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The East Side Teaching American History Project

This large district in the San Francisco Bay area has 11 high schools, six of which are in improvement. Only 35 percent of high school students tested at or above proficient in American history in 2007, and about half of the students speak a primary language other than English at home. The East Side Teaching American History Project will present six content seminars each year. To make them accessible to teachers, seminars will be presented once in the northern part of the district and once in the southern part. Additional activities will include a 5-day summer institute focused on pedagogy, strategies, and lesson plans; a 1-day summer field study at a local historical site; and two history book studies. An annual cohort of 33 teachers will participate, with some staying for more than a year. The project goal is to achieve systemic change, making American history a viable and relevant subject. During summer institutes, teachers will learn how to present the content studied during the seminars. Methods will include using research-based frameworks and adapting lessons to different learning styles and for English Language Learners. Approaches will include increasing empathy for events and figures in history, using multiple perspectives to teach the same event, and using stories to bring home the personal impact of events. A portion of institute time will be dedicated to developing lesson plans. Each year, every participating teacher will create at least two new lesson plans, which will be available for all high school history teachers to use in their classrooms.