Sunday, November 15, 2009

The Day the Cowboys Quit

All the posts are graded and commented on.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

HIST 1301

Unit 3 quizzes are ready. You will have until 9 a.m. December 1. Good luck!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Riot and Rembrance quiz

Hello everyone,

The Riot and Remmebrance quiz is up and ready to go. It will remain open until November 22. This will be a 3-hour quiz. There are 25 questions. You will get 2 attempts, and the average will be recorded. Good luck! dld

Saturday, October 31, 2009

1302 Online (1W002), Riot and Remembrance

Hello everyone,

The quiz is delayed until Monday (my fault). I will make sure you have at least two weeks to complete the quiz. dld

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Cabeza de Vaca Quiz

It was unavailable from about 4:30 to 7:30. Thanks to a student who tracked me down on FB, it's back online, now.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

1301 students--Cabeza de Vaca quiz

is available on the course homepage. You have two weeks to complete it. Good luck!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

HIST 1302 Online

I'm a few days behind on my email inbox. I will spend tomorrow catching up.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

HIST 1302, online and 10:30 face-to-face

To make up for those questions from "Ragtime," I added 20 points to everyone's score. Your grades are looking very good, so far. Keep up the good work!

Cabeza de Vaca quiz

It will not be posted until tomorrow. I need some help with the software.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Kelton Discussion Board

Hello everyone,

It looks like about 30 discussion posts rolled in over the weekend. It's going to take about a week for me to read and respond to them. So far, they are interesting and fun to read. Keep up the good work!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Kelton Discussion Board

I'm really enjoying it. Come on in, the water's fine!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Instructions for Posting Discussion Paragraphs

Go to:
  1. home page
  2. unit 1 folder
  3. Unit 1 discussion module
When you click the Unit discussion module, it should open to this

Here, I've circled the discussion link in red.
I hope this helps.

LSC is offline Sunday Morning

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Kelton, discussion board open

The discussion board is open for Kelton, "The Day the Cowboys Quit." I look forward to a lively discussion!

What is a Paragraph?

You probably already know what a paragraph is. However, you still need to know what are my expectations of your discussion posts. Below, I clearly lay out these expectations along with the rubric under which your work will be evaluated. I look forward to reading your posts.

A paragraph is, first and foremost, a unit of thought. You are telling me what you think about a particular topic. In this case you are responding to a question prompt. Therefore, the first sentence should introduce your thought as clearly as possible. I should be able to tell by the first sentence what that paragraph will express to me. Ideally, your first sentence should state a claim. The following sentences should draw evidence from the book to support your claim. They should convince me that what you say is supported by the book. The concluding sentence should answer the question, “So what?” How has this paragraph answered the question that you selected? How has it added depth or breadth to our understanding of the topic? How am I a smarter or better-informed person for having read this paragraph? Very few paragraphs answer all these questions, but you should try to accomplish at least one of them. That is the ideal and the basic structure. Remember, I want to know what you really think; not what you think I want you to think. Have fun, and speak your mind! It’s easy when you actually believe what you are writing.

Grading—paragraphs will be graded on the following:
1. Structure/organization, does the paragraph function as a unit of thought?
2. Evidence, does the paragraph draw specific references from the book as evidence to support the claim(s) made in your paragraph?
3. Analysis, does the paragraph explain logically how the evidence presented supports the claims made?
4. Proofreading, the paragraph should be free of grammatical errors and misspellings.

Sholarship money!

$500 LSC-Online scholarship

More scholarships here

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Online students, 1302

Sorry, I've let my email inbox pile up a little. I didn't get all the emails answered tonight, but I'll get back to them in the morning.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

all sections, online and face-to-face: online tutorial

It turns out that all my links in the orientation document are broken. I didn't know this. If you are looking for the "online tutorial" here is where you will find it:
Go to LSC HOMEPAGE
click LSC ONLINE
click GETTING STARTED (Circled in red below)

HIST 1301, 11010 Online Quizzes

I found that I lost all my settings for the quizzes when the course went live. It's been a bear, but I've got almost all of them reset, and you should be able to access your Unit 1 quizzes now. I'll have all the quizzes reset by tomorrow. Good luck, and let me know if you have any trouble. dld

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Having trouble getting started with LSC online?

Go here.

Online quizzes, HIST 1301 (9-10:20)

I just learned this morning that all my quiz dates are wrong, and you can't access the quizzes. I will fix this, but it will take more time than I have on my hands this moment. It will be either later tonight or in the morning. I'll let you know. dld

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Office hours: online and fac-to-face

MW: I will be in my office from 10AM-1PM. I will also check my email during this time. I will check it again between 8-10PM.

