As part of a national program to promote the teaching of United States history in primary and secondary public schools, the U.S. Department of Education made $1.6 million, in the form of two grants, available to Bridgewater State College and its partnering school districts over six years. The first grant, awarded in 2002, was one of the largest competitive grants in Bridgewater State College's 143-year history. The second grant, awarded in 2004, will allow the program to continue and expand its partnership with local schools and its successful program of professional development.
The awards were used to offer a variety of professional development experiences for teachers, to develop an interactive multimedia Web portal and to sponsor regional events. The college's plan called for greater collaboration between key faculty members and local public school teachers. Though the official applicant for the first grant was the Plymouth School District and the second grant was the Brockton School District, both grants were administered at BSC. In all, 120-140 teachers in school districts in Southeastern Massachusetts benefited directly from the award.
Under the first grant, thematic topics were selected that would be integrated into the classroom in accordance with state and national curriculum guidelines. The consortium completed six weekend modules on the topics of aviation, the industrial revolution, foreign policy from Kennedy to Carter, local history and museums, women's and gender history and the Civil War. Three week long summer institutes were also held on the topics of immigration, the United States Constitution and The Civil Right's Movement.
Under the second grant, entitled Teaching American History through Discovery, Investigation, and Participation, the program explored the U.S. Constitution as both a historic and living document and used it as a lens for the study of traditional American history. Each of the three years of this grant focused on a key theme. In year one, "Founding Ideas and Documents: The Origins of the United States Constitution;" was examined, in year two, "The Document Itself: The Creation and Ratification, and Impact of the United States Constitution;" and in year three, "Interpretation through the Centuries: The Lived Meaning of the United States Constitution."
The professional development program under this grant consisted of three spring and fall modules, all of which began with a nationally renowned keynote speaker. A half day workshop followed, in which the keynote speaker and regional scholars, guided participants through an intensive primary source document study related to the module topic. Additionally, a district-based workshop for each module allowed for dissemination of materials and ideas generated during the module. These workshops allowed teacher participants to work cooperatively to create materials and activities for classroom use. The final phase of each year's program was a Summer Institute, comprised of
fifteen Teaching American History Fellowships. The institutes consisted of a one-week field study held in historic locations related to the development, ratification, and implementation of the Constitution. Upon completion of the institutes, fellows were required to complete a research project, disseminate their findings and design and implement a civic engagement activity for their students.