Archive for the ‘Teaching’ Category

Bucks Schoolteacher Suspended Over Blog About Students « CBS Philly

Bucks Schoolteacher Suspended Over Blog About Students « CBS Philly.

As someone who blogs about different things related to my academic career, including teaching, this does give me pause.


Considering technology in pedagogy

September 10, 2010 Leave a comment

One of the things that has taken getting used to for me as I teach my course this semester is the increased use of technology as teaching tools. Whether it is an ELMO document camera (sometimes I think the little red guy might be more useful), Power Point, Blackboard, or clickers (I am still trying to figure these out), technology is playing an increasing role in today’s college classroom. This is a significant departure from what I knew as an undergraduate student at Illinois College. To my recollection, only four of my classes ever used some type of technology beyond a VHS or DVD player. One was chemistry, where we used some Power Point, while in my macroeconomics class we used the new smart classroom technology (this was new stuff in ’03) to draw graphs. The most logical class for using technology was my computer science class on visual basic, where we simply used the projector to view the program we were discussing, while my statistics class used the projector so we could follow the instructor on Excel, while we worked on it in the computer lab the class was held in. All my classes in the arts and humanities were traditional with no use of technology, just the professor lecturing and the board for key terms.

I know that my experience is similar to most faculty in our department, as many of us are at varying stages of accepting and incorporating such tools into our teaching. While many departments in the academy are embracing new technology, history is behind the curve. I believe a lot of this has to do with most of us learning in the traditional lecture style with little to no reliance on such tools. The result is that we are not used to using such technology and are hesitant to try it because of unfamiliarity. I have heard great arguments for using technology, as well as frustrations over it, but I will at least give technology a try. Though it involves a bit more work on my part, I do hope that using technological tools helps my students get a better experience from my course and enhances the accessibility of my lectures. In closing, I would love to hear about your experiences with technology and teaching, the good and bad, to gain a better understanding of how such tools are used in today’s classroom, so please comment and share.

Reflections on the start of the semester and teaching

September 1, 2010 Leave a comment

Well, it is good to be back in the game again. I know the content has been lacking for a long time, but with summer, there’s not much to write about. I am in the classroom this fall, teaching a section of History 103, the United States to 1877, as well as taking a readings course on the Anglo-Atlantic World, and a research seminar. In addition to that, I am still blogging and reviewing books, and have begun a foray into Civil War reenacting. My colleague Stuart Lawrence and I began a Civil War Round Table in April and are trying to get it off the ground. Needless to say, I am busy.

Having done a couple lectures so far, I am slowly starting to get into a nice groove. The one thing I still have trouble with is using Power Point for my lectures, as none of my professors at Illinois College used it. Despite that, the students are a great group and seem attentive. I am starting to get them to come out of their shells and talk in class a little more. It seems that they are getting what I am presenting in lecture. I am trying to use a little humor to get them to open up with varying success.

I will say that the biggest challenge is preparing for each class, as I always have in the back in my mind the issue of whether or not I am presenting the material right and to an appropriate level. I have gotten some positive feedback from a couple students on the textbook I chose. The class is also reading Joseph Plumb Martin’s memoir as well, which I hope they enjoy and will gain something from reading it.

Overall, I am finding teaching rewarding and look forward to working with and getting to know the students. I hope to get posting here more in the coming weeks, as I am back in the groove and will possibly have some fellow doctoral students from the department involved as well to broaden the view. Until next time, keep researching and working. – Oregon Teacher Panel Probes Educator Determined to ‘Demolish’ Tea Party

Check out this story. – Oregon Teacher Panel Probes Educator Determined to ‘Demolish’ Tea Party

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Here are my thoughts on this. While this man is entitled to his political beliefs, this story raises troubling concerns about teacher conduct. If he did this while on school time, he should face disciplinary action. However, even if he did not, he still should be punished, as he is advocating a crime by calling for supporters to acquire personal information on Tea Party members. In this age of identity theft, such actions can not be taken lightly. Further, he is a public representative and his actions do not reflect well upon his employer, or the larger community.

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Another draft of U.S. history takes a hard right | Grand Forks Herald | Grand Forks, North Dakota

An interesting article from the Times

Monday’s New York Times had an interesting article regarding the political leanings of university professors. The article argued that a university professor is a “typecast” career field, similar to how nursing is viewed as a gender-typed field. It does concede the role of progressive reforms in higher education fostered the current state of the system, causing most professors to be liberal. Overall, the article is interesting and made me reflect on why I chose to be a historian.

I am a conservative and am not ashamed to say it, but I do keep my views rather quiet do to the culture of universities. This is not to say that my department is this way, as they are great people to work with, though we would disagree on political and social subjects. I keep my views quiet so that people get to know me on other levels and are not tempted to pre-judge me based on my views.

I chose my career path because of my love of history, as well as to show young conservatives that you can be successful in academia. Further, history is in an interesting state as a discipline. While many in the public enjoy history, particularly military history, the profession is leaning into more fields that do not resonate as well with the public, fields that comprise social history. I will state that I have no problems with historians researching in their personal areas of interest, but that courses in universities should try to reflect traditional areas more, like military, economic, and diplomatic history. This is because of the nature of college, which is now driven by the bottom line. If history is to remain relevant and independent as a field in the university, it must do what is needed to maintain student interest in the field. Overall, it will be interesting to see what debate this article fosters. I hope you all read it and ponder.

A new semester

It is that time of year again, the beginning of the new semester. This semester will be a great one, as I will be taking courses dealing with the American West, a research seminar that will allow me to complete a chapter of the dissertation, and a Public History project dealing with oral history, where I will interview local World War II veterans who participated in the Honor Flights to visit the National World War II Memorial in Washington, DC, to understand their experiences in the conflict and how visiting the memorial affected them.

I will also be returning to North Dakota History, with a new group of students and an additional teaching assistant, which will lighten the workload for me. I will also devote some time to preparing for my class in the fall, which will be exciting and challenging. When that time arrives, I will devote many posts to examining the interesting angles of teaching my own class for the first time, with some of them appearing on Teaching Thursday, so stay tuned to this site. It’s good to be back in the swing of things and I look forward to sharing the fun with you.