Teaching Research Skills to “Generation Tech”

I don’t know about you, but as a historian I’m the first to admit that I have a tendency to get “old school” when it comes to doing my research. I’m not of the recipe card generation, but I do have an embarrassingly large collection of handwritten notebooks. I also still read actual physical books, and carry a notepad to talks. Between this, and the fact that I become more dependent upon urban dictionary when reading blogs, tweets and student emails with every passing year, I hardly consider myself either technical or particularly in touch with youth trends. So why then, am I writing a post that is going to attempt to impart wisdom about how to teach “Generation Tech” how to do research in the information age?


[Admit it, you had a love-hate relationship with it too]


The answer: because you don’t need to be either of those things in order to understand that mainstream technology works very differently than its academic counterparts. Moreover, I may not be as good with a computer as my colleagues doing Digital Humanities, but I’m no technopeasant either. Like the countless other mindless drones whose head is buried in their smartphone while waiting in line at the supermarket, I am guilty of spending too much time on my iPhone reading Reddit or checking Facebook. I am a consumer of technology and I try to make sure that I don’t become a fossil myself while I’m digging through the remnants of the past. And I now have a reasonable amount of experience doing just that, whether it be in the archives, or from the comfort of my own home, thanks to the ever-increasing supply of digitized archives and scholarly databases.

In some ways, my rather antiquated training is an asset when it comes to doing academic research. Yes, there are now a dizzying array of online resources and some mindbogglingly brilliant Digital Humanities projects. But there are also a hell of a lot of piggish, outdated, and downright obnoxious library catalogues, scholarly databases, and academic search tools which require a little more from their users than your average tablet, laptop, or smartphone will ever ask of you. In short, when you’re doing research, you can forget about a bunch of neat little apps or anything that resembles autocomplete. You’ve got to think more like you’re still dealing with those dusty old card catalogues, only now you can’t even have the satisfaction of physically touching them.

In sum, dealing with these tools is not an intuitive process. The first time I tried to research the answer to a complex academic question, I distinctly remember thinking that there was no “obvious” course of action guaranteed to get me the best results, and I didn’t grow up with the ability to “Google that shit.” Thus, if you think about it, it’s completely unreasonable to expect someone who is used to being able to look almost anything up instantaneously via their smartphone – and who doesn’t even have to type to access it, because that’s what Siri is for – to know how to navigate your average piece of academic technology. Google’s autocomplete function is great, as its ability to search for multiple permutations of a word. But it means that those who are used to its brilliance forget that not every search system was created equal.


[This is how we’re used to accessing information now]


After assigning a few independent research projects, I quickly learned that even my smartest students were missing what, to me, seemed like accessible sources. They couldn’t find all the pertinent books on their topic, let alone the journal articles or primary sources they needed. A few of them emailed me to bemoan their plight and this is when I learned that they were hopelessly flustered and more than a little bewildered by the process. For example, I had a student who had originally wanted to write on European women during the cold war. We narrowed down her topic to Alva Myrdal, but then she hit a roadblock. Every time she typed the name into an academic search tool, she found nothing. And so she concluded that nothing had been written. The same thing happened to a student who wanted to write on a topic related to Nazi Germany, and that’s when I realized what was going on. If there is one absolute truth in academia, it’s that there is no such thing as a dearth of material on any subject related to the Nazis.

One cannot simply type a very narrow search parameter into a library catalogue or database of primary sources. Many of these tools only search titles or the brief descriptions that someone has entered into the database about the source. But students don’t automatically know this because you can be that specific with Google and Google does indeed search the whole text. More importantly, you can’t type it in just one way. If “Alva Myrdal” doesn’t work, then perhaps you have to try “women, cold war, Europe” or “nuclear disarmament.”  And as this example demonstrates, depending on the topic, you might need to expand or contract the parameters of your search, trying people’s names, themes, eras, or associated events. It’s true: people should be able to figure this out on their own. But you know what, I have a PhD and I needed some help learning back in the day too. Once a process is habitualized, it can be hard to think outside the box. So, for me, it’s worth taking the 5 minutes to explain that many academic tools lack the refinement that people have come to expect of search engines. It’s also worth mentioning that this can actually lead to the discovery of some pretty amazing information that you would never otherwise have found.

