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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…

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What’s in Your Pedagogy Toolbox?

A few weeks ago, at the annual meeting of the American Historical Association in Denver, I had the opportunity to chair a session centered around rethinking History Ph.D. education. It was a great conversation, and the two panelists–both Ph.D. students doing some really remarkable work–powerfully articulated the ways in which we can expand some of…

tara strauch

Teaching Holidays

Once again this academic year, I face a strange teaching week; my 16 day January term course on the history of American holidays will celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day today and examine the inauguration on Friday. When I realized months ago that these two holidays would fall In the same week, I was thrilled…