Sample Assignments from Globalized US History Courses
Institution: Metropolitan Community College
Location: Omaha, Nebraska
Participant: Amy Forss
Three years was a sufficient time to research, realize, and redo the way I teach US history. My initial response to the Bridging Cultures premise of situating American history into a global narrative was, Maybe I'll change some of what I do in the classroom. That later thought was replaced with, I need to change much of what I teach, and not just in the US history classroom. The next consideration was how I would globally challenge myself and my students.
I obtained a copy of our Metropolitan Community College course outline and objectives for the "US History to 1877" and "US History from 1877" courses. Both class overviews mentioned the courses would "cover major time periods and fundamental themes of American history and examine the prevalent aspects of North America within global topics and geography."
The global topics were already in place, but I wasn't using them as much as I could. The word "geography" resonated because I had spent years researching James Cook, his cartography, and the fact that he was a transnational figure between the East and the West. He was a way to broaden the borders of US history, along with more global subjects and more maps. The Huntington Library and Library of Congress research completed in the first and second Bridging Cultures workshops also provided me with resources, enriching my American history course and inspiring several teaching moments.
Sample Assignment 1: PechaKucha PowerPoint
First, I challenged students to do a PechaKucha. Needing a visual to explain the process, I showed them the PowerPoint I had created and presented at the AHA 2015 annual meeting in New York City. The students enjoyed researching the project almost as much as they liked presenting it!
PechaKucha is a simple presentation format where you show 20 images (no writing!) and talk about the image for 20 seconds. The images advance automatically and you talk along to the images. The key to a great presentation is to present something you historically love. It could be your passion for Irish clog dancing or your interest in Faberge Eggs or even holiday snapshots you took in Greece! The best PechaKuchas tell stories; some are incredibly personal, some may be incredibly funny. May 6, 2015 will be our Pechakucha Day! Go to this website to see PechaKucha presentations.
Sample Assignment 2: "Finding her Artifact," from HIST 1060 Black Women in America
Second, I added assignments that tied together American and global history. The one below is from my HIST 1060 "Black Women in America" course:
For your weekly "Finding Her Artifact" assignment which is worth 10 points, you will need to research the Internet and find a recipe that an enslaved or free black woman could have used, particularly a family recipe that was from her African ancestry, during this module's time frame of early slavery in the United States from 1700-1780 c.e.
Find the recipe and try making it. Write at least a two paragraph description of the recipe and what happened when you tried to make it. Include a picture of it! The possibilities of "Finding Her Artifact" recipe are endless!
Sample Assignment 3: Essay question from HIST 1120 U.S. History from 1877
Third, I added more maps to each of my courses. Below is an assignment from HIST 1120 "US History from 1877," and underneath it is an essay assignment from HIST 2220 "US and Global Military History." I’m delighted to say that the HIST 1120 students responded to the global visual well by wanting to understand the ramifications of Vietnamization.
At Kent State University, college students clashed with the Ohio National Guard. Four students died. For your Discussion Question this week, read or listen to three of the Kent State University oral history interviews related to these May 1970 shootings.
Now, write an essay using what you learned from the oral histories, your textbook chapter and any internet or book sources.
Sample Assignment 4: Essay question from HIST 2220 U.S. & Global Military History
Analyze the "West versus the Rest" mentality today. Is this a true statement or not?
Now, write your essay and use plenty of facts, statistics, and good arguments to support your findings. Feel free to interject your personal thoughts as well.