Casting the Net
Located on Florida's Gulf Coast, Sarasota County has several elementary schools with a diverse student population in need of improvement. Casting the Net teachers will participate in summer institutes, book studies, and independent studies as they work with partners and historian mentors to develop a rubric for historical quality, revise curriculum, and build learning materials. Summer institutes will focus on NAEP eras, and related book study topics will be determined as the project progresses. Annual cohorts, with an expected enrollment of 25 teachers each year, will be open to all county teachers and pre-service teachers in Grades 5-12 who teach, or expect to teach, history. The project's overarching theme is to cast a net to the next generation of Americans and engage them in examining the relationships among national, state, and local history to create a dynamic picture that provides relevance and sets a context for studying the past and learning from experience. Casting the Net content and instruction will focus on incorporating critical reading strategies, primary sources, and technology into history instruction, and using research to develop materials and lessons that are relevant and hands-on. To this end, the project will provide mini-grants for action research and independent studies. With project staff and the steering committee, teachers will contribute to a new district curriculum that aligns with new state standards and that fosters rigorous study of American history. They will also create high-quality, field-tested learning materials and kits to accompany the core texts and a collection of video case studies that demonstrate student learning using engaging materials.