Plowing Freedom's Ground
The Lee County, Tallapoosa County, Alexander City, and Phoenix City School Districts in eastern Alabama include four schools that had not achieved Adequate Yearly Progress and two that were in Year 2 Delay status at the time of the grant application. Plowing Freedom's Ground will target schools with low student achievement in history and few teachers who have completed advanced course work in U.S. history. Yearly activities will include a week-long summer seminar, a week-long lesson study workshop during which teachers will prepare problem-based historical inquiry lessons, three day-long professional development retreats during the school year, and mentoring and technical support through affiliates of the Persistent Issues in History Network at Auburn and Indiana Universities. Lesson Study teams will visit one another's classrooms during the year to observe and videotape fellow teachers delivering jointly designed lessons. A cohort of 30 teachers will participate in the program each year and will be encouraged to develop themselves as curriculum leaders and mentors in their districts. The thematic focus of Plowing Freedom's Ground will be pivotal events in American history that exemplify the persistent democratic challenge of ensuring fairness and justice for all Americans. The primary instructional strategy to be employed is problem-based historical inquiry learning; Lesson Study workshops will help teachers develop technology-enhanced, problem-based historical inquiry lessons that promote student engagement, historical thinking, and reasoning and democratic citizenship. Each Lesson Study team’s refined lesson plan, support materials, and video products will become part of the Persistent Issues in History Web site.