How To...

The posts below will help you perform many of the basic tasks you'll need to do with the Chromebooks you'll use in this class. Search for the topic you need help with by scrolling or using the search box at the top. You may also wish to subscribe to the posts to get new ones when they are created.

Use a primary source

posted Mar 27, 2013, 11:20 AM by Peter Knowles   [ updated Mar 27, 2013, 11:22 AM ]

A primary source is an eyewitness, or first hand, account of something that happened in history. Using a primary source is sometimes useful in your writing, but you need to introduce and cite the material in a specific way. Here's how:

Imagine you came across this primary source account from Lionel King, a boy who lived through the German use of V-1 bombs over England during WWII:

     Bombing of course was familiar to our family. We had moved from West Ham earlier in the war. I'd spent endless nights in the dugout in the garden unable to sleep because of Nanny's snoring. Now it was happening in daytime too. 
     The first came over one afternoon. Our windows and doors were open in those fine June days and the drone of the approaching flying bomb was quite unmistakable. It gave us little warning. Ten seconds and the engine cut out directly overhead. There was an oddly resounding explosion about a half a mile away....
     Next day we took to the shelter when we heard the drone. Again the engine cut out, again seemingly over the house. Then it spluttered into life again. Doug and I laughed out loud. It was all rather a joke. Mum told us to duck. The droning engine had stopped. Eight second wait. A disappointing, unspectacular bang.

If you wanted to use information from this source to help write a paper about children growing up during wartime, or about the impact of unmanned aerial bombing on civilian populations, or about how Hitler's bombing campaign affected the British population, (or anything else) you would want to:

1) Identify which part of the entire primary source is relevant to what you want to say. Don't quote more than you have to in order to make your point clear. Try to zero in on the most dramatic or important parts of the primary source. 
2) Acknowledge the author of the words in the text of your writing. This is easy to do as a lead-in to your quotation. Give a context for who the author is, and what they were talking about, as well as specifically naming them 
3) Quote directly (word for word) from the primary source, and enclose it in quotation marks. If you have to leave out any words, use an ellipsis (...) to show where words have been cut.
4) Cite the source where you found the information in an in-text (parenthetical) citation. This is probably different than the actual author of the source, and should match what appears in your list of works cited. The example below has the full reference information following it. 
5) Clearly explain the point you're trying to make with the information you've introduced and quoted, preferably in a way that ties back to your thesis statement.  

Here's one way to handle the source shown above:

It's difficult to predict how stressful events will affect different people. As a young boy growing up in England during World War II, Lionel King and his brother had to worry about the possibility of bombs falling from the sky with only a few seconds' warning. Describing how he and his brother responded to one such event, King said that when they heard the noise of a drone "Doug and I laughed out loud. It was all rather a joke" (Carey 597). When the bomb finally fell a short distance away, King described it as a "disappointing, unspectacular bang" (Carey 597). It seems that even in war time, an 8 year old child like King was able to find humor, disappointment, and normal childhood reactions in even the most dangerous events

Work Cited
Carey, John, ed. Eyewitness to History. New York: Avon Books, 1987.

By following these guidelines, your reader will fully understand who has created the primary source, what parts of it are relevant to your argument, what point you are trying to make with the quoted material, and where to find the full primary source if needed. 

Create a hanging indent in Google Docs

posted Nov 9, 2012, 5:45 AM by Peter Knowles   [ updated Nov 9, 2012, 5:46 AM ]

Whenever you're creating a list of references / Works Cited, you need to put your sources in hanging indent style. There's no magic button for doing this in Google Docs, but it's not that hard to create with a few short steps. This video explains how: 

Hanging Indents in Google Docs

Write a reference entry for a web page

posted Oct 11, 2012, 4:18 PM by Peter Knowles

If you use the Internet in your research, you will need to create references for many different web pages. Because each different page really is different, it's hard to be sure that all the pieces will be where you want them. But the instructions below should help you find most of the information you need, and will help you put them in the proper order. 

