Securing the Blessings of Liberty
Teaching American History Grant
Securing the Blessings of Liberty: A Professional Development Program is the third consecutive Teaching American History (TAH) project that the American Antiquarian Society (AAS) is conducting in collaboration with the Worcester Public Schools (WPS). WPS is a high need local education agency serving the second largest city in New England. The project has the following partners: the American Antiquarian Society, Old Sturbridge Village, Assumption College, and area scholars. The project will examine the Constitution as it has been interpreted and adapted to "secure the blessings of liberty" throughout America's history.
Our needs analysis has alerted us to ongoing areas of content knowledge vulnerability for our teachers, and we have designed a program plan to target them through examining key "postholes" in United States History—from 1787-1877 and from 1960- today. It is also expected that the Massachusetts state history exam for students will place great emphasis on the Constitution, and its prominence in these postholes is irrefutable. Hence, we will examine the following Constitutional themes through each "posthole": issues of individual rights and communal responsibilities; the divisions of federal power; and the role of the federal government—especially in relationship to local and state government.We will serve 155 elementary and high school teachers (Year 1: 10 teachers; Years 2-3: 155 teachers; Years 4-5: 100 teachers). Years 1 and 3, a cohort of 10 teachers, future coaches, will participate in a year-long study of the Constitution with Professor Steven Bullock of the Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) that includes independent, grade-level appropriate research projects with a corresponding curricular unit including several lesson plans. Years 2-5, approximately 155 teachers will participate in mandatory professional development days. During these days, the newly formed cadre of coaches will work with their peers in teaching labs, where they will present lessons culled from their developed units.
Years 1-3, our project will cover the following NAEP Periods: The Revolution and the New Nation (1763-1815), Expansion and Reform (1801-1861), and Crisis and the Union: Civil War and Reconstruction (1850-1877). For fifth grade and high school U.S. History teachers, we will offer content on the Constitutional Convention, The Bill of Rights and Federalist Papers, The War of 1812, Jacksonian America, Manifest Destiny, The Constitution and Minorities, Transportation and Infrastructure, and Reconstruction. Years 4 and 5, we will cover Contemporary America (1945- present) for high school U.S. history teachers only. We will offer content on Civil Rights, Women's Rights, Exportation of the Constitution, the Imperial Presidency, Immigration, Technology, Terrorism, and Contemporary Issues.
We seek to achieve the following goal: To improve the teaching and learning of U.S. History in the WPS. Our objectives are: To increase WPS. teachers knowledge of U.S. History; To increase the achievement in U.S. History of students in the WPS; To provide teachers high quality professional development and instructional support; and To support developing a cadre of WPS history "coach" teachers at the elementary and high school levels to build capacity at the local level. The UMass Donahue Institute will guide formative and summative evaluation efforts with our project team members.
This project was funded with an award of $1,663,969 over the five year project by the United State Department of Education as part of the Teaching American History program. This funding ensures that each WPS student receives the benefit of more effective instruction in the history of our country, thereby strengthening our future citizens to secure the blessings of liberty.
For more information, contact:
American Antiquarian Society
Worcester, MA 01609
Read more about this grant in the media release discussing the program.