CWIHP Partners with High School Teachers, Cold War Scholars and GWU in Summer Institute to Develop Educational Website

Jul 14, 2003

7/14/03--This week, Cold War International History Project's new educational website for high school students--"The Cold War Files—Interpreting History Through Documents" will enter its final development phase. The website is the flagship effort of a larger educational outreach initiative by the CWIHP. The website is designed to teach high school students the big topics of the Cold War through recently released primary sources from both sides of the conflict, enabling the students to to develop advanced skills in critical thinking.

The development of the site is a unique collaborative effort between high school teachers from across the United States, Cold War experts, GWCW, and the Cold War International History Project who will gather together July 14-25 at GWU's Elliott School for International Affairs for the second NEH Summer Institute titled, "Teaching the New Cold War History." Funded by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the summer institute's primary goal is to build lasting partnerships with American high school teachers in order to develop an interactive teaching tool that will contain the most recent cutting edge scholarship on the Cold War as well as a wealth of classic and important documentary resources.

After meeting with Cold War scholars in the morning to discuss the latest research, the teachers will spend each afternoon developing and testing the website. The site will be divided into "units" that students will navigate to better understand this time in history which ended soon after many of them were born. The teachers will spend their two weeks working on developing content for and testing the first unit--The Berlin Wall. Each unit will contain a timeline of the key events of the Cold War; biographies of the major players of the Cold War; activities designed to engage students in critical thinking; other recommended resources including websites, books, and audio/video clips; primary source documents, most of which will be recently released and not readily available elsewhere; a virtual library of multimedia resources; and tips and tools from noted historians on various topics. The teachers will be asked to offer suggestions as to which documents on the site to highlight, how to give "a flavor for the detective work" behind the documents, and how interpretation of the documents supports or discredits views of the Cold War.

The teachers, representing urban, rural, and suburban school districts from 13 states, were selected through a broad application process. This summer, the second year of the program, four of last year's participants will be returning to help build continuity and to assist the nine new teachers. This will be an ongoing partnership as the teachers will further field test the site with their students, the ultimate judges of its effectiveness.

For further information, please consult the CWIHP website.

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