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Foundations of American History

Located in South Carolina's Lowcountry, Berkeley, the state's largest school district, includes rural areas, military bases, and the bedroom communities of Charleston. Although the region has a well-developed appreciation for its rich history, the district has never met Adequate Yearly Progress and is in corrective action. Foundations of American History will help history teachers improve their performance through graduate courses, workshops, book studies, and online professional development that emphasize deep content knowledge, strong pedagogical skills, and the use of primary sources and educational technologies. Teachers who participate in required hours during the year can attend the summer institutes, which will include field studies at historical sites. Annual cohorts of 50 elementary teachers will be selected beginning in Year 1. In Year 2, annual cohorts of 10 secondary teachers (participants in a previous Teaching American History project) will join to complete master’s degree requirements and to become mentors and content specialists for the elementary cohorts. The project is designed to establish a strong foundation in elementary school to prepare students for a true understanding of our country's past and its potential for the future. With scholars and specialists, teachers will explore primary sources, the professional learning community, and the creation of a seamless K-5 program of study. Instructional approaches will include balanced literacy for integrating social studies with reading, 6+1 Writing Traits for integrating social studies with writing, and integrating the arts (dance, music, and visual arts) into the social studies. Foundations teachers will contribute to common assessments and benchmarks for elementary-level American history and will become teacher leaders within their schools and the district.