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September 13, 2007

CW brings Teaching American History conference to Houston

Sixty Houston social studies teachers will have the opportunity to attend a two-day conference on Teaching American History Sept. 21 and 22 when Colonial Williamsburg’s education outreach goes on the road. The Sept. 21 workshop is for 30 elementary teachers, and the Sept. 22 workshop is for middle and high school teachers. The social studies training directly correlates with the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills for Social Studies.

During the conference, the teachers step back in time and meet people from the past while they learn historical content and engaging classroom instructional strategies. Participants receive a CD-ROM with lesson plans, facsimile artifacts and documents. The elementary school teachers will receive a copy of the award-winning primary sources CD ROM developed through a partnership between Colonial Williamsburg and Pearson Scott Foresman. The CD ROM for grades 4 – 6 provides an interactive experience with primary sources that encourages students to analyze and evaluate evidence.

Secondary school teachers will receive a copy of “Jefferson & Adams: A Stage Play,” written by Howard Ginsberg and based on his original play. It’s a moving and powerful dramatization of the remarkable friendship between two presidents of the United States – Thomas Jefferson and John Adams – and Adams’ wife Abigail, and takes place over the 50 years of their friendship.

“We are fortunate the Teaching American History grant is available for us to present the workshop in Houston. Teachers will now have the resources to make the study of the American Revolution and the founding of our nation engaging and relevant to students,” said Colonial Williamsburg’s Tab Broyles, director of teacher professional development. “The understanding of United States history is important to the development of our students as citizens and future leaders,” added Broyles.

Colonial Williamsburg’s professional development programs have expanded from the week-long summer Teacher Institute in Williamsburg to include one- and two-day seminars to take Colonial Williamsburg’s program to teachers across the country. During the 2007-08 school year, Colonial Williamsburg presents 10 conferences in nine states – Alabama, California, Connecticut, Illinois, Louisiana, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, South Carolina and Texas.

Each conference focuses on the use of primary sources and active learning strategies that make history relevant and exciting for students. Teachers learn how to use role playing, demonstrations, simulations and analysis of primary sources to make history come to life. One of the highlights of the two-day conference in Houston will be character portrayals of President George Washington and Ona Judge, a slave who ran from Washington to gain her freedom. In a theatrical tableau, the two character interpreters (Kevin Grantz and Sheila Arnold) will discuss the views on liberty each might have had.

“The teachers are looking forward to the workshops,” said Angela Miller, manager of secondary social studies for the Houston Independent School District. “We are excited about participating with Colonial Williamsburg through a Teaching American History grant to offer this wonderful opportunity to our teachers.”

Teaching American History grants are provided through the U.S. Department of Education to promote the teaching of traditional American history in elementary and secondary schools as a separate academic subject. Grants are used to improve the quality of history instruction by supporting professional development for teachers of American history. In order to receive a grant, a local educational agency must agree to carry out the proposed activities in partnership with one or more of the following: institutions of higher education, nonprofit history or humanities organizations, libraries or museums.

The two-day conference will be held at Farish Hall, 4800 Calhoun St. in Houston. For information, contact Angela Miller at the Houston Independent School District at 713-556-6823. For more information about Colonial Williamsburg’s Electronic Field Trips and other educational resources, visit

“As a result of this conference, teachers will return to their schools with increased historical knowledge and some new active methods of engaging students in learning – and most importantly, a new understanding of how we became Americans and our role as citizens,” said Broyles.

Established in 1926, the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation is the not-for-profit educational institution that preserves and operates the restored 18th-century Revolutionary capital of Virginia as a town-sized living history museum, telling the inspirational stories of our nation’s founding men and women. Within the restored and reconstructed buildings, historic interpreters, attired as colonial men and women from slaves to shopkeepers to soldiers, relate stories of colonial Virginia society and culture – stories of our journey to become Americans – while historic tradespeople research, demonstrate and preserve the 18th-century world of work and industry. As Colonial Williamsburg interprets life in the time of the American Revolution for its guests, it also invites them to interact with history. Williamsburg is located 150 miles south of Washington, D.C., off Interstate 64. For more information or reservations, call toll-free 1-800-HISTORY or visit Colonial Williamsburg on the Internet at

Media Contact:
Barbara Brown
(757) 220-7280