New Civil War Poster Pieces Things Together for American History Classrooms

In proclaiming October as National Arts and Humanities Month, President Obama said the arts and humanities “speak to our condition and affirm our desire for something more and something better.”  A new poster from the National History Clearinghouse, “How Do You Piece Together the History of the Civil War?,” employs images of objects such as a quilt, a map, some photographs, a haversack, and a receipt to deepen understanding of the Civil War and about how historians piece together the past.

This 24-by-36-inch poster features a collage of primary sources and related questions that get students thinking about how we know what we know about the past, as we do with all history, but especially in relation to our country’s most devastating conflict, the Civil War. The question, “How can geography impact a battle?,”  accompanies a map of Gettysburg while a slave receipt prompts students to think about the laws, economics, and, most importantly, people involved in the institution of slavery.

The Clearinghouse, a professional development resource center funded through OII’s Teaching American History program, is making these posters available free of charge to classroom history teachers. The Clearinghouse has received more than 15,000 requests for the posters.  Click here to order your copy.

civil war posterAs a special bonus for teachers, the Clearinghouse has created an interactive version of this poster with links to teaching materials and websites related to the Civil War. Topics include military history and life on the battlefield, children’s voices during the Civil War, African American perspectives, emancipation, women’s roles, and Civil-War-era music.

This poster and online resources illustrate that it takes many sources and perspectives to develop a rich understanding of the Civil War in all of its complexity. As noted recently by Richard Byrne in the Free Tech for Teachers Blog, “Through both the poster and the site you can introduce students to the idea that a historical artifact is more than just an object; it can be the start of a great story.”

The National History Education Clearinghouse is directed by George Mason University through a contract with OII’s Teaching American History program.  The Clearinghouse provides high-quality professional development resources to K-12 history educators to make sure these educators have the best tools for teaching American history as a separate academic subject. “Teachers across the country and around the world are using to deepen their content knowledge of American history, learn new strategies for teaching history in engaging ways, and expand their use of primary sources in the classroom,” according to the Clearinghouse’s director, Dr. Kelly Schrum. Editor’s note: Watch this space for another article in observance of Arts and Humanities Month and click here to read Secretary of Education Duncan’s ED Blog on the observance.


Public-Private Partnerships Leveraging Resources for Student Success

Secretary Arne Duncan expressed appreciation for independent schools that are expanding educational opportunities for underserved public school students at ED’s Annual Private School Leadership Conference on September 28. Private Schools with Public Purpose (PSPP), a growing, nationwide initiative, offers “huge potential,” according to the Secretary, for improving achievement for high-need students. PSPP efforts, several of which were discussed during the conference session with Secretary Duncan, include private school-public-school collaborations that provide direct services to students, including summer-learning programs, as well as professional development for teachers. Read more about Secretary Duncan’s remarks and PSPP on the ED Blog.

Educational Assessment Technology Standards

Can you imagine if someone with a Yahoo email address couldn’t send a message to someone who used Gmail? It may sound crazy, but that is similar to the current situation in educational assessment. When new, improved, and more efficient products come out that better meets State and district needs, they struggle to take advantage of those innovations without losing access to past information and tools. Common educational assessment technology standards can help.

The State consortia building next-generation assessment systems under the Race to the Top Assessment program, the General Supervision Enhancement Grant program, and the Enhanced Assessment Grant program must:

  • Develop all assessment items to an industry-recognized open-licensed interoperability standard, without non-standard extensions or additions; and
  • Produce all student-level data in a manner consistent with an industry-recognized open-licensed interoperability standard.

Attached is a draft document detailing what that requires ― what kinds of common standards are needed so that States and districts can freely choose the best technology vendors based on their efficient, effective, economical, and innovative assessment platforms. The U.S. Department of Education (ED) is asking for feedback on the attached proposed framework, which is based on the public feedback received last winter to a Request for Information on this topic.

Just to be clear ― all educational assessment technology interoperability standards and practice must be consistent with relevant privacy laws and regulations. No matter what solutions States, districts, and schools use, they must protect personally identifiable information.

ED wants your thoughts on whether this framework includes the appropriate areas for standardization to permit interoperability and spur innovation. We encourage all interested parties to submit opinions, ideas, suggestions, and comments pertaining to educational assessment interoperability by commenting below or emailing by November 7, 2011.

The fine print: Posts must be related to educational assessment interoperability, should be as specific as possible, and, as appropriate, be supported by data/relevant research. All opinions, ideas, suggestions and comments are considered informal input. ED will not respond to individual comments or emails, will publicly display all those that are appropriate, and may or may not reflect input provided in the policies and requirements of the Department. If you include a link to additional information in your post, please ensure that the linked-to information is accessible to all individuals, including individuals with disabilities. This is a moderated site. That means all comments will be reviewed before posting. Additionally, please do not include links to advertisements or endorsements; we will delete all such links before posting your comment.

ED intends to post all responsive submissions in a timely manner. We reserve the right not to post comments that are unrelated to this request, are inconsistent with ED’s Web site policies, are advertisements or endorsements, or are otherwise inappropriate. To protect your own privacy and the privacy of others, please do not include personally identifiable information such as Social Security numbers, addresses, phone numbers or email addresses in the body of your comment. For more information, please be sure to read the “comments policy” details at

Again, thank you for your interest in this opportunity to expand educational assessment interoperability. We look forward to hearing from you.

Draft Document [PDF, 1.8MB]

Comments received [PDF, 2.76MB]

Twenty-three Investing in Innovation Applicants Named as 2011 Grantees Pending Private Match

(November 10, 2011) The U.S. Department of Education announced today 23 highest-rated Investing in Innovation (i3) applicants as potential grantees for the 2011 grant fund of the $150 million. The finalists, selected from nearly 600 applicants, must now secure matching private matching funds equivalent to at least 5% of Scale-up, 10% of Validation, or 15% of Development awards by December 9, 2011, in order to receive their grant.

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