World History 1- 1101- Spring 2022

SyllabusWeekly SchedulePhone or video appointmentHomeD2LAssignment Files

2022-05-16, 21:40 Final Grades

I’ve complete grading.

Please see my notes below about how the grades are dropped (curved) and what I am and am not willing to discuss regarding grades.

In short, I am willing to discuss the fairness or accuracy of an individual graded workd (preepare, assignment or reflection.) I am not willng to discuss the fairness or accuracy of a final grade.

Grades aside, I appreciate the colossal analysis and learning that you extended this semester.

I welcome all former students in my future classes. Next fall is going to be lit: I’m resetting the whole course with fewer assignments and more revision. And it’s about the most controversial subject of all time. Come find out.

2022-05-16, 15:02 Section 00 Assignment and Reflection 16 done

Now on to housekeeping: grading generated through personal communications.

2022-05-16, 8:42 Final Grading Day

I’ll be doing lots of individual student grading and Section 00 Week 16 today. Updates as I have them.

2022-05-13, 16:22 Assignment and Reflection 16 for Section 01 finished

Thank you to Section 01 for producing fantastic work across 16 weeks.

2022-05-12, 20:38 Assignment and Reflection 16 for Section 10

I’ve read all of Section 10’s work. Thank you to my face-to-face students. You made Monday mornings a joy for me.

On to Sections 00 and 01 tomorrow.

2022-05-11, 10:16 Class Citizenship Update

Careful watchers of D2L will note that Class Citizenship was (until today) split between a faculty and student score totalling 4% of your final grade. I’ve eliminated the student component and it will just be a faculty score.

I had intended to have students systematically rate participation of each other in your Assignment groups. However, after week 10, I concluded that the dramatically different levels of engagement in groups would yield unfair evaluations. For example, one group with six highly-engaged students might all evaluate each other. Another group of four students, two of whom engaged less or not at all, might yield an evaluation where one student was evaluating one other student.

I need to improve placing students in groups, monitoring and supporting their communication, and assessing their communication in future semesters. For now, I think it unfair for students to be evaluated by each other.

The Citizenship grade is discussed below.

Grading on your final projects and Reflections starts today. Looking forward to your podcast work!

2022-05-10, 15:08 Prepare 16: the final section

I’ve read Section 10’s Prepare 16 now. As always, examples make answers strong.

I’m having some difficult conversations with students about grades. So everyone understands (and as I discussed below) your grade is a sum of the work you turned in over the semester. Grades do not reflect intelligence, effort, or character: grades reflect what I can see of your learning. I believe my students are smart, hard working, good people. I don’t award grades based on those beliefs. That’s just how college is.

2022-05-09, 14:32 Prepare 16 and Grading

I read Section 01 Prepare 16. That so many, >95%, finished Prepare 16 is outstanding.

I’m having a series of individual email, phone, and video conversations about grades that are important and need my time and attention. I’m cleaning up individual grade issues (such as broken links now fixed). At the end of the semester grade realities can be hard to face, so I want to be as humanely honest.

I’m seeing some Reflection 16’s trickling in. Feel free to treat them as whole-course reflections on your learning, not just week 16.

2022-05-5, 21:05 Lots of little bits

Lots of small communications happening now, with minor grade adjustments resulting. Hoping your work on Assignment 16 is going well.

2022-05-3, 20:39 More Grading Updates

All Sections, All Week 15 grades are updated. As I noted below, to catch up I graded credit/no credit.

In anticipation of future questions, consider the following grading advice related to final grades.:

  • I own all the grades so I can change your grade anytime. That is to say, please do not call in the middle of the night fearing a grade will be permanently on your record. Once final grades are submitted I must fill out a digital form to change it, and I can change it 5 minutes, 5 weeks, or 5 years after it’s been submitted.
  • Data errors are easy to fix and I welcome your emails.
  • Technical errors (google ate my homework) will involve a longer discussion that goes beyond when grades are due.
  • Your class citizenship grades are based on your participation, reflections, and respectful behavior towards other students. Good citizens show up and make their communities better places. If you did that, you will score well.
  • I am willing to discuss individual assignments, but not the final course grade. Please consider your communication carefully when asking for regrading.
  • Grades are a measure of your performance on a set number of tasks over the course of four months. Grades are not a measure of intelligence, effort, ability, or my afinity for you. Grades reflect what you turned in, and only that.

2022-05-02, 16:19 Notes on Grades

My illness prevented me from reading and grading last week. That said, your work should receive credit. Yet, I can’t try to grade last week and this week in the same way.

So, I’m awarding week 15 complete work credit/no credit. I’ve already complete Section 10 in this work.

The due dates for your Assignment 16 and Reflection 16 are TUESDAY, MAY 10th. Podcasting, by design, is a more challenging Assignment. So while this last week’s work is not a "final exam," it is ia slightly larger project that requires more time so that it can be a culminating learning experience.

I took great joy in meeting with Section 10 today and I’ve been touched by your notes of support in your Assignment files.

Thank you.

2022-05-1, 20:22 Regular order

I’m feeling better and looking forward to a regular week of classes. As always, stay tuned here for updates.

2022-04-29, 11:21 Backsliding

Sorry, I had a bad night am recovering again today. I hope to be back to full strength for Monday’s class.

2022-04-28, 14:19 Week 16 Work Posted

Going to return emails now and then start digging out of grading 🙂

2022-04-28, 10:50 Week 16 work will be posted later today

Still sick, just trying to work.

2022-04-27, 11:42 Still out sick

Sorry, recovering from this cold is taking time. Headaches and sinus pain make reading an unpleasant experience, and student work deserves better than that.

I will get the last week’s work up by tomorrow, hell or high water.


I’m fully away from teaching today. Sorry. My body needs time to heal.

2022-04-24, 14:37 Class Cancelled Monday

Sorry, I’m ill (not covid) and shouldn’t be around others. We’ll proceed with the statistics prepare and assignments as usual. I’ll post a mini-stats explainer asap on why understanding percentages matters in history.

I’ll continue to respond to emails as I can.

