Current / Past Programs

NYC as a Living Museum:
Using Local Resources to Enhance Social Studies Curriculum (2018-present)

The Rush Hour, New York City by Colin Campbell Cooper, 1906.jpg

The "New York City as a Living Museum Project" is a partnership with Professor Elise Langan and Bronx Community School and funded by the Library of Congress iI Teaching with Primary Sources initiative. It began with a three-day professional development experience in August, 2018. Selected New York City in-service teachers (9) completed professional three days of development to learn best methods to teach local history. Teachers received instruction and materials at the Gotham Center for New York History, the New York Historical Society, and the Museum of the City of New York.

Participants subsequently presented a unit they had designed and implemented in their classrooms at a conference hosted by the Gotham Center and held at the Graduate Center on December 11, 2018. The conference allowed 50 CUNY undergraduate students from Medgar Evers, Lehman and Bronx Community College to watch and analyze, teaching practices demonstrated by in-service teachers. Pre-service teachers visited four workstations; each station was hosted by two to three certified middle and secondary teachers. Undergraduate students had direct contact with in-service teachers about their processes and were able to ask inquiry-based questions about the day-to-day realities of teaching. While completing their spring 2019 field placements, CUNY undergraduate students were required to use one activity or lesson plan that they observed during the December 2018 conference. The project was presented at the NCSS Conference in Chicago as both poster and paper sessions in December 2019 and disseminated to over hundreds of teachers nationwide. Currently, the partners are planning and seeking funding to continue offering summer institutes and curriculum writing for teachers and schools.

Common Ground:
Americans and Their Land During the Gilded Age and Progressive Era (2018)

Partnered with SUNY Cortlandt, GothamEd provided a two-week NEH workshop to twenty-five schoolteachers, using the Adirondacks and Manhattan to explore the interconnection of urban and wilderness environments in America from the late-nineteenth through early-twentieth-century.

Gotham Scholars and Teacher Leaders (2015-Present)


In 2015, GothamEd was awarded another TPS grant from the Library of Congress in collaboration with the NYC DoE, enabling us to research, develop, pilot, evaluate and disseminate "Gotham Scholars and Teacher Leaders," a professional development program focused on the use of digital resources for middle and high school teachers. The Gotham Center chose women's studies, immigration, and industrialization as themes for the pilot, focusing on new scholarship about the Progressive Era and NYC. Participants are currently designing original lessons using Library of Congress primary sources and TPS teaching strategies and will share with the wider educational community. The program will serve 315 middle and high school educators in Social Studies, American History, and English Language Arts.

Shaping American History (2010-2014)


This grant served the public schools of Queens, in partnership with City Lore, St. John's University, and the Museum of the City of New York, targeting schools where nearly 50 percent of 8th graders failed the Intermediate Social Studies test and 25 percent of high school students failed the U.S. History and Government Regents exam.

Each year, teachers attended eight one-day workshops, in which historians discussed how the past was shaped by interaction, collaboration and conflict between various social groups. Teachers aligned this content with pedagogy, and received classroom materials, books, and other resources, with an emphasis on biography. An annual five-day summer institute covered topics too large to be addressed in a single daylong workshop and featured trips to historical sites in NYC. During the fifth year, teachers selected from two two-yearlong cohorts participated in eight full-day workshops, showing how teachers could align content with the NYS Core Curriculum and share strategies that students found most engaging, such as curating "museum exhibits," writing "newspaper articles," role playing and oral history. The teachers learned how to use local media, library, and museum collections; modify primary sources for different learning levels; plan effective field trips; differentiate learning for students with different needs and backgrounds; and how to find accessible resources. Lesson plans and materials were disseminated through the project's Open Educational Resources Commons website.

Leadership and Change (2010-2013)

This project served Manhattan and Brooklyn, where more than half the 8th grade students failed the Intermediate Social Studies Test and nearly one-third of 11th grade students failed the U.S. History and Government Regents Examination, which is required for graduation.

For each of the first two years of the project, thirty teachers attended eight full-day workshops, a five-day summer institute conducted by professional historians, and four two-hour history lectures by professional historians (open to all middle and high school U.S. history teachers in the district). The second cohort followed in years three and four. In the fifth year, thirty teachers selected from the two cohorts attended workshops where they worked collaboratively to develop classroom materials based on the content. Participants were chosen based on their teaching experience, background, and preparedness, as well as their students' achievement level. Curriculum sought to demonstrate how one might learn history through biography: the lives of the people who have shaped it. Strategies included: "hands-on history" through oral history, curating "museum exhibits" in the classroom, encouraging student journalism as a means of exploring history, conducting mock trials and debates; accessing and using appropriate primary sources; integrating books, art and media into the classroom, using technology and Internet resources effectively, accessing library and museum collections; and using maps. End-products included: lesson plans, presentations, study units, classroom activities and modified primary documents.

