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  • Writer's picturesylveahollis

Prepping for Fall 2020

Updated: Jan 14, 2021

I recently joined the History Department at Montgomery College as an African American and African History Professor. This blog will partially be a place to brainstorm ideas for my classes, archive meaningful interactions with students, and troubleshoot ways to make the shift to online teaching more engaging.

Courses for the Fall:

HIST 200 - History of the United States, a Survey Course: from Colonial Times to 1865 [1 section, Distance Learning]

HIST 235 - The History of African Americans to 1865

[1 section, Distance Learning]

HIST 236 - The History of African Americans Since 1865

[2 section; Both Structured Remote]

HIST 265 - African History to 1800

[1 Distance Learning]


1. Create a virtual classroom that helps students feel prepared, informed, and supported

2. Develop a flow of expectations with students early, so that they can have the space to be creative and communicative about their work

3. Enter the semester with a mindset that uses troubleshooting as a way to improve my courses, one semester at a time

4. Choose readings and assignments that are engaging and offer tools for life and explain my "why" to students often and help them identify their own "why"

5. Maintain a good sense of humor


Are there ways to build my personal writing project deadlines into my syllabus lectures--to allow each to inform the other?

If I were to create a public-facing assignment into any of these courses, which would I choose first?

What types of assignments might I use for public-facing assignments (Blog, Omeka, StoryMap, etc.)?

Closing Thoughts:

Nearly twenty years ago I attended a teacher's workshop alongside my parents and the keynote speaker was the preeminent educator, Mrs. Marva Collins. She founded a primary school in Chicago that filled a significant need in the larger education system. Her students defied the assumptions of state and local education administrators who associated their poverty with deviance and an incapacity to learn at a higher level. I believe there is still much to learn from Mrs. Collins' work. Among the many quotes accredited to this woman, the one below is the one that I plan to use as a centering message to guide my start to the semester:

“When someone is taught the joy of learning, it becomes a life-long process that never stops, a process that creates a logical individual. That is the challenge and joy of teaching.” --Marva Collins

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