Tag: pedagogy

Teaching Military History with the <i>Official Records</i>

Teaching Military History with the Official Records

Every time I teach my Civil War and Reconstruction course, I meet students who probably would not have taken any other history class. The enormous popular interest in military history, as most academic historians know, can draw students into the discipline. At a time when boosting course enrollments and attracting ...
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Teaching the Reconstruction Era Through Political Cartoons

Teaching the Reconstruction Era Through Political Cartoons

During this past fall semester I received an email from a curriculum coordinator at a local school district. She stated that a high school history teacher was running short on time, but wanted to spend one day with his students discussing the Reconstruction era before the end of the semester ...
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Putting Women Back Where They Belong: In Federalism and the U.S. History Survey

Putting Women Back Where They Belong: In Federalism and the U.S. History Survey

To say that women do not figure prominently in the historiography of federalism is an understatement, to say the least. What could debates about the relationship between states and the federal government possibly have to do with women, particularly before the Civil War, when they lacked the rights necessary to ...
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Hatred and Vengeance in the Classroom

War generates powerful emotions and conveying those emotions to students presents numerous opportunities and a few pitfalls. More specifically, hatred and calls for vengeance inevitably accompanied (if they did not precede) the outbreak of war, and certainly the American Civil War was no exception to that rule. Students in Civil ...
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Teaching with Raw Primary Sources: The Value of Transcription

Teaching with Raw Primary Sources: The Value of Transcription

The rhythms of academic life make August an opportune time to reflect on past teaching and to plan new lessons. Teachers of history at all levels appreciate that primary sources can pique students’ curiosity and introduce them to historical methods. Whether through the Document-Based Questions featured in Advanced Placement exams ...
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Teaching Civil War Battles and Leaders through Classroom Simulations

Teaching Civil War Battles and Leaders through Classroom Simulations

For as long as historians have chronicled and interpreted war, they have confronted the intertwined issues of contingency and battle. Historical contingency is a difficult concept, but it is fundamental to historical thinking and essential to understanding the significance of battles, military leaders, and decisions in war. A working definition ...
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Teaching the American Civil War Through the Experiences of Civil War Veterans

Teaching the American Civil War Through the Experiences of Civil War Veterans

Studying the experiences of Civil War veterans and their families helps students understand the complex forces that shaped late-nineteenth and early-twentieth-century America. Their life stories help instructors explain soldiers’ motivations for service, discuss battles and campaigns, describe conscription and dissent, unravel the process of emancipation, and examine the political and ...
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Utilizing Film in Our Courses on Slavery and the Enslaved

Utilizing Film in Our Courses on Slavery and the Enslaved

Teaching the history of slavery in the United States well, like teaching any complex topic mired in historical mythologies and mixed public interests, is a daunting task. Pedagogical approaches to slavery have to face off against centuries of public misconceptions and avoidance. I constantly try to engage and inform students ...
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Teaching the Intersection of Abolitionism and Indian Rights

Teaching the Intersection of Abolitionism and Indian Rights

Though abolitionists advocated for both the slave’s cause and the Indian’s cause before the Civil War, their concern for Native American rights is not well understood. This is partly due to the fact that while scholars recognize abolitionist opposition to Indian removal, abolitionist support for Indian rights is seen as ...
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Beyond Add Women and Stir: Ideas for Teaching about Women, Gender, and Reconstruction

Beyond Add Women and Stir: Ideas for Teaching about Women, Gender, and Reconstruction

For most folks teaching the U.S. survey, just getting to Reconstruction can feel like an accomplishment. The convention of dividing U.S. history surveys at the Civil War often means the postwar period ends up wedged into the last distracted days of the term. Calls to integrate women more fully into ...
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A Bird's Eye View of the Civil War: The Virtues of a Transnational Perspective

A Bird’s Eye View of the Civil War: The Virtues of a Transnational Perspective

Teaching the Civil War takes juggling some very broad, diverse, complex processes in the histories of slavery and freedom, of nationalism, citizenship and state building, of Indian Nations and the West, of modern warfare, of economic transformation of the economy, and of the ways in which people thought about life, ...
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Teaching Reconstruction: Some Strategies That Work

Teaching Reconstruction: Some Strategies That Work

This week we share our first Field Dispatch from Dr. Hilary Green, an assistant professor at the University of Alabama. Her research and teaching interests include the intersections of race, class, and gender in African American history, the American Civil War, Reconstruction, as well as Civil War memory, African American education, ...
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Gone with the Land: Environmental History in Civil War and Reconstruction Classes

Gone with the Land: Environmental History in Civil War and Reconstruction Classes

Whenever I introduce myself in conversation as an “environmental historian,” many non-academics assume I write about environmentalism as a political movement or the history of environmental policy. It almost never helps to use the full title of my field of study by saying, “I’m an environmental historian of the Civil ...
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Teaching with Statistics: A Case Study

Teaching with Statistics: A Case Study

My great friend Kevin Lambert at California State University, Fullerton says, “Nothing is more humanistic than numbers.” They bring order and precision to our lives, offer definitive and powerful evidence for us, and determine outcomes and decisions on the most difficult and emotionally wrenching issues. Although the work of historians ...
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Twenty Negro or Overseer Law?: Ideas for the Classroom

Twenty Negro or Overseer Law?: Ideas for the Classroom

For the Confederacy, was the Civil War a rich man’s war but a poor man’s fight? College students and historians have grappled with this question as long as they have studied the Civil War. For those who answer in the affirmative, this “yes” is generally followed up by the argument ...
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Maps, Topography, and Teaching Civil War Battles

Maps, Topography, and Teaching Civil War Battles

How often have we encountered the blank stares of students when talking about a battle during the Civil War, trying to explain why the exhausted troops did not pursue their victory and deliver a finishing blow? I have had many a debate with a student on the subject, with the ...
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