Here are the parts you'll find on an ideal web page:
 Item Notes
AuthorMany web pages don't tell you who wrote them, but you should make a decent effort to find the author's name. It will make your job easier later on, so do your best to find an author's name. 
Web page title This should appear either at or near the top of the page, near the information you've found, or on a tab at the very top of your computer screen. If they are different, choose one of them. 
Web site titleThis could be the same as the last item, but it's probably different. Think of it like a magazine title like Time, Rolling Stone, or Newsweek (as opposed to the name of an article inside a magazine). If it's not obvious what the name of the site is, try going to the domain's home page (the .com, .org, .net, or other dot-ending) to see what it might be. 
Date of last updateThis is another item that can be hard to find. Look for a copyright, (c), symbol with a year nearby. Sometimes you can't find the date or month, but you can find the year. Get as much as you can, but take what you can get.  
The word "Web"This is where the URL used to appear, but that element is no longer required by MLA. Your teacher may want that information and tell you to include it, and you can certainly make use of it as you do your research, but you generally don't include the http://www.... part here. Instead, a single word tells someone where you found the information and where they should go to find it too: Web.
Date that you were thereUse the most recent date that you worked with the material. This item tells someone else that, as of that date, the web page was there and it contained what you've used for research. 

With an author and date:
Smith, John. "Cleopatra and the Nile." Ancient Rulers of Egypt. 21 August 2009. Web. 10 October, 2012.
With no author or date:
"Cleopatra and the Nile." Ancient Rulers of Egypt. Web. 10 October, 2012.

Embed a Google Map in your blog

posted May 14, 2012, 5:08 AM by Peter Knowles

As you complete your Google Map and want to include it in your blog, follow these steps to allow others to see it. Instructions below are available online at Google.

First: Make sure your map is an unlisted map

You can choose to make your maps public or unlisted.

Public maps are maps that you want to publish and share with everyone. Public maps will be included in the search results on Google Web Search as well as in your user profile (if you have created one).

Unlisted maps are maps that you only want to share with a few select people. Unlisted maps will not be included in Google Web Search results, so they are accessible much like an unlisted phone number -- anyone who knows the specific URL of the map can view it, but there's no directory or search for finding unlisted maps.

  1. To do this, go to "My Places" on the home page for Google Maps.
  2. Choose the Edit button
  3. Below the title and description of your map are two buttons. Choose the "Unlisted" option.
  4. Save.

Second: Share your map's URL

Once you have created a map, you can share it with others. To do this:

  1. Open the map you want to share.
  2. Click Link icon (next to the printer icon) near the top of the page. 
  3. In the window that appears, choose the second option called "Paste HTML to embed in website". Copy the code that begins <iframe width...>
  4. Go to your blog, to the post that you are editing, and choose the HTML  button (next to the one that says "Compose")
  5. Paste the URL from step 3 into the HTML code of your blog. 
  6. Press the "update" button, then preview your page. Your map should appear. When you publish your blog, the map will also appear, along with a link so visitors can open the map, zoom in, and read your comments about the locations you've included there. 

Use Wikipedia

posted Mar 13, 2012, 5:08 AM by Peter Knowles

Many students like to use Wikipedia as a source of research information, but many teachers demand that students NOT do so. Check with your teacher for any particular assignment to see if Wikipedia is an acceptable source of information. 

If it is, the following page at Wikipedia can help you cite the pages you use. 

If it isn't (or even if it is) Wikipedia can be an excellent starting point for your research on any given topic. This video shows you how
Remember to use a Wikipedia page for:    
  • Background information - get a better understanding of your topic
  • Creating a list of key words - find terms and related concepts that will help you search for more resources
  • Links to outside web pages - related websites and articles are often linked here
  • Links to other resources - just like external links, the reference list often provides direct links to other sources that can help. 
  • See "4 ways to use Wikipedia (hint: never cite it)" for more details 

Open a template in Google Docs

posted Feb 10, 2012, 5:51 AM by Peter Knowles

From time to time you'll need to open a copy of a document, worksheet, slideshow, or spreadsheet. When you do that, follow these steps:

  1. Open up Google Docs (choose a blue icon from your apps screen, or navigate to the Documents from your Gmail screen)
  2. Find the CREATE button in the upper left hand corner of your screen
  3. Click on the CREATE button and choose "From Template..." at the bottom of the drop down menu.
  4. Choose from the list of documents that appears. 
  5. **Be sure to click on the "Use this Template" button for the one you want. (If you click "Preview" you will see the document but won't be able to edit it).
  6. The template should open on your screen, ready to go, titled "Copy of..." whatever its original title was. 
  7. Remember to save the document with an appropriate title (maybe just remove the "Copy of..." from the title?)

Change your password

posted Feb 7, 2012, 9:08 AM by Peter Knowles

Log in with your current password
Go to your Email
Find your username at the upper right corner
Click on the down arrow
Choose "Account Settings" from the options
On the new screen, Choose Change Password (near the top middle of the screen)
Type in your old password, then your new one. 
*If you've lost your old password, you can email Mr. Knowles to have it re-set. 

