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Mendocino, Lake and Sonoma County Schools Teaching American History

In these northern California districts, many students do not receive quality American history instruction due primarily to a lack of teacher content knowledge. Each year of the project, teachers will read four historical monographs, attend follow-up workshops, participate in monthly professional learning communities and make presentations to colleagues. An annual 2-week summer institute will feature intensive work with history professors and content literacy specialists and allow teachers to take field trips to historic sites. A historian lecture and book study series will be open to all K-12 teachers in the districts. An additional option will enable some teachers to earn a master's in education, with an emphasis on American history. Each year, participants in the master's group will read 10 to 12 historical texts, study other important documents, and develop lessons and resources for classroom use while obtaining 18 units of graduate credit. The project will involve two cohorts of 35 fifth grade teachers for three years of professional development (Years 1-3 and Years 3-5). Because the lecture and book study series is open to all teachers, the project expects to serve at least 110 teachers. The content will be presented through lectures, discussions and studies of primary documents to understand and compare different eras and cultures. The teachers will learn how to use cultural artifacts and historical maps, research-based pedagogical strategies, historical thinking and technology. A project Web site will post best practices, lessons and materials. In addition, the teachers will present their products at the annual California Council for Social Science conference.