Tag: Reacting to the Past

Reacting to the Past/Learning Community Syllabus

This semester I’ll be facilitating my first learning community at LaGuardia: the cluster for first-year students is typically an interdisciplinary grouping of courses, including both composition and a research paper class (ENG 101 & 103) and two other content courses, with one shared co-taught hour (I’m responsible for the ENG classes, clearly). I proposed a learning community entitled “Reacting to the Past: Race, Violence, and US History,” with antebellum US history and public speaking courses. These classes seemed like a natural grouping for the Reacting to the Past game Frederick Douglass, Slavery, Abolitionism, and the Constitution: 1845  by Mark Higbee and James Brewer Stewart. … Read more

Call for Participants – Help Play-Test our El Teatro Campesino Game

Please help us play-test a theatre history role-playing game on El Teatro Campesino and the Delano Grape strikes! Andrew Kircher, Shane Breaux, Jane Barnette, and I are developing a game based on Reacting to the Past pedagogy to workshop at ATHE at the end of this month and we’d like to tweak the game as necessary beforehand. The game could be played in one class period, or perhaps two as the instructor sees fit. We would really appreciate your participation and feedback.… Read more

RTTP Faculty Workshop @ John Jay College

Many thanks to all the participants, the students, and my co-facilitators (Paula Lazrus at St. John’s University and Elizabeth Hovey at John Jay College, CUNY) for the Reacting to the Past faculty workshop at John Jay this past weekend. Sixteen faculty from nine colleges joined us to play the 1616 phase of The Trial of Galileo: Aristotelianism, the “New Cosmology,” and the Catholic Church, 1616-33. After the game, students from past Reacting classes at John Jay, St. John’s, and LaGuardia joined us for a Q & A session – and two of these students helped us during game play.… Read more

Call for Participants – Reacting to the Past Workshop at John Jay College

Paula Lazrus (Institute for Core Studies, St. John’s University), Elizabeth Hovey (History, John Jay), and I are organizing a Reacting to the Past faculty workshop at John Jay College on February 28th and March 1st. We will be running a short version of The Trial of Galileo: Aristotelianism, the “New Cosmology,” and the Catholic Church, 1616-33. This workshop is designed to expose you to the pedagogy at work during game-play (and you get a sense of what students go through, to boot). Even if the Trial of Galileo game isn’t relevant to your typical teaching area(s), there are over thirty RTTP games in various stages of development.… Read more

Game Prep Prezi: Confucianism, Composition, & Reacting to the Past

In my composition class this January/February Fall II term at LaGuardia I’m running the Reacting to the Past game Confucianism and the Succession Crisis of the Wanli Emperor by Mark C. Carnes and Daniel K. Gardner. I plan on posting/writing more about using RTTP in composition and writing intensive classes, as the games work well with my aims when teaching comp and research. Students use primary sources to enter a debate while adopting defined roles, wrestle with the “big ideas” of a particular historical moment, get a sense of individual intellectual/historical agency, and craft argument-driven pieces to influence others. They perform their knowledge of the texts and the politics at play by forming alliances, plotting, and delivering speeches.… Read more

Student Pecha Kucha Presentations

I have seen PowerPoint presentations go horribly wrong (haven’t we all?). Long pieces of text slapped onto a slide, paragraph after paragraph – I’ve witnessed presenters turning their backs on the audience to face the projector screen and read a massive amount of small-font text unceremoniously squeezed onto one slide. Heck, I’ve certainly made slides that have entirely too much text on them for anyone’s good.… Read more

Playing with Gingko


Last week on the Profhacker blog, Natalie Houston posted a write-up of Gingko. Always a fan of spatial/visual outlines and writing organizers, I thought I’d try it out by building a reading guide using this online tool for my Humanism, Science, and Technology classes. We’re in the middle of a Reacting to the Past historical role-playing game – The Trial of Galileo: Aristotelianism, the “New Cosmology,” and the Catholic Church, 1616-33I’m in the process of making a Gingko tree document to support their reading of Galileo’s Dialogue on the Two Chief World Systems. Suggestions & feedback welcome – just click on the image below to view the game Gingko.… Read more

ATHE 2013 Prezi on Reacting to the Past, Pedagogy, & Performance


Below is the Prezi I created for an ATHE 2013 panel on Pedagogy, Play, and the Undergraduate Theatre Classroom with Jim Wilson and Beth Schachter, with Shawna Mefferd Carroll as respondent. My presentation, “Playing with History: Role-Playing, Reacting to the Past, and Teaching Content via Performance,” was on Reacting to the Past pedagogy in theatre/performance and interdisciplinary classrooms.… Read more

Digital Teaching Tool Box: Voyant & Prezi

This semester I have been drawing on more digital teaching/learning tools, as I was fortunate enough to get computer labs for all my classes. My students were just recently playing with Voyant for text analysis and have been exposed to Prezi for concept mapping. These are certainly not new tools, but since some of my colleagues were curious as to how I was using them and my general thoughts on Voyant and Prezi, I decided to bypass drafting emails to several interested parties and instead discuss them a bit in a post. I’ll briefly describe how I used the tools, how my students responded to them, and the limitations of such methods.… Read more

The Common Core & Personal Writing in the College Classroom


Last week the Chronicle‘s “Conversation” blog featured a post by Emory English professor Mark Bauerlein. The comments that followed were only a small part of the larger brouhaha over the Common Core standards going on throughout all levels of education. While I have not gotten a chance to read every contribution to the conversation yet and the many other articles/blogs on the topic, Bauerlein’s argument against personal writing and the ensuing comments highlight the stakes in the debate for anyone teaching writing or writing-intensive courses on a college level.

This debate over personal writing is, in turn, reminiscent of discussions I often had with colleagues as a special education middle school teacher, leading instruction in English Language Arts and Social Studies in some of poorest neighborhoods in New York City.… Read more