Create a reference

posted Jan 6, 2012, 8:46 AM by Peter Knowles   [ updated Jan 6, 2012, 9:03 AM ]

Whenever you use information from another source in a report, you need to show where you got the information. A key to that is showing very clearly what book, magazine, web page, or other source you used. There are a number of different standard formats for doing this. In this class, we will usually use something called MLA Format. Here's how:


The basic format for sources with their own titles which are not part of a series is:

Author's Name, reversed order. Title of Book, italicized (or underlined if using a typewriter), all words capitalized except conjunctions, articles, and prepositions. Publication Information:(City of Publication: Publisher, Year.)

(In most books the title page gives you all you'll need for your reference listing except the date of publication, and you'll find that in the form of the copyright date on the next page)

Here are examples for works by....

Single author:
Adams, Ronald. The Life of Mark Twain. New York: Viking, 1967.
Two or three authors:
Norbert, Nicholas, Theresa Johnson, and Richard C. Smith. The Man Without Hope: Thomas Malthus and Victorian England. Westport: Greenwood Publishing, 1979.
More than three authors:
Bailyn, Bernard, et al. The Great Republic: A History of the American People. Lexington: Heath, 1977.
Later editions:
Coe, Michael D. The Maya, 4th ed. New York: Thames and London, 1987.
Corporate author (no person credited for the work)
American Red Cross. Standard First Aid & Personal Safety, 2nd. ed. Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1979.
Apostolos-Cappadona, Diane, ed. Symbolism, the Sacred, and the Arts. New York: Crossroad, 1988.
More than one editor:
Barnet, Sylvan, Morton Berman, and William Burton, eds. An Introduction to Literature, 7th ed. Boston: Little, Brown, 1981.
Book by an author with an editor;
Dickens, Charles. David Copperfield. Ed. James K. Robinson. New York: Norton, 1977.
Second book by the same author:
    .... Oliver Twist. New York: Norton, 1962.



The basic format for sources which are part of a series or collection is:

Author's Name, reversed order. "Title of Article, Essay, or Story." in quotation marks. Title of Larger Work, italicized (or underlined if using a typewriter), all words capitalized except conjunctions, articles, and prepositions. Publication Information: (Date of publication: page numbers of article.)

Examples for works from...

Magazine article, for magazine published weekly
Davidson, Joanne. "The Fight for the Fish." Time 12 Sept. 1994, 41-44.
Magazine article, for magazine published monthly
Borroff, Marie. "The Malthusian Connection." Smithsonian Oct. 1988: 35-41.
Newspaper article
Hellmich, Nanci. "College Studies Are Often a Full-time Job." USA Today 11 Sept. 1990: 1D.
Article with no author (magazine, newspaper, etc.)
*Use appropriate format with article's title as your starting point:
"Fertilizing Trees and Shrubs." Southern Living Feb. 1980: 170-71.
Anthologies, collections, etc.
Donaldson, Marie. "All the Truth I Ever Wanted." Donaldson Alive and Well. Boston: Little, Brown, 1990: 47-58.


Encyclopedia article
Bolle, Kees W. "Myth and Mythology: The Nature, Functions, and Types of Myth." The New Encyclopedia Britannica: Macropaedia. 15th ed. 1986. 24: 710-720.

Electronic Sources

 World Wide Web sites

Format: Author (if known) . Full title of the page, in quotation marks. Full title of site (if different) in italics. Date of publication or last revision. The word Web. Date of visit or download.

Example: Walker, Janice R. "Walker/ACW Style Sheet". The Columbia Guide to Online Style. Nov. 1997. Web. Sept. 1, 1998.

Web page with no author
*Use appropriate format with article's title as your starting point:
"Roman Laws." Ancient Roman Web. Nov. 22, 2003. Web. Jan. 4, 2011.


Format: Author's name or alias (if known), subject line from the posting in quotation marks, date of the message if different from the date accessed, the word Email. Date of access in parentheses.

Example: Lewis, Jerry. "Opening days" 29 Aug. 1998. Email. (30 Aug. 1998).

Find the author of a web page

posted Dec 13, 2011, 5:26 PM by Peter Knowles

Keep in mind that you can use and cite information from a web page even if you don't know the name of the person who created it. However, it's easier to create citations if you know the author's name. And it certainly helps you evaluate how accurate the information is when you know the source. 

Sometimes it's very easy to find the author. His or her name may appear at the very top or very bottom of the page (those are the first places to look). If not there, look for a link on the page called "Contact us" or "About". If  you find one of them, the author's name may be only a click away. 

If those links are not on the page, or following them doesn't take you to the name of the author/creator of the page, there are other options. has an excellent page explaining multiple ways to find the author of a web page. 

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