Teaching From Your Back Pocket

Hello all!

I’ve decided stick a toe in and test the waters of the blog world by asking for feedback on something (or several somethings) that I’ve been pondering periodically over the past month or so. I have been assigned to teach a section of Intro to American Government over the summer and as I started to put things together for the course, I realized that I don’t often hear about what others are doing in their classrooms to make things engaging for students. I know I have my trusty stand-by activities and discussion questions that I keep in my back pocket, but I’m interested in hearing from all the outstanding, award-winning, undergraduate-recruiting teachers that we have in this department and hopefully getting some new ideas to incorporate into my class. In sum, I’d like to know:

  1. What activities, projects, film clips, technology, discussion questions etc. do you use in the classroom to get students interested? Conversely, is there anything that has crashed and burned that you would recommend staying away from?
  2. Any advice on teaching a course in a condensed summer format? I will be seeing my students every day for 90 minutes over 5 weeks which is a new setup for me. In your experience what is the best way to test? to incorporate writing assignments into the class? to cover three chapters every five days?

This certainly isn’t restricted to American Government…any successful strategies for the classroom can translate well across all subfields and subjects.



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One Response to Teaching From Your Back Pocket

  1. Mike Wagner says:

    The Museum of the Moving Image’s website has every presidential campaign ad (from a candidate) ever. Fun ones to show are the Ike for President ones, the Kennedy jingle, the Daisy ad (LBJ), the Willie Horton ads (Bush I), the biggest celebrity in the world (McCain), place called Hope (Clinton).

    Also, Journeys with George is always a hit to show as a documentary. The new NET one ’68: The Year Nebraska Mattered ought to work well with little Cornhuskers.

    The Monkey Cage is a political science blog that is always posting cool analyses, interesting takes on new papers, etc. I use graphs from them and political scientists/bloggers Andrew Gelman, John Sides, Nolan McCarty all the time.

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