Happy Summer Solstice…Educators!

The clematis beside my house

The clematis beside my house

I did some math recently.  There are 365 days in a year, minus my 182 day teaching contract, leaves me with an awesome 183 days of non working.  Okay…I know, I’ve included weekends, but regardless, teachers have a sweet gig!

I particularly feel this way on the summer equinox.  This is a photo of tiger lilies in a roadside ditch that I captured exactly one year ago.

Tiger lillies in a roadside ditch, Delaware County, Ohio. June 21, 2012

Tiger lillies in a roadside ditch, Delaware County, Ohio. June 21, 2012

June 21, 2013 dawned clear and crisp in Galena, Ohio.  I’m looking forward to a beautiful blue/green day filled with MY agenda.  It really is neat to be a grown-ass man on summer vacation.

For me, summer has never been just about professional growth; it’s primarily about personal growth.  In summer, I read, explore, experience, investigate and push boundaries.  My wife calls my little detours jaunts.  She calls them jaunts, because often, they’re short-lived.  But many of my excursions have added tremendously to my life and made me a vastly more interesting person, particularly to my students.

So what are you doing today?

My backyard is the oak leaf hydrangeafest

My backyard is the oak leaf hydrangeafest



Adventures in Dual Enrollment

Adventures in Dual Enrollment


This past winter, Big Walnut’s director of instruction approached me about becoming a Columbus State dual enrollment adjunct.  I have an MA in history from Ohio State.  I researched dual enrollment and became convinced it would present a terrific opportunity for our students.  I mean after all…3 semester hours of college credit for 75 bucks!  No AP test at the end of the semester.  The students never have to leave our building.

After a lot of finagling with scheduling and logistics, Big Walnut is offering Dual Enrollment World history next year.  The class will meet in my room, so there’ll be no travel involved.  17 students signed up, which is a great start.  That number will grow…significantly!  My last few years at Big Walnut will be exciting.

And by the way, my classroom is no longer just Room 111; I now referred to as Big Walnut University.  Of course job 1 was to create a cool logo.  Yes, my image below is reminiscent of the old school college seals.  In the middle of the logo is the Wheel of Asoka…India’s great pacifist king circa 300 BCE.  Not only did he believe in non-violence, but put the welfare of his subjects above all else.   Asoka is my favorite subject in this course.



I did have some reservations about teaching dual enrollment, initially.  I remember my history classes in college.  The instruction was passive.  The professor would assign a reading, and the next day, he or she would describe in a lecture what you just read.  That is…if you even did the reading.  Most students learn quickly how to game the system of each class!  I didn’t want my course to be like that.  It’s an outdated mode of instruction.  When I met with the Columbus State professors, I was relieved to hear their desire to change, evolve, adapt.  They’re striving to create a more active participatory learning environment.  That’s great, but the 50-minute lecture style, unfortunately, still dominates.

I certainly agree that content is important and the content in World history is spectacular.  But, I’m most committed to my students developing confidence that they’ve developed skills to succeed in future humanities classes.  I cannot emphasize the confidence component enough!  This spring, I worked with our curriculum director and district reading specialist.  We developed a template for a typical day in World history.  Sure, content will be a big part of the instruction, but it’ll be a vehicle to grow skill sets that will stick with my students even if they forget the explanation of why a certain Hindu god has such an interesting appearance.


Here will be a typical day in Mr. Sturtevant’s class next fall:

0-10 Minutes:  Students will assemble in their reading circles.  A student facilitator will guide each circle through evaluation of the reading assignment activities.  Each student will play an important role.

10-15 Minutes: The circles will report to the larger class.  Discussion will materialize.

15-40 Minutes:  Lecture on the reading topic.  Students will utilize the Cornell System of note taking.  They will hone their abilities to extract important concepts from my lecture.

40-50 Minutes:  Preview the next reading.  History should be taught like an unfolding adventure.  Anticipation guides will be utilized.

I recently read that 76 percent of college class time instruction is delivered in a lecture format.  Roughly half of my class will reflect this reliance, but with a twist.  My focus will not just be on the content.  I’m committed to my students developing the confidence that they can extract the important concepts from my presentation.

I’m REALLY looking forward to this challenge!