The Boas & Braman Experience


April 2017

Civil Rights

Remember the task:

You are writing an introduction to a history textbook.  This introduction should explain the objective that your group has chosen.  And, yes, you are explaining how you will achieve your objective of writing an ideal history.  The product will provide an introduction to your textbook.  Each student will contribute a portion of this introduction; it is up to groups to determine how to write this introduction. 

Part One: Introduction to the History considers the following:

  1. What does an ideal history contain, and what is its purpose?
  2. How do historians determine interject significance and consequence?

    What sources should be considered?  How should facts be selected?

    Which people should be quoted?  Which should be mentioned by name?

  1. What organization makes most sense? What is your organizing idea?
  2. How should a history be told? Should historians give relevance to events?

   What sort of narration should be used? (omniscient, limited-omniscient, objective)

   How much evaluation is appropriate?     What sort of words should be used?

Don’t forget to:

  • Include a concession statement & counter-argument to contrast this history from others
  • Include at least one prominent historian to support your argument


With that in mind, today we will be working in several stages – This is Wednesday in class

  1. Read what others have written so you can see the scope of what you’ve done.
    1. Read to see if you agree (your group must arrive at agreement; you can’t disagree on your approach).
  2. Determine the best sequence for your sections
    1. Should #4 above really be last? Why?  What is your logic?
  3. Once you have read and peer edited each other’s work, determine how you would change your own work.
    1. Make self-editing comments on your draft

Then, and only then, move to the next stage – Likely Thursday in class

determine what events, leaders, ideas, and data should be included

  • Take out your texts, and COLLECTIVELY build a content list from what is there
    • For each event, leader, idea, or ‘fact’…
      • List it
      • Date it
      • Explain it
      • Mention significance
Fact Date Content Significance
Brown v. Board of Ed. 1954 Sup. Ct Case overturning Plessy v. Ferguson.  Ends ‘separate but equal’ – the foundation of Jim Crow Segregation laws Legal standing for segregation undermined by the federal courts.  Segregation does not end, but the legal foundation is undermined.
  • Each student should do ¼ of the work, not one student doing it all for the group
  • Then, and only then, can your group determine which facts it would include (and ignore).
    • (as well as what additional facts should we consider).

Efficient groups will finish their peer editing and self-revisions Wednesday in class and will begin their content lists for the texts.  You should revise your paragraphs into a brilliant group essay Wednesday evening.   Thursday, you should arrive in class with your portion of the content list from The American Century handout.  Complete content lists should be completed by the end of class Thursday. 

You should not begin writing your part three until told to do so.


Civil Rights Fishbowl

In my 20 years of teaching, although there have certainly been days where students did impressive work.  I would be hard-pressed, however, to think of many days where each student contributed to the learning of the group and the quality of work was so high.  The speakers in each fishbowl shared insights, built off of the insights of previous speakers, and constructed a coherent understanding of what a quality history should look like.  In short, it was a good day for all.

For those who missed, here is a quick review:

  1. The first fishbowl focused on the reading as an artifact.  They tackled questions like: What is the purpose of the text?  How can the author’s perspective be known through: word choice, sentence structure, selection of facts, selection of visuals, and structure of headings and subheadings?  Who is mentioned by name?  Who is mentioned as a group?  What does this reading tell us about leadership?
  2. Round 2 of the fishbowl examined the history presented in the document.  Participants considered questions like: who are the primary actors in this (hi)story?  What is the theme of the narrative?  How were civil rights ‘won’?  What role did JFK, MLK Jr., and LBJ play?  Who deserves the credit for winning civil rights for African-Americans?
  3. Round 3 continued to explore the text by considering and questioning the way the content is presented.  They dove deeper into what was missing from the text.  And considered, broadly, how should this history – a history of the Civil Rights movement – be told?

In the conversation today, students raised these questions and provided these insights:

  • What is the author’s perspective?
    • The author is hesitant to give credit to these Presidents.” A.C.
  • What is missing?
    • How does a history of civil rights not include Malcolm X? T.O.
  • Does an ideal history have bias? A.S.
    • “It is the biases that you choose to include that make history dangerous.” L.H.
    • “It is where you choose your facts that make the bias unacceptable.” S.M.
    • “Regarding perspectives, what ‘sides’ should we show?” B.W.

After the three fishbowls, students were asked to reflect on their experience and to think about what is the next logical step in the process of knowing about the Civil Rights movement.  One suggestion was that this presentation represented the view of two white Presidents – JFK and LBJ.  What would another presentation of this same history look like?  With that in mind…

Your assignment, if you were in class for all three fishbowls, is to skim this textbook excerpt – from the African American Odyssey – and compare its presentation to the one you evaluated today in class.  Walk into class having read the excerpt.  No need to do any writing yet, but you should assume some is coming.   You should also finish completing your post-fishbowl reflection sheet and be ready to turn it in at the beginning of class.

