Three Calhoun County teachers recently joined with other 5th grade history teachers from eleven school districts in the Panhandle of Florida for the 2009 Patriot Project Summer Institute held at the Panhandle Area Educational Consortium (PAEC) in Chipley, Florida June 9-12.The PAEC Patriot Project is a three-year program that provides intensive training for grade 5 history teachers and their mentors in both the content and pedagogy involved in teaching American History. Resources, materials and field experiences are also part of the project, which seeks to improve student achievement by increasing teacher content knowledge.The first three days of the Institute featured training by Dr. Sarah Drake Brown who discussed the 13 Habits of Mind that make the teaching of American History a more accurate discipline, as well as more meaningful to students. Dr. Brown’s examples, lectures and activities gave participants insight into ways to improve both their teaching and their own understanding of history.The last day of the Institute was conducted by nationally known storyteller and actress, History Alive! speaker, Shelia Arnold. Her presentation entitled, “Healing the Sting: Teaching African American History to Culturally Diverse Audiences,” focused on slavery and civil rights.Ms. Arnold’s portrayal of Oney Judge, maid-servant to Martha Washington, illustrated how storytelling and character acting can be an immensely effective way to allow students to relate to Americans who have gone before and the circumstances in which they lived.PAEC Patriot Project Director Tony Anderson and Managing Consultant Mona Ramirez were extremely happy with the progress made by the Patriot participants and American history they learned during the Institute. Although the sessions were intended solely to improve teacher content and pedagogy knowledge, everyone also received materials and lesson ideas that can be used to enhance students’ classroom experiences.Next on the agenda for Patriots is a historical field tour of Colonial Williamsburg, Jamestown, Yorktown, Richmond and various historical sites in the Virginia area, June 23 – June 28th.
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