LEARN NC joins project to create lesson plans about World War I cemetery

LEARN NC has been chosen to lead a $357,000 project to create lesson plans and other teaching materials for use by middle school and high school students learning about World War I.

The project is being funded by the American Battle Monuments Commission, which administers overseas cemeteries and monuments at sites of battles in which American armed forces took part.

The partnership, a first of its kind for the ABMC, is being created in anticipation of the 2014 centennial of the outbreak of World War I. The project will focus on developing materials to be used to teach about the Meuse-Argonne American Cemetery at Verdun, France.

“The ABMC was created because of World War I, a war that changed not only the history of our country, but the history of the world,” said Max Cleland, secretary of the ABMC. “This is a great opportunity to introduce American children to all those we honor at our World War I overseas cemeteries.”

Project partners include LEARN NC, Virginia Tech’s School of Education and a team of teachers from 12 middle schools and high schools in North Carolina and Virginia who will conduct the research and help create the teaching materials. A faculty member from Sweet Briar College in Virginia and another from Piedmont Virginia Community College-Albemarle are also taking part.

“This partnership between universities and K-12 educators demonstrates the power of bringing together teacher-scholars, higher education faculty, and digital technologies to produce opportunities for students to develop a deeper understanding of key historical events – in this case, World War I,” said Bill McDiarmid, dean of the School of Education at UNC-Chapel Hill. “We are grateful to the American Battle Monuments Commission for providing the resources to support teachers in creating the kind of powerful learning experiences that we want for all our students.”

The team will develop lessons that incorporate new instructional technologies, such as geospatial and augmented reality and are designed to help students better understand the service, experience and sacrifice of Americans that served and died during the war. The materials will be designed to align with the Common Core State Standards. The lesson plans and teaching materials will be publicly available for free download from the LEARN NC website by fall of 2014, organizers said.

Carol Mullen, director of the School of Education and associate dean for professional education in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences at Virginia Tech, said “The Transatlantic Teacher Scholars Program: Change Over Time and Place in the Meuse-Argonne American Cemetery and Memorial is a very exciting and innovative collaboration that will serve as a powerful educational portal into America’s forgotten war.

“The program reflects the School of Education’s commitment to facilitating inquiry-based digital history/humanities professional development initiatives that are designed to ultimately maximize students’ opportunities for authentic learning,” she said.