Posted: Jan 15, 2013 5:26 PM by Press Release
(Lafayette, La.) - Lafayette Parish School System has joined with the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History to energize and invigorate history teaching through the "Let's Do History Tour."
The project seeks to support K-12 social studies teachers by introducing them to museum objects such as the Star-Spangled Banner, effective techniques, powerful online tools and standards-based content that can be used in classrooms. The tour, recently developed by the museum, brings the best Smithsonian resources and teaching strategies to elementary and secondary teachers of Lafayette Parish School System. The museum will share its interdisciplinary "do history" approach to teaching with a focus on everyday objects and people-centered stories and dialogue. The "Let's Do History Tour" is part of the A. James Clark Excellence in History Teaching Program.
The program is made possible through a gift from A. James Clark, chairman of the board and CEO of Clark Enterprises Inc., one of the largest privately held companies in the nation and the parent holding company of Clark Construction Group LLC. The "Let's Do History Tour" stop in Lafayette Parish is made possible through a generous grant from the Patrick F. Taylor Foundation. The tour program has two parts: the first consists of one professional development day of highly interactive sessions for teachers hosted by the museum's staff on Thursday, January 17, 2013, to introduce teachers to the museum's resources and methods.
Elementary and Secondary teachers will take part in an intensive daylong program in which Smithsonian educators provide in-depth training on object-based learning and primary source analysis and work with Lafayette Parish teachers to integrate museum resources and methods into lesson plans for their classroom.
"The program combines the best of what the museum has to offer with best practices in 21st century education and will reach thousands of K-12 teachers nationwide," said John Gray, Elizabeth MacMillan Director of the National Museum of American History. "While we can't change the amount of time teachers have to teach American history, we can help them make every minute count." "By working alongside the museum, teachers have the opportunity to further increase student engagement and critical thinking through use of museum resources, and this is where Common Core State Standards come into play in the classroom" said Janet Pope, Social Studies Academic Specialist of Lafayette Parish School System.
"Another exciting point about this professional development is the teachers that participate will have a wealth of social studies resources that they can share with other teachers at their school." "The program will also help us see how Lafayette connects to the story of America. In June 2011, the U.S. Department of Education showed that American students' knowledge of American history is the weakest of any subject in the National Assessment of Educational Progress report, www.nytimes.com/2011/06/15/education/15history.html?_r=1. David McCullough, historian and National Museum of American History board member, asserts that presenting students with realistic historical problems and teaching them to do history for themselves, helps them develop lifelong skills such as problem-solving, critical thinking and communication.
Through the use of objects and other primary sources, students develop their historical thinking skills, including cause-and-effect relationships, appreciating multiple perspectives and determining the validity of competing claims. Having access to museum objects and other primary source material helps students to understand how their own lives connect with people and events from the past. All teachers participating in the training program receive a USB flash drives containing free classroom materials, links to Web resources, and other teaching tools.
Each session concludes with an invitation to stay in touch by joining the museum's group in the Thinkfinity online learning community and an invitation to implement a strategy or resource from the program and share the results with the Museum. The National Museum of American History represents American heritage and its collections are displayed in exhibitions that interpret the American experience from Colonial times to the present. For more information, visit the museum's website at http://americanhistory.si.edu or call (202) 633-1000 or 357-1729 (TTY).