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Elementary Historians

Rochester ranks highest among New York State's urban districts for poverty, and its mainly non-White students speak more than 35 languages. Six district elementary schools are designated as in need of improvement, and 30 percent of district social studies teachers have less than three years of teaching experience. Each year, Elementary Historians will provide a 20-hour summer institute, on-site coaching, and four 2-hour theme-based lectures with hands-on exploration of documents and artifacts and lesson development. The participant cohort will emphasize fourth and fifth grade teachers, with a goal of reaching 100 percent of such teachers in the six neediest schools and 30 percent of such teachers across the district. Bilingual and special education teachers, certified library media specialists, reading coaches, art and music teachers, and English language arts specialists will be invited to participate if space permits. The project will focus on building a bridge between teachers, historians, and students, and on connecting schools to community institutions. In addition to university and local historians, full-time content area coaches will work with participants. These coaches will deliver school-based strategic teaching sessions and model classrooms to help teachers transfer what they learn to their practice. Strategies will include using primary documents and historical thinking skills to help students recognize connections between historic and present-day events. The project will establish an ongoing teacher resource library, and participants will develop lesson plans that align with state standards and employ engaging, research-based strategies. All workshops will be videotaped and mounted on the district's intranet, where all teachers can access the content and discussions.