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American Crises, American Solutions: A History Specialist Model for Traditional American History

The American Crises, American Solutions districts are in far southwest Virginia, a rural, mountainous region. In 2008, 10 of the districts failed to make Adequate Yearly Progress or had accreditation problems. Many teachers have inadequate history preparation or teach on provisional certificates. Modeled on Virginia's successful Math Specialist Program, this project will prepare teachers for history specialist certificates and ready them for master's programs. Each year, participants will participate in three 1-credit courses that deliver both content knowledge and pedagogical training. A single cohort of 27 teachers will be trained, and each of them will mentor one additional teacher during Years 4 and 5. The cohort will include teachers considered the most promising from their districts, and mentees will be teachers who need extra support. American Crises, American Solutions aims to create teacher-leaders who can continue in the classroom themselves while they inspire, encourage, and move their colleagues toward effective instruction. These teachers will explore four eras of reform, using historiography to understand both the content and the way historians have written about it over time. Strategies will focus on incorporating local history to make history relevant and interesting for students, constructing lessons and units that differentiate for different abilities and include appropriate assessment, and learning how to teach colleagues. The project intends to create a replicable model, a sustainable cohort of American history specialists, and annual conferences for about 250 history educators from across the state, who will have an opportunity to be exposed to grant activities.