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Themes of History: Expanding Perspectives on the American Story

Windham Public Schools is collaborating with a regional education service center (EASTCONN) in rural northeastern Connecticut to implement Themes of History. Windham Public Schools has been identified as a district in need of improvement, and 10 middle schools among the other participating districts have also been so identified. The program's core professional development activities include a week-long summer institute, three evening presentations by guest historians (open to all educators in northeastern Connecticut), and three full-day workshops. Supplemental activities include three seminars on content-related pedagogy and three evening lesson-planning sessions based on the Lesson Study approach. Participants will also receive in-class support from master history teachers, participate in an online Professional Learning Community, and attend the annual conference of the state's Council for the Social Studies. Fifty history teachers will participate for all three years of the program. Also, each year, five graduate students who are preparing to teach history will be invited to participate. The thematic focus of Themes of History is on helping students see and understand recurring patterns and themes in American history, with an emphasis on significant events, people, documents, and turning points. Participating teachers will learn to incorporate primary and secondary documents, artifacts, and historical materials as they use inquiry-based instructional strategies in developmentally appropriate ways. Exemplary history lessons will be posted online, and work accomplished through the program will contribute to the development of a stand-alone American history curriculum for statewide use.