History As Told By Farmingdale High School

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This past December, Farmingdale High School social studies teacher, Paul Phelan, applied for the Harvard Business School’s Case Method Project through the Gilder Lehrman Institute. After an intensive interview process, Mr. Phelan was selected to attend this prestigious project taking place on January 30, 2021. Phelan is responsible for about 5 ½ hours of preparative work that includes reading through case studies, watching videos and answering questions, all which will lead up to a live session with Paul Whiton Cherington Professor at Harvard Business School, Dr. David Moss. Dr. Moss applied his business analysis approach to undergraduate history classes and now is expanding the learning model to high schools.

"Ensuring that teachers have access to enriching and meaningful professional learning that can have a direct impact on students' experiences in the classroom is prioritized and actively supported in Farmingdale,” said Farmingdale School District’s Director of Social Studies, Samantha Black. “It is an honor for Paul Phelan to have been selected to participate in a program that aims to spark student interest in their study of US History and support new approaches for student engagement that can transition fluidly to the classroom."

The goal of the Case Method Project is to promote student engagement and interest in American Democracy. Whether it be early moments in American history such as the debates that took place between Madison and other delegates at the Constitutional Convention or more defining modern moments such as Martin Luther King’s decision to cross the Pettus Bridge in Selma and defy the president's orders; the case method puts major democratic decisions in the hands of students. Each case is told like a story and utilizes sources from the time period, engrossing students in a major situation and pausing the story right before a decision is made. From there, students build their own decision and viewpoint using historical evidence on the matter leading to class discussions. From this highly-sought-after program, and with the assistance of other teachers, Mr. Phelan will implement the newly acquired information into everyday teachings. The major events in US history will align with our curriculum and challenge students to become active participants in American history and democracy.

“As a social studies teacher I am constantly in search of new ways to engage students and help them understand the importance of their role in American society”, said Farmingdale High School social studies teacher, Paul Phelan. “Having new tools that can address both of those needs simultaneously is not only invaluable but essential for the true understanding of United States history.”

Launched as a pilot program in 2015, the Case Method Project (CMP) offers high school teachers a fully case-based curriculum on the History of American Democracy. CMP is now partnering with more than 300 teachers at over 200 high schools in 43 states and the District of Columbia, and have reached nearly 30,000 high school students so far. With a growing library of cases, a new online training program to complement on-campus workshops, and an expanding network of community partnerships nationwide, the Case Method Project plans to reach thousands of teachers and many hundreds of thousands of students and community-members over the coming years.

The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History was founded in 1994 by Richard Gilder and Lewis E. Lehrman. The Institute is the leading nonprofit organization dedicated to K–12 history education while also serving the general public. Its mission is to promote the knowledge and understanding of American history through educational programs and resources.