Andrew Wintner and Barry Goldenberg
“Middle School Harlem Historians: Researching Our Community and Improving Literacy”, Wintner and Goldenberg’s innovative teaching idea, is designed to increase students’ interest in history, use their new understanding and engagement in history to increase academic literacy skills, and expand critical-thinking skills. The program involves having students apprentice as youth historians in the field. Wintner and Goldenberg believe students must first see themselves in local history to become engaged in the study of history. The project gives students the unique opportunity to develop pride in their community and simultaneously, build feelings of interest in Harlem’s history. By following the curriculum developed by Goldenberg, a doctoral student at Columbia University, students will learn the skills of a historian. They also will learn how to research a library catalog and think like a historical detective. They will examine local archives and museums and travel to historical landmarks. Ultimately, students will produce historical research ranging from oral histories, traditional essays, and multimedia projects that will be shared with the community at the end of the year. Utilizing the local community in an academically empowering approach is inherently unique to the project. Wintner and Goldenberg believe their project will not only inspire students and develop a sense of self and community, but it also will cultivate a positive atmosphere conducive to improving vital academic literacy and critical-thinking skills.