The goal of the Teaching American History grant initiative is to deepen educators’ knowledge of U.S. history by providing them with comprehensive professional growth opportunities. These opportunities include educational excursions to important historical locations and guidance from seasoned historians and specialists. It’s mandatory for these projects to individuals who have extensive expertise in American history, including but not limited to archives, museums, organizations dedicated to history or the humanities on a nonprofit basis, and academic establishments at the collegiate level.
Within the framework of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, history is recognized as a fundamental subject of study.
The U.S. Department of Education awarded a three-year Teaching American History grant to a partnership involving four East Alabama school systems and the Persistent Issues in History Network. The “Plowing Freedom’s Ground” project will provide teachers in schools with enhanced historical content knowledge, inquiry-based teaching strategies, and interactive Web-based tools designed to improve student achievement in U.S. history. Dr. John Saye was chosen as a project director based on his credentials and knowledge. He teaches at the Auburn University College of Education’s Department of Curriculum and Teaching and is a co-director of the PIH Network.
The “Plowing Freedom’s Ground” project will focus on pivotal events in five historical periods that illustrate the challenges of ensuring fairness and justice for all Americans: Revolution and the New Nation, Expansion and Reform, Civil War and Reconstruction, the Development of Modern America and Contemporary America. Teacher professional development for the project will be designed and implemented by the Persistent Issues in History (PIH) Network, directed by Saye of Auburn University and Dr. Tom Brush of Indiana University. PIH staff will be joined in this effort by Auburn University historians with expertise in the periods of study and by mentor teachers from the Auburn City School system.
The Persistent Issues in History (PIH) Network
The Persistent Issues in History (PIH) Network is dedicated to fostering a nationwide collective of educators. These teachers are committed to involving their students in problem-centric historical analyses that cultivate informed citizenship. Together with our affiliated educators, we have established a series of standards for the creation of PIH curricula. This curricula encourages exploration into how historical events have shaped essential societal issues. Notably, educators can join the PIH network free of charge, provided they meet the conditions for use and participation outlined on the enrollment webpage.
DP Civil Rights
Within the Decision Point! (DP) unit on Civil Rights, we invite learners to step into the America of the 1950s and 1960s and scrutinize events tied to the civil rights movement, confronting the enduring question: Which measures are acceptable to foster societal transformation? Educators can integrate support for conceptual and strategic reasoning using the PIH Network. This approach helps to direct students toward a more profound engagement with the issues at hand as they navigate a complex problem. Students analyzing our civil rights scenario are encouraged to draw upon fundamental concepts such as equality, the rights of property ownership, and nonviolent resistance, as they grapple with the diverse perspectives and dilemmas intrinsic to the era. Additionally, they may contemplate interconnected historical milestones, for instance, the integration of the armed forces in World War II. The interactive tools provided by the PIH interactive technologies provide learners with the chance to approach problems in a manner that aligns more authentically with expert-level thinking.
The DP Civil Rights collection has about 1,400 multimedia items, encompassing reports from newspapers, firsthand narratives, official papers, images, and televised clips from the epoch of civil rights. To help students navigate this informational landscape, the resources have been categorized both conceptually and chronologically into three primary segments, each focusing on a key tactic of the civil rights movement: legal confrontations, peaceful demonstrations, and the assertion of black power/separatism. Each segment encapsulates seven to eight pivotal events linked to the corresponding tactic. For every event, there’s an encompassing introductory essay, a chronological framework, and a collection of seminal documents pertinent to that event. Within these events, resources are further sorted by type of document (for example, “newspaper accounts”) to encourage students to analyze the origin of the information.
While educators have access to various tools to advance their knowledge and understanding of various historic issues and explain them better to students, the latter group should also have access to resources that enable them to navigate complex matters. As such, professional editors for students can be considered as educational tools. Editors can help improve students’ grasp of topics within written content. They can add and revise ideas, provide additional examples or sources for a better academic outcome.
Educators who have used problem-centered historical investigation often encounter its intensive nature. To navigate through the process of inquiry effectively, both educators and their students require a structured support system.
Persistent Issues in History: Illustrative Questions Tailored to Specific Historical Contexts
I. Under what circumstances can actions be deemed justifiable for the welfare or safety of the community?
Illustrative Inquiry (Cold War Era).
Which nation or leader holds the most culpability for the inception and intensification of the Cold War?
II. Criteria for Legitimacy in Leadership: A Focused Look at the Washington Presidency
Illustrative Inquiry (The Inaugural Presidency).
Was the Washington administration’s exercise of authority to consolidate national over state and individual interests a justified action in shaping the new nation?
III. What criteria are essential for leaders to possess legitimate power?
Illustrative Inquiry (Post-Civil Rights Era).
Did the Washington Administration employ justifiable means to assert federal power over states and individual citizens?
IV. In what instances is it appropriate for citizens to defy governmental power?
Illustrative Inquiry (Era of Reconstruction).
Did the strategies implemented during Reconstruction represent the optimal approach for the government to assure liberty and equality for emancipated slaves post-Civil War?
V. What constitutes the most equitable distribution of societal resources?
Illustrative Inquiry (Chinese Revolution of 1949).
To what extent did Mao Zedong’s strategies enhance the living standards for the populace of China?