American Dream (2009-2012)


The largest in the series of expansions of GothamEd, this professional development program sought to reach American history teachers in all of NYC's 461 elementary and middle schools. Every teacher was invited to participate in one or more program layers. Upwards of 150 teachers participated in an intensive teacher leadership program, ninety of whom attended an inaugural conference in year one. In each subsequent year, these and additional teacher-leaders completed seventy-two hours of leadership development training, original research, curriculum development, and vertical team planning projects, ran an American history conference for 100 teachers from around the city, and established and maintained school-based American history resource rooms. Rigorous, but less intensive, instruction was offered to the rest of the schools' history teachers through a lecture series ("Becoming Historians") in year one, a quarterly evening lecture series, a quarterly workshop series at historical houses, a quarterly book club, and a film club. Through the lens of "the American Dream," the program explored defining moments in American history, from European colonization to modern times. Teacher-leaders were trained to provide professional development on innovative, developmentally appropriate teaching strategies that integrate technology and develop students' research, analysis, and presentation skills. Curricular units developed through the program were then disseminated citywide. In addition, teacher leaders developed American history resource rooms in their schools.

Remember Me to Herald Square (2008-2010)

In 2008, GothamEd was awarded a "Teaching With Primary Sources" (TPS) grant from the Library of Congress for "Remember Me to Herald Square," a workshop series exploring how to use the community as a classroom and integrate local architecture and neighborhood studies into the curriculum. Participants included twenty-five Social Studies and American History teachers in grades 4, 5, 7, 8 and 11, from schools in Brooklyn’s Community School Districts 14, 16 and 15.

The series began with a case study, the neighborhood around the Gotham Center's home at CUNY's Graduate Center in Manhattan. Teachers learned about the history of Herald Square, its present-day challenges, and plans for the future. Subsequent workshops focused on how to research and analyze library resources (in collaboration with the Library of Congress, New York Public Library, and Old York Library); neighborhood walks and site visits; architectural vocabulary; photographing and sketching; model-building; and design solutions for community improvement. By end of the series, teachers developed a project using their own school's local community history.

Leadership in American History (2007-2011)


In 2007, GothamEd, in partnership with the NYC DoE and other cultural institutions, was awarded a third citywide TAH grant. This professional development project served teachers in 127 middle schools in need of improvement and not served by other TAH programs. Through in-depth examination of historical American leaders, participants learned content as well as pedagogical strategies for the classroom. A sub-theme focused on individuals who have shaped events in the NYC area.

District 14 and 16 Teaching American History Grant (2007-2010)

This project to enhance American history learning and teaching recruited thirty-two teachers during each grant year, from sixteen schools classified as in need of improvement. Targets included teachers lacking a degree in U.S. history, those with a Common Branch license, new and international teachers, and teachers whose schools lack professional development funding.

Content was provided by partnering cultural institutions, which presented workshops, multi-day seminars, and fieldwork. Among other themes, participants learned about pre-Columbian indigenous tribes, Dutch colonial life, the events leading up to the American Revolution in and around NYC, the life of free and enslaved African Americans in the North, the impact on workers of unionization, public housing, municipal infrastructure, and health care, resistance to Irish, German, eastern European, Chinese, and Jewish immigrants, the contribution of immigrants to NYC and the nation, and heroism and memory in World War II.

American Citizen (2005-2008)


In 2005, GothamEd received another TAH grant, in partnership with Community School District 18, City Lore, Historic House Trust, Henry Street Settlement, Brooklyn Historical Society, and the U.S.S. Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum. Aimed at improving student achievement in American history by increasing the skills and knowledge of their teachers, the program a) created a professional staff development program focused on basic concepts of American history; b) disseminated the curriculum developed by the teachers; and c) developed a sustainable model for staff education to be used across the city and nation. In the first year, a forty-hour summer institute served fifty teachers of grades 4 to 8. During the second year, GothamEd created a sixty-hour "Gotham Fellows" program: intensive seminars for twenty-four teachers, citywide. In the final year, the program disseminated system-wide, reaching an additional sixty teachers. Content spanned the periods covered by traditional history classes, with a focus on the changing nature of citizenship in the Revolutionary and Civil War eras and during the nineteenth century.

