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Oklahoma Teachers in Year 3 of Grant

Oklahoma Teachers in Year 3 of Grant(Posted: October 8, 2012)

A group of teachers from Eastern Oklahoma were on the University of Arkansas - Fort Smith campus Oct. 8-9 as part of the final year for a three-year grant titled "Project Inspire: Arkoma Teaching American History Grant."

Dr. John Turner, superintendent of the Arkoma School District, is the project administrator. Project director is Dr. Robert Willoughby, head of the UAFS Department of History, Geography, Political Science and Religious Studies.

Turner said each year of the grant had distinct studies involved.

"Year one of the grant was the study of 'Colonization, Settlement and Community,'" he said. "This past year we studied 'The Revolution and the New Nation,' and year three of the grant will conclude with 'Expansion and Reform and the Crisis of the Union.'"

Turner said goals of the project were to raise student achievement by improving teacher content knowledge and appreciation of American history, increasing teacher knowledge in American History in each of the grant's years and helping teachers to improve their teaching methods and skills in American History.

"The teachers in the program and their students are pre- and post-tested each year to assess their mastery of the material taught," said Turner. "We believe the program is being successful because we've seen improvement with both teachers' and students' knowledge of American history."

Turner said the students have shown improvement from pre-tests to post-tests.

"In year two of the grant, 96 percent of the students showed an increase on their post-test," he said. "The teachers have shown an improvement from pre-test to post-test for both year one and year two. In year one, 52 percent of the teachers demonstrated improvement, with year two showing a 92 percent improvement."

Willoughby's work in the project has included focusing on directing the history content presented to the teachers, making sure they are given advanced concepts or perspectives on the range of events during the historical period covered by the grant for a given year.

"Year three of the grant covers the period 1815-1865," said Willoughby. "I offer my own personal insights into history, arrange presentations by guest lecturers and audio-visual training through the Internet or via DVD and plan the twice yearly workshops held on our campus."

Other UAFS participants have included Billy Higgins, associate professor of history; Dr. Steven Kite, assistant professor of history; and Tom Wing, director of the Drennen-Scott Historic Site and assistant professor of history at UAFS. The Oklahoma teachers visited the Drennen-Scott Historic Site on Oct. 9.

"The teachers from Eastern Oklahoma return to their districts with an appreciation of the UAFS campus and its people," said Willoughby. "Many want to know when our campus will offer graduate courses in history so that they can come back to further their educations."

In addition to what has happened at UAFS, the participating teachers have taken yearly field trips appropriate to the historical period studied each year. Destinations have included Williamsburg, Va., Boston, Mass., and Washington, D.C. Each trip was guided by historians from the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History of New York.

Workshop participants, listed by the district they represent, included:

Arkoma: Carla Firestine, Rick Harvey and Sarah Pendergrass.

Atoka: Chet Braudrick, Heather Brooks and Chris Wingo.

Beggs: Darla Six, Kandy Stanton and Donna Wilburn.

Bethany: Andrea Stewart and Lousondra Waltz.

Cameron: Brian Barnes.

Fort Gibson: George Kunsman, Mona Lashley and John (Mike) Roe.

Heavener: Johnna Carpenter and Lacey Dyer.

Howe: Lindsay Rana and Cheryl Stacy.

McAlester: Skip Gore, Debbie Grilliot, DeWayne Hampton and Caroline Miller.

Muldrow: Greg Caughman, Joey Mathews, Karen Page, Joe Phillips and Mary Webb.

Oklahoma City: Judith Miracle.

Poteau: Susie Byous, Tom Brennan, Chase Caldwell, Terri Chitwood, Cindy Hall, Jim Roll and Greg Wilson.

Shawnee: Antonia Lee.

Stigler: Tenille Sebo.

Tuskahoma: Kelly Cartwright and Melissa Robbins.

Article by: Sondra LaMar, Director of Public Relations
Photo(s) by: Corey S. Krasko, Photographer, Marketing & Communications Office

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