About The Teaching American
History: A Windham/EASTCONN Collaborative
A high-quality collection of over 400 American history lessons for grades 5-12 is now available on this site for free thanks to a devoted and enthusiastic group of Connecticut history teachers who have participated in EASTCONN's federally funded Teaching American History Projects.
The Teaching American History Project (TAHP), which was administered
by EASTCONN for the Windham Public Schools and other school systems in
northeastern Connecticut, finished its fourth year at the end of June
2008. This professional development program was refunded for the 2009-2012 school years. Participating
teachers take part in a variety of hands-on, activity-based workshops
and seminars, as well as summer institutes and public history programs. All are designed to improve
teachers' content understanding of American history; increase their
skills analyzing, interpreting, and effectively using primary source
materials; and expand their awareness and understanding of the many
local resources (museums, historical sites, and historical societies)
available in our region. Some sessions are held on site at EASTCONN,
while others involve field trips.
The TAHP history lessons, which vary in length and complexity, have already been used in classrooms and vetted for quality and content. Many of the lessons can be adapted to different grade-levels. Every history lesson on this site was developed by TAHP teachers for use by all teachers.
Lessons are based on primary sources and local resources, are grouped by related historical content or eras, and are tied to Connecticut's Social Studies Framework. Each lesson begins with an inquiry statement or question, which identifies the essential questions students will be asked to answer, the decisions they will be asked to make, or the problems they will be asked to solve.
Much has been written about the benefits of having students learn history through the study of primary sources. Social Education, the journal of the National Council for the Social Studies, wrote: "The use of primary sources in the classroom represents a unique way of bringing history into the lives of students. The magic of seeing an original document and the sense of being transported back in time capture the imagination of young people. Spurred by rising curiosity, students can enter naturally into the role of historian in exploring and explaining life in the past." In Why Documents Matter: American Originals and the Historical Imagination, writers James G. Basker and Ann Whitney Olin said, "But perhaps above all, such documents can be stimulus to the imagination. They can 'humanize' history. And once the imagination is engaged, there is no limit to learning."
Clearly, working with primary sources helps students develop observation, vocabulary, reading comprehension, inquiry and research skills, enabling them to analyze historical events from different points of view. The English Language Arts Anchor Standards and the ELA Standards for History/Social Studies from the Common Core State Standards identify a number of critical social studies skills that are the basis for many of the lessons on this website. The section of the website titled “Common Core Connections” provides examples of lessons from throughout the span of American history and shows how these lessons can be used to help students move toward mastery of the Common Core State Standards.
We hope that teachers will find these lessons helpful in engaging their students in higher-level thinking about American history.
By Dan Coughlin
For information about the Teaching American History Project, contact: