March 20, 2012
By Anne Hyde and Elisabeth Grant
History Blueprint is a new history teaching website spearheaded by the California History-Social Science Project at the University of California, Davis. Just recently launched, the site currently offers one curriculum unit (on the Civil War) and three prototypes of teaching tools.
The AHA is a partner in this History Blueprint project, and was pleased to be represented by AHA Council and Teaching Division member Anne Hyde, who contributed by helping build the Civil War unit. Read on for her report on the experience and how the History Blueprint project will continue in the future.
Contributing to History Blueprint – A Report from Anne Hyde
As part of my job with the Teaching Division, I was asked to represent the AHA as part of the History Blueprint Project last year. The project was dreamed up by the California History-Social Science Project at UC Davis, a long-time presence in K–16 collaboration, led by the wonderful Nancy McTygue. Our task was to design a curriculum unit about the Civil War for California 8th graders using new ideas about how history teaches literacy and sophisticated analysis. This sounds simple, but it has turned out to be a complex experience. The unit is a beautiful example of a collaborative process, filled with everything a teacher or student could want: gobs of historical content and primary materials, assignments and how to assess them, and ideas for working with English Language Learners. And while the content of the completed unit adds up to 600 pages, it’s easy to maneuver online.
I watched in awe and participated with pleasure as groups of classroom teachers worked from a single California history standard to build a beautiful and useful tool. No one knew how it would turn out. K-12 teachers, educational experts, and Civil War historians all commented on each version. It got bigger each time, but richer and better. The unit now gets its ultimate test–8th graders in actual classrooms. Then, because of the rigorous review process, the Blueprint lesson will get revised again. It will always be a work in progress because of the continuing collaboration that is its core principle. Students in California, and soon in other places as well, will get to experience the benefits of smart and dedicated people working together to make history a crucial presence in their classrooms.