History in the Heartland will bring together American history teachers from fifty-three Ohio school districts in partnership with the Ohio State University's four regional campuses (OSU) and the Ohio Historical Society (OHS). By involving teachers in a project designed to increase content knowledge, understanding and appreciation of traditional American history through an intensive, ongoing professional development program, History in the Heartland will improve American history instruction in twelve Ohio counties. Ultimately, we expect to inspire greater student interest in the subject and contribute to greater student achievement both in American history courses and the mandatory state achievement tests.
History in the Heartland will increase teachers' understanding of four core themes in American history. The program has three major components: school-year seminars, summer institutes, and a web-based resource center. Held throughout the school year, the OSU-led seminars will introduce teachers to significant readings and ideas related to the core themes. Teachers will receive two hours of graduate credit for their participation. During the summers, these same teachers will receive an additional three hours of graduate credit for attending a week-long residential institute. Teachers will use their enhanced content knowledge and OHS' archival resources to create curricular material to share with their colleagues in print form and on the project website.
This project will have a long-term impact on the teaching and learning of American history throughout the state of Ohio. The website offers access to a broad array of teaching materials, from primary source documents to physical artifacts to forums for the exchange of ideas, all of which will allow teachers to benefit from the project even after funding ends. The program will contribute to the professional development of teachers now under intensified federal and state encouragement to gain mastery of their specific teaching field.
History in the Heartland will succeed because it combines an effective project design, based on the profession's benchmarks for professional development, with the rich resources of three fully committed partners. Ohio State University's four regional campuses—at Lima, Mansfield, Marion, and Newark—traditionally emphasize undergraduate education in small-class settings and train many of the school teachers who go on to careers in the relatively rural and small-town school districts of the state that will participate in the program; their history faculty, meanwhile, have the same records of publication and professional stature as the faculty a the main campus. In addition to vast archival holdings, OHS has a staff with extensive experience helping the state's teachers and students interpret primary sources. The grant's lead Local Educational Agency (LEA), the Mid-Ohio Educational Service Center (MOESC), has leadership and administrative experience in place that is eager to seize this opportunity to improve the quality of history instruction in Ohio. These partners share a commitment to improving American history education and are eager to help middle and high school teachers take history into the heartland.