By Kurt Knierim
“This is some of the best professional development I have ever attended,” said a participant in the third installment of a collaboration between the CSU Department of History and social studies teachers throughout Poudre School District. With the demise of the federal Teaching American History grants in 2011, there was a void in professional development focused around content in history. Teachers were hungry for this sort of school district/university collaboration.
In 2018, Tracy Brady and PSD history teachers Dan Rypma and Kurt Knierim created a structure that has proved successful in helping fill this gap in professional practice. The trio has experimented with different formats, but the one that has found the most success has been to meet for two days, with history faculty providing a scholarly lecture, a teacher from the school district providing resources and pedagogical guidance, and teacher-participants having time to create meaningful lesson plans from the material provided. Topics so far have included a focus on themes in United States History, themes in World History, and judicial and policy themes in United States History.
Secondary teachers and history department faculty alike have benefitted from working together in this format. Teachers speak about how refreshing it is to “get to be a student again and hear an awesome lecture,” while CSU faculty opine the benefits from the teaching ideas generated by discussion. It is truly inspiring to see teachers and university faculty interacting and learning from one another. To date, over a dozen of the History faculty and almost three score PSD teachers have taken the opportunity to be involved.
Moving forward, Brady, Knierim and Rypma would like to expand this collaboration beyond PSD to make it a regional offering to school districts throughout Northern Colorado. They are also exploring ways to generate ongoing funding for the collaboration as well as sharing their model with a larger audience at an upcoming conference.
If you are interested in learning more, contact Tracy Brady at firstname.lastname@example.org