Teaching is not a gift

Surrounded by gifts, as many of us are this time of year, and looking forward to the next semester, I am trying to remind myself of the ways that my teaching is not a gift. Anyone regularly reading this site already knows how dangerous it is to think of good teaching as a gift. Often those…

Mixtape Assignment in the Classroom

Every semester I try something new in the classroom. Sometimes this may involve adding activities such as the fish bowl, working in the archives, or having students write on the board to generate ideas. I take these assignments and tweak them as I go along because, as we know, every class is not the same.…

Explicit Teacher Purpose in the History Classroom

This semester, I’ve been wrestling with curricular issues in world history, as well as investigating the role of teacher purpose, particularly when it comes to history classes. Teacher purpose, whether implicit or explicit, impacts teacher content and pedagogical decisions. When I talk about teacher purpose, I don’t just mean content deliverables or state-mandated learning targets. Instead,…

On Banning Laptops….Again. (Sigh)

I’m hesitant to wade into this issue again, as I’ve done so before and watched my Twitter mentions and email catch fire as a result. But a week or so ago, the New York Times published yet another installment in the tired debate over whether laptops (or, by extension, any digital devices) are helpful or…

Curiosity and Curtailing the Convenient Narrative

Few topics evoke such genuine intellectual curiosity amongst my overly achievement conscious students as the American Civil War. As a teacher, this proves fortunate, given that our study of the late antebellum period and war years typically falls after a ten-day break for the Thanksgiving holiday and before an eighteen-day winter vacation. As you might…

Podcasts as Models for Historical Essays

My U.S. Economic History course begins again this spring, and it is a popular course among history secondary education and middle school education students here at Fitchburg State. But it also draws from students in Economics and Business, particularly Marketing and Accounting. As such, I’m tasked with making the course useful to more than the…

“Revising” the survey with Ben Franklin’s World

We often emphasize to our students that our lectures, and even our entire courses, have arguments and use evidence to make those arguments. We also talk about historiography, even if we don’t use the term, and show students how historians produce new historical knowledge. This semester, my US I class is using Liz Covart’s podcast…

Active Learning in the Classroom

Over the past few semesters, I began my early American literature course with Thomas Jefferson. Starting with Jefferson’s Declaration of Independence, Notes from the State of Virginia, and letter to Benjamin Banneker was important considering the recent events in Charlottesville, VA. Typically, I start the first class with David Walker then back track to Jefferson,…

Storytelling

I do lots of active learning in my classroom along with active lecturing and discussion.  What I don’t often do is tell stories.  I have colleagues who can make a lecture a performance piece with all the theater and drama you could want, but I’ve always aimed more for engaging students through Socratic questions and…

In some ways, the bar for being a thoroughly decent human being has never been lower for men in positions of power and privilege. Yes, that includes teachers.

It’s difficult to avoid the stories of powerful people—especially powerful men—abusing their power in every conceivable area of society, from business to politics to higher education. Credible allegations of sexual abuse and harassment by Harvey Weinstein, to Louis CK, to Roy Moore, to—most recently—Al Franken, remind us that horrific, abusive behavior by powerful people (especially…