18:00 PM

Partnership will aid Ohio social studies teachers

Ohio social studies teachers will have extra inspiration in teaching American History thanks to a partnership led by The Ohio State University Department of History.

The U.S. Department of Education has awarded a grant of $920,934 to a partnership between Ohio State's Department of History, the Ohio Historical Society and Tri-County Educational Center to focus on improving the quality of American history.

The grant provides academic training for 4th – 8th grade social studies and history teachers. Up to 24 teachers from 17 school districts in Ashland, Holmes and Wayne Counties (served by the Tri-County Educational Center) will be trained each year. As part of the program, teachers will apply soon after the new school year begins. They will participate in four seminars, two visits to historic sites and a week-long summer institute.

The grant, which fully funds the project, is part of the federal Teaching American History program. The U.S. Department of Education awarded 123 such grants this year, including six in Ohio. The grants fund projects for three years, with the possibility of two additional renewal years.

Ohio State's History Teaching Institute, the outreach arm of the university's Department of History, will oversee the program. History Teaching Institute director Stuart Hobbs says the experience will help teachers enliven their teaching.

"The program will increase teachers' knowledge, understanding and appreciation of American history," Hobbs said. "They will learn to teach using primary sources such as letters and photos from the past. When students can learn from primary sources, they get excited and teachers are rejuvenated. It makes their teaching different and gives them new perspective and energy, which helps the students as well."

This is the sixth such grant the university and department have received over the last eight years. The History Teaching Institute oversees Back to History for K-12 teachers in six western Ohio, and Explore History, for K-12 teachers in the 13 county area of central and north central Ohio.

Earlier teacher development programs have included: History in the Heartland, for twelve Ohio counties surrounding the OSU regional campuses in Lima, Mansfield, Marion and Newark. History Works, for middle and high school teachers of American history in Columbus City Schools.History Works II, for elementary school teachers in Columbus City Schools.

The History Teaching Institute has also developed lesson plans using Ohio State resources such as the Byrd Polar Archives (Cold Cases, Lessons in Historical Skills and Methods) and the Cartoon Library and Museum (the Opper Project using editorial cartoons to teach history).

Established in 1885, the Ohio Historical Society is a nonprofit organization that serves as the state's partner in preserving and interpreting Ohio's history, archaeology, natural history and architecture. The Society currently serves 700 hundred teachers across 79 counties in Ohio's urban, suburban and rural communities through 20 teacher training programs. For more information about programs, go online at ohiohistory.org.