The good old summertime…

Let’s start with a simple statement.  Anyone who thinks that a college professor doesn’t work during the summer should spend a summer in my shoes (currently Dr. Scholl’s…).

View of United Flight 93 crash site from the Memorial Plaza.

So far, I have traveled to several historic sites and museums (Gettysburg, Valley Forge, National Constitution Center, Flight 93 National Memorial), both sightseeing and gathering information to use when I teach Introduction to Public History this fall.  I’m quite confident, in fact, that the students will love the photos—especially the ones I have taken of signage.  Then there were the days spent researching at the Evangelical & Reformed Historical Society, reading German Synod records (fortunately, it’s a lot easier to scan for the word “Reading” in German documents than in English ones, even if it means that I will have to translate the information later).  Some of that information I will be using when I teach Historical Methods this fall and, of course, when writing the paper I will be presenting at the Pennsylvania Historical Association Annual Meeting in November.

Pages from the original church records (in German).

  This summer is a bit different, too, as I am only teaching one class (for the first time this century/millennium), as I have compensated release time to prepare the accreditation report for the National Council for the Social Studies.  Mansfield University has a nationally-recognized Social Studies Education program, and I fully intend to do what I can to maintain that status (especially since I was the person who prepared the report that enabled us to achieve that distinction).  So, part of the time I have been involved with gathering data, and in the next couple of weeks I will be interpreting it and writing up the results.  We have made some improvements since the last report (some of which were implemented when I started teaching the Social Studies Teaching Methods course), and I know we need to continue modifying the program in the future (which will be one of my goals this fall).  Last week, I finished the Annual Report for the Social Studies Education program, and I am proud to say that our History Education majors perform well in the classroom, which I presume means that they will be effective teachers of content when they have classrooms of their own.

This fall, student teachers will get to teach about the presidential election–just like I did back in 1980.

Finally, Summer II began this past Monday, and with it a new course:  History of Women and Sports in America.   I have previously offered History of Sports and American Culture and History of Baseball in the sports field and History of American Women on Film for Women’s Studies, and at least one student has expressed excitement at the opportunity to take this class.  This time, I’m expanding on something I started last summer.  Then, I filmed the “syllabus review” for the Sports History class, and it was well-received; in fact, several students mentioned in the course evaluations that they appreciated the opportunity to hear and see the person who was teaching their online course.  I filmed a course introduction again, but this summer the students also get video lectures to accompany the PowerPoint outlines.  The PowerPoint presentations are interactive (I have figured out how to embed hyperlinks in the PowerPoint slides), but the videos aren’t.  So far, only one student has dropped the class; typically I lose a few when they find out that I expect them to read and write in my classes, at least based upon complaints I have received in the past.

Camera ready to roll in the classroom

Overall, then, May/June/first week of July have been busy with travel, research, data collection, course preparation…in other words, more or less a typical summer.  All but two of the lectures have been filmed, and the rest of the course materials have been posted on the course site.  There will be at least one more “big trip” this summer to gather more materials for the public history class, and, unlike the last two summers, none of the historic site excursions will include seeing a play.  Still, it definitely is turning out to be a different type of adventure than I anticipated six months ago, and one that is proving to be almost as memorable as recent years.

The interpretation at Valley Forge includes more than the traditional “George Washington Slept Here…”


About Karen

History Professor. Baseball fan. Author of two books, one of which I force my students to buy and read. You want me on your Trivial Pursuit team.
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