History teachers from several San Diego County elementary and middle schools recently gathered at the County Office of Education to strengthen their historical knowledge and history-teaching skills, part of the $1.6 million federal Teaching American History grant.
Retired Millersville University professor Dennis Denenberg delivered the training in SDCOE's Joe Rindone Regional Technology Center, with 35 teachers from nine local districts. Participating school districts were Chula Vista Elementary, National, Santee, Lakeside Union, San Diego City, Fallbrook Union Elementary, Cardiff, Cajon Valley Union, and Poway Unified.
The "American HITS" project is funded by a 2003 United States Department of Education grant, one of 114 grants that were awarded across the country.
The "American HITS" project has brought several history professors to the County Office of Education to increase K-8 teacher content of American History. "American HITS makes the teachers more familiar with the California Content Standards on US History. It provides them with content, strategies, resources and a network of professional colleagues. This is particularly helpful to teachers who do not have degrees in US History," said Pam McGregor, who oversees the grant for the County Office of Education.
Denenberg's presentation focused on the heroes in children's lives. Denenberg's philosophy on heroes encourages teachers to teach their students about real heroes. Denenberg told his audience that there are real heroes all around children, and it is critical that students are aware of them.
He encouraged the idea that heroes are real people, so instead of identifying Superman as a hero, children can look up to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Susan B. Anthony or Cesar Chavez.
Denenberg is the author of 50 American Heroes Every Kid Should Meet! Each teacher received a copy of Denenberg's book, as well as other instructional guides for use in their classrooms.
Denenberg's presentation included costume changes and visual aides that help teachers with ideas to better instruct their students. "Dr. Denenberg has always been one of our most popular presenters," McGregor said. "In a very engaging way, he provides content and strategies that the teachers can use immediately. It doesn't hurt that he often refers to teachers as heroes."
Denenberg is a retired professor of elementary and Early Childhood education at Millersville University and has presented History education in over 25 states. Denenberg has been awarded Millersville University's Educator of the Year in 1997 for his work with real life heroes.
American HITS is currently recruiting for Summer 2006. Participation includes a two-week summer institute at the San Diego County Office of Education and 4-6 week follow-up sessions during the academic year. For further information visit the American HITS website www.americanhits.org or email Pam McGregor at firstname.lastname@example.org.