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To Secure the Blessings of Liberty: Analyzing American History Through Primary Sources

This district north of Seattle has seen a shift in demographics in recent years. Today, about 30 percent of students come from families in poverty, 13 percent receive special education services and the number of bilingual students has jumped; these factors all contribute to achievement gaps. Each project year will begin with a 3-day summer kickoff session led by experts and historians; it will be followed by 11 full-day in-service workshops that will include lectures and book discussions with guest historians, intensive content learning and pedagogical training, and grade-level group meetings to conduct lesson study. The initial cohort of 35 teachers will participate in Years 1 to 3, and a new cohort of 20 will participate in Years 4 and 5; this second cohort will be mentored by 10 members of the first cohort. The course of study will address two essential questions: (1) What is the role of the citizen in democracy? (2) What is the experience of the citizen in society? While exploring these questions, the content strand will focus on traditional American history, paying attention to state standards for appropriate grade levels. The pedagogical strand will focus on six teaching methods related to the use of primary sources, historical thinking and communication. Using Response to Intervention and the Lesson Study process, teachers will develop lessons, assessments and other resources.

Teacher-generated lessons and materials as well as videos of cohort teachers using best practices will be published on three Web sites and publicized through professional conferences.