Web Site for Teachers
By Autumn Bouck
Early on a Friday morning, two junior high history teachers
wandered the dark and quiet corridors of Kerr Hall on our campus.
Their destination: the Roland Marchand Resource Library, a small
but amazing room full of resources for K-12 history teachers--lesson
plans, slides, videos, books, maps, and much more. Another teacher,
unable to make the trip to UC Davis, logged on to http://historyproject.ucdavis.edu/,
searched the library's contents remotely, quickly downloaded a
lesson plan, and checked out a book. All of these teachers, traditional
researchers and online explorers, are now equipped with resources
designed to enhance the discussion of history in the classroom.
The History and Cultures Project
The Marchand Library is run by the Area 3 History and Cultures
Project, a collaborative venture between university faculty and
K-12 history teachers. The History and Cultures Project was funded
in 1991 by the California State Legislature to serve the 8,700
K-12 history teachers in the Sacramento Valley. It is one of ten
sites of the California History-Social Science Project (CHSSP),
and one of the 98 sites of the California Subject Matter Projects
administered by the UC Office of the President. Since 1991, the
Project has focused on low-performing schools and expanded its
geographic scope to include schools from Lake Tahoe to Vallejo.
The History and Cultures Project was built on a fundamental
belief that the best teachers function within a network of professionals
who share a common goal: to enhance their love and knowledge of
the subject matter they teach. No one knows this better than Kathy
Medina, project director, who helped found the History and Cultures
Project when she was a UC Davis graduate student and high school
In the early 1990s, Medina was inspired by UC Davis Professor
Roland Marchand's video compilation of Watergate "moments" and
wanted to share it with her students. But she was frustrated that
there was no easy way to access the video or to share such an
excellent resource with other history teachers. As a result, she
helped found the History and Cultures Project, with the goal of
forming a professional community of history teachers.
Leveraging the Web to Enhance Teaching
The History and Cultures Project recently launched a powerful
Web site intended to strengthen the network that Medina and her
colleagues have been building for nearly a decade. The site provides
a dynamic vehicle for sharing knowledge and advancing the art
of teaching history.
"We perceive the Web site, and technology in general, as a means
of expanding our capacity to improve the quality of teaching and
learning in history classrooms," says Matthew Pigg, a junior high
school history teacher who created the Project's Web site and
The History and Cultures Project Web site opens the door on
a wide variety of resources:
- Online Library
Named after the late UC Davis history professor Marchand (one
of the original members of the History and Cultures Project
team), the Marchand Resource Library database can be searched
by subject, author, title, resource type, or grade level. Some
items in the database, such as slide collections and lesson
plans, are downloadable; others are available for check-out.
Teachers can come into the library to check out the material,
or they can check them out online and have them mailed or delivered
to them (free of charge if the teacher is from a school that
has a partnership with the History Project). Beyond the library
resources, the database also includes information about historians
and other experts in the field whom teachers can ask for help.
- State Standards
At the end of summer 1999, the California State Board of Education
passed a set of content standards: a list of subjects that teachers
are required to teach at each grade level. The History Project
integrated this information into its library database so that
teachers could search specifically by content standard. For
example, a seventh grade teacher can click on "Grade 7" to find
resources for each specific topic, or unit, that she or he will
teach during that year. This is the only Web site in the State
of California that matches resources, such as syllabi and lesson
plans, to the content standards.
- Digitized Collection of Lesson Plans and Historical
The Project's site also contains a special collection gathered
by Professor Marchand during his 30+ years as a UC Davis professor.
Kacey Kamrin, a member of the Project team, worked with the
Arbor to put Professor Marchand's lesson plans online. As the
plans were all written originally for university students, the
History Project worked with history teachers to rewrite them
for high school and junior high levels. At http://marchand.ucdavis.edu/
there are currently 24 university-level lesson plans available,
22 at the high school level, and 10 at the junior high level.
The next step is to digitize and catalogue Marchand's collection
of 6,500 images and notecards related to US History. This
slide collection represents the enormous investment the late
Professor Marchand made in his teaching career at UC Davis.
"When completed," says Kamrin, "we plan to have all or large
portions of the images searchable by subject area and linked
to the California State Standards so that teachers and researchers
can access this tremendous collection for their work." To
date, one-third of the collection has been digitized and volunteer
teachers have typed nearly two-thirds of the corresponding
hand-written notecards. The Web interface for this special
collection should be available Fall 2000.
- Opportunities for Learning and Collaboration
Through the Web site, teachers may also register for in-service
workshops, join history book reading groups for K-12 teachers,
and find out about Saturday sessions on topics related to K-12
history curriculum. Teachers can also register for in-depth
summer institutes that provide cutting-edge information and
research opportunities. This summer's Institute will focus on
the use of the Web in the classroom.
The Project team has faced many challenges in getting its Web site
up and running.
- The Digital Divide
The biggest challenge remains the lack of computers in K-12
schools, especially in the low-performing schools that are typically
partners with the Project. Victims of the "digital divide,"
some interested teachers will not come to the technology institute
this summer--they know they would lack the equipment to apply
their skills and knowledge back in the classroom.
- Lack of Trained Staff
Still another obstacle was the lack of trained staff. According
to Pigg, "[Creating such a content-driven site] required someone
who had a decent grasp of the content referenced to the standards
so that resources could be correlated to their appropriate standard.
Luckily we had a great teacher on our staff (Sherrill Futrell,
Dixon High School) who dedicated herself to the task and personally
correlated over a thousand resources to the standards."
- Finding Subject Matter Specialists
Finding the "subject matter specialists" or teachers and professors
who volunteered to be resources for a particular subject was
yet another hurdle. "The challenge," says Pigg, "was to find
those who are willing to serve in this capacity. Thankfully,
with our broad base of support from the [UC Davis] history faculty
and the large numbers of history teachers in the area who are
regular leaders and participants in our work, we have been adding
'specialists' quite quickly." The Project is always looking
for more specialists to assist history teachers in the Sacramento
area. For those who are interested, send inquiries to Pigg at
Measuring Success One Connection at a Time
"Resources alone do not create great teachers," says Pigg, "Teachers
can feel very isolated. Through the Project, we hope to create a
professional community that can help and learn from each other.
The site will continue to evolve as we find new ways to serve and
strengthen our community of teachers."