In his book, In Small Things Forgotten: An Archaeology of Early American Life, scholar James Deetz, “the past can be seen most fully by studying the small things so often forgotten. Objects such as doorways, gravestones, musical instruments, and even shards of pottery fill in the cracks between large historical events and depict the intricacies of daily life.” As historians, we gather, analyze and interpret evidence. We look at the world through our historical lenses and understandings. This week, I have had the opportunity to gain digital tools for my toolbox. This workshop gave us new, exciting, and challenging ways to study “the small things” by using digital tools and lens.
While I still feel like a novice just getting my feet wet, I am leaving the workshop with new knowledge and tools and more importantly confident in my ability to bring the digital humanities into my classrooms and college. And if all else fails, I know now the power of the tweet – #doingdh16 and a song (thanks @ProRoMo). As I move forward, my strategic plan is to start small and be intentional. I would like to start slowly by building my academic digital profile, revise my service learning reflection portfolio to include digital components, and tie the digital humanities to our program review action plans and create a backwards mapping template on what we as a history program define as digital history and what we can reasonably accomplish within the academic year.
Tonight while attending the Nationals game with the #doingdh16 crew, we discussed sounds. The conversation moved from scholarly to popular culture and the question arose: what is your theme song? I went with a classic. Feel the grove and join in by dancing. While I tend to ramble, I do eventually get around to my point which is actually another question: how does sound influence us and our classrooms?
My guess is that we all incorporate sound in diverse and complex ways. I would like to start to intentionally add this element into my classes. I have two assignments in my mind that I will revise utilizing the tools that we learned today: Ballads – Narrative and Themes and as a option for the service learning project. Since it is late, I am signing off, but am happy to share them in person.
Each semester during my first class meeting, I start with paraphrasing Gerda Lerner’s last essay in her book Why History Matters. We discuss that everyone has their own story and therefore their own personal history. I ask students what story would they tell about themselves, their experiences and their stories. Of course, this discussion leads to questions that we would explore throughout the semester: creations of narrative, bias, context, audience, and multiple perspectives to name a few. However, I first start by sharing my story and one thing I tell my students is that I believe we should always be learning and that I try to learn something new everyday and often I learn something new or interesting from my students. I decided to take my own advice to heart and jump into something outside my comfort zone and find myself at an NEH Grant- Doing Digital History 2016. Today, I created my own domain, downloaded software, created a WordPress account, have a Twitter handle and instead of writing in my journal tonight, I am blogging. My mind is swirling thinking about how to apply this knowledge and these tools to my classes, teaching and projects in meaningful and intentional ways. What will I tell my students after my first day– I am still uncomfortable and hesitant about social media, keeping my private world private, and that it was the right decision to push myself to learn new ideas and tools. Let the digital adventure continue.
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