TTh: I'm in class all morning and into the afternoon. I will check email between 8-10PM

Friday and Sat: I will try to check email in the morning, but sometimes I won't get around to it. Nights, I like to hang out with my friends and have fun.

Sun: I don't work on Sunday. It's not a religion thing; it's just the way it is.

If you want to hang out sometime, you can find me at Taft St. Coffee House most Tuesdays between 8:30 and 11PM. But if you're mad at me, don't look for me until you've calmed down. Who needs that hassle?

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Email (online sections only)

This is the best place to interact with me. Blackboard's email function is clunky and unstable (which you already know if you've used it or tried to). That said, contact me by email if you need to. If my reply is terse, I'm not being rude. It's just that I get a lot of email, and if I want to respond to all of them, I have to do it quickly. Do let me know if you have problems with the course. dld

HIST 1302, 11008 and 11009

Your online sections are now active. I'm setting the quiz dates now. Remember, you get two chances at each quiz, and the average will be recorded. You can, of course, just take the quiz once if you prefer.

Getting started with LSC online (all sections, online and face-to-face)

Click LSC ONLINE on the LSC homepage.




Click Getting Started.






After you have successfully logged onto LSC online, you should see listed all your Lone Star courses. When you click the link to you history course, you should see something like this:




After you click "start here," you should see this:





The link to the orientation document is circled in red. When you click that link, it will pop up as a PDF. I just walked through this to make sure, and it is there.

Your syllabus will be found here. Press the syllabus button.



Let me know if you have any trouble. dld

Monday, August 24, 2009

2 attempts for online quizzes

Hey everyone, I just realized that I didn't mention the fact that you get two attempts at the online quizzes. I will average the two scores, and that will be recorded as your grade for that quiz. This is for all sections, online and face-to-face. dld

Friday, August 21, 2009

Books for Fall 09 Courses

Welcome!

Here are the books you will need, according to which section you are in. Check the section numbers closely because I have three different sets of books, and you don't want to get the wrong one!

HIST 1301 11010
  • Tindall/Shi, America: A Narrative History 7th ed., Vol. 1
  • Alvar Nunez Cabeza de Vaca, The Narrative of Cabeza de Vaca (University of Nebraska press, 2003)
  • Frederick Douglass, The Narrative of Frederick Douglass (Yale University Press)
HIST 1302 11008 and 11009
  • Tindall/Shi, America: A Narrative History, 7th ed., Vol. 2
  • John Kasson, Amusing the Millions (Hill and Wang)
  • Melba Patillo Beals, Warriors Don't Cry
HIST 1302 1W002 and 1WH01
  • Tindal/Shi, America: A Narrative History, 7th ed., Vol 2
  • Elmer Kelton, The Day the Cowboys Quit (TCU Press)
  • James S. Hirsch, Riot and Rememberance: America's Worst Race Riot and its Legacy (Mariner Books)

Thursday, July 9, 2009

All grades posted on "My Grades"

Oops! I meant MyRecords.

Great job, everyone--have a good summer!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Q & A

Professor Davis, is the final exam just over the 3rd unit? Or is this 50 questions over all 3?
  • It will be 50 questions from Unit 3.
Professor Davis, on a previous post I asked about the discussion for the Cesar Chavez book, but you probably didn't see it. On your syllabus, it says only the quiz is due, but on the book link, there's a discussion board. So are we to do both?
  • You don't have to do a discussion for that book. You must have seen a leftover link from a previous course where we did discuss that book. Those links are like weeds, and it's astonishingly hard to get them all out.
I checked my grade and I could only a grade for the first discussion but not the second discussion. Is it because you haven't post up the grades for the second discussion?
  • That's right. I, rather unexpectedly, had to drive 800 miles (400 each way) to pick up my daughter in Mississippi. This has played havoc with my schedule at a very inconvenient time.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Kasson discussion--online course

They're all graded and commented on. Almost everyone is writing at a pretty strong college level. Therefore, my comments are mainly just that: part of the discussion. Good job discussing each others' work.

Final exam for online course

I'm getting a lot of email from students who are trying to get out of town and want to take the final early. I opened the final exam and sent the requests to the testing centers. You should be able to take it any time from now through July 7. Good luck.

