I never had any doubt about how I wanted to teach the 50 U.S. states and their capitals. My high school juniors will sing along with Wakko and the Animaniacs.

Likewise, any world history or geography class I teach will have to follow along with the song with every country in the entire world except Kosovo.

Where did I get this inspiration? My 5th grade teacher.

When I teach AP U.S. history, my students will do flashcards, and the tests will be composed of actual though retired Advanced Placement questions.

If I’m stuck doing it chronologically, my students will do chapter summaries in PERSIA format — sorting period events out into political, economic, religious, social, intellectual and artistic categories.

Where did I get this inspiration? My 11th grade AP U.S. history teacher.

My journalism students will have weekly current events quizzes.

They will also write two stories a week. They will receive credit based on how poorly they do not write. Any story which misspells a name receives an automatic zero.

Students who want to improve their grade are allowed to seek me out in advance of the due date. Whenever I see it, I will mercilessly edit every story in front of me.

Where did I get this inspiration? My journalism professor.

Moral of the story? There’s a pattern here, somewhere, but I just can’t place my finger on it.


  1. You’re lazy?

    “United States, Canada, Mexico, Panama, Haiti, Jamaica, Peru…”

    I love the Animaniacs! The mnemonic power of a goofy song is a beautiful thing.

    What kind of flashcards? You mention them as if your teacher used a particular sub-species.

  2. Nothing fancy — just comprehensive. There must have been 250 of those things, with a term on one side, a definition on the other.

    It as good review, even though most of us only did about half before cutting them with blank cards.

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