Teaching EAS: An Introduction – Carina Seagrave

EAS Miscellany’s series “Teaching EAS” highlights the many ways we can teach early American studies in our classes. Whether this consists of using an EAS article or how we discuss a particular topic in our classrooms, Teaching EAS aims to provide guidance to high school, college, and university educators in their lesson planning. We invite you to use our lesson plan template to demonstrate how you approach different topics in your classroom. We also encourage you to explore other features in our series such as Asheesh Kapur Siddique’s “The Ideological Origins of ‘Written’ Constitutionalism” and Amy Dunagin’s “‘Liberty or Death’: Patrick Henry, Theatrical Song, and Transatlantic Patriot Politics” that use our template as a model for your own lesson planning. 

Figure 1. Wye Oak Schoolhouse in Wye Mills, Maryland. Photo by Jeff Weese. Wikimedia Commons.

If you wish to contribute, please download our template below and share your plan with us:

Educators in all disciplines face two common challenges – time constraints and lesson planning. As a former high school educator, I am no stranger to these kinds of difficulties. How can I possibly fit all of my learning objectives into a one-hour block of time while also keeping my students engaged? This becomes especially challenging when I want to include advanced texts such as EAS journal articles and primary sources. To streamline the lesson planning process, our template provides a flexible structure that can be applied to different learning objectives and timeframes.

The template’s structure includes four major components – bell work, course reading, activity/discussion, and exit ticket – that address course learning objectives. 

The bell work serves as the introduction activity that occurs at the beginning of class. This activity may consist of a reflection on the pre-class reading, a check for understanding of a core concept, or preparation for the discussion to come. The idea is to allow students time for some initial processing to encourage deeper connections to the reading or the prior lesson.

Course reading allows educators the ability to select excerpts as the lesson’s focus. This provides an opportunity for students who did the reading to refresh their memories while giving those who may not have finished the chance to engage with the text. Course reading facilitates a more inclusive learning environment in which all may contribute. 

The activity/discussion component to our lesson plan gives the educator time to discuss the reading or lecture, and to open up discussion with the entire class that leads to the central activity. Central activities will vary considerably and can be completed individually or with a group. The key thing is that they require students to apply their critical thinking skills to achieve learning objectives. For example, in the lesson plan for Siddique’s article students make a charter for the class while in the one for Dunagin’s article they compose political propaganda from different perspectives.

The exit ticket offers the educator a conclusion to check for students’ understanding. This activity is typically a question that can be answered in a sentence or two and that requires students to summarize their thinking. 

Our Teaching EAS lesson plan template helps educators plan and organize the timing of each activity thoughtfully – from the beginning to the end of a class meeting. 

We at EAS Miscellany want to encourage a community of educators to collaborate and share the various ways we teach early American studies. We also welcome contributions that describe pedagogical practices and in-class experiences. Teaching EAS strives to support educators as they explore early America with their students.

Carina Seagrave is a PhD candidate at the University of Central Florida in the Texts and Technology program. Her research investigates the impact of true crime entertainment on vigilance in women on social media. Additionally, Carina is a digital editorial assistant for Early American Studies Miscellany, an online component to the Journal of Early American Studies. She also serves as digital archive assistant for PRINT, which stands for People, Religion, Information Networks, and Travel. This project seeks to provide access to early modern manuscript correspondence of religious minorities through network visualizations. Before pursuing her PhD, Carina taught high school English for five years and, in her very limited spare time, Carina coaches high school swimming.