2022-04-22, 10:25 Section 01 Assignment

Assignment 14 with Google GIS was well-constructed. As proof of the quality of the Assignment, students created masterful maps and had strong insights into how GIS helps us understand historical navigation. For example, many students noted examples of Zheng He’s reliance on viewable land features for navigation, and the challenges of navigating around smaller ocean features, such as small islands. Well done to the creators and the class.

2022-04-21, 14:27 Section 00 Assignment

Overall the StoryMaps were well executed with maps, images, text, and metadata all published. Many students dropped an image on their StoryMaps without citation or explanation of what it was. Anything that helps the reader understand why that image is there would be useful.

Sidenote: those of you who use an image of the flag of the Holy Roman Empire should run a SIFT analysis on it. Only one person (that I can tell because the whole images weren’t available to me) posted an accurate, pre-1400 flag of the HRE. Most images are modern interpretations. Why does this matter? Nazis (German and American ones) love the double eagle flag as a symbol. So, when grabbing images from public sites, be sure to check their origin.

The HRE flag double eagle flag did change over time from the 10th-18th centuries, though I’m not a flag historian so I can’t give you the exact details. Perhaps a question for askHistorians on reddit.

2022-04-20, 22:14 Section 00 and 01 Prepare 14

Section 00 Prepare questions were exceptionally well written, and the answers equally good. Like, restore my faith in what we’re doing, oh, yes, they get it, good.

Section 01 answers were good to great. Many answers would have benefited from additional examples. For example, students wrote that maps could help understand resources available in a region. Following that sentence with "For example, a map showing the density of forests in central Africa demonstrates how different the Congo is to the rest of central Africa. "

2022-04-19, 15:44 Section 10 Reflection 13 and Prepare 14

Apparently I’m not the only one having a tough go of it this week, as I read in both Reflections and the Prepare document. Reflections were well-written, though containing hard-to-read pain students are experiencing. The Prepare questions were largely under-answered. As in, students who regularly wrote 3-4 trenchant sentences to questions instead wrote a couple of nouns without a period. That many short answers tells me something is up. Let’s discuss in class on Monday.

In the meantime, I hope the additional source I posted for Section 10 allows you to do the Assignment easier.

2022-04-18, 16:12 Rough day

I’m having a rough day. Students are not responding to my emails, which has hurt one section’s lesson this week. 12 of 40 students were in my face-to-face class this morning. Even worse, so few people would look away from their screens when I spoke I just stopped class: it was disheartening.

If I’m feeling stressed, students are likely feeling that twice over. So, I write in the hope that seeing the finish line of the semester three weeks away brings you renewed energy as you imagine the next steps in your life.

I’ve read Reflection 13, Sections 00 and 01 and students continue to impress with their summaries of the learning, their questions about history, and their reflections on how you are learning.

Good luck with the GIS Assignments.

2022-04-16, 14:43 Section 01 Assigment 13

Assignment 13 read. The strongest analyses connected metadata to the history of Islam. Demonstrating an understanding of the theology is Islam is a necessary step to explaining the history of Islam.

2022-04-15, 17:22 Assignment 13, Section 10 and 00

Section 01 still to read.

Huge differences in the sophistication of answers. The strongest answers have 5 times the words (with the same number of sentences) as the weakest answers. Better answers deploy no more sophisticated a vocabulary or writing style, but they engage the sources more directly. Examples are key, as usual.

2022-04-14, 20:37 Emails and Grades

Please login to your Normandale email account, preferably once a day.

The last day to withdraw from classes is April 19th.

2022-04-13, 16:36 Sections 01 and 10 Preapre and Reflections Read

Students appear to enjoy working on projects created by their fellow students based on your Reflections. As usual, the best writing includes examples to ilustrate clames. For example, I find metadata useful because it organizes how I am served ads on my social media.

Many students with ill or recently-deceased friends and relatives. Wishing you all kindness and healing as you need them.

2022-04-12, 21:54 Section 00 Prepare and Reflection

From the one section I note that students could use a refresher on the middle ages. We consider the middle ages primarily a European term as other regions were not between significant events in the same way. At this point, medieval is just a common term, not an accurate description of events or culture. That said, we date the middle ages from around 450 to around 1450 CE. Our class ends in 1400 CE because the Mongol Empire falls apart in the 14th century, which is by far the most important event of the end of the middle ages.

A great recent book on the middle ages is The Bright Ages by David Perry and Matthew Gabrielle and is a popular (non-scholarly) introduction to this period. Perry is the history undergraduate director at the U of M as well, in case you are thinking of transferring there in history.

2022-04-11, 20:46 No grading today

One of the biggest issues in using metadata is tagging sources appropriately so that future historians can find materials. As I discussed my face-to-face class today, our understandings of gender, sex, and orientation as theoretically complex categories of analysis allow us to better understand and tag sources in the past. For example, Plato, Socrates, Aristotle and Alexander the Great all demonstrated same-sex attraction, though the identity "gay" was not one they would recognize. The metadata historical figures did generate can both illuminate and frustrate our understandings of the past. Ancient Greeks called most black Africans "Ethiopes" and 1000 CE Abbasids called the invading European armies the "Franks." As historians, our job is to correctly identify sources using our language so that future generations understand.

2022-04-08, 12:52 Assignment 12

I’ve read all of the Assignments and used the grading criteria the student groups created. Section 10 included a point rubric, and so Section 10 you will see that rubric in D2L grades.

Analysis with Voyant is difficult. The strongest analysis noted specific word counts, and then explained how the word counts demonstrate an issue of historical significance. As with all our work, whether with art or literature or physical objects, we always want to tie our analyses to a specific period. While writers may claim to have "timeless" messages, all sources reflect the period in which they were created. Our task is to place our sources into that history. As the hashtag notes, #everythinghasahistory .

2022-04-07, 13:17 Prepare 12, Section 00 & 01

Robust engagement with the questions, tying answers to your readings. Well done.

