Million Dollar Grant to Support Teaching History

November 20, 2001
A group of Montgomery County fourth and fifth grade teachers will begin working with the Smithsonian Institution next summer to learn more about teaching historical investigation, thanks to a grant of almost $1 million from the U.S. Department of Education.

The Department of Education has awarded Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) $997,920, to be used over a three-year period beginning in January, through its Teaching American History (TAH) Grant Program. Designed to improve the teaching of American history, the TAH grants supports programs to raise student achievement by improving teachers’ knowledge, understanding and appreciation of American history.

Through the grant, MCPS plans to train two teachers from each elementary schoolpreferably from Grades 4 and 5in the process of historical investigation, with the collaboration of the Smithsonian Institution. “The goal is that those teachers would become social studies liaisons with our office and at their schools,” said Marty Creel, MCPS social studies program supervisor.

At the Smithsonian, teachers will get hands-on training in conducting historical investigation using kid-friendly techniques. The work with the Smithsonian will help train teachers in the Maryland School Performance Assessment Program (MSPAP) historical investigation model, which requires students to read primary source documents and draw conclusions from them, Creel noted.

Montgomery College, through its Paul Peck Humanities Institute, will provide additional background and support. Institute Fellows will work directly with the MCPS teachers on developing critical inquiry skills that will help teachers and their students evaluate documents and multiple perspectives. The Institute is a partnership between the College and the Smithsonian that is designed to enhance the teaching and learning of the humanities.

One-third of the teachers will participate in the project each year of the three-year grant period. The first group of teachers will be selected in the spring. They will receive five days of training at the Smithsonian next summer, followed by three days at MCPS for planning, plus three follow-up days throughout the year.

MCPS’ application was one of 50 funded across 33 states, either with a focus on professional development or direct work with students. Recipients were selected from among 334 applicants. The applications were reviewed by professionals with expertise in the field of American history and knowledge of the operation of professional development programs at the state and local levels. MCPS received the largest grant possible under the program.

The Department of Education, through its Office of Elementary and Secondary Education, Academic Improvement and Demonstration Programs, will work closely with each grant site over the next three years to facilitate sharing of strategies for enhancing the delivery of American history curriculum content.

For more information about the Teaching American History Grant Program, see the link below:

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