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September 21

posted Sep 21, 2012, 4:46 AM by Peter Knowles   [ updated Sep 21, 2012, 4:46 AM ]
Your first assessment is due TODAY (by midnight) and you should be well on your way to completing it. 

But you probably have some questions, so here are answers and links to many of them.

Q) What am I supposed to be writing about?   
A) The main question you need to answer is:  How do geographic features play a role in how humans interact and build their communities? 
Another way to think about this is: Explain how people's lives are affected by the geographic elements and environments that surround them.
Use examples from a few of the civilizations we've looked at in class, but include others that you know about as you see fit. 

Q) How many civilizations should I talk about? 
A) To give a good sense of how well you understand things, you'll want more than one or two. Three is a good number, though you may decide to do a bit more. Make sure that you choose a good variety of examples to show that you haven't just looked at a single portion of our unit. For example, an essay that deals with 4 civilizations but all of them are from the Ancient Civilizations (Mesopotamia, Egypt, India & China) is probably NOT as strong as one that deals with only 3 civilizations from different time periods (Mesopotamia, Greece, Mesoamerica, for example)

Q) What about geographic features? How many of those should I talk about?
A) Same as above. The rule of three works well, with some variety over all your choices. So if you talk about Mesopotamia, Greece, and Mesoamerica as your main civilizations, you should try to explain the importance of three geographic features for Mesopotamia, three for Greece, and three for Mesoamerica. Some will likely be repeated (maybe mountains in two of them, maybe rivers in two, etc.) but three examples for each is a good target. 

Q) Are there certain vocabulary words I should use?
A) Anytime you can show you're learning and using the words that we've studied in class it's a positive. Look for opportunities to use the vocabulary words from this unit whenever you can. You can even call attention to them in your response by putting them in bold or italic or even colored type. 

Q) Where should my thesis statement go?
A) A good place for it is at the very end of your introductory paragraph. Use the first paragraph to get your reader interested in the topic you will be talking about. Then finish that paragraph with your thesis statement. Here's help for writing your thesis statement.

Q) What goes in my concluding paragraph?
A) Your final paragraph is a place to review or sum up what you've written in your response. Start by repeating your thesis in a different way. Rewrite it to say basically the same thing, but in a fresh way. Then summarize your key points (civilizations you've talked about, geographic features you've discussed). If you can leave your reader with an idea that resonates and lasts afterward, that's great.

Q) What should my citations look like?
A) Citations should clearly show the source of your information, using standard MLA format. Usually, this means the author's name and a page number inside parentheses, right after the information you're citing, like this:
....lived near the river banks because that allowed them to take advantage of the rich soil and easy irrigation in their farming (Spielvogel 133).
Notice that there is no comma inside the parentheses, and no "pg." or "page". Just the author's name and number. Short and sweet. And notice that the punctuation (the period, in this case) comes AFTER the ending parenthesis. There's more information available here.

Q) What if I'm using a video or web page? What page number do I use?
A) When you use electronic sources, there is no page number. Use the last name of the author inside parentheses by itself, like this: (Wilson).

Q) What if my source doesn't have an author? 
A) Websites often don't show the author's name. Other sources might also be missing that information. It's actually easier if you DO have an author's name, so do your best to find it, but if you can't just use the first word of the title of the source as if it were the author. So if your reference is:
"Egypt's Rich River." National Geographic. etc., your citation would look like this: ("Egypt's").
More information is available to help you understand how to handle different types of references and how their citations should look. 

Q) What do I do with my reference list?
A) If you've created your reference list in a separate file from your assessment, you should combine them. Copy your completed references and paste them at the end of your response. They should be titled "Works Cited" and follow standard guidelines for reference lists (alphabetical order, not numbered, hanging indent, etc.)

Q) How do I turn it in when it is finished?
A) Use the DropBox link at the upper left of this screen; follow the instructions there to turn in a link to your Google Document.

Q) What if I don't finish in time?
A) Turn it in as soon as possible, as soon as you do finish. You'll be assigned to come to class at lunch for a working lunch until you do get it finished and turned in. 

Q) How will my assessment be graded?
A) The assessment will be scored in three areas: Geography, Social Studies Skills, and Writing. The better you demonstrate your understanding and abilities in those areas, the better you will score. Use the Assessment 1 Scoring Guide to see how it will be scored, and to see if you've accomplished everything you need. 

Q) What if I'm not happy with my grade? 
A) You can always re-do the assessment and resubmit it for grading. Remember that in this class you should keep working at assignments until you are satisfied with the result. More details later on how to do this; for right now, do your best, and get it turned in on time.

Q) What should I do when I'm done?
A) Give yourself a pat on the back. Congratulations. You've finished the first summative (graded) assessment for this class. If you can offer help to a classmate who isn't done yet, please do so. Otherwise, relax and enjoy your accomplishment.