2022-04-06, 15:12 Prepare 12, Section 10

Some fascinating thoughts lying underneath your Prepare 12. Most students’ answers would have benefited from fuller articulations of your answers. For example, question #2 asked about topics in Tirukkural. Answering with single words helps me understand only a little of your thinking. Answering what the words meant in the context of the background reading (as the background reading noted. . ) helps me understand your full picture. I always assume the picture is robust in your head. My hope is that you spend the words on the page to help me see it.

2022-04-06, 10:15 Good math

I’ve updated the D2L Gradebook. Recall the following from the syllabus:

Dropped grades:
3 Preparations at 1.5% each = 4.5%
3 Reflections at 1.5% each = 4.5%
2 Assigments at 3% = 6%
Total dropped = 15%

In grading math terms, this means that the highest grade was 100%, but with the drops, 85% is the new 100%. So, keeping the standard criteria of 90-100% as an A, 80-89% is a B etc. . . with 85% as the new 100% yields the following:

Grade Non-curved max %% New high grade with dropped grades Range
A 100 85 76.2-85
B 89.55 76.1 67.7-76.2
C 79.55 67.6 59.2-67.7
D 69.55 59.1 50.7-59.2
F 59.55 50.6 0-50.6

We have Weeks 12-16 (5 weeks) yet to be added, which includes 30 final percentage points, and estimate what your possible grade could be.

2022-04-05, 13:08 Reflection 11 finished

Thoughtful reflections, the first of your reflection on each others’ work. I especially enjoy your examples. For example: "I found source X interesting because it relates to my interest in modern K-pop. Let me explain. . . " On to Prepare 12 . . . 🙂

2022-04-04, 16:55 Tips on distant reading religious and legal texts

As you read (close or distant) texts, consider a couple of ways of interpreting the messages in the sources. Ask yourself:

  1. Are the values, rules, or laws expressed in your text a description of what happened or people believed, or are the values/rules/laws a proscription of what the writer wants to happen but isn’t? In modern terms, is a MPG sign on a road a description of how fast people drive, or a proscription of how fast the government wants you to drive?

  2. Are the values of the text orthodox, that is there is only one way to do something, or heterodox, as in there are many ways to do something? For example, orthodox religious belief holds there is only one way to practice that religion. Heterodox belief holds there are several ways to express a belief.

  3. How is your text an expression of ethics (rules for all of society) or morals (rules for yourself)?

  4. Who is the main subject of the text, and who is excluded? Many (most?) pre-1400 CE legal and religious texts exclude or circumscribe women as subjects, so they often only appear briefly as wives or daughters.

  5. What role did geography and weather have on the creation of the religion or law? Humans create meaning with the symbols at hand.

I’ve read section 00 Reflections and am looking forward to the next two sections. Keep up the good work!

2022-04-02, 15:00 Assignment concluded

A range of answers. The strongest answers all made good use of examples. For example, a strong analysis sentence read something like "I think this source tells me X about Y society in 200 CE. We can see an example of this idea X in the source A." Strong analysis does not need to use fancy words, but it does need a clear engagement with sources and, typically, more rather than fewer words.

Happy Saturday.

2022-04-01, 16:58 Updated

Section 10’s material is posted for week 12.

I have one more Section of Assignment 11 to read: sorry, too many meetings today.

I appreciate the hard work students continue to put into your work, fully engaging the sources and offering robust explanations for your ideas. Offering examples and robust answers to questions demonstrates both your commitment to your own learning and the respect you have for those who wrote these Assignments.

2022-03-31, 20:35 Assignment 11

I’m midway through Section 10 and have Sections 00 and 01 to read tomorrow.

I’ll post Section 10’s Week 12 material as soon it is available.

2022-03-30, 19:52 Assignment 10

I’ve read all sections and remain optimistic about what you have produced. There are a couple groups that need to substitute in new sources.

I’ll post Week 12 materials tomorrow morning as I can. Please check your Assignment files and emails to see if you need to revise and resubmit your Assignment 10.

2022-03-29, 16:55 Assignment 10, Reflection 10, Prepare 11

I’ve read Section 00, and 1/2 of Section 10. All will be done tomorrow morning by 11.

I reading these as a group. Reflections and Prepare documents are strong.

Most assignments are fantastic. I worried I’d set you too challenging a task, but wow was I wrong. A lot of great thought and work coming your way.

There are a couple of assignments that need minor revisions, mostly finding credible sources. If your group Assignment needs revision, I gave it the odd grade of 6.93, mostly to catch your attention. When you revise and resubmit I’ll grade it again for full credit.

I’m proud of the work you’ve done. I finished last week exhausted, depressed, and fearful I’d created a nightmare of learning. What a spectacular dream it is to read your group’s work.

2022-03-28, 19:28 Many emails

Lots of teaching, emails, and reading. Be sure to post your questions about the Prepare and Assignment documents in our common question page for this week.

If you did not participated in a group last week: it’s ok. You’re now just doing the same Prepare-Assignment-Reflection for you section that everyone else is.

FYI, registration for summer and fall 2023 classes is now open.

2022-03-27, 10:38 Section 01 Posted

Section 01 Sources, Prepare, and Assignment have all been posted now. Thank you.

2022-03-25, 16:21 It’s your week!

For the week in which your Sources, Prepare, and Assignment are done, you will answer separate Prepare questions. Your Assignment is to answer other students’ questions on our question board. Please always write your name and section number on our question boards.

Grading on Assignment 10 will have to wait. Many emails chasing student work still need writing. Thank you for your patience.

2022-03-25, 15:44 00 and 10 Art Posted

Section 00 and 10 Sources, Prepare, and Assignments are posted. If Section 01 documents become available, I’ll post them ASAP. If they are not available, Section 01 students will have the option of doing section 10 or 00 work.

2022-03-25, 14:04 Very tired

This week supporting students has been trying. Many support issues I anticipated, many, many others I didn’t. I’ll get next week’s Sources, Prepare, and Assignments for the Art Analysis up ASAP. Done.

