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Roots of a Nation—A Chesapeake Journey

These rural Maryland districts front both sides of the Chesapeake Bay; all have pockets of poverty, and several have growing populations of children who speak English as a second language. Teachers want professional development that increases their knowledge of American and local history and that builds skills to help students find relevance to their lives. Annual activities will include 15 topical seminars that are one to three days long and that enroll no more than 10 participants; each teacher will attend four seminars a year. A 2-day fall conference will bring all teachers together; seminars and conferences will be instructed by various partners, depending on the topics. The project will develop five master teachers for each participating district, so 35 teachers will engage in the 3-year professional development program. The project uses the Chesapeake Bay as its unifying theme for exploring pedagogical goals and content areas related to the four topics. Because the Chesapeake was home to an early European settlement and has been an important region in the country’s history ever since, this project will examine the connections between local and national history. Teachers will learn strategies that help to improve student performance, including use of primary and secondary documents, active learning strategies (such as concept models and peer teaching), observation and interviewing, teaching with historic places and local resources, works of art and historic artifacts, and active questioning techniques. The project will produce a Web site that contains sample lesson plans and blogs from field experiences; materials intended for use with students will be available in English and Spanish.