concentrate on the question—all
of your other work will fail if you do not correctly understand the
question. What is the prof (or the boss) asking for?.
Caution: In this
course, I provide all topics for writing assignments ahead of time for
So you have a chance to know what you need to read
So you can ask a question if you
do not understand my question
look up all words that you do not use regularly and successfully in front
of people who are experts in the discipline. Disciplines use words
ballot, count, vote are different, but related words.
Caution: In this course, I will
provide links to definitions for words that are central to understanding. Check
of words that are defined because
they are different, but related words:
- For U.S. History I, definitions of
words such as indenture, serf, servant, slave, and servitude
- For U.S. History II, definitions of
words such as discrimination and segregation.
do two things at the beginning and end of your reading:
Before you start to read,
stop and be sure what you are reading is appropriate for that question. (Once you start writing, you will
not catch your error.)
Do not use information
- about New England to answer a question
about the South or about the Middle Colonies
- about ranchers to answer a question
Before you stop reading, look to see if some other things happened or
if some things changed.
Notice the sentences (and sometimes pages) before and after what
you are reading.
A truth that requires three sentences can be a falsehood if you only notice
one of those sentences.
- Notice changes over time.
What’s true in 1619 may be different after 1660—or in 1868 and after 1898.
In this course, I will provide resources so you have a chance to see
interconnections and how history changes over time. Check those resources.
when you select your facts, make sure they are significant and representative. Do not cherry pick your facts. Check the definitions link for
details, but cherry-picking
facts means you have selected facts that are atypical or that ignore the contradictions
covered in the section you are using.
when you read, observe carefully
and constantly. Do not embellish your facts. Check
the definitions link for details, but
embellishing facts means adding
more exciting details than the author of your source did. If the author
of the required source (the textbook) does not give details, then you
cannot—and you do not need to.
Always notice words that reveal limitations of
such as believed
(A person believed something. The
historian did not say the person was right.)
such as wanted
(A person wanted to do something.
The historian did not say the
such as critics and supporters
(The historian has warned you of the person’s bias.)
indicating quantity such as few, many, most, and all.
(The historian has warned you of the limits. If she does not say all, then you do not either.