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Planning our Teaching

Planning our Teaching

This pinned post will be updated with links to other posts as I make them.  Walk through your semester/quarter/term with these ideas for teaching: Thinking: What Do Our Syllabi Really Say? Thinking: Academia is Ableist Thinking: Dis/ability Thinking: Hunger is an Educational Issue FAQ: Content Warnings Thinking: Strong Emotional Reactions Thinking: Where Do We Stand First day exercise: What Do Historians Do? First day exercise and more sources: Revisiting the First Day First day exercise: The Social Identity Wheel Teaching:…

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Business As Usual

Business As Usual

I’ve been musing over the last few days about the way we’re (at least I’m!) trying to conduct business as usual. On Friday, I hit a wall. I woke to the news that the President had Covid-19, and there was no time to process or assimilate this information—to work out what it meant—before I needed to teach my first synchronous class session of the day.  This news chased on the heels of a hundred other pieces of news: Amy Coney…

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It Can All Be Changed

It Can All Be Changed

Summer is winding down, and fall classes are around the corner; some have already begun, depending on the institution. If you’re like me, you’re anticipating fall while still trying to wring those last drops of meaning out of August, and if you’re like me, you’re doing so while tired, fractious, overwhelmed, and feeling really done with the pandemic (as if the pandemic cares how we feel).  So many of us have been working all summer to be ready for fall—not…

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Five Things I’ve Learned This Summer

Five Things I’ve Learned This Summer

A friend asked me to write up the things I’ve learned this summer as I’ve been working on how to be a better online educator than I was in the spring.  Here are my top five recommendations, with gratitude to the people—including Karen Costa, Clea Mahoney, Judith Dutill, and Melissa Wehler—who’ve taught me how to think more clearly about what’s ahead, make solid plans, and act confidently! Design for Online, and Adapt for Other Modalities None of us want to…

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I am a Rank Beginner

I am a Rank Beginner

I am a rank beginner at teaching online. Let’s be clear – for those of us who teach mostly face-to-face classes, the situation this spring has not been “online teaching,” but lifeboat education, emergency instruction, or, as my friend Professor Courtney Joseph puts it, the business of salvage-a-semester. True online teaching, like any pedagogical practice, requires planning, patience, training, support, and the time and willingness to learn from mistakes. Those of us who scrambled this spring to put our courses…

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Beginning Again

Beginning Again

After teaching my first emergency distance-learning class, I burst into tears. My upper-level seminar class contained just eight students, so we met on Zoom as I thought it would do us all good to see one another. But the experience was nothing like I had come to know and love in a face-to-face environment. With mics muted, we couldn’t hear ambient noise, or laugh with one another, or quickly follow up with one another’s comments. Some students had tech issues…

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Slow Your Roll

Slow Your Roll

A new day, a new bad take on the subject of education. Over in yesterday’s edition of Harvard Business Review, Vijay Govindarajan and Anup Srivastava suggested that online learning’s moment had come. Right now, the Coronavirus pandemic is forcing global experimentation with remote teaching. There are many indicators that this crisis is going to transform many aspects of life. Education could be one of them if remote teaching proves to be a success. But how will we know if it…

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A Pedagogy of the Past

A Pedagogy of the Past

As many of us switch from face-to-face learning to some kind of online instruction, I’m seeing little pockets all over twitter where professors articulate that they are concerned with rigor, standards, and “holding the line.” Things should continue as usual, goes the argument. Students should expect the same course-load as ever, with all its attendant readings, quizzes, exams, lab work, and other assignments, all of which will be graded with an eye to students proving they have applied themselves fully,…

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Op-ed

Op-ed

For those who are pay-walled out of seeing my piece in the Houston Chronicle, here it is in pdf. form. HoustonChronicleMarch112020

Applying Knowledge

Applying Knowledge

One of the things I most want my history students to be able to do is to apply what they’ve learned in a new situation.  If they read a primary or secondary source or if we discuss something in class, it’s important to me that they be able to take their cumulative understanding of a period of time, or a place, or a culture, and apply it to answer a fresh question. One way that I do this is by…

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Contextualizing Sources on the First Day

Contextualizing Sources on the First Day

Earlier this week, Jennifer Sessions (of the University of Virginia) [shared on twitter] that she had modified the [first-day activity I do with students](centered on primary sources) to focus on secondary sources and the skill of contextualization. I was so taken by her adaptation that I asked her if she would write up what she did for this blog – and she agreed!  Here’s Jennifer’s explanation of her activity, and a link to the documents she used so that you…

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