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An American Story: Struggles and Triumphs

Of the 223 elementary history teachers in these mid-Hudson Valley districts, only one has an undergraduate degree in American history and none has a graduate degree in the field. And although professional development in reading, math and science is readily available, this is not true for history. An American Story: Struggles and Triumphs will engage teachers in U.S. history through lectures and discussions during week-long summer institutes, monthly workshops and other traditional approaches. It will take a notably 21st-century approach—teachers will learn to use multimedia software to create an interactive virtual museum that will be curated by project staff, partners, teachers and students. In Year 1, 40 teachers and three teacher coaches will participate; in Years 2 through 5, nine teachers and the three teacher coaches from Year 1 will continue, and they will be joined by annual cadres of 31 new teachers. Institute topics will explore the thesis that the American story is one of continual struggle toward an ideal—freedom to pursue and equal opportunity to achieve the "American Dream." Content will focus on local, regional and national events and people, making use of primary sources available through partner organizations and nearby historic sites. For example, the New York Historical Society will offer workshops titled "Nueva York" and "Revolutions! America, France and Haiti." Participants will visit the Erie Canal, the Tenement Museum, and the Vanderbilt Mansion. The project will produce the virtual museum, a variety of classroom materials and a cadre of teacher leaders who can support their colleagues in building American history expertise.