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October 20, 2010

Warner helps city teachers enhance history lessons

David Hursh
Hursh
Kevin Meuwissen
Meuwissen

Warner School teaching and curriculum professors will assist teachers with improving American history instruction, thanks to two federal grants awarded to the Rochester City School District by the U.S. Department of Education.

David Hursh, an associate professor, and Kevin Meuwissen, an assistant professor, will help teachers get excited about history education and build upon their knowledge of pedagogy and the subject matter, with a goal to improve student achievement.

The first grant award, Teachers as Historians, includes book circles, instructional labs, a summer institute, and a lecture series for secondary teachers focusing on social reform movements in American history. Meuwissen will work closely with teachers and program mentors to help them integrate current research on student learning into various methods of classroom history instruction. He says that the program offers history educators a unique opportunity to strengthen their strategies for teaching students to interpret evidence and build and share their own historical arguments.

The second grant, Growing Up in America, is geared toward teaching history to kindergarten through second-grade students and getting them to think historically. Hursh will help to make learning engaging and appropriate for elementary teachers. Specifically, this program will focus on local Rochester history, including how neighborhoods changed as people arrived from other parts of the country and world, changes in children’s work and play, and changes in families. Additionally, fourth- and fifth-grade teachers will be able to participate in training where they will explore government documents and how to make them relevant and meaningful for children.

Hursh says children think historically even before beginning school.

“Children actively try to understand past events and can situate events and artifacts on a timeline; they can even think historically about Rochester and groups that have come here,” he says. “These projects will have many benefits for student learning, including literacy and other subjects, and will demonstrate great potential for what children can do in school.”

Additional community partners working together on the grants include Nazareth College, SUNY Brockport, Rochester Museum and Science Center, Strong National Museum of Play, Memorial Art Gallery, Genesee Country Village and Museum, and the Central Library of Rochester and Monroe County.

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