A new series of online courses from EDC is helping U.S. history teachers make the most of primary source documents, such as letters, pamphlets, and journals, and trips to historical sites to enhance the learning experience for their students.
The courses build teachers’ skills as both educators and historians. “We are developing courses that familiarize teachers with the use of narrative and the wealth of local resources available to them,” says EDC’s Barbara Treacy. “We will make history come alive for them, and they in turn will make it come alive for their students.”
The project, “Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness: Narrative as a Lens on History,” includes three online courses developed by EDC’s EdTech Leaders Online program, which provides custom online course development and a catalogue of over 50 online workshops for educators. The three courses are Liberty Conceived (American History through the Revolutionary War); Liberty Codified (the founding documents); and Liberty Challenged (industrialization period, immigrants, enslavement, rights of the poor, women’s issues, and changing economics).
Each of these courses includes eight sessions, which feature online readings and discussions, interactive activities, assessments, and other Web-based resources. By taking part in collaborative activities, participating teachers help build an online community of learning,
EDC is working with schools from six Massachusetts districts, as well as a number of regional museums and historical sites, on developing the content for the courses. More than 300 teachers, serving more than 25,000 students from elementary to high school, will participate in the program.
These materials are especially timely: Beginning in 2012, students in Massachusetts will be required to pass a state exam on history in order to graduate. Four of the six participating districts were deemed in need of improvement, and 57 percent of the teachers participating have had little or no professional development in history.
This project, led by the Newton (Mass.) Public Schools, is funded by the U.S. Department of Education through the Teaching American History Grant Program.
Originally published on October 24, 2008