Friday, January 30, 2015

An invitation to join our History Class

For many historians who view this site, the structure we are proposing to undertake for the U.S. History survey may seem familiar.  When we discuss the integration of a problem-based approach that uses primary sources, most historians will think, "I do that already," chalk this project up to old wine in new bottles and prepare to move on.  Please don't.  We hope to make History Class into a collaborative effort that allows us to teach a more rewarding survey--one that facilitates increased independent thinking, encourages greater interest in future historical study, and allows student to avoid the debt they might incur just to purchase a reader that promises to achieve the same results.  (A $50 reader, bought with student loans, financed over 30 years...)  We would like this site to become a collaborative effort that reaches beyond the two of us and out into the community of colleagues we no longer get to speak with about our teaching on a regular basis.  This blog can become a space where we share ideas and sources.  Of course, the conversations might be more fun at Murphy's or [insert your favorite watering-hole or TA office here], but at least on a blog we can hyperlink to the evidence.

Over the next several months, we will use this blog to

  • chronicle and assess our efforts to reinvigorate the U.S. History surveys 
  • explore new models for encouraging student critical thinking about history
  • highlight free, open-access sources for the study of history
  • provide original problem-based assignments (history labs) for use and critique
  • test and elaborate upon primary-source exercises already available online
We invite you to comment freely and add your own suggestions for resources or techniques.  In the future, we hope to invite many of you to participate more actively by sharing with us assignments and exercises you have created over the years.

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