PS: I'm still evaluating discussion paragraphs.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Some recent questions answered for online course

  1. For your online class, which upcoming exam will have the "Warrior's Don't Cry" quiz questions on the test? Exam 2
  2. which exam will have the "Ceasar Chavez" quiz questions on the test? Final exam
  3. I was just wondering if chapter 37 quiz was going to be put up soon. I am working my way there and I do not see the quiz available yet. thanks. My bad. It's there now.
  4. have a few questions, one for the worriors dont cry the syllabus says the quiz and the discussion is due sunday june 21 but the actually quiz says it doesnt close till july 7. I seem to recall thinking that some of you might need more time, so I extended the dates.
  5. another question is where can i find the last book.. every website i tried it says there is no book by that name. There are plenty here starting at about $3.50.
Keep up the good work and remember, "small strokes fell mighty Oaks."

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Clear sentence construction

Watch and listen to this short video. It really helps me with my sentence construction.


Can y'all hear the audio?

What is a Paragraph?

Okay. I know that you guys know what a paragraph is. However, you still need to know what are my expectations of your discussion posts. Below, I clearly lay out these expectations along with the rubric under which your work will be evaluated. I look forward to reading your posts.

A paragraph is, first and foremost, a unit of thought. You are telling me what you think about a particular topic. In this case you are responding to a question prompt. Therefore, the first sentence should introduce your thought as clearly as possible. I should be able to tell by the first sentence what that paragraph will express to me. Ideally, your first sentence should state a claim. The following sentences should draw evidence from the book to support your claim. They should convince me that what you say is supported by the book. The concluding sentence should answer the question, “So what?” How has this paragraph answered the question that you selected? How has it added depth or breadth to our understanding of the book? How am I a smarter or better-informed person for having read this paragraph? Very few paragraphs answer all these questions, but you should try to accomplish at least one of them. That is the ideal and the basic structure. Remember, I want to know what you really think; not what you think I want you to think. Have fun, and speak your mind! It’s easy when you actually believe what you are writing.

Grading—paragraphs will be graded on the following:
1. Structure/organization, does the paragraph function as a unit of thought?
2. Evidence, does the paragraph draw specific references from the book as evidence to support the claim(s) made in your paragraph?
3. Analysis, does the paragraph explain logically how the evidence presented supports the claims made?
4. Proofreading, the paragraph should be free of grammatical errors and misspellings.

exam for online students

The exam period starts today, and runs through Saturday. You have two hours to complete the exam, and you should have seen all the questions before in a quiz. You will have to take the exam at a proctored location, preferably an LSC assessment center. Dont forget to check the closing times where you'll be testing here.

If you are in my face-to-face class disregard this notice. This is for online students only.

Good luck!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Amusing the Million Discussion

I am really enjoying the discussion. I should probably clarify (a little late for most of you) that I only intended for you to respond to one question. I must have worded the assignment badly somewhere, because everyone seems to have read it the same way.

If I haven't responded to your discussion post yet, I soon will. I will comment on each discussion post as I go through them. I'm not grading just now, because of a technical issue I just discovered and will have to address Monday.

Keep the discussion posts and comments coming. What you have to say to each other is important, too!

Error-Chapter 27 quiz

Hey,
One of the questions in this quiz has a wrong answer. I can't tell you which question number it is, because the randomizer (which I can't turn off) scrambles the order of the questions for each student. It's a question is:

The rise of the automobile:


The actual correct answer is D all of the above, but it is being marked wrong. Unfortunately, I can't change the settings at this point, so I'll raise everyone's score 4 points.

Hat-tip to Verenice for finding this and pointing it out /:-)

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Study aids

I'm reposting this because it might be useful to some of you.

Find chapter outlines, etc. at

http://www.wwnorton.com/college/history/america7/

Hat-tip to Tamera :)

Update: Some of these tools suggest that you email me stuff. Don't do that. Only email me when you want to "talk" about something.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Can't find "Amusing the Million?"

Try dealoz.

And If you're waiting for your copy to come it, don't sweat it. It's a short book with pictures and large type. You'll be able to read it quickly, and I hope you find it as fascinating as I am.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Discussion Board--where is the link?

It's best not to access the discussion boards or the quizzes through those buttons on the left. Far better to go through the icons on the home page. Go to:
  1. home page
  2. unit 1 folder
  3. Unit 1 discussion module
When you click the Unit discussion module, it should open to this

Here, I've circled the discussion link in red.
I hope this helps.

