Teaching American History: Petaluma City Schools 2008-2012


The project provided 4/5th Grade teachers with a strong academic content background and effective pedagogical strategies that included active learning, teaching methods tied to content, and the development of literacy skills.

Program strands included:

  1. Interweaving content, pedagogy, and historical thinking.
  2. Integrating history/literacy and developing historical habits of mind.
  3. Identifying appropriate assessment tools and applicable teaching processes.
  4. Setting benchmarks and performance indicators for teachers and students.
  5. Identifying standards, texts, books, articles, and materials to be used.
  6. How to observe peers and give feedback.
  7. Advocating for increased instructional time.

Academic Content:

The academic content strand, aligned with California State Academic Content Standards, was presented through lectures, discussion, and readings, particularly in primary source materials. Faculty modeled best practices by integrating content, outstanding pedagogical strategies, historical thinking, and technology.

  • Year 1 - "American Frontiers" addressed contact and early interactions among European, indigenous, African, and other peoples in the "New World," including the impact of trade, European exploration, migration, conflict, and cooperation between these cultures from the earliest historical records through the mid-19th century.
  • Year 2 - "Colonial Communities and Institutions" addressed the diverse communities of North America, from pre-Columbian civilizations to the settlement of European colonies in the 17th and 18th centuries, as well as the maturation of those colonies.
  • Year 3 - "Creation of the American Republic" addressed the causes of the American Revolution, the course and consequences of the Revolution, the development of the Constitution, and expansion of the Republic in the early national period.