Virginia Tech scholars are teaming with education colleagues at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and The American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) to create a World War I-focused, education program developed by teachers that will help students better understand the service, experience, and sacrifice of Americans that served and died during the Great War.

With the approach of the World War I centennial in 2014, this partnership establishes a teacher-scholar program that helps teachers create and develop lesson plans for fellow teachers. “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 ABMC Secretary Max Cleland. “This is a great opportunity to introduce American children to all those we honor at our World War I overseas cemeteries.”

A team of education experts from three universities and colleges, and 12 middle and high schools will lead the effort to create a hands-on curriculum using the Meuse-Argonne American Cemetery in Verdun, France.

By the fall of 2014, lessons plans and teaching materials created during this teacher-scholar program will be publicly available online and free to download.  The university education team from Virginia Tech includes David Hicks, associate professor of history and social science education; Todd Ogle, senior director of Networked Knowledge Environments Technology-Enhanced Learning and Online Strategies; and Lisa Pennington of Portsmouth, Va., a graduate assistant in the School of Education.

“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,” 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. 

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

“I am also thrilled to see two of our School of Education alumni – Chris Bunin and Patrick Touart – involved in the leadership team and transatlantic teacher-scholars program respectively,” added Mullin.  Bunin is an assistant professor of geography at Piedmont Virginia Community College-Albemarle while Touart teaches at Tunstall High School in Pittsylvania County.

This experiential professional development program, based on a contract award of  $357,298, will provide the resources, support and opportunities for teachers across the country to craft inquiry-based units and lessons that are grounded in best practices as well as state standards. This curriculum will also be supported by emerging instructional technologies, including geospatial and augmented reality tools. Principal investigator for the project is Andy Mink, executive director of LEARN NC.