U.S. History Teachers Learn New Standards

U.S. History Teachers Learn New Standards

Source: Laura L. Acosta, UTEP Newsroom, 6/20/11

With the Texas State Board of Education’s decision last year to adopt new social studies standards starting this fall, U.S. history teachers from across the state gathered at The University of Texas at El Paso last week to work with scholars who could help them master the most important topics in the new curriculum.

Keith Erekson, Ph.D., assistant professor of history at UTEP, leads a discussion during the Texas Humanities summer institute on June 15. Photo by J.R. Hernandez, University Communications.

Nearly 50 middle school and high school U.S. history teachers participated in “The Making of Modern America: 1877 to Present,” a summer institute sponsored by The Center for History Teaching & Learning (CHTL) at UTEP and Humanities Texas.

The four-day teacher institute introduced teachers to new ways of teaching U.S. history from the Reconstruction Era to today.

“We have tried to the best of our ability to focus on areas where the standards have changed so that teachers can work on those areas because in many cases those teachers haven’t taught the new topics before,” said Eric Lupfer, Ph.D., Director of Grants and Education with Humanities Texas. “We want to make sure that they are ready to prepare their students for state assessments.”

Attendees participated in lectures and workshops under the direction of U.S. history scholars who are at the top of their field and who also are skilled at working with teachers, Lupfer said.

“All good teachers want to stay up-to-date with their subjects,” said Keith Erekson, Ph.D., assistant professor of history at UTEP and director of the CHTL. “The summer institute provides a remarkable opportunity for social studies teachers in El Paso to meet, interact with, and learn from leading historians.”

Among the 11 scholars were Pulitzer Prize finalist H.W. Brands and UTEP faculty members Erekson, Michael Top, Brad Cartwright and Maceo Dailey Jr.

During the afternoon workshops, teachers spent 25 minutes with each scholar discussing their morning presentations and learning how to interpret the material for students.

“It’s very dynamic and very interactive and the teachers appreciate that,” Lupfer said.

Lisa Marroquin, a world history teacher at Permian High School in Odessa, Texas, has attended two summer institutes at UTEP. She said each time she has learned new approaches to teaching which have helped her connect with her students.

“I love the new ways of thinking because sometimes when we stay in our little click we tend to start thinking a certain way,” she said. “When we hear other people’s opinions and ideas behind it, it just opens it up to a new world.”

Humanities Texas, formerly the Texas Council for the Humanities, is the state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities. It conducts and supports public programs in history, literature, philosophy and other humanities disciplines.

The institute is one of six summer institutes that will take place this month at leading universities throughout Texas. This is the third institute held at UTEP since 2004.

Other participating universities include UT Austin, Texas A&M International University, the University of Houston, Texas Christian University and the University of Texas at San Antonio.

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