Preserving Our Democracy
2007-2010 Teaching American History Grant
In Letters from An American Farmer (1782), J. Hector St. John Crèvecoeur poses the following, now famous, question: "What, then, is the American, this new man?" The Worcester Public Schools' (WPS) Teaching American History project, Preserving Our Democracy, intends to examine Crèvecoeur's question and the freedoms he extols as central themes as we examine who has been able to lay claim to the new identity and new possibilities that Crèvecoeur describes. In collaboration with the American Antiquarian Society (AAS), Assumption College, Old Sturbridge Village (OSV), and Worcester State College, WPS has received $998,510 from the United States Department of Education in order to use Crèvecoeur's question as a way of accessing the history of the United States. Increasing this project's urgency is the new state-wide requirement that beginning in 2011 students must pass an exam in U.S. history in order to graduate from high school.
Annually, approximately 250 teachers of U.S. History, including elementary and secondary teachers, as well as teachers of Special Education Students and English Language Learners, will participate. Our proposed periodization of American history highlights long-term developments and challenges together with the centuries-long debate about the answer to Crèvecoeur's celebrated question. We will deliver this content through a series of opportunities:
- 12 mandatory professional development days (release days) providing a keynote lecture and question and answer period led by a prominent historian, workshops with primary materials, and labs in which teachers strategize on using themes and materials in their classrooms;
- 12 voluntary Saturday Seminars led by local historians that correspond to each professional development day and provide an even deeper examination of that content;
- 3 voluntary Summer Institutes that are organized around a document central to understanding our nation's history, such as John F. Kennedy's Inaugural Address;
- In-class coaching by WPS. History Curriculum Liaison to model history lessons; and
- U.S. History Critical Friends Groups that provide a forum for teachers to share their challenges and best practices in implementing the U.S. history content in their classrooms.
This project design supports our goal: To improve the teaching and learning of United States history in the WPS. Our objectives toward this end are to:
- Increase WPS teachers' knowledge of U.S. history
- Increase the achievement in U.S. history of WPS' students
- Increase the use of differentiated instructional strategies in the delivery of U.S. history content. To achieve this end, this project will engage scholars from many institutions, including Plimoth Plantation, Harvard, Yale, Brown, the University of Connecticut, the JFK Library, Assumption College, College of the Holy Cross, WPI, Clark University, and Worcester State College.
For more information about the 2009-2010 Teaching American History grant professional development days, please print this flyer.
For more information, contact:
American Antiquarian Society
Worcester, MA 01609