Sample Assignments

I actually look forward to grading these.

zombies in pop culture: annotated fiction

This assignment for an upper level history seminar requires students to choose a topic about popular representations of zombies and complete research on the historical and cultural significance of that topic, including primary source research.  Then, building on historical themes and issues in previous pop culture representations, they write an annotated short story/work of fiction drawing on their research.

U.S. Civilization Since 1877: Primary Source Reports

Most of my students in the survey (introductory) U.S. history class are underprepared for college-level work. Specifically, they arrive with little experience with or understanding of primary source analysis. To introduce them to this key skill necessary for studying the past, I ask them to choose, access online, and examine more closely two primary sources linked to our textbook, The American Yawp (an open educational resource).

The Apocalypse in u.S. pop culture: product pitch

This assignment for an upper level history seminar asks students to imagine that they are an author, artist, programmer, musician, screenwriter, or producer with a fantastic idea for a television show, film, graphic novel, video game, website, album, or some other pop culture product which features an apocalypse of some kind.  This research-based project tasks them with “pitching” their product idea to a private funding company, “The Pop History Fund,” which invests in entertainment to projects that can show a clear connection to historically significant trends in American popular culture.

The unessay & Ungrading

Ready to really shake things up? You might want to try the unessay, an innovative way to assess student learning without relying on the soul-deadening 5-paragraph essay or standardized exam.

Some scholar-teachers argue that grading culture itself impedes authentic student learning. Click here for a bibliography of scholarly and reflective writing on “ungrading” and other alternatives to traditional grading.