At Balboa High School in San Francisco, students in Raul Cuiriz’s history class are getting away from dull, dry history textbooks and digging into primary texts –– newspaper accounts, letters, eyewitness narratives, government documents. They’re analyzing and discussing this living material like historians. For these students, the new approach is making history stick: Last year, their state test scores were significantly improved.
For 10 days during each of the past two summers, the 28-year-old instructor has been immersed in the Stanford Humanities Teaching Studio(link is external), learning how to integrate pedagogical innovations into his classroom such as the“Reading Like a Historian”(link is external) curriculum developed by Professor Sam Wineburg. The Teaching Studio, developed by Stanford’s Center to Support Education in Teaching(link is external) (CSET) under the direction of Professor Pam Grossman and cosponsored by the Stanford Institute for Creativity and the Arts, offers secondary English and history/social studies teachers the lessons and ongoing support they need to design inspired and effective instruction. The teachers work cohort style, which allows them to build professional communities and bring the information back to their school sites for synergistic sharing.
Forging a Formal Research Alliance
The CSET Teaching Studio is just one of two-dozen collaborations between the School of Education and the San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD) in 2010-11. Applied research is nothing new at the School of Education, which has long eschewed the ivory tower in favor of analysis with real-world relevance and direct applicability. What’s new, since 2008, is a formalized partnership between Stanford and the district to allow for better coordination between the numerous professional development and research projects initiated by Stanford faculty and the real needs of San Francisco schools.