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Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness

image of Triangle Shirtwaist factory fire

The Grant

Life, Liberty & the Pursuit of Happiness (LLPH) is a TAH project through the Area Cooperative Educational Services (ACES) program in south-central Connecticut, a regional educational service agency serving 25 school districts in the state. The grant created a professional development program for select ACES middle- and high-school teachers. Using the resources of Yale University, historians introduce teachers to new scholarship in American history and discuss innovative teaching strategies through monthly forums. These workshops combine lectures, readings, and the exploration of primary documents.

Project Organization

Historians, archivists, and curriculum specialists, work with teachers on how to best introduce specific themes and documents into their classrooms. Field trips, professional and curriculum development workshops, teacher-initiated history projects, and an annual Summer Institute all form part of this grant. In years 1–3, teachers study the nation's past in chronological order: "The Foundations of American Democracy," "Slavery and Emancipation," and "The Struggle for Democracy in 20th-century America." In years 4 and 5, the focus is on national responses to different groups of people. "Women and the Struggle for Inclusion" and "Race, Ethnicity, and Civil Rights" examine racial and ethnic minorities in American history and the idea of an evolving "America."

Resources

In the "Resources" panel, teachers in grades 4–12 will find links to lesson plan templates and guidelines, lesson plans (also found in the "Lesson Plans" section of the LLPH site,) and Keeping it Real, a WordPress site that compiles lesson plans and teaching strategies for incorporating primary sources into lessons.

Using the Project

Perhaps the biggest asset of the LLPH site is its archive of more than 80 lesson plans. Lesson plans are categorized by the year of the project and each category contains dozens of ideas on how to use primary sources effectively across the U.S. History curriculum. Each lesson plan follows the rubric and guidelines of the ACES/Yale grant project. For instance, Susan Rosenstein's 8th-grade lesson plan on the Gullah people of South Carolina & Georgia includes content standards, enduring questions, objectives, links to online resources, and other helpful features that will allow teachers to diversify their teaching of slavery. It should, of course, be noted that the idea is to adopt these lesson plans into existing curriculum and state standards. But what the LLPH lesson plans do provide is a rich collection of ideas that can foster conversations in any school through well-crafted lesson plans.

Links to seven other online resources can serve as a pathway toward finding more helpful material on the Web. Lastly, many of the online resources specific to this particular TAH grant have also been made available and can help educators during the planning stages of a specific unit. For example, John McClymer's essay on the Shirtwaist factory fire contains valuable information and links that could help augment any lesson on labor laws and factory conditions.

Partners 

Connecticut Area Cooperative Educational Services, Yale University History Department, Gilder Lehrman, Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery Resistance, and Abolition.

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