$1 million Teaching American History grant awarded


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11:05 a.m., Aug. 18, 2010----U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan has announced a $1 million Teaching American History grant award to the University of Delaware's Delaware Center for Teacher Education (DCTE) and its partners in the Red Clay and Christina school districts, the Office of Educational Technology, the Gilder-Lehrman Institute of American History, Delaware Public Archives and the Delaware Historical Society.

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The U.S. Department of Education's Teaching American History grant program aims to enhance teachers' understanding of American history through intensive professional development, including study trips to historic sites and mentoring with professional historians and instructional specialists.

Projects are required to partner with organizations that have broad knowledge of American history, such as libraries, museums, nonprofit historical or humanities organizations, and higher education institutions.

The 2010 Freedom Project is the fifth $1 million Teaching American History grant awarded to Delaware public school districts since 2002 as a result of their collaboration with the DCTE and the University's Department of History.

Grant author and project director Fran O'Malley of the DCTE and Institute for Public Administration explains the shift in the new Teaching American History Freedom Project. “While the Freedom Project retains the fundamental objective of deepening teachers' content knowledge, it places additional emphasis on historical thinking,” he says.

Over the next 3-4 years, participants in the project will work with their university partners to systematically unearth student misconceptions about U.S. history content and ways of thinking about the past, attempt to lay out a model showing how that thinking progresses, then design lessons and metacognitive tools to counter those misconceptions.

Committed presenters include award-winning historians such as Peter Kolchin (University of Delaware) and Eric Foner (Columbia University); national experts on historical thinking such as Sam Wineburg (Stanford University) and Bruce VanSledright (University of Maryland), and lesson study expert Jim Hiebert (University of Delaware).

The Freedom Project also provides funding for teachers who wish to earn UD graduate credits.

“The Red Clay Consolidated School District (RCCSD) is extremely appreciative of the opportunity to enhance our current U.S. history curriculum through the grant partnership with UD,” says Becky Reed, supervisor of social studies in the district and participant in a previous Teaching American History grant project. “Due to the high demands of the classroom environment, having direct access to experts of history and teaching strategies is a rare occurrence. The teachers that participate in this program will benefit immensely. Similarly, the students of RCCSD will increase their understanding and awareness of U.S. history.”