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Sowing the Seeds of Freedom in the Rio Grande Valley

Sowing the Seeds of Freedom in the Rio Grande Valley will serve two southwestern New Mexico school districts with significant Hispanic, Mexican and Native American cultural influences; based on a 2010 needs assessment, a significant number of elementary and middle school teachers in these districts lack an adequate academic background in American history. Each year, 12 teachers will travel to Colonial Williamsburg to participate in a summer teacher institute. Other activities will include sponsoring additional colloquia and professional development workshops at museums and historic sites, establishing professional resource libraries at each school, and creating artifact bags that align with the historical content. The project will serve 30 teachers and five mentor teachers each year plus an additional 100 teachers each of the last three years through the Sowing the Seeds Conference. The professional development program will focus on major themes in American history based on the New Mexico Content Standards. The teachers will receive training in (1) using primary and secondary resources; (2) formulating questions through inquiry; (3) analyzing how historians use evidence/artifacts; (4) developing differing interpretations; (5) examining bias and points of view; (6) understanding historical debate/controversy; (7) examining how causation relates to continuity/change; (8) discovering interrelationships; and (9) learning that understanding of the past requires understanding of the assumptions and values of the past.