Assignments

Class Participation—Because this course is a speaking intensive seminar, students are expected to contribute to class discussions on a daily basis to receive a passing grade. Grades will be based on whether a student participated and the substance of his/her comments.

Classroom Discussion Facilitation—Each student along with a partner(s) will lead class discussion of a reading assignment for two days. Students can lecture, do role-playing, analyze primary documents, or stage a debate. At least one day must be reserved for a general discussion of the text(s). Students must email me by 5PM the Friday before their assigned facilitation days with specific plans. Grades will be based on the following criteria:

  • Meets the 5PM deadline to submit draft of facilitation plans.
  • Responds to feedback and makes appropriate changes.
  • Lays out classroom activities for the week.
  • Writes questions that address larger themes within the reading(s). (Avoid questions that can be answered with a “yes” or a “no.”)
  • Writes questions that address particular details within the reading(s).
  • Develops a classroom activity that creatively enhances information/knowledge from the text(s).
  • Appropriately handles student participation/lack of participation.
  • Speaks loudly and coherently.
  • Uses suitable posture and gestures.
  • Answers questions competently.

See Schedule and Reading List for the specific readings assignments.

Introductory Presentation–During the second week of classes, students will give a five-minute presentation about themselves.  As part of this assignment, students will need to construct a gallery of images (Use Powerpoint, Pinterest, class website, etc.).  Grades will be based on the following criteria:

  • Includes at least 5 images.
  • Gives an introduction and conclusion to presentation.
  • Meets the 5-minute criteria.
  • Speaks loudly and coherently.
  • Uses suitable posture and gestures.
  • Answers questions competently.

Reflection Blogs—Students will write a one-paragraph (5+ sentences) reflection on the week’s reading assignments. Posts must demonstrate that you have read all assignments. See the Schedule for specific deadlines. No late or incomplete blog posts will be accepted.

Virginia Digital Project—Over the course of the semester, students will conduct research on an issue facing Virginia since the Civil War and use their work to generate a digital timeline and give a formal presentation to the class. There will be a series of assignments over the course of the semester that will lead to the final product.

  • Project Proposal (2-3-pages): A short document that addresses the following:
    • The subject that you plan to research.
    • A working argument.
    • A brief discussion of your primary sources and 2 book length secondary sources (3-4 articles are equal to one book).
    • The significance of your proposed project.
    • A bibliography, which is separated as primary and secondary sources. Be aware that secondary sources must meet the following criteria: authors are experts in their field; 2) it is published with a reputable press; and 3) the author includes footnotes or endnotes. Primary sources—which do not follow the same criteria–must be from the periodization from which you are writing.

Students must have their project proposal approved by the instructor before proceeding with their research. Make an appointment or email me to discuss possible topics before this assignment is due.  Citations–which are required–can be inserted below the timeline on the class timeline page. Students are expected to follow guidelines on citations format in Chicago Manual of Style. For a specific deadline to post your proposal, see the Schedule.

  • Timeline Workshops: Over the course of the semester, students will have several deadlines for slides on their timelines (see Schedule for specific workshop days). For each workshop day, one additional slide must be added to your timeline;. A select number of students will also sign up to discuss their timelines in class on those days (NOTE: Students are expected to present during class workshop days twice during the semester). This will be another informal presentation, and will be expected to meet the following criteria:
    • Includes an introduction and conclusion.
    • Discuss most recent additions to their timeline.
    • Discuss any issues with their timeline.
    • Discusses the reputability of sources. Why is it reputable?  How do you know? See discussion of primary and secondary sources below.
    • Speak loudly and coherently.
    • Use suitable posture and gestures.
    • Answer questions competently.
  • Final Timeline: At the end of the semester, students will be graded on their final timeline, which should incorporate feedback from workshops.
    • Includes at least ten slides.
    • Has a title slide.
    • Has a concluding slide.
    • Visual images (still photography or video) are included on every slide.
    • Mechanics: spelling, punctuation, capitalization, and grammar are correct.
    • Correct sentence structure and paragraphing.
    • Inserts an appropriately formatted bibliography under the timeline in the website.
  • Final Presentation: At the end of the semester, students will also give a formal, 5-minute presentation on their timelines. They will be graded on the following criteria:
    • Include an introduction and conclusion.
    • Give an overview.
    • Highlights specific Timeline points that relates to contemporary issues and/or the history of Virginia.
    • Meets the 5-minute criteria.
    • Speak loudly and coherently.
    • Use suitable posture and gestures.
    • Answer questions competently.

See the Schedule for presentation dates.

Speaking Center—Because this is a speaking intensive course, students are required to visit the Speaking Center before the last day of classes for any of our speaking-related assignments—introductory presentation, classroom facilitation, informal class discussion, informal presentation, or map presentation (NOTE: visiting the Center after an assignment is completed will not be accepted). Be sure to schedule appointments early!!! The Speaking Center’s schedule fills up fast, especially at the end of the semester. Failure to attend the Speaking Center reduces your participation grade by a full letter grade.

Final Essay—Students will write a 7-to-10-page essay on the issues facing the state of Virginia since the American Civil War. The essay must incorporate at least five reading assignments to receive a passing grade as well as current events discussed by our class.  The depth of analysis, synthesis of reading assignments, development of a cogent thesis, and overall writing mechanics will impact the grade for this assignment.  The final essay is due during our scheduled exam period. Late essays will be accepted only if there are extenuating circumstances. For a specific deadline, see the Schedule.