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The Idea of Freedom: Three Centuries of Struggle for Human Rights

A needs assessment of these 16 districts in the greater Boston area indicates that the teachers are interested in taking graduate-level courses and working with the museum and higher education partners involved in this project. Each year, a new cohort of 35 teachers will participate in a week-long summer institute with full-day workshops at the partner sites; immersion experiences at places like Gettysburg, Antietam and Washington, D.C.; training to incorporate technology nto history instruction; the Using Primary Source for Critical Thinking and Understanding course; graduate-level colloquia; and online professional development courses. In addition to the five 35-teacher cohorts, 100 new teachers per year will attend graduate courses—taught by Suffolk University faculty—to develop core content knowledge in American history and historical thinking skills. The overarching project focus is to examine how America's founding documents have defined freedom and democracy and to trace these ideals and the lived realities for different groups of Americans over 300 years. The content will explore the evolving struggle for human rights and justice, emphasizing the essential framework of American democracy, 19th-century social movements that challenged constitutional guarantees of freedom, the impact of the Civil War and Reconstruction with regard to these freedoms, and 20th-century challenges to human rights at home and abroad, including the civil rights movement. The teachers will work together in district-based teams and develop Web-based teaching resources. At the conclusion of the coursework, participant teams will create a comprehensive unit that will be disseminated across the consortium districts and beyond.