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Northern California Teaching American History Program

In these remote northwestern California districts, nearly three fourths of 8th and 11th grade students scored at or below basic on the 2007 statewide U.S. History test. Substance abuse, juvenile crime, and violence are common, and teachers face great challenges in engaging students in academics. This project will help teachers develop their pedagogical skills and content knowledge through a variety of annual activities: four evening book discussions, two weekday workshops, two Saturday workshops, two Constitutional workshops, 20 afterschool workshops, and a variety of summer activities. Participants can join one of two cohorts—the master's program, or MA cohort, or the professional development, PD cohort. Of 70 participants in Years 1-3, half will enter the MA cohort and half the PD cohort; in Years 4-5, another 70 teachers will complete the same program. In addition, 10 preservice teachers will join the activities each year. The MA cohort will pursue a content-dominated program of graduate courses, and the PD cohort will balance pedagogy with content; however, both groups will pay attention to classroom instruction. For example, MA teachers will be required to create and demonstrate teaching "hooks"—quick ways to introduce a topic by using a visual element and a primary source document. In the PD cohort, curriculum groups will develop, test, and edit at least two projects oractivities a year: these might be Web-based activities, field trips, classroom-ready differentiated instruction, or lessons that integrate California history into U.S. history. To make the professional development available to as many teachers as possible, the 20 afterschool workshops will be held at 10 different low-performing schools.