2022-03-23, 21:38 Additional tips on Assignment 10

The hardest part of this assignment is likely the coordination of communication. Please, respond to each other in a timely fashion.
Image of Assignment 10 Workflow

I’ve many questions about how many sources groups can use, if groups can assign new tools to learn, and how complicated the Assignments can be. I’ve given guidelines in the templates and the weekly Assignment and Prepare documents. In general, go small. Do not try to do too much. If students can learn to analyze one small bit of the past using one tool they know how to use, that’s a success.

Stay tuned tomorrow for your Reflection guidance for this week and what you’ll write when your Assignment and Prepare week is being done.

2022-03-22, 21:16 Prepare 10 read, Assignment 10 tips

Those students connected with their groups are making good progress on creating their Assignment and Prepare materials, which together are Assignment 10, due Thursday at 10 p.m.

I recognize this is new, so extending patience to each other is important. As well, recognize that if you come to a project late, it’s your responsiblity to get up to speed.

As I noted in my face-to-face class, keep multiple historical perspectives in mind when crafting your Assignment and Prepare documents. Our task as historians is to understand past peoples on their terms. For example, European and US historian see the three-way fight between Orthodox and Catholic Christian powers and Islamic powers around 1100 CE as "The Crusades." Islamic historians see these same events as "The Frankish Invasions." Considering multiple viewpoints is central to understanding the past, just as we considered Idlān Fadlān’s perspective as one interpretation of the Rūs funeral practices.

In terms of the work you produce, I expect you will take the complete Assignment and Prepare documents you’ve written together in your shared work space and copy and paste them into your individual Assignment files.

Several students asked if it is ok to use the tools we’ve already used in class or replicate the lessons you’ve already done, updated for your period and with different history? Yes. You are welcome to use previous tools or lessons. Your lesson should be all your words, but using my structure is great (that’s also why I built templates.)

2022-03-21, 16:30 Important update

Your work this week producing an Assignment and Prepare questions for your week are due on Thursday, not the regular Friday.

Students were placed in groups this past Friday. See the link below.

I’ll finish reading Reflections today.

2022-03-21, 12:50 Additional support for Week 10 work

If you have questions about group work that related to the project, please post them to this common Questions Page I will answer them ASAP.

2022-03-18, 16:09 Groups for Week 10 Work

Here are the groups for Week 10. If you DO NOT have a group or are somehow in two groups, please let me know immediately.

2022-03-18, 12:47 Assignment 9

I’ve finished reading all sections. A couple of useful notes.

Kudos to the three students who distantly read the article with Cmd + F to find the term "water." Extra kudos to those who looked for terms related to water, such as river. Many of you noted that Fadlān’s comments about hygiene likely related to Islamic bathing practices. Indeed, in this period, bathing regularly distinguished Muslims and Jews in the pre-modern period.

Several students noted the Normanist controversy was about the "creation of Russia." That exact quotation is from the abstract. As the article makes plain, Montgomery discusses the people, the Rūs, and their contested identities. If all your wrote was the "creation of Russia" it wasn’t clear to me if you meant the people or the state. Several students mistakenly wrote that the article was about the formation of the Russian state or empire. That’s not correct.

I enjoyed the comparison of Rūs funeral practices to Egyptian or Chinese burial practices several students made.

One student shared the site OneLook. This site offers a definition, and also links to many dictionaries’ definitions. Many thanks for sharing this awesome resource. {FYI, I ran a privacy inspection of the site an it’s pretty clean.}

Yes, I’m using different colors for my comments, just for fun. Green vs. blue do not indicate anything.

Stay tuned for information about next week.

2022-03-17, 21:53 Assignment 9 and Preference Form

I’ve read one section of Assignment 9. Lots of well-developed answers, which is lovely.

I’ll be putting students in groups for next week’s work creating Prepare and Assignment documents tomorrow. Please be sure to fill out your preferred week form if you have not already.

2022-03-16, 16:23 Prepare 9

I’ve read all Prepare 9 now. Most folks conducted sound web searches for Montgomery’s credentials. Note, just having a college degree, even a Ph.D. doesn’t make one an expert. I have a Ph.D., in history, but I am not an expert on Kiev.

The organization of the article question yielded creative answers. One possible answer is to look at how the article is structured, with an abstract, footnotes, an introduction, the translation, and a concluding section. Any answer that addressed multiple parts of the article was full-credit, yet I want to name and call out the above sections for your reference.

The thesis questions was well-answered or not. A subject, say the Rūs, is not a thesis. A thesis is an opinion backed with evidence.

Of note, please always put quotation marks [ " words not your own"] around other people’s words, even when you know, I know frome whence the words come. Giving others credit for their words demonstrates academic integrity and claims your space in the discussion as someone whose own words matter.

2022-03-15, 20:58 Many communications

I’ve now sent many, many emails following individual grade inquiries, and enjoyed one phone chat. Prepare 9 will be read tomorrow.

2022-03-14, 20:30 Emails

I know I owe several students emails about individual grade items that need checking. I have your emails cued in my workflow not to worry. Thanks for your patience.

2022-03-14, 10:56 Group Preference

To best place students in groups for your work next week, please fill out the following form to indicate your preference. Please fill this out ASAP so I can start building groups and you can start planning for how you’ll meet next week (Zoom, MS Teams, chat, sms, phone call?).

2022-03-14, 13:18 Plan for the remainder of the semester

The second half of the semester is defined by student groups creating lessons around our six digital history topics: art analysis, distant reading, metadata, GIS, historical statistics, and podcasting.

Our next two weeks (9 and 10 in the semester) will involve putting students into groups and creating Prepare questions and an Assignment for one week (11-16).

Week 10 (this week) I will ask you what group you would like to join (with the caveat that that I can’t have 30 students all in one subject).

Week 11, you will meet with your group to create the Prepare and Assignment documents for your chosen week. The only reading for Week 11 are the documents to support your Prepare and Assignment creation.

Monday, 2022-03-14, I’ll publish a questionaire to ask what group(s) you’d like to join. You’ll need your Normandale (Minnstate email) to fill out the form.

