Learning, Online - Reflections on teaching history


November 27, 2016

White innocence and legality

My earliest known American  forebear was a seventeenth-century migrant, Peter, who traveled from Flanders to New England.  In a political season when legal questions surrounding migration have been hot, it is tempting to ask: was he a “legal immigrant?” I have no idea, and to pretend otherwise is to innocently conflate Whiteness, Americanness, and legality.  Such conflation is […]


November 20, 2016

History, white folks need it now more than ever

I’m frankly a little embarrassed as a history teacher that I was slow to take seriously the popular support for and acquiescence to the possible authoritarianism of President-Elect Trump (for more on Trump’s authoritarianism see @sarahkendzior and Brendan Nyhan). Despite extensive reading and research since I started teaching in 1990, America, its past and present, is always more racist than […]

Uncovering History

August 7, 2016

Bring On History Fest!

As the people who read my tweets and my family know, I am very excited for Minnesota’s first annual History Fest on August 9th.   It promises discussion of historical thinking and opportunities for collaboration, the two main streams of my professional growth this decade.  Keynote speaker Bruce Lesh’s book Why Won’t  You Just Tell Us the Answer?  […]


July 21, 2015

Comparing Textbook Treatments of the Iranian Revolution

For high school history teachers, comparing secondary source treatments of historical events is no longer just a good idea, it’s the law. In Minnesota that’s state social studies standard, benchmark: “Evaluate alternative interpretations of historical events; use historical evidence to support or refute those interpretations.”  This work is also a requirement for College Board approved AP history syllabi, which is […]

Assessment,History,Uncovering History

June 9, 2015

DBQs for everyone

In a decade of teaching AP History, first Euro and now World, I have developed an appreciation for the Document-based question.  Students will ultimately forget many of the historical facts that we cover in AP History. The skills developed practicing and writing DBQ should be much more durable and transferable, because students practice in my […]

Assessment,Uncovering History

September 1, 2014

New Year, New Rubric

Just in time for the 2014-15 school year I’m rolling out Rubric 2.0: Historical Thinking.  In collaboration with colleagues in my school distict and in my twitter-based PLN, I plan to do action research with this rubric this year.  Three of the five lines are the same from last year’s Rubric 1.2: Writing with Evidence.  Adding “Corroboration” […]


August 25, 2014

Race, Space, and Privilege

Recent events have reminded me that as a white teacher engaging students in many racially tinged topics, I need to foreground my own privileged social position.  Part of this privilege is the possibility of dismissing race as something that happens elsewhere and to other people.  My daughter just turned thirteen, and the guidance that I […]

Curriculum,Uncovering History

July 17, 2014

Uncovering Truman’s Decision to Fire McArthur

The following was originally posted elsewhere on 5/19/2012. I took a first shot at adapting and implementing Bruce Lesh’s lesson on Truman’s decision to fire MacArthur on Thursday and Friday. The first day was mainly establishing context using maps, notes, and political cartoons. I found this to be fairly labored, and my large 4th period class in particular […]

Curriculum,Uncovering History

Epistemic Shifts Are Hard

A couple of years ago I secured a small grant that paid for books and staff time for US History teaching colleagues and I to discuss Bruce Lesh’s Why Won’t You Just Tell Us the Answer? and our experiences in putting his history lab ideas into practice.  We also read Lendol Calder’s seminal article on “Uncovering” History, […]

History,Uncovering History

Reading in between sources

As part of my summer reading program I recently finished Alan Taylor’s The Internal Enemy: Slavery and War in Virginia, 1772-1832, the winner of this year’s Pulitzer Prize for History.  I found it worthy of the award: scholarly, insightful, and engaging. As many things do, it got me reflecting on teaching historical thinking. I particularly appreciated Taylor’s very transparent use of […]