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Understanding American Citizenship

This project will focus on schools that serve continuation, correctional and alternative education students, who tend to be high need and low performing; many in this area south of Los Angeles come from families in poverty. Because teachers at these schools often teach more than one subject, they may lack deep content knowledge and want to learn more about American history. University faculty will provide expertise in content and historical methodologies, and K-12 teachers will lead training in pedagogy at the kick-off institutes and monthly follow-up sessions. Participating project teachers will work together to create a standards-aligned curriculum. The project will include a strong strand of developing teacher leadership and building learning communities. In Year 1, the main cohort will have 24 teachers divided into 12 teams to develop curriculum. These teachers will be joined by 12 additional teachers in each successive year, so each team will have four members during the final year of the project. At the end of each year, a separate cohort of 10 teachers will customize the curriculum developed by the main cohort so it can be used for independent study. The project's underlying theme will be emphasizing the history of American citizenship to develop students' critical thinking and academic literacy and to prepare them to participate in a democratic society. The project will employ lesson study as its main curriculum development and instructional tool, and project leaders will support the process through coaching and mentoring. Lesson plans and other materials will be available on the project's Web site.