Once student groups have submitted their Prepare and Assignment lessons, the whole class will complete them in weeks 11-16.
Although your will be working in groups, your contribution to the group work will be individually assessed, and all students will reflect on the specific contributions of each group member.

A note on exceptions

Many (more than 25) students have emailed me requesting special exceptions to the syllabus for Spring break trips. In short, no.

The longer explanation is that I’ve already built in two weeks of grade forgiveness into the semester, much like paid time off. You take it when you need or want to: it’s yours. That said, consider this course like a job, say job A (to extend the metaphor) and the rest of your life are jobs B, C, and D. You can’t say to your boss in job A, "I need you to do extra work now so I can work ahead so that my time away from this job does not get counted against my PTO."

This is almost entirely a PSEO issue, but not exclusively. Some parents have kids with Spring Breaks and want to "work ahead" so they can take break with their kids. I don’t mind that people step away to do other things: life is busy. I do mind being asked to do extra work so you can take a vacation or being asked to make other students adjust to your vacation plans. PTO is there for you: no questions asked. Unless you are hospitalized or deployed, there are no exceptions.

2022-03-04, 16:41 Assignment 8

Students demonstrated a clear understanding of how the techniques of the "Campfire. . . " article manifested (or failed to) in their podcasts. The biggest opportunity was for students to expand on their ideas. The expressions "for example" and "such as" are essential to good historical writing. For example, good writing would note the African steel podcast covered many facts but lacked engaging sounds, such as the sounds of Haya men speaking or fires in the background.

I’ll be filling in the second half of our course during Spring break, so check back on Wednesday for readings and a road map of the next eight weeks. You can also scroll down to the bottom of our course page where I introduced the road map at the start of our course.

Safe home.

2022-03-03, 15:12 Reflection 7 and Prepare 8 (done)- a note on unsettled times.

I finished reading Reflection 7 and Prepare 8. I love Reflections: so many different ways to think about learning. Reflections are also where I learn the most about your, which is an honor.

Many of you expressed anxiety about the Russian invasion of Ukraine. I encourage you to talk to friends. As well, students report to me that talking to a Normandale counselor helped them feel better and able to manage their lives. If you’d like to talk to a counselor, you can call them at 952.358.8261 or see their page at . Their services are free and confidential.

I learned that one of the best GIS tools historians use leaflet was created by a Ukrainian, who is not in his hometown of Kyiv any longer. Some of you have shared stories of friends you have in Ukraine, Russia, or the surrounding countries. May they all know peace sooner rather than later.

I’m on to read your Assignment 8 work now.

2022-03-02, 16:41 Reflection 7 and Prepare 8- Digging out

I’m slowly digging out of being sick yesterday, both physically and for our course. I’ve read Section 10’s Reflection 7 and Prepare 8 and will try to read sectins 00 and 01 tonight.

For Assignment 8, I’ve asked for up to 300 words. In soccer (fútbol) you can play up to 11 players. How many teams do you know that say, nah, we’re good with just 6 players? How you structure the assignment is up to you. Paragraphs are governed by single ideas, so if you’ve two unique ideas, then two paragraphs make more sense.

2022-03-01, 9:46 Ill

Sorry, I’ve come down with a stomach bug. I’ll try to be back to work tomorrow.

2022-02-28, 21:14 Busy day.

Will read Reflection 7 and Prepare 8 tomorrow morning.

2022-02-28, 11:29 Links to learn more about Ukraine and additional podcast examples

Ukraine: Conflict at the Crossroads of Europe and Russia

How Ukraine’s history differs from Putin’s version

Mummified Parrots Reveal ‘Sophisticated’ Trade In Ancient South American Desert

The Aztecs Once Revered It. Will You Fall For Amaranth, Too?

The Banjo’s Roots, Reconsidered

Policing in Ancient Times

2022-02-25, 15:35 Assignment 7 and a busy day

I finished reading Assignment 7 last night. If you were one of small group of students who did not answer the average life expectancy questions, it’s ok, you don’t need to email me. We all miss things sometimes. And there’s lots of flexibility built into the schedule.

For population, students needed to add three zeroes (000) to the population numbers to be accurate in their answers.

If you’ve emailed me in the last 24 hours, I’m sorry I haven’t gotten back to you yet: I had an emergency room run with a kid (all is well- no worries) that took up most of my day. I’ll answer emails asap.

2022-02-23, 22:50

Russia has invaded Ukraine. Putin gave a speech as it was happening, Wednesday night. One newspaper’s analysis of the metadata of the speech video indicates Putin recorded the speech on Monday (two days ago). One attempt to capture the action with GIS is the UAMap.

Just in case you wondered what you can do with the metadata or GIS skills you just learned.

2022-02-23, 13:03 Dropping zeroes

It’s common to drop zeroes when presenting large numbers in spreadsheets. Rather than write 5,432,000, scholars often write 5,432 and note that three zeroes need to be added. This is functionally the same thing we do when we write 3 million, except six zeroes have been dropped in favor of a word.

So, to get the right answer for this week’s work, you’ll need to account for the dropped zeroes in your calculations.

2022-02-22, 16:51 Prepare 7

I’ve read two sections and will finish the last section tonight. Many students imagine that certain numbers (years playing a sport, position in a band, years spent with you significant number) define you. And they do, but I suggest to you they are unknowable to historians. Formal activities that result in records we can count (birth, death, marriage, printed materials). Items only recorded on the web will likely be lost forever, based on our current digital practices. "What counts" is often what is written down in a durable format.

I cleared a number of StoryMap link grades, along with some other email grade questions.

I’m fighting a cold, so watch this space if I decide I need to take a day to rest.

2022-02-21, 19:46 Reflection 6

I read these today: great examples of learning both the history of ancient Greece and India and the use of GIS to explain the past. I love when stuents write with examples. For example, one student wrote that they did not fully appreciate the extent of Alexander’s empire until they drew their map. Another expressed interest in how Alexander’s bisexual personal life impacted his military leadership (more on that another day).

2022-02-19, 10:10 No Face-to-Face Class on Monday

Monday is Presidents Day so we have not face-to-face classes. Your Prepare 7 document is still do at the usual time.