Discussion questions for "Amusing the Millions"

Hey, I had the wrong content link in the Unit 1 discussion module. Now, it has the proper discussion link. If anyone would like to suggest different questions, this would be the time and place.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

What if you bought "Ragtime" instead of "Amusing the Millions"

I'm hearing from a lot of people who have Ragtime instead of Amusing the Millions because it was listed on an old syllabus on my website (I've got to find a way to send people straight to this blog, instead). If you have Ragtime, just go ahead and use that book. I have some discussion questions I can post for it, and we can just have two discussions at the same time.

HIST 1301 face-to-face (ftf) dates updated

got 'em done, mostly anyway.

Due dates updated

Hello,

Last semester, I changed all the due dates before the course went live, and then they all reverted back to what they were before. So this time, I waited until the course started to change the due dates. Well, it took a little longer than I had expected but all the Unit 1 due dates should be correct. Also, there was some bad information in the syllabus, which I have since changed. If you are away from any Lonestar assessment center and you need to take an exam, you can do it at any proctored location that is recognized for that service. I have even known a public library to have proctoring facilities. It's better to do it at Lonestar if you can, because, otherwise, we have to make special arrangments. But I don't mind if it's necessary.

By the way, there is no orientation quiz. I made one once, but it was so dumb I was embarrassed. I presume you took the online tutorial. If you have any problems or questions, lets just work it out here on the blog.

Monday, June 1, 2009

eCourse is live!

The eCourse for HIST 1302 is live and ready for action. This afternoon, I will be resetting all the due dates. Until then, the due dates are going to look all wrong. Go by the due dates listed on the syllabus. Good luck!

The course goes live at noon.

Hey, if you wondering when you will be able to access the course material, it should be at noon today. See you then!

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Welcome to the course. I hope you find it intellectually fulfilling. Below, please find a few items that some of you have asked about in emails:

* Will I need to show up for exams?

Yes. You are required to take three exams in person at a proctored facility, preferably an LSC assessment center. The reason for this is simply accountability. It is really the only way to hold online students accountable for doing the work themselves.

* I have children, which is why I am taking an online course in the first place. Is child care available?

Yes. Drop-off or regular child care is available at LSC-North Harris.

* What books am I required to read?

* George Brown Tindall and David Emory Shi. America: A Narrative History, Vol. 2, 7th edition.
* Kasson, John, Amusing the Millions (Hill and Wang 1978) ISBN: 978-0-80900133
* Beals, Melba Patillo, Warriors Don’t Cry (Simon Pulse 2007), ISBN: 978-1416948827
* Botz, Dan La, Cesar Chavez (Pearson 2006), ISBN: 0-321-18764-4

Saturday, May 23, 2009

HIST 1302, U.S. Since 1877

Hello everyone,

I'm on vacation, and I haven't yet updated my syllabus. The summer course will look a lot like the courses listed on my faculty website but the books will be different. The textbook is the same: Tindal/Shi, America: A Narrative History. We will also read Melba Patillo Beals, Warriors Don't Cry and John Kasson, Amusing the Millions. I look forward to meeting all of you, and I hope the course is fun. See you June 1!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Grade changes, Chavez quiz and Exam 3

Hello all 1301 students,

If you took the Chavez quiz, your grade has been raised 10 points or more to account for the two dropped questions and the two scrambled answer choices.

Online 1301 students only: The grades for Exam 3 have been raised 10 points.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Hello everyone,
I am working on grading your paragraphs but I'm getting a lot of this, and it's slowing me down. I'll stay at it.


Sunday, April 12, 2009

Getting Caught up

Hello everyone,

I've been busy working on Unit 4, and I had to neglect your emails for a couple of days in order to get the work done. I should be able to catch up with your emails this afternoon or evening. I will mostly be grading discussion paragraphs this week and making the promised adjustments to the grade book. The post below has more about Unit 4.

Unit 4

Hello,

I've been busy this week going through Unit 4 to make sure we didn't face the same problems we faced with Unit 3 again. All the quizzes should be good, now, with questions that can be answered correctly by referring to the textbook. I recommend this strategy. I have increased the time from 90 minutes to 2 hours.

The learning module for Banner, Elizabether Cady Stanton is all set and ready to go. There will be no discussion paragraph assigned for this book, just the quiz.

The quiz questions from The Lost Land will not appear in an exam this semester.

The Unit 4 exam will be comprised entirely of questions that have previously appeared in quizzes. For technical reasons, I was unable to make that happen for Unit 3.

I think you will find this last unit a satisfying intellectual experience.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Chavez, Lost Land discussion link

Here is picture of where the discussion link is for Chavez, The Lost Land. This is what you should see when you click on the Chavez, The Lost Land learning module inside the Unit 3 folder. Some have had trouble finding this. If you will include your section number in your comments, I can respond more specifically to your particular situation. I look forward to reading your discussions.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

eCollege is down!