Of course, there are lots of great open-access resources online these days too, and many of them are much more user friendly and easily Googleable. The issue obscuring these sources is that students are so used to being told not to use Wikipedia, blogs, or newsmedia as part of their research that they often don’t realize that some online collections – particularly collections of primary sources – are fair game. Therefore, my final suggestion is to spend a little time talking about useful open-access resources and how they differ from unverifiable accounts and/or opinion pieces when assigning a research project.  Depending on the type of assignment, your definitions for what is and isn’t an acceptable source will shift, so you are probably used to doing this anyway. But, collectively, we need to be a little more explicit and to encourage students to use the photo collections, out-of-copyright libraries, and primary source catalogues they can find online. So much more is available to our students than was available to us, and we do them a disservice if we don’t tell them to go out and read it!


Dealing with Diversity


[Much to my annoyance, I couldn’t find a image about diversity that didn’t use skirts to denote women]

Back when I asked people what they found hardest about teaching, I confessed that my own struggle has been figuring out how to pitch things at the right level. This is something I’ve wrangled with in every course I’ve ever taught, and something which continues to dog me now. So when some friends asked me to write a post about how to cope with the dizzying diversity of backgrounds, knowledge, and personalities that one encounters in the classroom – particularly when teaching first-year surveys – I laughed heartily and shook my head. Thus, I want to make it abundantly clear that I’m flying as blind as everyone else in many ways when it comes to this issue.

Trying to guess what my students might know or not know, and what approach will best resonate with the myriad ideological backgrounds in the room, is one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. Especially since, on top of figuring out what is known and the modes of knowledge used to acquire those facts, one needs to take race, gender, and class into account. And if there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that these factors can interact in unpredictable ways to create the minds and personalities sitting in front of me. Every time I think I’ve figured out what will work, the universe deals me a cold, hard, slap in the face.

While I therefore clearly don’t possess all the answers, I have found one approach generally useful: assuming that my students individually know nothing, but collectively, know almost everything.  What do I mean by this? Well, when faced with the diversity one encounters when teaching a survey – or, in many cases, upper-level seminars too – one cannot expect every student to possess a common knowledge-base. The age of pre-requisites is gone, and high school curriculums are hardly as standardized as we are led to believe. Not to mention, some high school teachers (like some professors) are better than others, so it’s impossible to count on every student knowing fact x. The one possible exception to this rule is if fact x is related to Game of Thrones or Jersey Shore. Even then, however, international students and mature students tend to have different cultural referents and will look at you like you have two heads if you use the word “Snooki.”


[What is a “Snooki” you ask? Behold!]

The strength of every class, then, lies in its ability to act as a group. If you can get them to work together, I have found that – collectively – they know the answer to almost any question. There are sports guys who unwittingly possess a lot of information about the construction of an ideal modern masculinity. There are gossip girls who can make connections between even very obscure history and modern pop-culture phenomena. There are burgeoning intellectuals, who have read about post-colonialism and students who push back against theoretical readings using lived experience that they have acquired growing up in former colonies. There are queer students, and members of the Christian right, and there are old and young. And this is why, when I lecture, I often pause and ask if anyone knows about subject x. Almost invariably, someone does. If they are willing, I ask them to share what they know with their peers.

The trick, then, is getting them to work together – creating an environment in which they feel safe exposing a piece of themselves and potentially inviting critique. This is why I have written so extensively in the past about the need for respect in the classroom. If students don’t feel that others will engage their insights in a respectful way, they will shut down. Boundaries will be drawn, and the class will never function as a healthy unit. It will become the stereotypical pedantic experience and you, as the teacher, will be forced to impart your knowledge to students who passively consume it. In this scenario, the complicated subject matter that you are trying to teach can easily start to seem more like a simple, coherent narrative, and “Truth” can become objective, unchallengeable, and attainable instead of something that we seek, but which we know we will never actually find.

In my experience, the most successful classes are those where the instructor serves as both teacher and moderator. Yes, at times, it will be necessary simply to explain a text or phenomenon (so that all of your students are on the same page). But at other times, even in lecture courses, it is beneficial to let the students learn from one another. This reminds them that they do, indeed, live amongst diversity and it turns what began as a problem into an asset. Forcing students to recognize that others see the world differently and live their lives according to different “truths” is one of the most powerful lessons we can teach our students as humanists. This is because acknowledging diversity acknowledges that civilization is a construct that was, is, and will continue to be made in a particular way for context-specific reasons. It cannot objectively be defined as any one thing. The recognition of diversity, then, is an act that opens people’s minds to social critiques and, hopefully, inspires them to become more actively engaged in their communities as they share their own perspective and learn about that of others.

