Teachers Share Research Work ; Grant Boosts Their Knowledge of U.S. History

By Zimmerman, Brian | Evansville Courier & Press (2007-Current), November 27, 2012 | Go to article overview

Teachers Share Research Work ; Grant Boosts Their Knowledge of U.S. History


Zimmerman, Brian, Evansville Courier & Press (2007-Current)


RICHMOND, Ind. - Richmond-area teachers have completed the second of a three-year $500,000 Teaching American History Grant project and have a website and resource library to show for it. Dozens of teachers from Richmond and Centerville have compiled resources through research and field experiences across the country and now want their peers to benefit from it.

"This is a product, really, of our teachers," said Susie Hively, a now-retired teacher and principal who co-wrote the grant in 2010. "They have received technology that enables them to archive documents, pictures, video and interviews that go along and support their units of instruction.

"So on this website, there are all these archival types of resources as well as the units that were designed by the teachers as well as some professional development modules that the teachers designed.

"Our teachers are just thrilled with the idea that someone would come on to the website and borrow their stuff," Hively said.

Richmond Community Schools, in partnership with Indiana University East and the Wayne County Historical Museum, received the grant from the U.S. Department of Education in 2010.

The grant was established to raise student achievement by improving teachers' knowledge, understanding and appreciation of American history, according to the Ashbrook Center at Ashland University, a partnering institution of the grant program.

The grant was created at the urging of the late U.S. Sen. Robert Byrd of West Virginia to address his concern that students did not have adequate knowledge of traditional topics in American history, the center said.

"Honestly, in this age of accountability, we've focused really heavily on reading and math, and those are the most important skills, but you also need to be able to apply those skills to a content area," Hively said. "In order to really get the kids the basics, that's been sacrificed.

"When I was teaching in the beginning of my career in the' 70s and' 80s, part of the fun of school was that teacher that had a teepee in their classroom or built a rainforest in the hallway," she said. "Those are the things that kids really remember. With the standards movement, some of those things have been let go."

To that end, the grant participants hope their work and experiences will help teachers add new splashes of creativity to their lesson plans.

"When I teach anything to do with history, I see the students' eyes light up," said Michelle Hilbert, a two-year grant participant and a third-grade teacher at Charles Elementary School. "They want to hear the stories. They want to know the past. …

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