Here’s Historian’s Apprenticeship [pdf] (sophomore historiography seminar):
Seen together the similarities outweigh the differences; field generalities, of course, and there’s lots of the same assessments boilerplate in both, and I also use some of the same instructional tools across classes. This comparative analysis was not available to the students in each class, however.
My first point was to knock them instantly out of the expectation of having their education catered. Some assembly required here – ‘active learning’. They’re used to a textbook and lecturer chewing up knowledge and jamming it down their throats like baby birds. We talked about making the transition from consumers of history to producers of history. In this sense the wordle of the syllabus is like lots of archives – what you need is there, but it’s not organized in a familiar or immediately meaningful way.
They got right away that putting information in order is critical. How to assign importance to disparate bits of data was a longer conversation in each class. With a little prompting they were able to reason out wordle’s extraction of common linking words and sizing by frequency. We talked about whether frequency is invariably a sign of importance, and if so, what kind (in this case, generalities about context).
As I persisted and didn’t cough up a conventional syllabus (I’ll do that before drop/add ends), they got more into the puzzle and motivated to try to figure out the course from the wordle. At this point they began to notice that what they most wanted to know was scattered in the smaller words, and that they brought different perspectives, agendas and assumptions to their ‘readings’ of those.
It’s a gimmick, but it does the trick for starting them thinking like historians.