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Becoming America: A Nation, A People

In this southwestern Ohio urban district, 70 percent of the student population is African American. Most high school history teachers lack adequate preparation, with fewer than 4 percent holding an undergraduate history degree. Each year, the project teachers will participate in a week-long summer institute to explore the annual theme's content, pedagogy and resources; two workshops focusing on additional content and pedagogical strategies; a field experience at the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, using artifacts and other resources to contextualize various aspects of African American history; and a minimum of four curriculum development group sessions. The project will serve 20 teachers the first year with approximately 10 returning and 10 newly recruited teachers each succeeding year. The themes focus on the Ohio Academic Content Standards for 10th grade, which link post-Civil War history to the story of America's early formation, which is covered in 8th-grade. This project will build the teachers' understanding of seminal turning points and issues that have shaped America's identity as a nation and a citizenry, and help them translate that knowledge into engaging, rigorous instruction. Strategies will include analysis of primary and secondary sources, historical debate and controversy, and appreciation of recent historiography by examining how historians develop differing interpretations. Teachers also will learn to incorporate the following historical thinking skills into their lessons: chronological thinking, historical comprehension, historical analysis and interpretation, historical research capabilities, and historical issues/analysis and decision making. A project Web site will house teacher-developed curricular materials, including lesson plans.