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Teachers, Students in Augusta
To Benefit from History Center's NEH Grant
MAILED: July 23, 2002
EAU CLAIRE — The Center for History Teaching and Learning at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire recently received nearly $100,000 from the National Endowment for the Humanities to implement a two-year project with middle school and high school teachers from Augusta, a small city east of Eau Claire.
The Center, which is designed to promote K-12 teacher training to meet state standards, was awarded the grant by the NEH's Schools for a New Millennium Project. The New Millennium grants are directed to particular schools because results are easier to measure, said project director Dr. Kate Lang, assistant professor of history at UW-Eau Claire.
Lang said the project's goal is to enable teachers in the Augusta schools to develop a new level of expertise in public history.
"They will create curricular units that foster cross-grade collaboration as their students explore the history of Augusta and then present that history to the public using a variety of media," Lang said.
The grant allows teachers to participate in a summer institute and ongoing consultation with project faculty, who include humanities faculty from the departments of history and art at UW-Eau Claire and UW-La Crosse, faculty with expertise in technology and project-based learning from the School of Education at UW-Eau Claire, a preservationist from the Upper Midwest Conservation Association, the curator of the Area Research Center in Eau Claire and staff from the Chippewa Valley Museum.
Lang said the project unites and expands two earlier grant programs. In April 2001, students and teachers at Augusta Middle and High School presented a local look at the Second World War titled "Augusta Remembers: 'The Greatest Generation.'" Students conducted oral histories with Augusta veterans and transcribed and bound them with support from the Wisconsin Educational Association Council and the West Central Education Association.
Also in spring 2001, four Augusta secondary teachers were among 40 K-12 teachers in northwest Wisconsin who conducted local history projects in their classes based on their work in the Virtual Museum Partnership, created by Dr. Roger Tlusty, chair of the foundations of education department at UW-Eau Claire, and funded by a U.S. Department of Education Eisenhower Grant.
"We want to take these projects to a new level," Lang said. "By enhancing the teachers' content knowledge in history, art and technology it will enable them to develop more sophisticated local history projects for their students."
Thirteen Augusta teachers attended a weeklong institute at UW-Eau Claire earlier this summer, and fall workshop sessions are planned. Classes help meet the immediate needs of the teachers as they implement activities in their classrooms. Participants learn to create and maintain digital and real collections and study such subjects as paper preservation. They were introduced to historical methods and to the Virtual Museum, which now resides at CESA 10.
"This work must be started because the Augusta Historical Society closed several years ago and donated its holdings to the middle/high school," Lang said. "Community members have been donating other items to this collection, but acquisitions have been haphazard, it has not been catalogued and several pieces are in need of preservation."
They also learned about pushing the boundaries of art in digitizing images and how to make more professional displays.
"The teachers had decided what they would implement in their classrooms, starting this fall. For example, the teachers of art and business education will collaborate on a study of the history of advertising in the Augusta area," Lang said. "Students will look at newspapers and businesses to see how they promoted their products and services over the years."
Plans for "Our Town Augusta" follows the Wisconsin Model Academic Standards for Social Studies Performance Standards for History, which emphasizes the importance of teaching students to engage in the process of historical inquiry, Lang said.
"Students in Augusta will be engaged in studying history in new ways and will get the community excited about what the school is doing. Everyone will come to understand that history is an active and innovative discipline," she said.
UW-Eau Claire News Bureau
Updated: July 23, 2002