Education Grant Partners CHNM with Local School Districts

Posted: October 8, 2003 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Tara Laskowski

The Center for History and New Media (CHNM) has been named a central partner in two grants each worth nearly $1 million awarded to several public school divisions in Virginia. The U.S. Department of Education recently awarded Teaching American History Grants, one to Alexandria City schools and the other to a consortium of seven school divisions headed by Fauquier County, to improve American history curriculum in the schools.

The grants will link elementary, middle, and high school American history teachers with professional historians and scholars who will provide professional development workshops, curriculum development, online discussions, and advice on how to implement new tools and theories in the classroom. CHNM will coordinate many of these efforts and will create and maintain web sites for each project. In addition, CHNM will encourage the exploration of new methods of teaching, including analyzing online primary sources in American history in the classroom.

“Our goal for this project is to expand teachers’ content knowledge of American history, develop classroom resources, and create a professional network for teachers so they have support that extends beyond the workshops,” says Kelly Schrum, academic program director for the two grants. “We hope to work with teachers to help bring history alive in the classroom.”

In smaller school districts, full-time history coordinators are not always available. The Fauquier County grant will focus on how rural school districts can pool their resources to create a richer program that may not be possible in a single small district. The Alexandria City grant will address the issue of teaching American history in a district where more than one-third of the students live in homes where English is not the primary language. The grant will look at how to build a stronger sense of community in an urban school district with high mobility.

More than a dozen George Mason faculty members, most of whom are from the Department of History and Art History, will work with the three-year grants. The program will continue to build George Mason’s ties to school divisions in Virginia and will affect hundreds of American history teachers throughout the area.

Since 1994, CHNM has used digital media and computer technology to change the ways that scholars, students, and the general public learn about and use the past. The center’s work has been recognized with major awards from the American Historical Association and other national organizations, as well as grants from the Sloan, Rockefeller, Gould, Delmas, and Kellogg Foundations. In 2000, the National Endowment for the Humanities awarded a challenge grant to create a $2 million endowment to support and expand the work of the center.

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