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Prism-WV and America's Founders: Providing Perspective to a Legacy of Principle and Perseverance in the Traditional American History Classroom

In the nine southern West Virginia counties that have organized for this project, few history teachers at any level have taken an in-field graduate class. Prism-WV and America's Founders will connect teachers with prominent scholars, university faculty, guest lecturers, mentors and master teachers during 1- or 2-week summer academies, 2-day colloquia during the school year, and occasional visits to schools. In addition, participants will enroll in Concord University's graduate certificate program in American History to take five online courses that address the project's annual topics. In Year 1, 40 teachers will be admitted, and they will be joined by another 50 teachers in Year 2. The 90 teachers will continue as a single cohort for the remainder of the five years, and education students from Concord University will also participate. The professional development will focus on principle (understanding the seminal principles of freedom and democracy); perseverance (studying how the founders implemented these principles); and perspective (enhancing an individual’s world view through knowledge of the nation's history). To incorporate these themes into history instruction, teachers will use primary source materials, learn to think like historians, and engage in conversations about principles as the nation's founders did. Content and instruction will incorporate technologies networked through Concord University's Innovative Technology Application Project, which supports interactive simulation, modeling, animation, and visualization. Prism-WV will produce regional teaching and research partnerships among K-12 teachers of different grade levels, a Teaching Historians Web site, participant-created reports, lesson plans and teaching modules, and a collection of research sites and sources.