U.S. History Survey—Redesign Diary

Man, I hate it when I get a classroom that looks like this. (pexels.com)

I decided at the start of the summer that I was going to attempt a big course redesign for my fall US history surveys—the introduction to American history courses that I teach at UNCA.

I’ve been playing with around big new teaching ideas in my head for a while now, but at UNCA the case for making some changes seemed particularly urgent. The UNCA history department is rare because they speed through American history at a double clip. Each survey course—the one before the Civil War, and the other after it—is just seven weeks long, and just 2 credit hours. Teaching this sequence last year, I felt there was a disconnect between the limitation of this format and the way I was teaching the course.

Continue reading “U.S. History Survey—Redesign Diary”

Should I Throw Out My Gradebook? Part Two: Not for Now

I don’t think I’ll be throwing out my gradebook, at least for now.

I liked experimenting with the specifications grading (or “specs grading”) model for a semester—I wrote about it first here—and I still think there is much to say for the approach. But there are also some drawbacks, and I want to write about some of those here. Then I’ll write briefly about my attempt to give rubrics a try in lieu of specs grading. Continue reading “Should I Throw Out My Gradebook? Part Two: Not for Now”

Should I Throw Out My Gradebook?

Turns out this is where your grades should go. (pexels.com)

Since I started writing on my little blog three years ago, I haven’t been in the classroom. So I haven’t had any occasion to write about pedagogy (even though as an alt-ac, I did a fair amount of thinking on the topic). Now that I’m back to teaching, I think I might start writing on my classroom exploits here.

Over the past semester, I’ve been reading quite a bit here and there about “throwing out your grades,” “ungrading,” and “contract grading.” All of them are more or less variations on the same ideas, that grading (as distinct from providing feedback) can feel like a lot of work for minimal returns, and that grades themselves aren’t instructive means of feedback. Continue reading “Should I Throw Out My Gradebook?”