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Teaching American History in the Lakelands

Below-average student achievement has put these western Piedmont districts on the South Carolina improvement list. To work toward stronger practice, project teachers will participate in a speaker series, where presentations by historians will be accompanied by training in methods and curriculum development. Book clubs will focus on assigned readings, and weekend study tours will explore cities of historic significance. Summer institutes will provide immersive experiences of content and methods sessions, field studies, primary source research and hands-on learning. Teachers will learn to use primary sources, and they will conduct online discussions about their activities. The 60 teachers will come from the grades where state and American history are taught, although many activities will be open to all 250+ history teachers. Teaching American History in the Lakelands will emphasize the role of individuals in shaping U.S. history, often looking at people from both sides of an issue. Presenters will contextualize topics within the state standards so teachers can easily connect what they're learning to what they're teaching. In the first four years, the content will align with eras defined by the National Assessment of Education Progress, and eras will be covered in the order of need defined by teachers. Year 5 will make connections between state and national history across all eras. Project leaders have selected History Habits of Mind as the methods framework. Teachers will share their knowledge with colleagues through local workshops and at state and national conferences. They will create lesson plans, videotaped lessons, annotated bibliographies and other materials, which will be mounted on the project Web site.