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History for All: Improving U.S. History Knowledge for Teachers of Special Education and Mainstream Students

Community School District 31 has joined with four other New York City school districts in Brooklyn and Staten Island with a significant immigrant population to implement History for All. Thirty-five percent of the districts' schools have been cited for intervention due to substandard academic achievement, and pass rates on U.S. history exams is particularly low for special education students (27 percent, compared to 63 percent for general education students). Teachers who teach special education students in self-contained and/or inclusive settings will receive 68 hours of professional development annually: four day-long seminars; a week-long summer institute, led by historians, during which teachers will develop classroom activities; and seven monthly after-school meetings during which participants can share experiences and pedagogical approaches and learn to integrate technology, assessment, and fiction and nonfiction. Classroom coaching from the project director will help teachers refine project-based activities. The program will recruit 50 teachers for Years 1-3 and 40 for Years 4-5. All will be trained to lead professional development for other teachers in their schools and districts, and 10 members of the first cohort will join the second cohort and act as lead teachers to support their turnkey training efforts. Historical content will emphasize how Americans of different eras have struggled with and shaped the meaning of democracy in the United States. Teachers will learn to integrate art and material culture into their teaching of history through the use of differentiated instruction and universal design. All participating teachers will become part of a professional development cadre and will distribute classroom-tested activities online.