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Understanding American History

New Heights Charter School and four other schools in the K-8 Charter Consortium, including two that have not achieved Adequate Yearly Progress for 3 years, serve more than 1,500 students in Los Angeles. Understanding American History will guide history teachers in these schools through activities that increase their pedagogical content knowledge, including after-school seminars and museum visits. Teachers will also pilot lessons and units of study in teacher cohort classrooms and use the Tuning Protocol to reflect on the units and refine them in grade-level teams. Recruitment of participants will focus on teachers with multiple subject credentials who teach American history content; 30 teachers will participate (starting with 24 in Year 1, with three more added in Year 2 and another three in Year 3). Teachers will explore significant turning points in American history and the role of individuals as viewed through the lens of core principles set forth in the nation's founding documents that have shaped America's social, political, and legal institutions. Teachers will employ the instructional strategies outlined by Grant Wiggins and Jay McTighe in Understanding by Design as they design units of study that address "enduring understandings" in American history. Teachers will design 25 American history units of study that motivate students and support English language learning; share what they learn with members of the California Charter Schools Association; and make exemplary units and support materials available online to the larger teaching community.