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Inheriting a Legacy of Freedom

Lake County School District in central Florida includes 42 schools, 12 of which have been identified through Florida's Differentiated Accountability Model as in need of improvement. Since 2001, Lake County's population has increased by more than 38 percent, and the district has hired hundreds of new teachers in response to increased student enrollment. Inheriting a Legacy of Freedom will target schools in need of improvement and address district-identified gaps in teachers' content knowledge and qualifications through a program of interrelated activities: 8-day summer academies that focus on document-based questioning strategies, school and district-level Professional Learning Communities that meet throughout the grant period, technology-based learning that includes monthly book study sessions and podcasts of historians' lectures, and action research that encourages participants to examine their teaching practices. Four separate cohorts of 35 teachers will receive professional development, and lead teachers will be chosen from these cohorts each year to coach other teachers of American history on topics such as meeting individual student needs and integrating technology into classroom practice. Lead teachers will also model effective teaching practices for American history teachers at schools in need of improvement. Inheriting a Legacy of Freedom will incorporate several overarching themes, including constitutional interpretation and American identity, culture, and religious development. The primary instructional strategy employed to convey content will be document-based questioning, which develops students' skills in reading, writing, and critical thinking. Teacher participants will create museum-like interactive exhibits, accompanied by curriculum support guides, for use by educators across the district.