Moreover, when we facilitate this type of peer-to-peer education, we are also teaching skills. If we can get students from diverse backgrounds talking, we are also teaching them how to engage with ideas and cultures that are foreign to them – and this is a skill that they will need for the rest of their lives. It’s something they need to master if they hope to resolve quarrels as petty as workplace disagreements or as important as the relative weight given to individual and collective rights in a polity. Sadly, it is also a skill that many people lack.

I’m not sure if any of this is as useful as people hoped it would be. At the very least, however, it might make you feel a little bit better about the struggle itself. It’s never going to be easy to get everyone onto the same page, but perhaps that’s not the point. Perhaps the point is the dialogue itself. As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts, so please feel free to leave a reply below!

Own your 50%: When Things go Wrong

Teaching is hard. And it’s hard in different ways for different people. As someone who tries to provide resources for a variety of personalities, teaching myriad courses, I spend a lot of time thinking about this fact. Thus, a while back, I did an informal poll on Facebook and Twitter asking people what they personally found hardest about teaching. I got some really great answers:

  • Being involved enough to keep students interested without taking over
  • Lecturing about topics that one isn’t really interested in
  • Time management
  • Fielding questions one doesn’t know the answer to
  • Not taking it personally or getting too distracted when there is a single student who hates the class
  • Fairly evaluating progress in disciplines that don’t test easily
  • And more…

Great discussion, right? Interesting, self-reflective, critical engagement with teaching! Unfortunately, this was not the sum-total of what was said, and several people also told me that the hardest part about teaching was the students, for whom one had to drag oneself to class, day-in and day-out, in the vain attempt to try to teach them something. And so, the results of my little survey annoyed me for a few hours, and then I didn’t think about them again… until something else happened.
[How some people see their students]

On September 3rd, as some of you may have noticed, I put up a tab advertising my services as a tutor. I then posted this tab to Facebook and was almost immediately met with comments offering advice. Don’t get me wrong, I am genuinely happy to dialogue and even to fight it out with friends and colleagues whose opinions I truly value. In this case they were trying to make sure I wasn’t underselling my skills by not charging enough. But here’s where it gets weird: justifications for why I should charge more (despite my already articulated concern about student finances) rested on the assumption that students are mostly rich kids whose parents pay their tuition and buy them fancy cars – there are poor students, but they can find a different tutor, and I should market myself to the rich.

I’m going to skip over the part where, as someone who put myself through school (on a combination of PT jobs and competitive awards), I was struck by a blinding fit of rage. What I want to talk about instead is: who should we blame when something goes wrong in the classroom, and why is teaching hard? The negative comments in the above scenarios indicate that there are some academics out there who blame underwhelming classes or difficulties in the classroom on the students. Students, from this perspective, are a bunch of irritating, privileged children, who one has to try to force into learning something. To me, these explanations are unfair to the many intellectually curious, dedicated, and hard-working students I have met over the years. And I think to place all the blame the students when things go wrong is to be painfully short-sighted.
[Students have their own critiques]

That is not to say that there isn’t another extreme. The other inappropriate response to classroom failures is to assume that they result wholly and completely from something you’ve done as a teacher. Things like obsessively picking apart everything that one has done, blaming one’s lecture style, assignments, charisma, or poor choice of readings for a lack of student engagement. This will make it impossible for a person to commit to the material they’re teaching or to a particular pedagogical style, and it wreaks havoc on one’s self-confidence. Like those who blame the students, those who assume that students play no role in their own intellectual success or failure lack a certain perspective.

So I want to throw something out there. Perhaps we should think about teaching as a kind of relationship. As such, it can at times be taken as analogous to a romantic relationship – blissful or dysfunctional, productive or destructive, happy or fraught. And when things go wrong in the classroom, just as when things go wrong with your lover, partner or spouse, there are going to be two sides to the story. It is neither wholly your fault, nor wholly the fault of that other person. As I have reminded both myself and the various men who have passed through my life, you need to “own your 50%” in these situations! What do I mean by this? I don’t necessarily mean that when trouble hits, both parties are equally to blame. There are times when it’s more like 60:40, or hell, even 90:10! But my little slogan is meant to point out that there is no way to avoid dividing the culpability for things going wrong in a relationship of any kind.

