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The Mystery and Power of History: More than Words on a Page

The Navasota, Bryan, and College Station Independent School Districts in Brazos Valley, Texas, serve a growing number of English Language Learners. Overall, student scores on state reading and math assessments are below the state average, surveyed students' interest in history is low, and most history teachers do not hold a history certification. The Mystery and Power of History will offer intensive professional development throughout each year of the program, beginning with a 3-day colloquium and continuing with lectures, workshops, guided readings, 1 to 3-day seminars, opportunities for teachers to attend weeklong historical immersion experiences in the field and/or 5-day summer institutes sponsored by the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, and several evening platform discussions led by scholars. Participants can also receive support for obtaining a history certification. The Mystery and Power of History will accommodate 40 teachers, each of whom will commit to participating for one or more years and completing at least 75 percent of the professional development activities offered. The thematic goal of the project is to deepen teachers' and students' understanding of how the principles of liberty and democratic government have helped to shape America's social, political and legal institutions. Instructional strategies derived from Historical Habits of Mind will enhance students' higher order thinking skills and their knowledge of American history. In addition, teachers will use technology to enhance history education. The program will develop a group of master teachers and mentors who can facilitate professional development and sustain a Professional Learning Community among teachers of history in all three districts.