I'll try to log on around 8:00 tonight to answer your emails.

Chavez, The Lost Land

Lonestar's eCollege failed to upload the discussion module. I will have to try again tomorrow. In the meantime, here is the discussion assignment so that you can begin.

Use one of the following questions as a starting place for your discussion paragraph on John Chavez's "The Lost Land." Remember to follow these directions . Be sure to read "What is a paragraph" before you begin.

1. Explain the role of "Aztlan" in the construction of Mexican American identity in the Southwest.
2. What are some of the causes and consequences of the artificial ethnic divisions between early Latin immigrants into the Southwest and later 20th-century. Do you think these divisions persist today? Why or why not?

As always, I encourage you to comment on each other's paragraphs.Remember to be respectful and have fun!

Monday, March 30, 2009

Chavez quiz posted

Somewhere between writing this quiz and uploading it onto Vista, two questions got dropped, so there are only 18 questions. The questions are worth 5 points each. 18 times 5 equals 90. Therefore, if you get every question right, you will only make 90 points. I will resolve this by adding 10 points to everyone's quiz score. The quiz is due no later than April 11. Good luck!

Monday, March 16, 2009

HIST 1301 Online, Unit 3

I have to let you in on something: I have been going ahead of the syllabus and cleaning up the chapter quizzes before you get to them. It is really tedious, and it takes a long time but some of the answers are wrong, and some of them just don't make sense. It had been my plan to use part of spring break to get the Unit 3 quizzes cleaned up. As you know, the system was down for spring break so you guys will be using the same quiz questions everyone else around here uses, meaning some of them are just not right.

So here's what I'm going to do. For Unit 3, I am going to scale everyone's quiz grades up 8 points. That should compensate for any goofy questions that you get. Furthermore, the exam questions are going to be harder because there will be some questions you haven't seen before. Therefore, I will be curving the exam scores as well. I'll let you know how much when I see the scores.

By the time we get to Unit 4, I'll have those questions straightened out. Unit 3 is going to be a bear. Sorry about that. If it's any consolation, most online courses don't get this kind of attention. They just run with whatever questions the textbook publisher sends.

The Chavez quiz and discussion board will be ready by the end of this week.
Good luck!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Discussion Board/Writing Assignments

I finally got all the discussion posts graded. It took a while but everyone got some kind of feedback. In some cases, the feedback looked something like this:
  • evidence
  • proofreading
In this case, the author needs to pay more attention to how she uses evidence, and also needs to proofread more carefully. These elements are more fully explained here. Most of you are writing at the college level, and many of you are not. This is okay. This is the time when you develop and improve your reading and writing skills. I sometimes find the following video helpful with my own writing. It's a cool video, anyway. Check it out.



I enjoyed reading your posts, and I learned a lot from them. Keep up the good work!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Extra Credit!

Maria Theresa Hernandez will present, "Cemeteries of Ambivalent Desire," based on an old Mexican cemetery in Sugarland, Texas.

Where: LSC-North Harris, CE 101
When: Monday, March 2, 2009 2-3:30.

Sign out for extra credit (1 point added to your final average)

Thursday, February 19, 2009

1301, Online, Unit 2 folder was invisible!

A student let me know that the Unit 2 folder has been invisible for 1301 Online. I have fixed it, and Unit 2 should be fully functional. Do let me know if there are problems with any of the modules. The smallest error on my end can cause problems on your end that are invisible to me. Have fun with the unit!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Getting Caught up after a Rough Week

Here is where we stand with my face-to-face classes:

  • The Exam 1 scores have been adjusted.
  • Unit 2 is fully loaded, including the study guide.

There is nothing to do in preparation for the learning module titled, "The Radical Revolution." Just show up for class, and we'll take it from there. There's nothing to read, no quiz to take, no outline to download. Just remember to get your chapters 5 and 6 quizzes done by midnight Saturday night. And don't put it off to the last minute because the server might crash just when you need it most!

I'll try to have the discussion paragraphs graded over the weekend.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Can't log on to Lonestar!

Sorry guys, I didn't get to anyone's email today. I got totally jammed, and now Lonestar.edu seems to be down. I'll have to catch up tomorrow.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Study aids for online history course

Find chapter outlines, etc. at

http://www.wwnorton.com/college/history/america7/

Hat-tip to Tamera :)

Update: Some of these tools suggest that you email me stuff. Don't do that. Only email me when you want to "talk" about something.