What does this mean for the classroom? Well, for starters, if students are on Facebook, it might mean that you have to adjust your pace or method of presentation a little because, you know what, I go on Facebook during talks when I’m bored too. And I’m trained to listen to some pretty boring stuff. But if, no matter what you do, there’s still that one student on Facebook, perhaps he or she indeed just doesn’t like your class, today’s lecture, or is particularly distracted that day. That is not your fault, and that’s ok. Own your 50%, but not more.

I guess what I’m trying to say to any of my colleagues out there reading this right now is: please don’t assume you’re doing everything wrong. But please don’t assume your students are a bunch of lazy, privileged little brats when there’s more you could be doing to help them either. Sadly, the current system encourages both extremes by emphasizing that profs are bright, independent learners whose knowledge should allow them to deliver flawless presentations in the classroom without ever really training them to do so. By corollary, students should be bright, independent learners who soak all this knowledge up – like sponges – without much need of assistance. The current system, however, is flawed. Teaching is hard, and you’re going to stumble. Learning is hard, and students need help. And both of you are occasionally going to have bad days. Engaging with this situation is just as important as finishing that research project, especially if we want to inspire the researchers of the future. So, before you start playing the blame game, try to remember that teaching is a relationship. As such, it is complicated, and it will constantly need to be negotiated.

Preparing Students for Seminars

Next week I want to reflect on some of the assumptions we make about teaching and about those we teach – assumptions which are governed by the institutional context of the university, but which can be highly problematic. For now, however, I thought it would be useful to offer another highly practical post that might help you as you settle into the 2013-2014 academic year.

By now, most of you are back in the classroom and have started lecturing, but seminars (also known as tutorials or conferences) are just getting underway. Despite the fact that students overwhelmingly prefer the seminar component to the lecture portion of the class – because they can interact with texts/artifacts and each other in a more meaningful way – those who are new to the process are often very anxious and don’t know what to expect. Telling them that “they’ll love it” isn’t going to make that stress go away, so I try to offer some tips to help them prepare. This can actually be more difficult than it sounds because the process seems so obvious to those of us who do it day-in and day-out. So what do I tell first-year students or those from other disciplines so that they can prepare for their first seminar?


1. Read everything through once, in advance.
Remember, some students are either in first year or come from disciplines where they are not used to (1) doing close textual analysis and (2) engaging in the kinds of social critiques we teach in the humanities. This means that they can be overwhelmed by what you might consider a very small amount of reading, especially if that reading introduces them to difficult ideas or vocabulary. Things like the difference between sex and gender or the truly foreign nature of the past are not as intuitive to all your students as they are to you, and you need to encourage them to just give it a try.

So tell these students that it’s OK if they don’t understand it the first time through! But the thing is, if they don’t read it in full, at least once, they’ll never understand it. Even if it seems boring, chances are it will get more interesting as it makes more sense. If they read it over earlier in the week, and then give it time for things to settle, they will be surprised by the insights they have latter on. Seminars are where the really interesting discussions take place, so it’s absolutely fundamental that students approach them with an open mind and ready to learn. For this reason, I also tell them that if they do have one of those weeks where they have to let something go, to make sure that it’s the textbook readings for lecture and never the seminar material.


2. Highlight and make notes.
Next on the list: read in as active a way as possible. I tell them to make sure to flag the thesis and supporting arguments when they are reading secondary material, and to highlight/underline the things that seem to be important, even if they don’t know why. This is useful because it will allow them to see how all the separate facts have been strung together, and thus to understand the author’s argument, but also because it should help them reflect on their own writing process. Do their essays look like professional scholarly work? How and why is their own writing different, and how can it be improved?

For primary texts, listening to one’s gut is even more important, particularly in the early stages of the course when students are still getting the lay of the land. When faced with a historical document, a novel, or any other primary source, I therefore ask them to make note of the things that jumped out at them. As part of this process, they should write a 1-sentece description of each primary source in the margins or in their notebook. This process helps students to remember what each document is about when they look back at the material, and it forces them to determine whether or not they’ve understood it. You can’t succinctly summarize something if you don’t understand it!


