Creating the Space for Engaged Discussions

It’s a new academic year, and optimism and energy are in abundant supply. There are new ideas for class, new ways to engage students, and great questions to wrestle with as the intersections between past and present have rarely been so obvious. And it all goes swimmingly, it seems, until the first time we actually…

Summer Reading: Teaching and Learning

One of the perks of working at my institution is a somewhat unusual academic calendar in which our graduation occurs the last Saturday in April. We may start our spring semester alarmingly soon after New Year’s, but it’s all worth it come May and nearly four months of open time beckons. This longer summer recess…

Survey Tourism

When I was a graduate student, one of the professors I TA’d for taught the survey like, well, a survey.  We “visited” a variety of places examining not only the history but the ways in which the place had remembered that history.  So, for example, we visited Santa Fe and thought critically about the Fiesta…

Teaching US History in the Long Nineteenth Century

A few years ago, as part of a general curricular revision, my department moved to a three-semester sequence for both our World and US History surveys. There were several reasons we made the move: we wanted more room to focus on the particular outcomes these courses embodied as part of our university’s core curriculum (particularly…

Using Facebook Live for Online Discussion Recaps

This semester I took an experimental approach to the dreaded online discussion board. Unless discussions are significantly scaffolded, it can be troublesome to effectively facilitate back-and-forth among students. While a mediated discussion does resemble survey-level discussions in class, with the professor usually acting as the conduit to connect student points, an online environment seems to…

Admitting defeat

I had a great new idea for a final project for my survey classes this semester. It was going to be awesome. This assignment was going to draw on the skills my students were practicing every week but then take it all to a new level. Critical thinking! Public writing! Digital tools! The semester started, and…

Guest Post: Gary Wilson on online exams and minimizing lecture

  We are pleased to include the following guest post from Dr. Gary Wilson of College of the Mainland in Texas City, Texas. In the following post, Dr. Wilson reflects on four decades of teaching and administration, highlighting his use of online quizzes and his attempts to minimize reliance on lecturing.    I taught my first college…

Progressive mastery in historical thinking

Recently I caught another article about an approach to high school writing instruction that many of you are familiar with: “progressive mastery.”1)Full disclosure: I have not read the deeper literature on this, and much of what I’m doing in this post is simply riffing on some of its broader ideas. If I have fundamentally misunderstood…

Teaching US History Online: Some Reflections

Next semester, I’ll be offering an online version of my Civil War and Reconstruction course. This is the third time I’ll be teaching this upper-level, reading- and writing-intensive course in a fully online environment. Thanks to being a part of the initial cohort of the Council of Independent Colleges’ Consortium for Online Humanities Instruction, I’ve…