Welcome!

Thanks for visiting! This is a place to find my writing, both education pieces and personal essays. I teach history and do academic administration at an independent school just north of Los Angeles. I’ve also written two books about history teaching, Creating Citizens (Routledge, 2018) and Making History Mine (Stenhouse, 2009), and write regularly for MiddleWeb’s Future of History blog. In my free time, I like to run, cook, play piano, listen to Broadway musicals, search for good bakeries and spend time with my husband and two sons. I’ve also taught English and love young adult fiction. @sarahjcooper01

“The Roles of Memorization in Teaching and Learning,” Education Week Teacher

As a social studies teacher, I am forever tormented by this question. If we spend a day unpacking the Emancipation Proclamation—worthwhile in so many ways, not least to appreciate Abraham Lincoln’s legal and linguistic brilliance—how many details of the Battle of Antietam, of Gettysburg, of the New York City draft riots go undiscussed? Pretty much every day’s lesson plan offers a similarly wrenching example… Continue reading

“Teaching U.S. History Through a Trauma Lens,” MiddleWeb

In our first conversation, “Teaching U.S. History in Turbulent Times,” we left off by discussing which primary sources are most effective for conveying empathy and gravitas in history lessons. This leads into another topic that has gripped me lately: how to sufficiently teach about systemic racism and oppression without making this lens the only way students see history. When I co-taught Angie Thomas’ The Hate U Give with my partner English teacher… Continue reading

“A Reformers Unit That Celebrates Activism,” MiddleWeb

My absolute favorite unit, a “reformer from our history” research paper and campaign, is the only one I’ve done every spring through seven years of teaching U.S. history to eighth graders. It focuses on resilience, activism, determination. It celebrates rather than eulogizes. Through their research, students see themselves in history… Continue reading