FYI, when I’ve altered due dates for Monday holidays in the past, working students reported the additional time was not useful as work schedules did not change. If fewer students submit work because I’ve extended the due date, that’s a problem. Hence, the regular submission date 🙂

2022-02-18, 16:41 How to publish your StoryMap: A GIF

2022-02-18, 13:57 Assignment 6

I’ve read Sections 00 and 01 GIS maps and will finish Section 10 this afternoon.

I’ve needed to support a variety of folks this week, and that takes time. I’m also the chair of my department, so I have faculty to support too. To keep on schedule of getting you feedback in the week you do your work, I find applying a rubric to be too time-consuming this week.

So, I’ve graded your maps credit/no credit. If you had a relevant historical image, map, metadata and paragraph, you got credit. If you missed one or more of those items, you earned a 7/10. For feedback, consider these questions and check off which ones you did well and which ones offer an opportunity for improvement:

[ ] StoryMap included an image or Alexandrian or Mauryan origin and included a citation to allow the reader to understand the origin of the image.
[ ] If the image was from much later than the action shown, the paragraph addressed that time discrepancy. For example, an image of Alexander set in 1700 CE France likely tells us much more about 1700 CE France than 200 BCE Greece.
[ ] Student included specific metadata for the image that could be used to find that image on its home web page.
[ ] Paragraph clearly explained why the metadata was chosen in a robust, an proofread paragraph.

If you did all those, you would’ve earned full credit regardless of how I graded. If you didn’t do all those, then you now have insight on how to improve future projects: well done.

Around 10 students thus far didn’t publish their maps to the web, earning zeroes. Once you’ve gone back into your ArcGIS account and published the map, put the new URL next to the old URL in your Assignment folder and email me. I’ll grade it for full credit.

On the question of grades, I appreciate your emails. As well, please be aware that grade questions are not an emergency. I have students in an out of the hospital, parents and grandparents dying, students with children to care for, and so many variations of work troubles. Grades matter: I know. But you and all my students will always matter to me more than the sum of the work your produce.

2022-02-17, 14:25 Assignment 6

Reading your Assignment sixes take time, so it is slow going. As well, there are several students in crisis right now, and supporting their humanity takes precedence over grading. Will finish Assignment 6 tomorrow.

2022-02-16, 8:56 Story Maps Sign up Tip

If you signed up for an ArcGis account and did not get the confirmation email, try using your Normandale account. Several students have failed to activate gmail accounts but been successful with Normandale accounts.

2022-02-15, 13:23 Reflection 5 and Tips on the Picture for StoryMaps

I’ve read Reflections 5: fantastic reflection on your learning. Please note that I’ve listed an abundance of questions for you to answer. Please answer those that best attend to you learning for that week in a paragraph. Some week’s work/class balance is most relevant; other weeks you are fascinated by the subject.

For the Story Map pictures, if you want a background image, chose "Add cover image." You can chose a regular picture too. I only want you to post an image: how that turns up is important, either historically or for your grade.


2022-02-14, 17:02 Tips on where to find credible images

Several students asked where to find credible images for ancient India or Hellenic regions. Here are a couple of places. Other cultural institutions, such as museums or universities, are great as well.

Avoid tourism and religion websites: their perspective is to highlight only positives. We want the whole messy past.

British Museum
Greek Nation Archaeological Museum
The Getty Museum
The Met Museum
The Chicago Institute of Arts

2022-02-14, 10:32 Fun with Maps

Here are the maps I shared with my face-to-face class today. Maps help us understand the past by placing historical information into a visual form. Just as art captures historical information different than text, maps are another way of accessing the past. Below are tools cartographers use, historical GIS projects, and fun maps that challenge you to think about spatial data differently.

2022-02-11, 14:59 Assignment 5 and mental health resources

The death of Amir Locke and Deshaun Hill over the last fortnight elicit a range of emotions. If you would like to talk, Normandale has free mental health therapy provided by a Licensed Clinical Psychologist, Amy Wagoner, and free personal counseling provided by Normandale Counselors: Frances Bland, Kristen Cooper, Valerie Dean, Lavonne Evenson, Paul Harlos, & Shannon Schenck. See and for information.

As well, recent news regarding sexual harassment at Harvard by a faculty against a student is a reminder that "Normandale Community College does not tolerate sexual misconduct or sexual violence of any kind in any context. We are committed to empowering students who experience sexual assault or other forms of gender-based violence to pursue disciplinary, criminal, and civil action if they choose to do so."

"If you are a member of the Normandale Community College community and have experienced sexual harassment, sexual assault, rape, dating/intimate partner or domestic violence, harassment based on gender nonconformity, stalking, cyber-stalking, or retaliation, you have options for support." I will support you and can help connect you with other support and options.

Assignment 5 demonstrated mostly sound understanding of metadata. The biggest challenges were students writing sentences for metadata, which needed to be edited down to keywords. The other minor issues were not inlcuding enough information for me to know what your article was or focussing on why you chose your article, rather than why you chose your metadata.

I need to go back through my email and review a bunch of single-student grade issues next.

2022-02-10, 15:58 Assignment 5

I’m through reading section 00 and on to 01 and 10, though I’ll need tomorrow morning to finish. Higher than average reading for next week- for your information. Good stuff though: the great Greeek sex strike and Alexander the Great. The metadata rubric is below.

Rubric for Assignment 5 metadata

2022-02-8, 20:49 Prepare 5

Wonderful Prepare 5 writing from most students. Some chose to have deeply researched movies with lots of connections to our weekly Sources. Others offered imaginative tales that spun a couple historical details into engaging stories.

Around 10 students wrote movie pitches for periods outside prehistory and often after 1400 CE. I graded these as "0" for not fulfilling the assignment. Upon reflection I’m gong to go back and if you showed connection to our readings, I’ll award points, even if out of the required prehistoric period.

One student offered art to accompany his movie pitch: both the pitch (prehistoric men fight beast only until the men turn on each other for access to natural resources) and artwork were excellent.