NYC and the Nation (2003-2008)

"New York City and the Nation" was made possible by two citywide TAH grants from the US DoE. The program was a collaboration between the Gotham Center, which served as a Co-Project Director with the NYC Department of Education, and cultural partners City Lore, Historic House Trust, Henry Street Settlement, Brooklyn Historical Society and New-York Historical Society. The consortium developed a citywide program that a) instructed and engaged public school teachers in basic concepts of American history; b) measured the increase in student achievement that resulted from increased staff development; c) documented and disseminated successful units of American history created through the program; and d) served as a sustainable staff development model for NYC beyond the grant period, and a replicable model for school systems across the country.

The program consisted of a series of professional development courses for 4th to 8th grade teachers, including summer institutes for all instructors, a "Gotham Fellows" program for select participants held throughout the academic year, and a leadership program with two cohorts of teachers steering workshops in individual schools and at two citywide conferences. The program used local example to teach basic concepts and content in American history, providing models on how these histories can be brought into the classroom through new methodologies and the use of local architecture, neighborhood tours, visual arts, drama, historic sites, primary documents, oral history, artifacts, research libraries, and museum collections. Among the program instructors were historians, staff developers, folklorists, museum educators, and drama and visual artists. The Edwin G. Michaelian Institute for Public Policy and Management at Pace University evaluated the program. "New York City and the Nation" was funded by American Journey (2003) and Framing History, two Teaching American History grants from the US DoE.

Click here for video.


Based on the success of this early consortium, "New York City and the Nation" was one of fourteen programs to be awarded a multi-year contract with the NYC Department of Education, in 2005. Over the next decade, the Gotham Center disseminated the program to individual schools and districts, serving over 1200 public and private school teachers in all five boroughs.

Programs included:

  • Courses combining seminars with historians and hands-on method workshops with staff developers and a cultural partner, ranging from five to fifteen sessions.

  • Institutes featuring daily scholar talks, hands-on method workshops with two cultural partners, and classroom application and lesson planning workshops with staff developers, ranging from three to ten days.

  • Gotham Fellow programs comprised of a yearlong series of events including scholar talks, hands-on method workshops, and classroom application workshops, and mentoring with historians, staff developers, and three cultural partners, for collaborative work on the development of new units of study; each program totaling 250 hours.

  • Classroom coaching, mentoring, and workshops on school sites with one or more historians, staff developers, and cultural partners, ranging from one session to ten sessions.

American Journey (2003-2007) &
Framing American History (2004-2008)

Citywide professional development programs, which resulted in the "New York City and the Nation" consortium, funded by Teaching American History grants from the US DoE.

Second Teaching NYC History Conference (2003)

Based on the overwhelming response to the first Teaching NYC History conference, GothamEd put on a second, this time providing thirty-sixty presentations to over 600 teachers. The conference gave both public and private school teachers a much-needed institutional space to gather and share ideas, lessons and programs.

Click here for more information.


History, First Hand (2001-2004)

In October 2001, the Gotham Center received a Teaching American History (TAH) grant from the U.S. Department of Education (US DoE). "History, First Hand," a partnership with Community School District One (CSD One) and City Lore, was designed to raise student achievement by improving teachers' knowledge and understanding of American history. The program developed a research-based model of instruction to make the study of history more engaging for teachers and students in grades 3 to 8, offered instructors ways to bring American history into the classroom as a distinct subject within the core curriculum, and provided a new means for teaching literacy. In addition to courses, "History, First Hand" included a) a mentorship program in which select teachers used their classrooms to develop and field test project ideas for dissemination; b) the creation of a publication History, First Hand, a curriculum resource issued both in print and digitally, providing project ideas, lesson plans, and teaching methods, and c) citywide events like the Gotham Center's second Teaching NYC History conference.

Conference: Teaching NYC History in K-12 Schools (2001)


This conference, which aimed to help teachers integrate primary documents into their local history and social studies courses, unofficially launched GothamEd. Teachers who had developed successful lesson plans were asked to lead workshops and panels discussing and sharing those models. Cultural institutions (museums, historical societies, preservationists, television producers, newspapers) provided videos, digital resources, PowerPoints, and other material that could be tailored to classroom curricula. Over 400 teachers attended the twenty-four presentations.

Click here for program schedule.