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Teaching United States History is gearing up for another academic year with new contributors and new conversations. Stay tuned for more about what we teach, how we do it, and why.

Using current events to teach historical thinking

In the past few years, it feels like there’s been more outcry for historians to engage with the public and “explain” the present to them, but it exists alongside the perpetual outcry about historians who might discuss current events with the public they engage with every day: their students. Professors, on the other hand, often…

“What do you produce as an English teacher?”

A few weeks ago, someone asked me a question that made me stop and think. The person asked, “What do you produce as an English teacher?” The inquisitor did not posit the question in a derogatory manner; in fact, I firmly believe that the person asking the question wanted to legitimately understand what I do…

Crowdsourcing the Study Guide

I’ve always had somewhat of an ambivalent relationship with study guides. Every semester, my students have clamored for a study guide for each examination, and each semester I go ahead and provide them with one. I think every instructor wishes they could respond to the “what do I need to study for this exam” question…

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…