Friday, February 6, 2009

What is a Paragraph?

I know that you folks know what a paragraph is. However, you still need to know what are my expectations of your discussion posts. Below, I clearly lay out these expectations along with the rubric under which your work will be evaluated. I look forward to reading your posts.

A paragraph is, first and foremost, a unit of thought. You are telling me what you think about a particular topic. In this case you are responding to a question prompt. Therefore, the first sentence should introduce your thought as clearly as possible. I should be able to tell by the first sentence what that paragraph will express to me. Ideally, your first sentence should state a claim. The following sentences should draw evidence from the book, film, or document to support your claim. They should convince me that what you say is supported by the assigned sources. Be sure to use at least one keyword (evidence) from each of the assigned sources. Then completely identify that keyword in terms of "Who, What, When, Where, and So What? (how is that keyword related to the historical problem we are discussing?" The concluding sentence should answer the question, “So what?” How has this paragraph responded to the historical problem we are discussing? How has it added depth or breadth to our understanding of the topic? How am I a smarter or better-informed person for having read this paragraph? Very few paragraphs answer all these questions, but you should try to accomplish at least one of them. That is the ideal and the basic structure. Remember, I want to know what you really think; not what you think I want you to think. Have fun, and speak your mind! It’s easy when you actually believe what you are writing.

Grading—paragraphs will be graded on the following:
1. Structure/organization, does the paragraph function as a unit of thought (does it have a topic sentence that states a claim, which is then supported by a body of evidence that is carefully explained and then brought together in a conclusion sentence)?
2. Evidence, does the paragraph draw specific references from all the assigned sources as evidence to support the claim(s) made in your paragraph?
3. Analysis, does the paragraph explain logically how the evidence presented supports the claims made (are all the keywords fully identified?
4. Proofreading, the paragraph should be free of grammatical errors and misspellings.

A paragraph that meets all the above criteria will receive an A (95); a paragraph that meets three of these criteria will receive a B (85); a paragraph that meets two of these criteria will receive a C (75); a paragraph that meets one of these criteria will receive a D (65); a paragraph that meets none of these criteria will receive an F. Good luck, and have fun.

Writing assignment/discussion post

Thanks to everyone who has brought up stuff in the comments. I think I need to clarify a few things about the writing assignment/discussion post.

First, I refer to this as a "writing assignment" because I want everyone to treat this as a formal writing assignment wherein the rules of grammar, structure and style apply. However, the format is a discussion post, meaning that you post your paragraph in a discussion forum.

Here's how you do it:
  1. Go to the John Chavez, "The Lost Land" learning module.
  2. In the table of contents (links on the left side of the window) click the one that says, "Lost Land discussion"
  3. That will open a window that gives the instructions, along with the four questions I have suggested as prompts for writing. Only respond to one question.
  4. Compose your response in a word processing program. Print it. Proofread it (preferably by reading aloud). Make your corrections.
  5. Copy your work and paste it into the window that opens when you click "create message."
Be sure to read "What is a Paragraph?" before you write your discussion post.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Office hours

I thought it might be useful for you guys to know when you can expect me to respond to your emails.

Let's start with Monday through Thursday. On those days, I'm in class, or otherwise occupied, all morning; and I don't get to my emails until afternoon. I try to have them read and answered by 3 PM. I will log on again around 8:00 PM.

On Fridays, I log on in the mid-to-late morning, and I will probably not log back on until Saturday.

I have scheduled most deadlines for midnight Saturday night, and I try to make myself available off and on throughout the day to deal with problems that might arise as students try to meet this deadline. Saturdays nights, though, I like to party with my friends; so don't expect me to get your late-night emails until Monday afternoon.

I take Sundays off. I won't get your Sunday emails until Monday afternoon.

I hope this helps. dld

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Quiz Randomizer

A student has informed me that the quiz questions are still being randomized, even though I have turned off the randomizer. I will address this with the help desk on Monday. dld

Update: It's Tuesday, and I haven't yet managed to address the randomizer issue. Now, I'm hoping to get to it before the weekend.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Extra credit!

Get one point added to your final average. This is the equivalent of a letter grade on an exam or discussion paragraph!

To get the credit, attend Rhonda Ragsdale's "Resistance: African American Style" at the teaching theater (A126, downstairs in the Academic Building) at LSC-North Harris. The presentation will take place at noon, Wednesday, February 18.

Free Pizza!

Update: There will be a sign-out sheet.

Textbook or Lectures--what do I study!?