3. Take another look and ask the basic questions.
Most people are taught in high school that they should ask about the “who, what, where, when, and why” when they encounter a document, but it’s still sometimes a good idea to remind them of this process. I therefore tell my students to re-read the highlighted/underlined bits as they get closer to the seminar and to ask themselves if they can answer the following questions about the primary sources:

  • Who is writing? From what perspective? And for whom?
  • What kind of document is this? Does it stay within the conventions of the genre?
  • Are you convinced of what the author is trying to tell you?
  • What does this document contribute to our knowledge about the particular phenomenon we are studying?
  • What information have we not obtained?
  • Make note of any questions these documents bring to mind. Come to conferences with both your insights, and your remaining questions.

Once they’ve done all of these things, it’s likely that they’re starting to get a much more critical sense of the material in question and any of the more complicated or nuanced questions will come up during the seminar itself.


Ultimately, the student experience is going to depend on how well you facilitate the seminar the “day of,” but you can’t do a good job of that unless you convince them to come prepared. Once there, it’s about asking the right questions, and designing activities that let all your students feel comfortable and engaged. I have more to say about this, but some initial thoughts can be found here if you missed them the first time around: https://sarahwaurechen.wordpress.com/2013/05/09/striking-a-balance-in-seminars/ In the meantime, I’d love to know what others tell their students before the first seminar! Leave your thoughts in the comments below.


dos equis cat

[I didn’t have any good images for this week’s post, so here’s a picture of my cat doing the Dos Equis pose]

Writing Aids

This week I thought I would write an easy-to-steal-from, toolkit type of post in honour of the first week of classes. Apologies in advance, as this means today’s entry will be long and obnoxious if you’re reading on your phone!

My approach to the classroom is hardly flawless, but I have spent some time thinking about and trying to design aids for teaching students how to write an academic paper. My students usually approach this problem by obsessing over form. This is because they think they start from 100% and lose marks, instead of starting from scratch and building up from there. And the easiest way to envision losing marks is by not following “the rules” – whatever the hell those are supposed to be. And so, I get the 10-page papers written in only 5 paragraphs, or the students who come to see me because I’ve written “unclear thesis” even though they wrote something vaguely argumentative at the end of the first paragraph. We then have to have the talk about how and why essay writing is taught in high school and how it doesn’t actually work that way once your arguments become more advanced. You can use as many paragraphs as you need to properly group your ideas, and a thesis is not definitive just because you put it in a specific place.

It’s at this point that the conversation gets interesting. If everything they’ve learned is just a rough structure, how are they supposed to write a university-level paper? It’s about ideas and argumentation, I explain. It’s about asking the right questions and then following through not just with opinions, but with evidence too. Most students get that a thesis has to be an opinion, but what they sometimes fail to understand is that for them to write a good paper: (1) people need to be able to disagree with their thesis in a reasoned way and (2) they need evidence for everything they say.

So what sorts of things do I tell students about constructing an argument? Here’s how I describe my independent research essay assignment (which students are asked to complete after they have written essay proposals):


Independent Research Essay Assignment

You must write a 7-9 page argumentative essay. What this means is that rather than just gathering and regurgitating facts, you need a thesis (an answer to your question), which you must then support with proof (that stuff you organized into themes when writing the proposal). When you are done, don’t forget that your essay must sum up all of this with a conclusion. Furthermore, as a historian, you have the added burden of acknowledging evidence that contradicts your position. You must thus also explain at some point in your essay why your overall argument still holds, despite alternate interpretations of the evidence.

As you’re writing, remember that the scholars whose work you’ve read have essentially done the same thing as you when writing their books and articles. They have constructed an argument; just because they are published does not mean they are objectively right in their conclusions. They must convince you in the same way that you have to convince your own readers. You are therefore free – and encouraged – to disagree with their analysis. The best papers will engage with what professional historians call “historiography,” or the various perspectives that different groups of scholars impose upon the evidence. To clarify, if you are working on the British Civil Wars, you might note that while some scholars do indeed use the terminology “civil wars,” others prefer “revolution.” This is far more than a semantic difference and has sweeping ramifications for the way they see seventeenth-century Britain.  If this were your topic, you might then outline this divergence and explain your own position. But be careful! Stick to debates that resonate with your question and don’t get side-tracked by evidence or historiographic debates that have nothing to do with it.

