UMass Civic Initiative: Teacher Professional Development for History & Social Studies
The UMass Civic Initiative has successfully implemented two “Teaching American History” programs funded by the federal Department of Education.
Constitutional History Renewal Project: Funded by the federal Department of Education’s Teaching American History program and administered through the Amherst-Pelham Regional School District and the UMass Donahue Institute in partnership with the Pocumtuck Valley Memorial Association, the Constitutional History Renewal Project was developed to enhance teaching of the critical issues and questions that make the Constitution central to American history. Through lectures, seminars, readings, museum work, and primary documents, participants examined recurring debates over the Constitution and its meaning.
People in Motion: Immigration and Migration in American History was awarded to the Southbridge Public School District, in consortium with eight other western Massachusetts districts, and in partnership with the UMass Civic Initiative and the Pocumtuck Valley Memorial Association to examine American history through the lens of immigration and internal migration. Day-long sessions throughout the academic year and a two-week summer seminar included presentations on the history of immigration and migrations in the United States from the early immigration and settlement of the American continent through the mass immigration and internal migrations of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, concluding with a focus on the internal migration of African Americans and the immigration of peoples from Latin and Asian countries, and their continued impact on many aspects of American life. The course examined large national trends as well as the historical development of western Massachusetts with the objectives of improving content knowledge, honing research skills, addressing state history frameworks, and advancing teacher and student content knowledge.
Ongoing workshops helped teachers connect ideas to lesson plans which met Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks requirements. Participating teachers were provided with a stipend during their seminars and received professional development points or graduate credit, materials to help support the teaching of American history and connect American history content to inquiry-based teaching and learning.