How much is that in today’s money?

“But how much is that in today’s money?” Anyone who’s taught the US survey has heard this question dozens of times. It a completely understandable one, and often impels students to seek out online calculators that claim they can “convert” old timey money into today’s currency. I usually try to answer this question by talking…

Language and Syntax in the Classroom

The day after the 2017 Boston Marathon, the marathon’s sponsor, Adidas, sent an email to participants who completed the race. The subject line read, “Congrats, you survived the Boston Marathon.” On the surface, nothing appears wrong with this line; however, given the events at the marathon on April 15, 2013, when Dzhokhar Tsarnaev and Tamerlan Tsarnaev detonated…

Hard Lessons from Ben Franklin’s Failure

Chances are, you already know about Ben Franklin: inventor, diplomat, postmaster, bespectacled genius. But Ben Franklin, failure? It’s true. The Founding Father struck out at one of the goals he set for himself – to become a champion chess player. Why he failed in this endeavor, but attained such greatness in others, is instructive for…

Some Thoughts about Alignment

I’m not sure if it’s because we’ve just passed through midterms at my university, or because I’ve been working on course (re)design as part of my teaching center duties, but I’ve been thinking a lot about the concept of alignment lately. Those familiar with the methodology of “backward design” will recognize alignment as the glue…

Social Reading and the Online Classroom (Part I of II)

In an April 9, 2017, article in Salon, Martin Harris explored the potential implications of the rise of social reading and story creation. He proposed, “Our stories are going social and, as new platform technologies remake the reading experience into something increasingly interactive, we now must ask what we’re giving up in the bargain.” With crowdsourcing…

Student Blogging as a Teaching and Learning Tool

Even though I’m teaching the Ancient World instead of my usual US courses this semester, I’ve found that both my philosophy and general approach toward the survey course have remained consistent, despite the vast chronological and geographical distance. I remain committed to active learning approaches, though I find that occasional nuggets of expository lecture (5-6…

Embedding Content Goals within Teaching Methods

In my Honors seminar in History, a class drawn from many majors (with few History majors), we are studying the Modern American Presidency. Using the teaching tools compiled by Kathryn Cramer Brownell at the Miller Center at UVA, students will be reading primary and secondary sources to consider the evolution of the institution over time,…