2022-02-08, 13:24 Assignment 5

Assignment 5 asks you to write a, as in one, paragraph about your choice of 8 metadata. The prompt could be read to be asking you to write eight paragraphs, which is NOT what any of us want. One full paragraph is great. Thank you.

2022-02-07, 16:49 Reflection 4 and A tip

Reading Reflection 4 today and enjoying the honesty and humor in your selections.

For the Assignment 5, brave and curious students asked about length and coverage. I expect one paragraph about why you’ve chosen your eight metadata, not eight paragraphs. Your explanations should speak to "why" not restate the metadata. For example, "I chose ‘blue and red’ as metadata because I think historians who want to understand how societies represent beauty would want to be able to search by colors" is ok. "I chose blue because the object is blue" is not.

2022-02-04, 14:40 Assignment 4 Read and Feedback

A huge range of response for Assignment 4. Many offered great analysis and writing. Many students had strong word count analysis and would benefit from stronger attention to the secondary sources. A sizable number of students got pretty off track, in form, content, or length of assignment. The farther off track students were, the more comments I offered on your Assignments.

NOTE: misreading instructions or not having enough time to finish an assignment the way you wish tells me nothing about you as a student. This is Minnesota: we all fall down on the ice, for all sorts of reasons. No one stays down and no one blaims you for falling. We all fall down: no body stays down, and says, well, I fell down, I can’t keep going. We get back up, slap the snow from our clothes, and move forward.

I have both written in your Assignment files and used the Comment tool to give you feedback on your work. I’d like to know which one works better for students. As well, I want to get a 1/4 semester checkin to hear what’s going well and not. Please take this two-question survey to help me understand.

2022-02-03, 15:00 Assignment 4 and Feedback

I’m reading Assignment 4 today and tomorrow and enjoying your analyses. For this Assignment, I’m using a rubric, which is a score card. You can see your rubric by looking next to your grade on D2L.

I have both written in your Assignment files and used the Comment tool to give you feedback on your work. I’d like to know which one works better for students. As well, I want to get a 1/4 semester check in to hear what’s going well and not. Please take this two-question survey to help me understand. My 1/4 semester is marked by a dying keyboard that keeps dropping "R" and "V." Stay warm.

2022-02-02, 17:15 Prepare 4

Finished reading your Prepare 4 answers. Range from good to exceedingly good. A couple of folks forgot to include where and when our texts where written.

Looking forward to your two paragraphs of around 200 words each about you word analyses in Voyant. If you need a model, consider the phrase "My analysis suggests that society __ valued based on the frequence of the word. This is why I conclude that." Clunky?, sure. Clear, yes, which is all we want for history.

2022-02-1, 16:34 Normandale Counselors

A child that went to school this morning in Richfield won’t be coming home tonight. And I am, again, sad. If you’d like to talk to a Normandale counselor about your feelings, book an appointment with them at 952.358.8261 or on their web page.

2022-02-1, 12:48 Video Help for Voyant

Some brave and curious students asked for help on using Voyant. So I made a short video on how to do the assignment. Keep those questions coming.

2022_01_31, 20:56 Reflections

Read through Reflection 3 today: everyone writing them are doing well. I’m concerned about those who have gone quiet and will be reaching out.

Thanks to everyone who is now writing your most recent entry at the top of your Assignment File.
2022-01-28, 15:35 Finished With Assignment 3

80% of students had strong analysis, clearly connection an observation about the physical object of brick or jar to some secondary source material and a question.

Tip: any time you use a relative adjective such as "advanced," "stronger," "more sanitary" you should include the compared item. For example, if you wrote "Mohenjo Daro was advanced for their age," you should tell your reader against what other society you are measuring "advanced." If you do not have a comparison, then your argument either is not your own, or is weak. For example, if I write Normandale students are better students, you would ask: compared to whom?

Looking forward to your Reflections this week.

2022-01-26, 10:44 Reminders

This Tuesday, February 1st, is a staff development day at Normandale. So, day classes are cancelled on Tuesday.

To re-up this information in a prominent place, instruction for creating your Assignment file are here.

Please remember to post your most recent work at the top of the page. Thank you!

You will not submit work to D2L.

Your weekly written will be in a single, web-based document that you control. You will share this document with me so I can read and leave comments. It’s easiest if you use your Office 365 account from Normandale, which is free and supported by our IT department. You can also use google docs if you prefer.

2022-01-25, 15:13 Reflection 2 and Prepare 3

Reflections can be some of my favorite student writing. Students are still learning to trust me as a reader and to trust themselves to be honest about their week. A very good start thus far- I’m optomistic.

Prepare 3 were largely strong in writing and analysis. One caution: never write "I find this interesting" without then analyzing why you have that interest and why that matters. History creates evidence-based stories about the past. So, your opinion matters, and we need to pair that opinion with evidence so that your reader can understand your ideas.

Mojenho Daro, by Noman Bukhari on Unsplash

2022-01-24, 19:35 Long day

Nice to see my face-to-face students this morning. Many meetings after I left class. Will review and respond to comments on Week 3 Assignment tonight.

2022-01-21, 19:27 Up to date

Had the pleasure of reading your Prepare and Assignment documents for week 2. Excellent deployment of SIFT process for many students.

Still looking for students to write their documents with the newest on top. Your current week should appear at the end of the week:


On to Mohenjo Daro!

2022-01-20, 16:33 Struggling a bit

Every email and phone call is an opportunity, and I’m grateful for all of them. And, all those opportunities take time, so I’m a 24 hours behind on grading, and plan to catch up tomorrow.

Prepare, Assignment, and Reflection documents for Week 3 will all be posted tomorrow (Friday).

2022-01-20, 11:12 Calendar

For those who wish to have due dates in a digital format, I created a e-calendar of due dates.

Those who wish to import this calendar into their own software can due so with this ical link.

