UMass Donahue Institute  
Teaching American History
The Constitutional History Renewal Project

Funded by the Federal Department of Education's "Teaching American History (TAH)" program the CHRP used speakers, projects, museum work, and primary documents to enhance teaching of the critical issues and questions that make the Constitution central to American history.  This was a program of the Amherst-Pelham Regional School District and the University of Massachusetts Donahue Institute in partnership with the Pocumtuck Valley Memorial Association.
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How Did the Constitutional History Renewal Project (CHRP) Work?
Participants signed up for only one year at a time, for either the entire year’s offerings or a combination of the seminars offered that year.  Seminar days combined a variety of learning opportunities, including lectures, group projects, field trips, readings and curricular projects.

Each year the CHRP:

  • Focused on the enduring questions raised by the creation and interpretation of the Constitution over time.
  • Examined recurring debates over the Constitution and its meaning. Each year chose the Constitutional debates of a different time period to examine enduring Constitutional questions and interpretations. For example, year one (2004) focused on the Constitutional Convention and ratification debates of the 1780s.

Program Schedule:

  • Three weekend seminars (one or two days).
  • A two-week summer session.

Sample Agenda for a one day seminar
Sample Outline of Speaker Presentation, Dr. Jonathan Chu, “Shays’s Rebellion, The Long View”


Participating Teachers Received:

  • Professional development points.
  • A stipend for each seminar day for the two-week summer session.
  • Useful materials, including primary document sources to support the teaching of American history.
  • Engaging seminars, discussions, field trips and other activities designed to connect American history content to inquiry-based teaching and learning.

» The Teaching American History program explained

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