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Shaping America's Identity and Legacy (SAIL) Into History

Virginia Beach is located in southeastern Virginia, about 200 miles south of Washington, D.C. Although none of its schools are classified as being in need of improvement, several elementary schools are performing below expectations on social studies assessments, and teachers in these schools will be targeted by SAIL for recruitment. Annual professional development activities will include a 10-day summer academy that includes historical site visits, four "history days" during the school year that feature lectures and activities, independent book studies supplemented by online book discussions, mentoring associated with the Lesson Study approach, and online collaboration. Because SAIL targets elementary school teachers who have been prepared as generalists rather than historians, program activities will emphasize best practices in history education, and 10 participants will be selected as master educators who will mentor and train other teachers in the district. SAIL will serve 100 teachers in four cohorts of 25 each, with each cohort receiving two years of history instruction and pedagogical training, beginning with one cohort in Year 1. The unifying theme for SAIL will be the considerable contributions that "ordinary" men and women have made over the course of American history.

Strategies for developing students' literacy and historical thinking skills as they interact with historical fiction and nonfiction will be aligned with the SAIL blueprint, a description of an ideal elementary school history classroom that is based on the Concerns-Based Adoption model. The program will sustain a community of practice by creating an online workspace where teachers can collaborate and share student artifacts and lessons plans.