Partnership of Scholars and Teachers Seeks to Improve History Education

By Loree Iverson, Student Intern Writer CHASS College Computing
August 16, 2010

The U.S. Department of Education has awarded a major Teaching American History grant to the Lake Elsinore Unified School district in partnership with the Constitutional Rights Foundation, the UCR History Department, and other participants. The grant will support rigorous professional development for history teachers over the next five years.  Teachers will attend institutes and seminars, a number of which are to be conducted by UCR scholars who will play a critical role in providing the high level of scholarship required by the U.S. Department of Education.

“Footprints of Freedom: A Constitutional Lens on American History” is a partnership between the University of California Irvine History Project, the Constitutional Rights Foundation, the Huntington Library, the University of California Riverside History department, the Nixon Library, the Lincoln Shrine and Smiley Library, and the Lake Elsinore Unified School District, Romoland School District, and Perris Union High School Districts, all of which are districts with diverse student populations that are seeking to improve school performance. The goals of the “Footprints of Freedom” program are to deepen knowledge and understanding, to bolster teachers’ understanding of key concepts, events and themes in the realm of American History and to provide fifty American History teachers, grades 5, 8 and 11, with the expertise and tools needed to develop historical critical thinking skills to improve academic writing and speaking.

The program will explore the following themes: Governance, Freedom of Religion and Expression, Due Process and Equality. During each year, teachers will participate in seminar courses and intensive lesson-study sessions. In addition, teachers will participate in document study sessions in which groups of teachers will engage in document-based activities using key historical documents, beginning with the Magna Carta and the English Bill of Rights.

For each year, the thematic lesson plan will explore different historical periods, as follows:

Year One: Antecedents of Democracy: Colonization, Settlement and Communities, 1607 to 1763

Year Two: Revolution and the New Nation, 1763 to 1815

Year Three: Crisis of the Union: Civil War and Reconstruction, 1850 to 1877

Year Four: The Development of Modern America, 1865 to 1920

Year Five: The Constitution: A Living Document, 1945 to present

The program will begin during the coming 2010-2011 school year, and will continue during each subsequent summer.



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