CiV Digital recently developed a custom State Standards and Common Core Search Tool for TeachingAmericanHistory.org (TAH). The site’s Documents Library now offers a state standards and Common Core-based search tool to help teachers find documents required to meet their curriculum requirements. Searches can be performed either from document to standard, or from standard to document.
We sat down with Jeremy Gypton, Teacher Programs Manager at the Ashbrook Center at Ashland University to discuss the vision for the project and how this new feature will be a useful service for teachers.
What was the vision for the State Standards Search Tool project? How does this project intersect with the vision and mission of TAH?
JEREMY: Our goal was to help teachers use our resources to do their jobs for their students. Our documents library is huge – 2300+ documents – and finding the right document for a standards-based lesson is important, and shouldn’t be burdensome. We wanted to respect the time and efforts of teachers by giving them a tool that would enable them to meet the requirements of their state standards and district curricula, while promoting the use of primary documents. In the simplest terms, this tool intersects with the vision and mission of http://TeachingAmericanHistory.org by making our documents library much easier to use, immediately relevant to any teacher’s curriculum, regardless of state, and in so doing promoting the use of American primary documents in the classroom.
Who was the target audience? Where did you see the need?
JEREMY: The target audience is classroom teachers first, perhaps students second, and district curriculum leaders next. We live in an age of standards-based education, with teachers having to produce lessons that explicitly cite the specific learning outcome or standard their state mandates them to teach. The Search Tool enables them to search for a document based on existing standards, or identify which standards are most relevant to a given document. Either way, the teacher’s job of planning lessons that will meet teaching requirements is made much easier with this tool. For students, it can help them see what it is they’re supposed to be learning about a given document – why they’re reading it in the first place. And finally, district curriculum leaders, if they’re working on common course frameworks, need to be sure that these creations are aligned with state standards. The need is greatest for the teacher, and we heard this directly from the teachers in our network. They love our documents library, but a database is only as good as the systems in place to search it. This tool enhances the utility of our collection tremendously.
How do you hope this will help teachers and ultimately, the students themselves?
JEREMY: Teachers are busy people, with many and varied priorities vying for their attention and efforts. Anything that will lighten their planning load without compromising the quality of their lessons is a good thing – and in fact, this tool enhances their lessons by helping them include more primary documents. If teachers rely more on primary documents, they’ll be asking their students to learn through them. And students who learn through documents learn how to decode, how to interpret, and analyze for themselves – in short, they become thinkers. We want this for all students, and so we want to support teachers in their efforts to achieve this. We believe this tool does exactly that.
Learn more about Teaching American History in Work