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Teaching American History Opportunities for Educators: In-Depth

Recent data indicate that as many as 86 percent of fifth, eighth, and eleventh grade students in the participating districts failed to reach mastery on the state U.S. history assessment. Every year teachers will engage in six lectures/team seminars, where two hours of content will be delivered by professors and historians, and a 1-hour pedagogy presentation will follow. Three annual, grade-specific literary circles will focus on primary and secondary sources. Weekend site visits will target regional history, and week-long summer institutes will take participants to sites around the country. Project leaders hope to recruit and retain a cadre of 35 teachers for the grant period; however, teachers who leave will be replaced, so as many as 55 teachers may participate. The competitive selection process will look at assessment scores, level of training in history teaching and no certification to teach U.S. history. The project will immerse teachers in an in-depth tour of American history as influenced by cultures and societies, historical perspectives, government and civics, economics, and geography. Content instruction will focus on historic themes and chronological periods, while instructional strategies will focus on ways of thinking about history that support student cognition (e.g., critical thinking, differentiated instructional strategies). Use of technology will be integrated into all learning. The Web site will present successful K-12 lesson plans that address state and national standards, multiple instructional strategies to address different learning styles, primary and secondary source materials, interactive questions and answers, classroom-ready still and video images from site visits, and still and video images of effective history teaching.