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Program Objectives for the Bob and Marion Wilson Teacher Institute of Colonial Williamsburg

WEEK-LONG TEACHER INSTITUTES

Elementary School Program (for educators in grades 3–6):
Becoming Americans (1606–1781)

Elementary school sessions focus on the daily life of colonial Virginians and the transition from subject to citizen that occurred during the Revolutionary War period. Teachers will be immersed in hands-on activities at Jamestown, Williamsburg, and Yorktown that highlight the stories of the people living during this time. During the session, teachers will:

  • Identify and analyze significant seventeenth- and eighteenth-century economic, political, and social events that led to American independence from Great Britain.
  • Chart the evolution of citizenship, from being British subjects to becoming American citizens.
  • Explain how Native American, European, and African interactions shaped and defined the American character.
  • Examine colonial social levels, gender roles, and specific populations such as gentry, middling, free blacks, lesser sort, enslaved, and Native Americans.
  • Integrate primary sources, secondary sources, and technological resources in classroom instruction focused on early American history and citizenship.
  • Create opportunities for continued professional development in social studies education with fellow teachers and Colonial Williamsburg educators.

Secondary School Program (for educators in grades 7–12):
Emerging American Identity (1606–1865)

How do we define our identity as Americans? How do many diverse cultures come together to form the basis of this American identity? What will it become in the future? During this course, participants will examine how the concept of an American identity began in the colonial period and continues to evolve and transform with each generation of Americans. Through inquiry-based analysis of primary sources while exploring throughout the Colonial Williamsburg Historic Area, teachers examine how that identity influenced American citizens to shape and change the Republic through the 1860s. During the session, teachers will:

  • Chart the evolution of citizenship and American identity from the Revolution through the U.S. Civil War and make connections to present-day United States.
  • Evaluate the way historical events from 1606 to 1865 have impacted American identity.
  • Apply instructional strategies that encourage civil discourse from multiple perspectives using primary and secondary sources.
  • Create opportunities for continued professional development in social studies education with fellow teachers and Colonial Williamsburg educators.
  • Identify and analyze four pairs of seemingly contradictory American values that, while in tension, influence the course of American history.

3-DAY SEMINARS

Straight from the Sources: Women in Eighteenth-Century Virginia (for educators in Grades 3–8):

This seminar explores the lives, roles, and perspectives of eighteenth-century women. Participants will pursue a deeper understanding of women’s contributions and constraints during the time leading up to the American Revolution. During the seminar, teachers will:

  • Analyze and integrate primary sources, secondary sources, and technological resources focused on women’s lives during the eighteenth century.
  • Define traditional opportunities, responsibilities, and roles for women in public and private spheres.
  • Compare and contrast women’s roles in various levels of eighteenth-century society.
  • Create opportunities for continued professional development in social studies education with fellow teachers and Colonial Williamsburg educators.

Apprenticeships, STEM, and Colonial Daily Life (for educators in Grades 3–8):

This seminar explores the interdisciplinary links between colonial history and STEM in trades, specifically applied sciences and engineering. Through a hands-on, Project Based Learning (PBL) approach, participants engage with trade experts, investigate applied science principles such as the use of simple machines, chemical reactions, engineering, and combine these experiences into dynamic classroom lesson plans that incorporate primary sources and PBL. During the seminar, teachers will:

  • Identify scientific processes and theories that were necessary for tradespeople to create tools and equipment for daily life.
  • Investigate the importance of the scientific method in the workplace for tradespeople.
  • Create interdisciplinary lesson plans that use trades as a lens to demonstrate STEM principles and consult tradespeople to gather primary source information to share with their students.

African Americans in Eighteenth-Century Virginia (for educators in Grades 3–8):

This seminar explores the lives, roles, and perspectives of enslaved and free black Virginians in the eighteenth century. Participants will pursue a deeper understanding of the diversity of the experiences of enslaved and free black people during the colonial period and the American Revolution. During the seminar, teachers will:

  • Integrate primary sources, secondary sources, and technological resources focused on the lives of enslaved and free black people during the eighteenth century.
  • Contextualize slavery in the European North American colonies temporally, geographically, and economically.
  • Compare and contrast the experiences of enslaved and free black people in rural and urban settings and engaged in different types of life and work. 
  • Create opportunities for continued professional development in social studies education with fellow teachers and Colonial Williamsburg educators.

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The Bob and Marion Wilson Teacher Institute of Colonial Williamsburg is supported in part by
the William and Gretchen Kimball Young Patriots Fund.



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