The past few weeks have flown by. This semester I am teaching Texas History, Mexican American History, and four sections of First Year Seminar (which is basically an “Introduction to Critical Thinking” course). I have around 130 students, and I have an exceptionally talented group of students.
My students in Texas and Mexican American History are blogging instead of having tests and quizzes, and they are doing a really nice job. For the first week, students mostly wrote about their personal backgrounds. Week two blogs are due this evening!
So far in Texas History we have talked about “What is Texas History,” geopolitics, the Texas textbook/education war, geography, and biography. We did a really awesome activity yesterday whereby we deconstructed the atlas we are using for the course. Students came up with 36 things the book does not include that it really should. (I always get a student in the class to write on the board for us.) We talked about possible reasons and consequences.
In Mexican American History, we’ve discussed the historiography of the field, the White/Black Binary, and Ancient and Medieval Iberia. This class is small enough we can all sit in a circle each class!
In the First Year Seminar, we’ve talked about the notion of citizenship to the institution, categories of critical thinking, active learning, formal structures that can be used to critically think, and the common reader for all new students. We did one activity, adapted from Michael Wesch, where we discussed what the classroom walls say. Here’s a picture of what the Wednesday am class came up with.
Teaching students and learning from students continues to be extremely exciting, fun, challenging, and what keeps me going.