By Don Azevada
Elk Grove Unified School District History Program Specialist and TAH Project Director
The Elk Grove Unified School District (EGUSD), the largest school district in Northern California, has formally been associated with The DBQ Project since 2009. A partnership through the Teaching American History (TAH) grant afforded twenty-five teachers per year to engage in high quality professional development, including specific sessions with The DBQ Project, as teachers learned the craft of evidence-based writing and the tools to become analytical thinkers. Knowing that the TAH money would ultimately sunset, the wheels were put in motion to develop a sustainability plan. As a result, the EGUSD DBQ Mentor model was created in 2012. The goal was simple; develop a team of DBQ mentors who would be further trained to support teachers in the use of The DBQ Project materials.
To put the model in place, applicants were recruited from the 2009-12 TAH groups. After careful consideration, six of these applicants were chosen to represent the EGUSD DBQ Mentor team. The “next-level” training commenced with Chip returning for a full-day workshop to teach the mentor team the intricacies of teaching The DBQ Project method. One additional session with Chip and two more as a team and the mentors were ready to begin working. In the spring of 2013, the mentors paired up to offer a two-hour raising awareness workshop in various regions of the district. Over 90 teachers attended, thus creating a pool of teachers to recruit from for a 2013-2014 professional development series facilitated by the mentor team. The mentor team is now directly working with 59 elementary and secondary teachers in this series. The use of The DBQ Project materials has now grown to 43 of EGUSD’s 61 schools and with the mentor team in place, the goal is 61 schools.