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Making Connections: Mississippi History as American History

In Mississippi schools, students do not learn about post-1877 U.S. history prior to the 11th grade, and few teachers know about or teach the important role Mississippi played in major events like the Civil War, Reconstruction and the civil rights movement. In this project, nationally known and local historians will lead teachers in 2-week summer institutes. Teachers also will attend four workshops each semester and meet once per week (online or in person) to engage in critical dialogue around content and pedagogical understandings and challenges. The project will involve two cohorts of 25 teachers (Years 1-2 and Years 3-4). In Year 5, five new teachers will join 20 teachers from the first two cohorts. Teachers from area districts also can attend open workshops. The content will increase teachers' knowledge of significant turning points in U.S. history and how these events have reflected, influenced or contradicted principles of freedom and democracy. The teachers will explore how the project themes connect with Mississippi history. In addition to broadening their content knowledge, teachers will engage in hands-on classroom activities to improve historical inquiry, critical thinking, cross-curricular connections and reflective practice. The strategies will be built around school-based inquiry, continuous improvement and critical dialogue. Teachers will work in professional learning communities to examine content critically and to evaluate their lesson plans, pedagogy and student work in the light of authentic assessments. A Web site will host teacher-developed products, including field-tested primary source activities and lesson plans.