I also feel very strongly that history is essential for all of us, and particularly for our children and grandchildren...it's important that they know our history so they understand how our government works, so they realize the responsibilities of citizenship, and the struggles that made possible what we have.
The Center for the Teaching of History (CTH) at the Massachusetts Historical Society offers an engaging array of programs and resources to K-12 teachers and students, including workshops, fellowship opportunities, curriculum resources, and access to the Society’s digital collections. The MHS develops and implements a full schedule of 16-18 teacher professional development workshops per year on a variety of American history topics. Participants become historians as they investigate materials from the Society’s collections and discuss methods of using these primary sources in the classroom. Workshops often include appearances by noted scholars, visits to partnering historic sites, and opportunities to view treasures from the Society’s collection. The CTH is a registered professional development provider in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Teachers can also earn graduate credit for many workshops through Worcester State University, with approval of the workshop syllabus by the college curriculum committee.
What teachers say
The Society has offered teacher fellowships since the summer of 2001, and we currently offer 4 fellowships each fiscal year. Teacher fellows develop lesson plans and other classroom resources during their four-week residence at MHS. Alumni of the fellowship program continue to work with the Society as workshop instructors, mentors, advisors, evaluators, and promoters. In 2013 we began offering the Winthrop Fellowship to one high school student/teacher pair. The student fellow produces a piece of original research and publishes an entry about his/her work on the Society’s blog.
Through onsite programs and in-class visits, students engage with documents and artifacts from the Society’s collection and work with MHS staff to make connections to the history they are learning in the classroom. MHS serves as state sponsor of National History Day, a program that encourages project-based learning among middle and high school students. Each year we work with participants presenting original historical research in various formats (papers, documentaries, websites, exhibitions, and performances) at local, regional, state, and national competitions.
As time and funds permit we create content-rich websites that include contextual essays, documentary resources, lesson plans, and supplementary materials. We also build on the work of the collection services department to create lesson plans and other resources based on new and ongoing digital projects. We also post lesson plans, curriculum units, and other resources to the Society’s website. Many of these tools were created by teacher fellows and educators who have attended MHS workshops.
The MHS advises schools, colleges, museums, historical societies, and libraries on educational programming that connects local resources to key themes and topics in American history to comply with state frameworks and Common Core learning standards. MHS staff members actively participates in professional organizations such as the National Council for the Social Studies, the National Council for History Education, the New England History Teachers Association, the American Association for State and Local History, and the National Council for Public History.