Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Sorting Fact from Fiction: How Do We "Know" Our History?

We've looked Columbus's arrival in the "New World" from various perspectives, including Columbus's own journals (a primary source).  We've also read about the impact of bias on the presentation of historical "facts." We know that biases color our interpretations of events, symbols, and historical figures.

Based upon your readings and our class discussion, write a paragraph in which you explain what should be included in 7th grade history classes that teach the arrival of Europeans to the shores of North and Central America. Be sure that your paragraph opens with a topic sentence that includes your position--the point you hope to prove in your paragraph.  Use evidence from our readings to support your claims, and be as specific as possible, not only about what should be included, but also about your reasons. End the paragraph with a sentence that returns to your topic sentence's claim, and that also addresses the "so what" question.  In other words, be sure to explain why your conclusion matters.

You might also want to read and respond to your classmates' posts.  Please do so with respect and common sense, keeping in mind that each of us writes from our own perspective.  Use your first name and your class period in your post. 

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Tonight, the first of three presidential election debates, will focus on domestic policy -- issues affecting only the United States itself. The debate will take place in Denver, Colorado, which is a "swing state" (one of your recent election terms). The moderator, Jim Lehrer, will ask the two candidates questions about the economy, health care, and the role of government in American society.

Watch at least thirty minutes of the debate to get a sense of the candidates' perspectives and how a debate works (several major networks and cable networks will carry the debates--it's worth switching to see the ways in which different channels choose to broadcast the event). As you watch the debate, ask yourself the following questions. Answer the questions in several complete sentences each on this blog.

1. What makes for a strong response to the questions, in your opinion? Support your claim with an example from the debate.

2. What are the strengths and weaknesses of the debate format? How does the format of the debate shape the discussion? Support your answer with an example. How would you change the debate format?

3. What "domestic policy" questions did not get discussed, that you think were important?

Please remember to be respectful of others. This forum itself is not a debate forum, nor is it a time to explain your own views on the candidates. It's a chance for you to reflect on the format of the debates, and the benefits and limitations of that format.