Quite a few students have expressed some confusion about what they should be paying attention to, the textbook or the lectures? This is understandable, and I would like to try to explain my method here.

The textbook presents what I call the conventional narrative. This is the story that most scholars agree on as, more or less, the American story. It contains much of the stuff you will be expected to know about U.S. history as you move forward through your college education. Further, it provides much of the background or context for the material I present. Consider the exploration of U.S. history like a long walk. The textbook provides a nice, well groomed path that one can easily follow.

I present a somewhat different narrative. It is the story I have put together over years of study, research and teaching. I have described it as a reflection on the problems of freedom, slavery and empire. I tend to think of the classroom as a long conversation about these problems. If we continue with the metaphor of a path, this one is less travelled, wilder and meandering. The two paths—the textbook and the classroom—sometimes merge, sometimes part company and sometimes cross each other. Both paths are important. Both stories matter. But what do you study?

How to use the textbook for study: The chapter quizzes are intended to guide you through the textbook. Think of the quiz as a tour guide leading you along the conventional narrative path. Sometimes the chapter quizzes reinforce the classroom presentations, sometimes they don’t. What they do accomplish is to familiarize you with the textbook material. See my post on chapter quiz strategies. Once you have taken a chapter quiz, you are finished with that part of the textbook. Don’t study the quizzes or the chapters beyond that.

How to study the lectures: Each classroom presentation comes with a student outline published on eCollege. These outlines are intended to guide you in your note-taking by pointing out important terms and concepts and showing how they fit together in outline form. When you study for an exam, you will use your own notes that you have taken in class. Taking notes is part of the learning process. When you take notes, you actually inscribe this knowledge onto your brain. You might think you are going to forget it but it will always be there, waiting to be recalled.

How to study for an exam: Each unit comes with an exam and an accompanying study guide. The study guide lists the terms and concepts I think are important. The exam will be 25 multiple-choice questions that involve identifying a term or concept. Every term or concept on the exam is listed in this study guide. Therefore, when it is time to study for the exam, you will begin with the study guide. Go through each term and concept, and make sure you can identify them. In trying to identify these terms, first begin with your notes. The outlines will tell you where in your notes any particular term should be. If you don’t see the term in your notes, then go to the textbook. Try looking it up in the index. In any case, you should know basically where it is in the textbook (remember, some of this stuff is in the textbook, and some of it is not) because of the chapter quizzes. If you can’t find a term in either your notes or the textbook, it is time to call your study buddy. If you don’t yet have a study buddy, it’s time to get one. Two of my classes have Supplemental Instructors (SI) to lead study groups. Check it out; study groups are fun!

Achieving your academic goals: Now you have to tools you need to achieve your goals but how do you match them up? It depends on what your goals are. If your goal is to make an A, you will need to gain mastery over the material. That means you can identify all the terms and concepts on the study guide when prompted. If your goal is a B, you will want to go over all the terms and make sure you have the material to identify them. You will spend some time reviewing this material but you might not be able to answer some of the terms when prompted. If your goal is a C, you will want to go over all the terms in the study guide and make sure you have the material to identify them. Then you might want to review the study guide the night before the exam, along with your notes and the textbook just to “nail it into place.”
It is my intention that these study skills will serve you throughout your college education and beyond. Good luck!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

How to Skim a Book

Here’s the problem:
1) College is a time when you are expected to read a lot of books, and it’s important that you do this because reading books introduces you to new ideas and new ways of thinking. Reading can actually help you become a better person; 2) Few of our students have a lot of time on their hands to spend reading books. They have jobs, families and other commitments. Furthermore academic writing is frequently dry. These things make is hard for many students to get the required reading done.

Here is the solution:

Skim. But if you’re going to skim, do it properly. Begin with the introduction or preface, whichever the book has. Almost all academic books begin with an introduction or preface. This is where the author tells you why she wrote the book and what she hopes to accomplish. She tells you what is in the book and why you should care. Just about every academic book you are assigned will be arranged in the same way: 1) the author tells you what she’s going to tell you; 2)she tells you; 3) she tells you what she told you. The introduction is where she tells you what she’s going to tell you. The body of the book is where she tells you, and the conclusion is where she tells you what she told you.

For that reason, I read the introduction very carefully. I am looking for the author’s argument. In other words, what is the main point she is trying to make? What is the central message of this book? I also look for the author’s strategy in the introduction. An academic book is a little like a murder trial. The prosecutor in the trial tries to convince the jury of something. He introduces evidence. He explains the importance of each piece of evidence and how it logically fits together to prove his case. Academic arguments are presented the same way. The author makes a central claim and then introduces evidence to support that claim. She then uses logic to show how the evidence fits together to support her claim. In reading the introduction, I keep the following questions in mind: what kind of evidence is this author using to support what claim, and how does she fit it together logically?

