Virginia Educators Acquire New History-Teaching Skills

Virginia Educators Acquire New History-Teaching Skills

Pamela Clark, a Resource Teacher for the Gifted at Randolph and Campbell Elementary Schools in Arlington County and 15 other educators from Virginia, North Carolina and Maryland will bring to their classrooms new knowledge and experience gained during the 2012 Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation Summer Teacher Institute, held July 8 - 13 at Jamestown Settlement and Yorktown Victory Center history museums. Correlated with the Virginia Standards of Learning and national curriculum objectives, the institute emphasized interactive, inquiry-based methods of teaching American history. A major component of the program was the opportunity for participants to work in period costume alongside museum historical interpreters.

The institute included tours of the museums’ exhibition galleries and outdoor living-history areas – re-created Powhatan Indian village, 1607 ships and 1610-14 colonial fort at Jamestown Settlement, and re-created Continental Army encampment and 1780s farm at the Yorktown Victory Center. Teachers also toured Historic Jamestowne, site of America’s first permanent English settlement administered by the National Park Service and the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation (on behalf of Preservation Virginia), and Yorktown National Battlefield, site of the decisive military engagement of the American Revolution. Institute participants attended a Colonial Williamsburg African-American music evening program.

Participants attended presentations on Powhatan Indian culture, the origins of the Jamestown colony, indentured servitude and slavery, the chronology of the American Revolution, and the seasonal cycle of work on an 18th-century farm. They also took part in “A Sea Grammar” and “A School for the Soldier,” hands-on programs featuring 17th-century seamanship and 18th-century military life.

Before spending three mornings as costumed historical interpreters, the educators attended workshops on historical clothing and interpretation theory and methods. The institute concluded with presentations of lesson plans developed during the week. Each participant received a kit of reproduction artifacts to use in the classroom.

The teacher institute was provided at no cost to the participants or their school districts through grants from a private family foundation. The 16 participants were selected from a competitive pool of applicants.

The Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation, the Virginia state agency that operates Jamestown Settlement and the Yorktown Victory Center, offers structured educational programs for students at the two museums and in outreach settings. Outreach programming was presented in 104 of Virginia’s 132 school districts during the 2011-12 school year. The Foundation also partners with Virginia school districts to train educators in historical content and hands-on teaching methodology and supports the Colonial Williamsburg Teacher Institute in Early American History with historical content, teaching strategies and on-site instruction.

For more information about Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation education programs, call (888) 868-7593 toll-free or (757) 253-4939 or visit