Monday, August 3, 2009

Georgia State to help DeKalb County history teachers and students

Georgia State University will soon be helping DeKalb County public school teachers expand their American history knowledge, in an effort to increase student achievement in social studies.
DeKalb County Public Schools, with Georgia State as a partner, was recently awarded a “Teaching American History” grant from the federal government.

The grant, roughly $1 million over the next three years, will cover professional development expenses for American history teachers in elementary, middle and high schools. Educators hope to get an extension of the grant for a total of $1.6 million over five years.

Starting in the fall, Georgia State will offer DeKalb County teachers an opportunity to take two graduate level courses at Georgia State, one in history and one in education.

Teachers will earn graduate course credit at GSU, continuing education credit with their district and a stipend to help cover their tuition, books and supplies as well as travel to historical sites.
Nearly 30 DeKalb teachers will be eligible for the program each year, for a total of 90 over three years. The program is designed to ensure teachers develop the knowledge and skills necessary to teach traditional American history in an exciting and engaging way.

“Our hope is that they learn more historical content, particularly in the areas their students have demonstrated weakness, so not only the teachers learn more content, the students do too and perform better on the state history test,” said Chara Bohan, associate professor of middle-secondary education in GSU’s College of Education.

The courses at GSU will be challenging, graduate-level courses designed to meet the specific needs of Dekalb County teachers and students. They will emphasize educational pedagogy and the American history framework established by the National Assessment of Educational Progress.

The subject matter will extend over broad chronological periods in the nation’s history and also target specific areas where DeKalb County students need to improve, such as understanding economic and industrial history, said Michelle Brattain, associate chair of the GSU History Department.

“I think this program is very, very important both for GSU and for our community,” Brattain said. “The Teaching American History grant will now allow us to extend our commitment to middle and secondary education in Georgia to a new constituency and build collaborative relationships with Dekalb County and area teachers.”

Georgia State’s Department of Middle-Secondary Education and Instructional Technology in the College of Education and the History Department in the College of Arts and Sciences collaborate to prepare both undergraduate and graduate students to be middle and secondary social studies teachers.

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