We hope to demonstrate how the implementation of advanced, research-based curriculum in social studies, combined with the major components of enrichment and talent development, can raise achievement and motivation levels, improve creative and critical thinking skills, and enhance civic awareness and involvement, for underachieving, yet promising learners in diverse settings in Virginia and Alabama. In addition, we expect that all learners will benefit from immersion in skills and content aligned with democratic education and the methodologies, tools, and dispositions of practicing historians and social scientists. By employing high quality culturally relevant, technology-infused content and by working with teachers, practicing historians and social scientists, and students to enhance learning expectations in general classroom practice, this project will serve to infuse important tenets of gifted education onto the general landscape of education reform for all.
The project is designed around four key objectives: 1) to implement, refine and extend research-based social studies curriculum units in grades 6-7, 2) to pilot test innovative talent development strategies aimed at reversing underachievement and enhancing civic awareness and involvement for at-risk students, 3) to develop and implement curriculum development models for teachers and broader school communities, 4) to conduct research on short term and longitudinal student learning and motivation gains, and the mechanisms that may help to reverse underachievement in at-risk middle school students. Major outcomes of the project will include the implementation and refinement of four social studies curriculum units (grade 6-7), the development of professional development and community mentorship models emphasizing collaborative relationships, contributions to the longitudinal research base on effective interventions, and use and development of authentic assessment tools that may serve as models for future state assessments in social studies.
The project is funded by the U.S. Department of Education Jacob K. Javits Gifted and Talented Students Education Program.