If you were not in class, your fishbowl opportunity will happen on Monday (yipee!).  Please read the textbook excerpt – from the African American Odyssey – and compare its presentation to the one you evaluated as you read it for Wednesday.  Please know that we’ve already considered the questions above and that your task will be to take us into an analysis of the second textbook excerpt.  The students today did well to critically analyze and evaluate The American Century.  Your job will to be able to follow the same series of questions from the African American Odyssey.  Be prepared to share your thoughts in a fishbowl setting on Monday.

an update for your IA submission

Below are some reminders for your submission of your IA.  You will need to submit it to by Tuesday, April 18th at midnight Wednesday, April 19th at 9:50am (thank Sam).  A hard copy of your work will be due in class on Wednesday, April 19th at 9:55.  

Please make sure that you have addressed the following issues that were typical of the previous submissions:


  1. Use a Title Page:
    1. Name
    2. Title of Investigation
    3. Research Question
    4. Word Count (all 3 criterion, but not works cited)
  2. Use a Table of Contents as its own page
    1. Criterion A: introduce topic, research question, and OPCVL
    2. Criterion B: Investigation
    3. Criterion C: Reflection
    4. Works Cited
  3. Use subheadings for each criterion so it is obvious when you switch
  4. OPCVL formatting
    1. Have an intro paragraph of 4 or fewer sentences
      1. Introduce your topic
      2. Introduce your research question
  5. Word Count for criterion A, B, and C is a total of 2200
    1. Do not go over
    2. Suggested word count: 500, 1300, 400
  6. Indent (or, ideally, shorten) block quotes
    1. A block quote is a quote that spills onto 4 lines of text
  7. Do:
    1. include page numbers
    2. use a readable font
    3. use the spacing recommended – 1.5 or double-space
    4. use MLA citation format for in-text citations:
      1. Author’s last name and then page number – e.g. (Boas 321)
    5. Punctuate books correctly – italics or underline [not bold!]
  8. Do NOT:
    1. Include a typical Skyline heading at the top of your work
    2. Include annotations in your works cited

Overall feedback based on the rubric:

  1. For many students, the main issue with Criterion A involved two things:
    1. The statement of a question prior to the OPCVL
      1. the clarity of the question
    2. The discussion of the value and the limitations is how you score well
  2. The most common feedback for Criterion B had to do with two things: arguments and perspectives
    1. you need to argue to a reasoned conclusion (which answers your question), otherwise, it is merely description or narrative
    2. remember that it is not enough for you just to present an argument (this can get you to 7-9), you also need to show differing perspectives on your argument
    3. once you have included multiple historical perspectives, don’t forget to evaluate them.  How is their argument effective?  weak?
  3. With Criterion C, the most important element is the methodology of the historian.  The best reflections use examples from their investigation to illuminate the work that historians do.
    1. would your reflection look perfectly normal at the end of someone else’s IA?  If so, then it is far too generic.  Make the connection between your work and the work of a historian explicit.

I hope you’ve enjoyed your break

This upcoming week will be busy.  I have decided to not assign reading for Monday.  The reading will not be due until Wednesday.  Our week ahead will include three important pieces of work:

  1. Monday, we will focus on your IA.  IF you submitted a draft of your IA before 4/16 [it was due on 4/6], I have finished commenting on your draft.  You should arrive at class Monday having listened to the 3-minute recording I have made about your draft.  If you have time to make changes prior to Monday, do so.  If not, be prepared to make those changes in class Monday.  On Monday, I will spend a few minutes giving additional input on what your essay format should look like (your rubric does this as well).  We will have time in the lab to make formatting changes.  Tuesday, you will submit your completed Internal Assessment.
  2. Tuesday in class, we will finish our Cold War presentations.
  3. On Wednesday, you will need to arrive at class having critically read this three-page history.

Is yours a false reality?

You Draw It: What Got Better or Worse During Obama’s Presidency

Your Reflection for the IA

Your Complete draft of your IA is due tomorrow (Criterion 1-3 + Bibliography).  It will be due in hard copy during class and to

The only part that you still need to write is the Section 3: Reflection.  

This section of the internal assessment task requires students to reflect on what undertaking their investigation highlighted to them about the methods used by, and the challenges facing, the historian.

Examples of discussion questions that may help to encourage reflection include the following.

  • What methods used by historians did you use in your investigation?
  • What did your investigation highlight to you about the limitations of those methods?
  • What are the challenges facing the historian? How do they differ from the challenges facing a scientist or a mathematician?
  • What challenges in particular does archive-based history present?
  • How can the reliability of sources be evaluated?
  • What is the difference between bias and selection?
  • What constitutes a historical event?
  • Who decides which events are historically significant?
  • Is it possible to describe historical events in an unbiased way?
  • What is the role of the historian?
  • Should terms such as “atrocity” be used when writing about history, or should value judgments be avoided?
  • If it is difficult to establish proof in history, does that mean that all versions are equally acceptable?


Here is a quality sample that earned full credit.

Here is a copy of the rubric from your handout.

3–4 The reflection is clearly focused on what the investigation highlighted to the student about the methods used by the historian

The reflection demonstrates clear awareness of challenges facing the historian and/or limitations of the methods used by the historian.

There is a clear and explicit connection between the reflection and the rest of the investigation.

As you prepare for Monday’s presentations…

Know that we will present in chronological order.  If your event falls before 1960, you should assume you will present Monday.  We will spend a few minutes practicing our presentations on Monday prior to presenting.  Arrive with your outline complete and having practiced your presentation.  You already have the rubric distributed last week.

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