With this year’s American Historical Association (AHA) conference being hosted by Chicago, it was a perfect reason to return to a city I haven’t visited since the late 1990s (it’s a great place and I will be back for a Cubs game this season)! What’s more, attending the conference is a great way to start the new year.
In case you aren’t familiar with the AHA, it is:
“…the largest professional organization serving historians in all fields and all professions. The AHA is a trusted voice advocating for history education, the professional work of historians, and the critical role of historical thinking in public life.”
In this spirit of professional collaboration, I am happy to share some experiences and thoughts about the 4 days of professional learning and growth. Of course, the next step is to start acting on and applying those take-aways before they are lost in the post-conference return to “normalcy” of our work and personal lives. Enjoy exploring and connecting and I hope to see you in New York for the 2020 conference next January.
Themes From My Experience at AHA 2019
Below, I have structured my highlights under headings which I think will facilitate your browsing. Of course, with nearly 300 sessions, poster exhibits, receptions, and workshops there was much more going on than what I have selected below. Regardless, I am sure you will find something of note to explore and share with your network.
- K-12 Education
Did you know that public school teachers in the city that hosts the conference can attend for free? That’s incredible. I am very happy to see the number of K-12 teachers growing at the AHA conferences and feel that collaboration across K-16 benefits students.
I met Jason Herbert who is the creator Historian At The Movies a twitter community that get’s together online Sunday night at 8:00 pm EST. To connect use #HATM and join this group when you can (they were fun at happy hour). Next up this weekend: Monty Python and the Holy Grail.
The Conference had multiple teaching workshops which focused on instruction, assessment, and answering the “Why” regarding the study of history. One thing to remember, if a university/college doesn’t require a history course, then the experience of formal history education is in the hands of high school teachers. The AHA provides resources for these topics
- Why Study History
- Tuning the History Discipline
- Criteria for Standards in History/Social Studies/Social Sciences (updated 2019)
- Guidelines for the Preparation, Evaluation, and Selection of History Textbooks
Also, I look forward to reading these two new books both suggested by teachers.
- Why Learn History (When it is already on your phone) by Sam Wineburg
- How to Hide an Empire: A History of the Greater United States by Daniel Immerwahr
- Conference Inspiration and Words of Wisdom
Whether from a presenter, my AHA colleagues, or an exhibition table, I found these quotes related to the teaching and learning of history to be worth internalizing.
- “We like history. We thrive on complexity.”
- “Memory requires that we possess stories and narratives that link facts to ways that are both meaningful and truthful.”
- “Make what you are using intellectually good!”
- “Doing well in history prepares you to succeed in school.”
- “Historians typically don’t have a lot information. We work with what we have.”
- “History is a story constrained by the dictates of evidence; when the evidence changes, so must the story.”
You can also see the AHA 2019 Presidential Address by Mary Beth Norton below:
- Digital Resources and Advocacy
Do you know about the collection of digital resources available online for educators? I didn’t either. Organized by “Classroom Materials” and “Approaches to Teaching.” Here “you will find materials you can use in designing your own courses: syllabi, reading lists, sample assignments, course modules, etc. These are organized thematically, by resource type, and by the project or initiative that created the resource.”
If you want to contribute to the collection, contact Elyse Martin at email@example.com with questions, comments, or recommendations.
“One historian who cannot be with us tonight is Xiyue Wang, a PhdD student at Princeton
University. He is imprisoned in Teheran, convicted on what the AHA believes to be groundless charges of espionage. The AHA reiterates its support for Mr Wang and once again calls on the Iranian authorities to release him from prison and allow him to
resume his life and career.”
Looking Ahead and Around
History conference goers (veteran and rookie) can get their fix a few times in 2019:
- NCHE (National Council for History Education) , March 14-16, Washington DC
- Teaching History Conference, May 3-4, Los Angeles
- WHA (World History Association), June 27-29, Puerto Rico
- AHA (American Historical Association), Jan. 3-6 2020! New York City NEVER TOO EARLY TO MAKE YOUR PLANS!
And you can always join a robust weekly twitter chat, #sschat, every Mondays from 7-8pm EST. I love the group’s tagline “connect globally & teach locally.” The 2019 calendar for chat topics can be seen here.
There is also the The International Society for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning in History. From their website,
“Membership in the society is free and entitles members to participate in Online conversations by commenting and leaving posts, and to receive an electronic newsletter highlighting developments, trends, and projects in the field.
If you would like to be part of the ISSOTL in History Community and receive our newsletter or have information upcoming events, projects, etc. that you would like to share, email firstname.lastname@example.org.”
The Alliance for Learning World History at the University of Pittsburgh has redesigned their website and is a collaboration of educators and history scholars organized to advance the teaching and learning of world history in classrooms—in the U.S. and in every part of the world. ALWH links leading practitioners in world history scholarship, curriculum, teacher preparation, professional development, and educational research.
History News Network is currently hosted by George Washington University and is dedicated ” to help put current events into historical perspective. ” What a fantastic idea! Each week HNN features up to a dozen fresh op eds by prominent historians and receives about 300,000 page views per month. It is really a fantastic and dynamic resource. Have fun exploring all its features.
The History Teacher has been published by the the Society for History Education since 1967,the same year Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Heart’s Club Band was released! The journal seeks to “to improve the learning experience in the history classroom” and is a rich publication for secondary and higher education.
Lastly, check out this free, online digital history resource “US History in a Global Context.” It is a dynamic resource that addresses the scarcity of professional development programs dedicated this approach. Additionally, the resources we have assembled are designed to inspire your creativity and develop your thought leadership as an advocate for this approach to teaching U.S.History.
Have a great semester!