Prior to its conclusion in 2011, the United States Department of Education’s Teaching American History Grant program aimed to raise student achievement by improving teachers’ knowledge, understanding, and appreciation of American history. Local Educational Agencies (LEAs) applied for these grants in partnership with colleges, universities, non-profit history or humanities organizations, libraries, or museums. Further information on the Teaching American History grant program is available on-line at the US DOE Teaching American History program website.
Ashbrook was a partner with LEAs in Ohio and across the nation on eighteen Teaching American History grants.
An important theme in any TAH grant is the sustainability of the training teachers received as part of the program. Since 2001, hundreds of teachers from all across the country participated in Ashbrook’s weeklong Summer Institutes. At the urging of many of those teachers, a unique graduate program—the Master of Arts in American History and Government at Ashland University (MAHG)—was developed using the convenient intensive summer format of the institutes.
While the TAH program has ended, the MAHG program continues to provide the same high-quality, content-based graduate instruction for secondary school social studies teachers. Course in MAHG are open to both degree-seeking students and to teachers or other professionals looking to take individual classes for personal or professional development.
The Ashbrook Center at Ashland University has extensive experience offering content-based professional development programs for American history teachers.
The largest program at the Ashbrook Center is a series of professional development institutes and seminars for American history teachers. Originally funded by the Commission of the Bicentennial of the United States Constitution, the Center first offered these intensive, content-based summer institutes in 1990. In the nearly twenty years since, more than 1000 teachers from across the nation have participated in the Ashbrook Center’s programs. The programs have been funded by a variety of private foundations and government grants, including eighteen Teaching American History Grants.
The Ashbrook Center’s intensive institutes encourage history teachers to deepen and broaden their understanding of American history. The programs hosted by the Center focus on historical topics which social studies teachers need to understand in order to develop students into informed citizens. Unlike most professional development programs for teachers which focus almost exclusively on teaching methods, these seminars emphasize substantive themes of American history. Their discussions revolve around primary source documents and their use in the classroom as a way to engage students and increase student achievement.
An important element of the Center’s programs is a web site for teachers: TeachingAmericanHistory.org. This user-friendly web site features many interactive tools, including an extensive library of original historical documents, an audio archive of previous Summer Institutes, links to other archives and resources, and special exhibits, including an interactive exhibit on the Constitutional Convention.
At the suggestion of many teachers, the Ashbrook Center has worked with the Department of History and Political Science at Ashland University to create a Master of Arts in American History and Government degree program. The academic program and schedule have been designed with junior high and high school teachers in mind. The courses are offered only during the summer, a unique feature of this program, making it convenient for teachers from across the nation to enroll. While the program is designed for teachers, the program’s coursework is in the substance of history and government rather than in teaching methodology. The program is taught by faculty from colleges and universities nationwide.
In 2004, the Ashbrook Center was selected by the National Endowment for the Humanities to develop web-based high school U.S. history lesson plans and associated interactive student exercises for the NEH’s Edsitement website. The Ashbrook Center was one of two organizations selected by the NEH to increase the U.S. history and civics content on this important web site.
In 2005, the Ashbrook Center was selected by the U.S. Department of Education to run one of two Presidential Academies for American History and Civics. The Presidential Academy leads secondary school teachers in a careful on site study of three pivotal turning points in American history: The American Revolution, the Civil War, and the Civil Rights Movement.The study of these turning points is framed by the three famous documents that memorialize these American epochs: the Declaration of Independence, the Gettysburg Address, and the “I Have a Dream” speech. Participating teachers spend five days in Philadelphia, six days in Gettysburg, and six days in Washington, DC. Fifty-two teachers, one from each state, one from the District of Columbia, and one from a U.S. Territory, are selected to participate in the Academy. The professors conducting the Academy are among the finest scholars of American history and government from across the country. The faculty includes two Pulitzer Prize winning authors and many recipients of teaching awards at their respective colleges and universities.
The Ashbrook Center’s extensive experience working with teachers, experience working with the U.S. Department of Education, and work with the National Endowment for the Humanities to develop web-based high school U.S. history lesson plans demonstrate that the Ashbrook Center provides a strong and vital institutional home for your grant partnership, a partnership that will emphasize the importance of American history to your teachers.