasize the use of a variety of resources and delivery media. Teachers will create instructional guides and problem-based learning modules to be published on the state department’s Teach 21 Web site. These resources will help other history teachers improve their classroom practice.

Grantee Name:Regional Education Service Agency III
Project Name:Voices from America’s History (Voices)
Project Director:Charles Nichols
Funding:$1,612,547 over 5 years
Number of Teachers Served Overall:108
Number of School Districts Served:12
Grade Levels:K-12
Partners:Marietta College, Marshall University, Ohio Valley University, West Virginia State University, West Virginia University-Parkersburg, Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, National Council for History Education, Smithsonian Museum of American History, West Virginia State Museum
Topics:Elementary School: Colonization, Settlement and Communities (1607-1763); Crisis and the Union (1850-1877); Development of Modern America (1865-1920); Modern America and the World Wars (1914-1945)
Middle School: Development of Modern America (1865-1920); Modern America and the World Wars (1914-1945); Contemporary America (1945-present)
High School: Expansion and Reform (1801-1861); Development of Modern America (1865-1920); Contemporary America (1945-present)
Methods:Summer institutes, mentoring, colloquia, field experiences

The districts in this grant cover west-central West Virginia, a mainly rural region that has little ethnic diversity, experiences low income levels, and relies on many teachers who do not have a “highly qualified” status in history. Historians and specialists from partner institutions will lead field experiences, conduct colloquia, and provide guidance on using primary resources and diverse instructional media such as art and music. Voices staff and master teachers will provide professional development in content and pedagogy through summer institutes, online learning communities, classroom modeling, and the introduction of project-based learning, all of which incorporate state-adopted 21st Century Learning Skills. Voices aims to improve mastery of history content by initially targeting the lowest-performing schools and focusing on elementary teachers, who generally have had few opportunities to learn vibrant history instruction skills. Middle and high school teachers will be added during Years 2 and 3. Themes to be explored include the catalysts for, the relationships among, and the outcomes of major events and periods in American history. Voices will have teachers do what they will expect students to do: examine, analyze, and synthesize historical knowledge by reviewing primary and secondary sources, working in learning communities, and creating projects. Teacher-created lesson plans will be among the materials and supports designed to sustain the improvement of history teaching. Other products will include an American History Education Resource Center at each partnering institution of higher education, Web-based Professional Learning Communities, and a cadre of teachers from all grade levels who can help their colleagues learn new methods for teaching American history.

Grantee Name:Regional Education Service Agency II
Project Name:Project TAH-21: Teaching American History in the 21st Century
Project Director:Thomas M. Miller
Funding:$1,666,620 over 5 years
Number of Teachers Served Overall:150
Number of School Districts Served:6
Grade Levels:3-8
Partners:Ashland University, Marshall University, eLearning Systems International
Topics:The American Revolution, the American Founding, Sectionalism and Civil War, Civil War and Reconstruction, the Progressive Era, America Between the Wars, America During the Cold War
Methods:Professional Learning Communities, mini-institutes, field experiences, summer institutes, online courses

All six of the countywide, southwestern West Virginia districts involved in this project have failed to achieve Adequate Yearly Progress for three or more consecutive years. Two districts are in corrective action, and 18 of the region’s elementary, middle, and high schools have been identified as in need of improvement. Project TAH-21 will engage teachers and administrators in learning communities focused on American history, led by Marshall University professors. Two-hour monthly meetings will develop content knowledge and employ lesson study to support instructional skills. Online courses, 1-day mini-institutes, 3-day summer field experiences, and weeklong intensive summer institutes will help teachers develop content knowledge, history thinking skills, and history Habits of Mind. Each year, a new cohort of 30 teachers will participate, and project staff will recruit first from schools that are most in need of improvement. Project TAH-21 aims to link history content, curriculum design, and instruction within a comprehensive American history plan. Teachers will review and analyze original, core documents in a setting that models the strategy for use with students and Professional Learning Communities will foster sustained and purposeful conversations about teaching practice and content delivery. When the grant ends, the project will continue through Professional Learning Communities, ongoing access to online courses on American history topics, and a living Web site of resources for teachers.

Grantee Name:Regional Education Service Agency I
Project Name:Prism-WV and America’s Founders: Providing Perspective to a Legacy of Principle and Perseverance in the Traditional American History Classroom
Project Director:Dr. William A. O'Brien
Funding:$1,637,682 over 5 years
Number of Teachers Served Overall:90
Number of School Districts Served:9
Grade Levels:4, 5, 10, 11
Partners:Concord University, West Virginia Humanities Council, Mountain Library Network
Topics:Year 1: Natural Rights, Revolution, and Nation-Building in Early America (1607-1815)
Year 2: Civil War in America—Rights, Responsibilities and the Nature of the Union (1787-1900)
Year 3: Civil Rights and Liberties in the United States—The Supreme Court Assigns Meaning to America’s Constitution
Year 4: America’s Emergence as a Global Power—Founding Principles Applied on a World Stage
Year 5: Leadership—Character, Virtue and Civic Responsibility in American History
Methods:Summer academies, colloquia, online graduate courses, use of master teachers and mentors

In the nine southern West Virginia counties that have organized for this project, few history teachers at any level have taken an in-field graduate class. Prism-WV and America's Founders will connect teachers with prominent scholars, university faculty, guest lecturers, mentors and master teachers during 1- or 2-week summer academies, 2-day colloquia during the school year, and occasional visits to schools. In addition, participants will enroll in Concord University's graduate certificate program in American History to take five online courses that address the project's annual topics. In Year 1, 40 teachers will be admitted, and they will be joined by another 50 teachers in Year 2. The 90 teachers will continue as a single cohort for the remainder of the five years, and education students from Concord University will also participate. The professional development will focus on principle (understanding the seminal principles of freedom and democracy); perseverance (studying how the founders implemented these principles); and perspective (enhancing an individual’s world view through knowledge of the nation's history). To incorporate these themes into history instruction, teachers will use primary source materials, learn to think like historians, and engage in conversations about principles as the nation's founders did. Content and instruction will incorporate technologies networked through Concord University's Innovative Technology Application Project, which supports interactive simulation, modeling, animation, and visualization. Prism-WV will produce regional teaching and research partnerships among K-12 teachers of different grade levels, a Teaching Historians Web site, participant-created reports, lesson plans and teaching modules, and a collection of research sites and sources.

Last Modified: 09/14/2009