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Shaping Tomorrow Through Exploration of the Past

Located in central South Carolina, Sumter County School District Two, Sumter School District 17, and Clarendon County School District Two have not achieved Adequate Yearly Progress for the past two years. U.S. history end-of-course test results show that student performance in history lags far behind performance in math and English language arts in the districts. To develop more knowledgeable history teachers in the districts' elementary, middle, and high schools and to improve student performance, yearly STEP activities for participating teachers will include a 5-day summer institute, a 6-day field study trip, a history educators' forum, and three workshop days featuring local historians. STEP also includes a mentoring component and a technology component. Thirty teachers will be invited to participate in STEP for at least two years and preferably throughout all five years of the project. STEP will provide firsthand encounters with historical places, archives, and ideas to enable teachers to "see, touch, and talk history" and connect local and national history for their students as they explore the role of economics and technological changes and their relationship to society, ideas, and the environment. Instructional strategies will integrate technology and best practices in teaching the content of traditional American history. Teachers will create quality lessons plans and materials that engage students in activities that require higher-level thinking. These lessons will be posted on the districts' Web sites.