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California-USA Teaching American History Project

Many students in these urbanized southern California districts are not receiving quality American history instruction due largely to lack of teacher content knowledge. This is evident in a survey of potential project participants and in low student performance on standardized tests. The activities will include Saturday and summer institutes at the Huntington Library, during which historians will present in-depth topics and teachers will translate this content into classroom instruction. Teachers also will attend bimonthly after-school sessions to analyze student pre- and posttest results, preview state standards, review student scores on the previous year’s state test, share successful resources, and use a test bank to create pre- and posttests. The project will involve 35 teachers in 2-year intensive courses of study: grades K-8 in Years 1-2, 9-12 in Years 2-3, and K-12 in Years 4-5. In the second year of study, the project will focus on the same themes but from different perspectives—with a particular focus on regional aspects. The project will make connections between U.S. history and California, its region, and its communities. The strategies will emphasize primary sources, journals and other firsthand accounts, art and illustrations, film and music, and field trips to sites where teachers will practice presenting new content to students. The teachers will focus on content-based teaching methods and track student learning using the Response to Intervention system. A history coach will observe and provide each teacher with feedback eight times over the two years. The project will post online various products, including best practices, lessons and materials.