Then I go straight to the final chapter or the conclusion. This is where the author sums up her case. This is where she tells me what she told me. By the time I have read the conclusion, I am usually pretty sure what the author’s central argument is and what strategies she is employing to make her case.

Then I go to the first chapter. I read the first chapter the same way I read the overall book. The first paragraph tells me what she is going to tell me; the following paragraphs tell me; then the concluding paragraph tells me what she told me. Here again, I begin with the first paragraph, then read the last one and then read the introductory sentence of the next paragraph.
In this way, I am digesting the main points of the book and getting an idea of how it all fits together. As I skim through the following paragraphs I will pay careful attention to those parts that seem directly related to the book’s central argument and its main supporting themes. When the paragraphs appear to be laden with a lot of details that I probably won’t remember anyway, I skim down to the next paragraph and keep doing that until I get back to the main ideas.
Using this technique, you can effectively skim a book in 3 to 6 hours depending on the length of the book and the complexity of its topic. Some books are so good that you’ll want to read every word. Others will lend themselves well to skimming. It’s up to you to decide based on how much time you have and your level of skill. Good luck!

Syllabus correction for HIST 1301 (face-to-face)

A student pointed out to me in class that I had an exam scheduled for Friday, February 6. Of course, we don't meet on Fridays. That was my mistake. I have loaded an updated syllabus onto eCollege, and made announcements during class. We will have our first exam Wednesday, February 4. The topic I had scheduled for February 6--sugar and slavery in the Caribbean--you might have already noticed that I worked it into last Monday's presentation. Sorry for the confusion. dld

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Due dates and glitches

I generally spend the first week of class dealing with eCollege glitches. This time it was due dates for my online courses. I set up all the due dates a couple of weeks before class started. It wasn't long before emails started coming in to let me know that the due dates were wrong. The program had reverted all the due dates to last summer. At first, I thought it was just a few random errors on my part but eventually it bacame clear that all the due dates were wrong. So I reset the due dates for the first week or two for all the quizzes in all my classes, and we made it through the week. Now, I've reset all the due dates for the remainder of the course. I hope I got them all right but I do make mistakes. Let me know whenever something like that comes up, and I will fix it if I can. In the meantime, have fun with the course, and treat this as an open thread for any questions or comments you would like to make. dld

Chapter quiz strategies

A student asked me, in an email a couple of days ago, about the best way to read for taking a chapter quiz. Do you read the chapter like a novel? Good question. My answer below:


I recommend the following approach, which you can adapt your own reading and comprehension level:
  • First take a fairly quick look through the chapter, paying attention to the opening matter at the beginning of each chapter wherein the author presents his overview of the topics and time period at hand. Look at the subheadings and glance at the first paragraph of each subheading just to get an idea of what this portion of the material is about. Remember: most academic writing follows the same structure: 1) Tell them what you are going to tell them; 2)Tell them; 3)Tell them what you told them. In English classes, this might have been presented to you as 1) Introduction; 2); Body;  3) Conclusion. Either way you look at it, it works to the advantage of the reader who has a limited resource of time. If you invest time reading the Introduction carefully, you can study the body of the chapter much more efficiently. Look at the charts, tables, and images. They were all chosen for a reason. They signal what the chapter is focusing on. In this way, you can avoid getting bogged down in the details of the narrative but retain your focus on the major themes. After you have gone through the chapter in this way, start the quiz. By the time you have finished it the first time, you will have gained some familiarity with the narrative.
  • Begin the assessment and look up each question in turn. If you have printed the outline from Study Space, you can use the outline as a roadmap to locate that topic in the textbook. Doing this also helps create a roadmap in your mind. This is the mental map you will follow when you take the exam later. Some answers will be obvious, and others might require more careful reading and some thought. By the time you finish the quiz, you will have familiarized yourself with all the main points of the chapter. You will retain much of this knowledge when you retake the quiz and, later, when you take the exam. If your score is lower than you'd like, just relax--you'll get another try at it, and the highest score will be recorded.
  • Retake the quiz. You'll probably find yourself well in command of the material by this time, especially if you've used the flashcards and outlines from Study Space.

  • All of these steps are designed to give you confidence and help you do well on the exam. That is what studying is. Good luck!