2022-01-20, 10:54 Tips to make your Assignment File Easier to Read

1. Check your link to be sure it’s accurate (password is the credibility checking process acronym in Check, Please!, all lowercase.)
Assignment Files: Section 00
Assignment Files: Section 01
Assignment Files: Section 10
2. Title your Assignment file with your name and section: Jack_Norton_Sec00.
3. Write your newest work at the top of your document, with the older work below it. This is called a chronological scroll, much like texting, except text strings have newer work always at the bottom.
4. Avoid light colors for your text. Red and pink are really hard to read.

And thank you!

2022-01-19, 16:44 All Week 1 Graded

I’ve finished assessing Week 1.

We have more than 92% of students with correct Assignment file links who are producing great work. Let’s support everyone so that we’ve 100%.

I left notes in most files. I surround my notes with closed brackets [] and sign my name if you want to find them with the Crtl (Cmd) + f commands.

Fascinating reading of Week 1 material. Students speak the following languages, from fluent to only a few words.

Section 00 Section 01 Section 10
English Swahili
Telugu Spanish English
Spanish English Somali
American Sign Language Russian Russian
Japanese Ukranian Spanish
French Japanese Mandarin
Hindi Serbian Ibgo
Creole (Carribean) Bosnian Farsi
Norwegian Croatian Finnish
Korean French
Italian Swedish
Somali Arabic
Arabic American Sign Language
Russian Dutch
German Mandarin- Chongqing dialect
Mandarin- standard

2022-01-18, 16:49 Week 1 Assessments

I’ve assessed Section 00 Prepare, Assignment, and Reflection, but not Sections 01, and 10. This second week is challenging as I normally have days to grade 3 assignments and I’m grading all three in two days.

There are still some students who have not shared an office 365 or Google doc link with me. Please see directions in your Normandale email or on our D2L course page announcement for directions. We need to remedy this as soon as possible.

Great discussion on disinformation and the internet. As I noted in response to one student, historical censorhips (pre-1400 CE) meant keeping information away from people. Our censorship of today is flooding an information system with mis and disinformation in ways that make finding credible sources almost impossible.

2022-01-18, 09:59 Assignment Files- Double checking

Below are pages that have all your Assignment files. As you’ve shared you link only with me, you will not be able to access other student’s files. Please double check to be sure your link is correct and arrives at your desired location.

As an added layer of protection, I’ve asked for a password.

If you do NOT see your name or your link is not correct, please email me with your correct link, being sure to include your section number. I start assessing work today.

Assignment Files: Section 00
Assignment Files: Section 01
Assignment Files: Section 10

Password: what is the acronym for the crediblity-checking system you were introduced to in Week 2: Check, Please! lessons? Lower case.

2022-01-15, 14:44 Laptops for Students

If you need a computer for your college work, Normandale may be able to give you one. Please fill out this form

2022-01-15, 14:17 Video of help session.

Here’s a link to the video of Friday’s Zoom help sessions. Students asked questions and I answered them with a shared screen.

2022-01-14, 16:18 A note on 16 pages

The syllabus notes you’ll write 16 pages for this course. That’s an estimate of how many pages you’ll write over the course of the semester, not each week.

2022-01-14, 8:41 Pop-up Zoom Help Session today at 3:30 p.m.

Several students expressed a desire for a live, video help session. So, I’ll hold one today at 3:30 via Zoom. Details are in the email I just sent to your college email address.

Want help setting up your Office 365 or google doc, help with or have questions about how the course operates? Or just want to "meet" me? You can turn your camera on or not: the time is for you.

2022-01-13, 20:59 Important Updates

  • 2/3rds of all students have submitted their Office 365 or google doc link to me for their Assignment file. Thank you!

    If you have not, see the instructions on our D2L home page or in the email I sent.

  • Section 10 has the most annotations on the syllabus with Please create your accounts and annotate our syllabus with a note. Ask a question, highlight something that works or doesn’t work for you, or call attention to a resource you think others might find useful. Instructions for also on D2L home page and in your email.

  • Week 2 Prepare, Assignment, and Reflection documents are all posted. Note the Dr. MLK Jr. holiday, Section 10. We will not meet this coming Monday.

  • Many students have COVID at Normandale. If you have symptoms or test positive, please contact the Dean of Students at so that he can register your case and advise you on what to do.

  • Please fill out this get to know you document so I can best support you.

  • Please: mask up, vax and boost yourselves. And get well soon to the numerous students recovering from COVID.

2022-01-12, 12:26 Assignment File question and NYtimes option

Once you have successfully shared your Office 365 Assignment file that includes your section number with my Normandale account or your google docs folder with my gmail account, your sharing is over. I use the link to access your work for grading, but you do not need to share or submit anything new with me. Your efforts are spent understanding the past and showing me your mastery of that, not fiddling with file management.

Your Assignment for week 1 asks you to read a New York Time article. If you do not regularly read the times, you should be able to use their 5 free a month policy. To have free access to the NYTimes, see below.

Sign up for a free NYtimes account through the Normandale Library with the following directions.

How to Register for New York Times Website Access Courtesy of Normandale Community College Library

  • Go to
  • Click Create Account.
  • Fill out account form. Use your Normandale email address. Uncheck the box to opt out of marketing emails.
  • Click sign up.
  • Your access is good for one year from date of sign up. (At the end of the year, re-visit the link above, click the Log in here >> link for people who already have an account, login, and request another annual pass.)
    Click Go to You are automatically signed in.
  • To sign in on other computers, go to and click the login button in the upper right of the screen. Log in with your Normandale email address and password you set when registering.
  • If you want, download the New York Times app from the iTunes or Google store and login with your email address and password for access on your mobile device.

2022-01-11, 12:48 Please include name and section number in your emailed Assignment link.

When you share your Assignment link with me – through Office 365 or Google – please be sure to include your name and section number. All I teach is world history 1, so I need your section number to place your link in the appropriate place.

Thank you for sending or resending your links with the Section numbers. See you on for our annotation.

Welcome to our course. Please read this first.

World history 1 parts

All the sources for weeks 1-10 will be chosen by me, Jack. Weeks 11 -16 will include half sources by me and half by the group who wrote the assignment.