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American History: Examining Years of Economic Strides

This Atlanta district, like many U.S. districts, has seen scores on end-of-course history tests fall dramatically—from about 639 points in 2005 to 429 points in 2009. Examining Years of Economic Strides, or EYES, will immerse high school teachers in a 1-day kick-off event, eight 1-day education matters events, a 5-day summer academy, three days at the American History Conference, two book study circles, five resource library activities and five days of field research each year. With additional activities, teachers will be involved in more than 400 hours of professional development during the grant period. Four cohorts of 37 or 38 teachers each will participate in two years of professional development; this will enable every high school history teacher in the district to be part of the project. EYES aims to use the lens of economics to make American history fresh, engaging and relevant, and to encourage critical thinking and historical investigation into central themes and concepts. For example, the content of Unit A (1) will include examination of the colonial economy in a global context, property rights among American Indians, and the costs and benefits of American independence. EYES will use a blueprint, or rubric, to help teachers and project leaders track instructional strategies, such as using primary documents and applying historical thinking skills. Participating teachers will post materials about their studies and the lessons they create to the district’s social studies Web site, and they will present at conferences, including state and national conferences, plus a local one that they will host in conjunction with historians who lead project activities.