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Teachers as Historians

The Fort Bend and Spring Branch Independent School Districts serve a diverse population from disadvantaged communities across Houston, Texas, where many students are first-generation Americans. Through the Teachers as Historians program, the two-district consortium will deliver teacher training and support to 14 schools that have not made Adequate Yearly Progress and to 49 additional Title I schools. Annual activities will include a 2-week summer seminar at Rice University, followed by a week-long experiential field study, two workshops and a field study during the school year, three district planning meetings, access to an online community network and digital library, a community lecture by a distinguished historian, and a mentor network facilitated by district curriculum specialists. Each participating teacher will research and create two lessons with the help of a content specialist and a master teacher. Participants who fulfill their grant obligations may apply for a $750 grant, which they can apply toward personal professional development opportunities and classroom resources. A new cohort of 30 teachers will be involved in the program's core activities each year and will be encouraged to continue their participation in the mentor network. The goal of the program is to teach students to think critically about what it means to be an American. Interactive instructional strategies will emphasize critical thinking in response to primary source documents. Lesson plans and resources focused on traditional American history will be presented by teachers at local, state, or national events and will also be uploaded to a digital library and made accessible to history teachers nationwide.