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E Pluribus Unum: Building a Nation From the Ground Up

These contiguous Vermont districts are overwhelmingly rural, and some have above-average poverty rates. The project will organize its teaching fellows into four regional learning communities to help combat the rural isolation factor. Each learning community will have an experienced teacher who provides leadership and support. Teachers will discuss books, engage in primary source activities and look at student work. Fellows will be able to choose from additional activities that include providing professional development in their own or nearby districts, presenting at conferences, and publishing in the Flow of History newsletter. Summer institutes will begin in Year 2 and carry into the school year; teachers will select topics and begin historical inquiry during the institute, then continue the work with students in the classroom, thus working toward the project aim of building historical thinking skills. Each year, fellows will create portfolios of primary sources, activities and student work keyed to the historical content, historical thinking strategies and inquiry techniques discussed during the year. As teachers learn about major themes, issues and events in American history, they will learn to scaffold historical thinking skills that build from basic observation to more sophisticated forms of analysis and interpretation, culminating in conducting inquiry-based research. Staff from partner organizations, regional museums and historic sites will provide content information for workshops and field studies. Project activities will help teachers earn continuing education and graduate credits. The project's advisory board will use a rubric to review materials produced by teachers, and completed materials will be available online through Web sites managed by two project partners.