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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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Teaching History Writing II

Teaching History Writing II

While I can’t offer a minute-by-minute account of what was said in our panel on teaching students to write history at #AHA20 on Monday, I can offer my take away moments – my ‘What I Learned From My Co-Panelists,” perspective. And I learned a tremendous amount. Let me start with Carolyn Levy of Penn State. Carolyn is a graduate student, and spoke pointedly (and poignantly) to the circular lack of writing instruction in higher ed. Most people who’ve entered the…

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Teaching Students to Write History

Teaching Students to Write History

I was lucky enough to be on a roundtable panel at the AHA about teaching students how to write history, with some seriously kickass writing folks. Here’s myself, Jennifer Foray (who was an incredible chair!), Kate Antonova, Kevin Gannon, and Carolyn Levy, right before everything began. I plan to write up a more comprehensive review of all the things we talked about (spurred on, in no small part, by the fantastic questions from the audience) – but for now, I…

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Teaching Pedagogy

Teaching Pedagogy

Many of you know that this past fall term I taught an undergraduate course called History Pedagogy.  So many of my students have headed off to graduate school in the past and found themselves thrust into classrooms without any pedagogical training.  After years of hearing stories about their experiences, I decided to get them started on thinking about teaching myself. This past fall I had twelve incredible students in the class whose interests ranged from elementary school to college to…

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More Thoughts about Grades

More Thoughts about Grades

Grading in its most traditional sense – a check mark on a blue-book exam or a comment on a paper – is something that bedevils most academics. It certainly bedeviled me before I made some big changes to how I approached it. I found grading tedious, time-consuming, and thankless, and it was only after reading about ungrading that I realized I had options, both in the design of assignments and the medium for feedback. I wrote about that realization [here]….

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The Art of the Draw

The Art of the Draw

On Monday, the students in my Introduction to Native and Indigenous History course read Julianna Barr’s William and Mary Quarterly article about mapping borders in the region currently known as the American southwest.  It’s a fantastic article, full of amazing detail about the ways in which Spaniards, the French, and Native people variously conceived of mapping, borders and territory, but it’s a lot for intro-level students to process. So I had everyone draw their response The students got into a…

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Curiosity

Curiosity

If you, like the students in my undergraduate History Pedagogy course, are reading Josh Eyler’s How Humans Learn, you’ll know that curiosity is a human want that it’s worth harnessing if you want to be a good teacher. Want is perhaps too weak a word – Josh suggests that curiosity is a need, a hallmark of being human, and while children have it in spades, we get more distracted (or jaded?) as we grow older. The research suggests this is…

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