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American Citizen: A Study of Liberty and Rights

The Elk Grove Unified School District serves culturally, ethnically, linguistically, and economically diverse students in southern Sacramento County and Elk Grove. Twelve of its 22 secondary schools are not achieving Adequate Yearly Progress, and on the California Standards Test, 48 percent to 68 percent of eighth and eleventh-graders score below "proficient" on questions related to American history. Teachers who participate in American Citizen: A Study of Liberty and Rights (American Citizen) in Years 1-3 will take one or more professional development pathways: Mastering History (an intensive, 2½-year master's degree program in history that includes evening and weekend classes and reading seminars); Talking History (an annual series of six scholarly lectures, including two book studies); Doing History (four 2-day workshops); and Living History (four 2-day colloquia, a week-long summer institute at a historic site, and collaboratively developed units). In Years 1-3, 16 teachers will participate in the master's degree program, 50 in Talking History, and 25 each in Doing History and Living History. In Years 4-5, American Citizen will expand its reach through district-wide extension activities: a learning collaborative, monthly professional development trainings led by master teachers, participation in National History Day, continuation of Talking History and Living History programs, and possibly a master's degree program for a second cohort. The unifying theme will be the liberty and rights of the American citizen. Teachers will learn strategies for differentiated instruction, primary source analysis, historical writing, historical inquiry, document-based questioning, and the effective use of biography and multimedia. A program Web site will publish lesson plans and enable history teachers to share ideas for improving instruction.