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A Game-ified U.S. Survey using Greenwich Village, 1913

Teaching the U.S. survey in an blended/hybrid format offers certain challenges and opportunities. On the one hand, it is a chance to flip the classroom and have students get a hands on experience with big questions, deep textual analysis, and interactive in-class work, having had a lot of time outside of class to engage with…

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Interview with novelist Carol Goodman

Carol Goodman is the author of fourteen novels and the winner of many literary prizes. She teaches creative writing at The New School and SUNY New Paltz. Her work frequently engages the past, including her latest novel The Metropolitans. This winter, I sent her a handful of questions about how she understands and employs history…

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Encouraging students to fail

My university’s Center for Teaching and Learning has created reading groups in each of the university’s eight schools. The reading group for the School of Arts and Humanities has decided to read Linda B. Nilson’s Specifications Grading: Restoring Rigor, Motivating Students, and Saving Faculty Time (2015). Nilson proposes a grading system called specs grading that…

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Frederick Douglass and an “Unfit” Education

This week in my U.S. survey, we’re discussing Frederick Douglass’s Narrative of the Life of an American Slave. It’s a venerable text, and used so often in the survey that it almost feels like a cliche’ when I assign it. But Douglass is, you might have heard, doing a terrific job that’s being recognized by…

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Information Overload

I’m off this semester on maternity leave and currently hanging out with a very cute one week old so this post will be short and sweet.  Even before the recent public debates over fake news, I’ve been worrying about my students’ ability to read and evaluate internet sources. One activity I have used in the…

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A Thematic U.S. Survey (Second Half) Model

For quite some time I have been tinkering with my ways of teaching the survey (the second half, AKA USII). I’ve flipped, I’ve themed, I’ve occasionally flopped, I’ve blended, digitized, and problematized in the some thirty-odd sections that I’ve taught in the past seven years. (I have not yet backwarded or role-played, but I’m sure…

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Un-collapsing history

Teaching the US I and II surveys every semester, one of the first challenges is getting the material to “catch” with students. It’s usually a little easier with US II, but there’s no magic formula. Getting students to see people in the past as people, living complicated lives and facing difficult choices, is key to…

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To My Students:

To my students, past, present, and future: I usually write entries to this blog with my colleagues in mind, but this time, I want to write something, very briefly, for you. You will always be welcome in my classroom, no matter where you come from, no matter what language you speak, no matter how you…