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Obtaining Unalienable Rights (OUR)

Tuscaloosa City and County Schools will collaborate with Hale County Schools, which is located in Alabama's Black Belt. Many teachers in these districts have not taken a formal American history course for 10 or more years, and a survey of selected students found little or no knowledge about the way historians study and think about history. Each year will feature a kick-off event designed to set the historical context and to distribute books for independent study and classroom resource packets. Other annual activities will include day-long workshops, evening speakers' forums, a week-long summer institute, an independent book study, online discussions and team study, and peer coaching in small groups that combine veteran and less experienced teachers. A two-part cohort approach will select 20 high-needs teachers to participate in all 5 years, and add 10 teachers each year who will participate on a year-to-year basis. OUR will focus on delivering relevant context and multidimensional understanding of history topics that teachers have identified as important and that align with Alabama content standards. Delivery of content and instructional strategies will conform to the OUR blueprint for an ideal classroom environment: using primary source analysis and historical inquiry, history-related service learning, print and electronic resources, and intellectual challenge; collaborating with colleagues to plan, teach, observe, and critique lessons; and implementing best teaching practices and new historical content and resources. OUR products will include the classroom blueprint, teaching materials (e.g., primary source documents, DVDs, historical fiction, and nonfiction), an online community, and traveling history trunks for classroom use.