Engage with primary sources in the same critical way. Do not just mine them for a single factoid so that you can add them to your bibliography. Ask what they tell you and whether they reinforce or undermine the arguments that you have been reading in the secondary literature.


The other tool I’d like to share with you today has to do with the writing process itself. Some of my students are good at coming up with ideas, but they have a really hard time getting them down on paper. Let’s face it, we all know that feeling of it “making sense in our head” but not anywhere else. These students understand the tasks required of them, but they struggle to articulate their response and their grades can suffer as a result. A big part of this is time management, and I remind my students almost every class that they should be working on their assignments because they need to leave time to edit things (as an aside, it’s worth reminding ourselves and our students that this means leaving time between finishing the paper and editing it, or our brains won’t see the problems in our text). But it can be more complicated than that and we shouldn’t just assume that students are lazy and left things to the last minute. Writing is hard, and the process is learned. So what do I tell them to help them on their journey? Below is a document I designed to help with these problems.


Different Ways of Writing

1)  Are you an “organic writer” or a “bit-piece writer”? Most people are one or the other, but it’s best to try both before you conclusively decide where you fall. Both of these approaches start from the same point: once you’ve done the research, brainstorm the ideas you have about your topic and decide what your overall thesis is and what your supporting points are. On a rough piece of paper, lay these ideas out. This can be either in a very formal order (in which you think information will appear in your essay), or randomly spread out over the page. Just get everything down, so that you don’t forget and so that you have something to work with!

  • The organic writer will begin at the beginning. Write the introduction first, and although you have a general idea of how you will move through your proofs (the supporting points), you might change the order as the argument dictates. So, as you finish each section, you’ll see where new commonalities emerge between the different proofs that you still need to write about (things that you may or may not have thought of before), and order your paper accordingly.  The conclusion, as always, will come last and try to tie all of this together once and for all.
  • The bit-piece writer is uneasy about starting with the broad thesis. Perhaps s/he hasn’t made up their mind or is just better able to write a coherent introduction when all the technical stuff is done. This person starts in the middle of the paper with whatever proof is most inviting. From there, s/he jumps around as necessary, and stitches all the proofs together when they’re done by using connecting sentences. The intro and conclusion come last. This method requires you to leave plenty of room for editing, as it will initially be “choppier” than a piece that is written organically. Although both methods require editorial time, budget more if you’re a bit-piece writer.

2)  Make sure each proof is your voice: quotations and paraphrases of other people’s ideas are always part of the process, but make sure you are using them to enhance your argument, instead of letting them make the argument for you. Always explain the meaning of quotes/paraphrases and the reason you are providing them to your audience (in other words, address their significance – there should be no “orphan quotes”).

3)  Check the coherence of each proof individually: read each section (intro/thesis; proof; proof; proof; proof; conclusion) on its own. Is there a clear point to each section? If not, rework it until there is. Also, does the same information appear in more than one place? If so, consider reorganizing further to keep your analysis of a specific document or theme close together. This is not always possible, and sometimes you will be citing the same information in very different ways, in very separate parts of the paper. But always ask yourself if information needs to be spread out, or, if your argument would be better served with a little shuffling.

4)  Find a way of making sure the whole is coherent that works for you:  leave your paper for 24 hours and then re-read it; have a friend in another discipline read it; read it aloud to yourself (this is my tactic) since using two senses instead of one heightens your ability to make sure you’re making sense.  Double check that any questions you’ve posed, implicitly, or perhaps explicitly in the introduction, are answered and there are no loose ends. Likewise, make sure there aren’t any answers floating around to questions you haven’t asked (ie: make sure all the information is relevant). Essentially, you’re trying to switch your perspective from that of a writer, to a reader.

After trying one of these strategies, can you clearly identify your thesis, sub-points and conclusion? Does your paper flow clearly from one idea to another, or does it just break off and jump around? If the latter, go through and insert transitional language like “furthermore,” “equally important,” “for this reason,” etc… Sometimes this process may require entirely new sentences. Make sure the reader has a road map, and never just assume they will see the same connections you do. Once this all looks good, you just need to hand it in!

Please feel free to share these explanations with your students and/or adapt them for your particular courses. And as always, please share you own thoughts and tools in the comments below.