1. Playing History
Games recapture student interest in the face of increasingly omnipresent forms of entertainment. Well-designed games, including role playing, board games, game shows and electronic games, can offer substantial opportunities to introduce not only fun and trivia, but also the skills of research, analysis and revision and the central elements of history–an understanding of context, causality and contingency. This workshop will introduce several kinds of history games and offer a chance for workshop participants to play one or more games as well. This workshop could go in two directions—one focused on role-playing games or one focused on table-top games. If you desire a role-playing game, parts can be sent in advance to participants.
2. Pocket Change: Short and Simple Techniques
Innovative teaching techniques like flipped classrooms, role-playing games, gamifying a course structure, community engagement and experiential learning are exciting new approaches, but can be overwhelming for busy teachers who already have lesson plans and other commitments. In Small Teaching, James M. Lang points out that teachers can get improvements in their classes without revolutionary change. “Small teaching” is quick, easy changes in classrooms and assignments that improve student engagement and deepen student learning. These are pocket-sized techniques that take little time to design or implement and that can fit into or around a variety of lesson plans. In this workshop, I will bring some “small teaching” suggestions from Lang’s book and some of my own, and I hope to get some more ideas from you as well.
3. The Price and the Costs of American Higher Education
In the US, the price of a college education is rising at the same time that federal and state contributions to higher education are falling. Students (and their parents) take out larger and larger student loans. The pressure of these large loans can channel students into certain programs and away from others. Debt burdens handicap new graduates. To make up for weakened government support, public universities rely on gifts from large donors, raising concerns about the protection of academic freedom and also putting higher education at increased risk of investment downturns. This workshop will examine how Americans, as students, parents and the public, pay for college, and what they can expect for their money.
4. High Stakes Testing and the Profit Motive in Education
Lately, one of the most characteristic things about American schools is extensive high-stakes standardized testing and accompanying private sector enterprises related to testing—tests, test preparation, pacing guides and educational consulting. Tests themselves stoke controversy, as do their uses. Most importantly, the extension of the marketplace has introduced powerful new stakeholders into the American educational system. Part of this discussion will be examining some of these controversies, like that over the Common Core and over using test results to figure merit pay for teachers, or to promote charter schools and vouchers. The discussion will also address the fast growing collection of business interests and their rising political influence over education policy.
5. The Politics of Sex Education
This workshop, described in the student workshops, could also work well for a teacher workshop.