Assignments

The way you demonstrate your fulfillment of our course outcomes, and the way you earn a grade, is by completing our course assignments. Each of the following assignments is designed to provide you with an opportunity to demonstrate competency with respect to one or more outcomes.

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1. “Who Are YOU?” (5 points total).
Our first assignment is short biography to tell me a little bit about yourself. Don’t worry about the poetics of it. I’m more interested in the content. Who are you? Or, in the words of Ella Baker: Who are your people? Tell me a little something about where you come from, what frames your perspective and values, and what brings you to our class.

The assignment will be turned in on our class website. In order to do that, you must be registered as a “contributor” to our class blog. Instructions on how to do that, as well as how to submit the assignment, will be posted during our first class. You will be graded on turning in the assignment, on time, in the proper format described in that post. It is due no later than the start of our Tuesday, January 29th class.

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2. Discussion Participation (5 points; 15 points total).
An evolving opportunity designed for you to demonstrate your skills and understandings with respect to Outcome 1.

Our class is a collective. As such, we will seek to learn from and with each other on a regular basis. We mostly do that through weekly discussions on the readings. Every Tuesday (unless otherwise specified), we will have a structured discussion on the readings. Each is an opportunity for you to provide evidence of your abilities with respect to our first course outcome.

Our discussions require you to come to class prepared by 1) doing the readings; 2) preparing to verbally analyze the readings; and 3) printing out THREE to FIVE analytical questions or discussion prompts. Your questions/prompts are anything that promotes the analytical inquiry of the reading assignments. They should be answerable with the text, rooted to specifics in the text, and interesting to you. I will collect your prompts only when you are selected to participate in the discussion.

On the day of our discussion, FIVE to SEVEN students will be chosen at random to discuss the readings in a seminar format in front of the rest of the class. Over the course of the semester each of you will participate in our seminar THREE times. Each time you are selected to participate in the discussion (and turn in your typed/printed questions/prompts) you will receive up to FIVE final grade points. If you are selected and are not present you will receive an automatic late deduction of 10% the next time you are selected to participate.

The discussion is a chance to engage with other selected students by sharing our understanding of the readings; emphasizing what is important or essential to know from the readings; and connecting the readings to larger themes. While it might seem like not being selected means you have nothing to do for our discussion, nothing could be further from the truth. Perhaps the hardest skill to master in academia is the skill of active listening. When we are not selected to participate in the discussion our obligation is to learn from it by immersing ourselves in the words and ideas of our classmates. This requires our prepared attention, as well as our active critical thinking skills.

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3. Midterms (15 points each; 30 points total)
A recurring opportunity designed for you to demonstrate your skills and understandings with respect to Outcome 1.
Two class midterms will assess your historical knowledge based on the readings, films, and lectures.

• Midterm 1 (March 14)
• Midterm 2 (May 2)

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4. Critical Evaluation Exercises (10 points each; 20 points total).
A recurring opportunity designed for you to demonstrate your skills and understandings with respect to Outcome 2.

At TWO separate times during the semester you will be required to write a short (2-3 page) essay interacting with a historical primary source. It should be written in accordance with the course guidelines for written assignments.

This is NOT a paper. It is a written display of your historical meaning-making skills——of your ability to make an argument about what the source means and sustain it through textual proof. You do this by discussing the document as a piece of historical evidence that provides us access to the ways people thought, felt, and/or reacted in their particular context. Finally, use your analysis to bring us to some larger evaluation of the history of which the document is a part. You don’t have to summarize the document, but you should identify the basics. You must quote from it often and regularly to develop your perspective. Quotes and specific engagement with the text are the proof of your argument and analysis.

A successful write-up uses the source to illuminate the past by exploring the interplay between text and time and developing a sense of the significance of the source. To do this you must critically evaluate the argument and perspective communicated in each document, making sense of it from within the historical context within which it was produced. Be mindful of engaging the text empathically, that is, on the author’s own terms. Evaluate it as someone else’s “truth.” Explore how it made sense to them in a given time and place, instead of judging it from your position in the present.

Finally, remember that all sources have multiple stories to tell. There is never “one answer” to any historical source. The burden is to select one meaning and carry the reader through your analysis with convincing support.

• CE1 Exercise (due January 31)
• CE2 Exercise (due April 4)

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5. Teaching the Freedom Struggle (40 points total).
A creative opportunity designed for you to demonstrate your skills and understandings with respect to Outcome 3.

The course semester project is a focused lesson plan and learning activity meant to teach a high school-level student about some aspect of 20th century movements for change led by communities of color. It is a research-based, creative endeavor meant to challenge your historical skills while providing you an opportunity to demonstrate evidence of your abilities with respect to our third course outcome.
An assignment sheet will be passed out in class describing the specific expectations of this project. The final project must be turned in via our WordPress website and so detailed instructions will also be posted to our website. In short, the assignment requires you to conduct research and create a learning experience that fosters the same analytical processes and conclusions. In order to assure you complete the project in a timely and deliberate manner, it is divided in two parts:

• Question & Sources: 10 points total (due March 28)
• Final Project: 30 points total (due May 7)

General Resources
Assignment Sheet
History-Social Science Content Standards (Grade Eleven)
Reading Standards for Literacy in History/Social Studies 6-12
Advise on Teaching
How to Format Your Assignment in HTML
A Perfectly Formatted Example (the assignment itself is slightly different than yours but the format is good)

Library Resources
History Databases (for primary and secondary sources)
Archival Databases (for primary sources)
J-Stor (for secondary sources)

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