How to Do Graded Discussions for Each Unit—the Discussions in the Working Groups

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Graded Discussions_and_the_Rubric







Graded Discussions and the Rubric Used in Grading

Graded discussions must follow the same rules for good manners that apply to the general Discussions. (If you want to look at those general rules, click here.) With this course, you participate in a Working Group using the Discussion Board to get help or give it—and to earn points. After Unit 1 starts, you will see your Unit 1 Working Group. They let you ask or answer questions about the current history content. You can earn those points in several ways

Everyone is encouraged to answer questions if they know the answer. One thing I learned in academics—but more in business—is to always double check anything you are about to say is true. It is a good habit in general and an essential one to be factually accurate. That takes a few seconds but always pays off.

I regularly read through the questions and answers. If there is any particular area of confusion or violation of the Good Habits for Evidence, then I may remove the posting and/or may send out the correct information as a general email.

Click here for a copy of the rubric used to grade these discussions.

How to Do Ask and Answer Graded Discussions

These are general guidelines that will be applied when grading your Working Group discussions. If you have questions, please feel free to contact me.

Whether you are asking a question or answering another student’s question, you need to be useful and brief and clear. Tip:  It can help a lot if you write your question (or answer) in a word processor and then copy and paste it into the message.

Examples of Questions You Can Ask

·         Content, such as a fact in the history that is covered in one of the Check Your Knowledge quizzes

·         Where to find something in our history textbook

·         What are the issues in understanding one of the possible essays and where can students find the information they need.

·         Or anything that will help you learn the content covered in a unit and/or save time in learning

If You Answer, How to Help Learning

If you are answering a question, you also need to use verifiable and usable evidence. Those words verifiable and usable are from the back cover of one of my favorite books, In Defense of History by Richard J. Evans. (Those words in the context of history are worth talking about later if you are interested.) A common sense way to say how the words verifiable and usable apply to the Working Groups graded discussions is to use an old proverb:

·         If you give a person a fish, you feed him (or her) for the moment.

·         If you teach people how to fish, they can feed themselves for the rest of their lives.

If you answer a question (and if you want them to learn something), include in your answer exactly where others can verify what you said—where they can see it and prove it for themselves.
Tip: You cannot use anything as a source except your textbook and links in our course. If you do not know what one or more words mean, you may use the online dictionary provided at Web Links, available from the left-hand menu. Do not use any other online dictionary.


Examples of How You Can Answer AND Help Learning—and Save Students’ Time

1.     If a student in your Working Group asks where information is available for an essay question and you know that is posted in one of the links at “Everything You Need for the Unit (except the maps),” you could say the same link is in the Learning module for the Unit—and, if useful, where it is on that webpage.
Tip: Alternatively, if you already know how to copy a URL in the course and place it in Blackboard’s Discussion postings, you can do that.

2.    The first task you do in your working group is reply to a thread stating the version of the textbook that you are using. Once all of you answer, you will know if you need this information.

If some of the students in your Working Group have one of the older versions of the textbook and if a student asks for information about the Peace Policy, you need to say the location in a way that lets students using older editions of the textbook also succeed.

Fortunately for those on a budget (and many of us understand that reality), both older and newer versions of the textbook (except for the version listed with the word Caution in the Syllabus) usually have the same content in the same chapter number and under the same headings. All that is different is the page number since some of these books are in tiny print. Because the page number is different for some editions, you need to add what is the same in all cases:

·         the chapter # (such as 16)

·         and the heading, the bolded label above the content you found (such as “Indian Policies”)

So how could you answer the student’s question about the Peace Policy so all of us could use your information and verify it for ourselves? You might write this so you help those with the 4th edition and those with some other edition:

I am using the 4th edition in paper and the Peace Policy is covered on pages 414-415. OR you could find it in Chapter 16. The heading for it is “Indian Policies.”


Requirement to Post within Threads

If your question is about information in a thread already created by another student, then you must post within that thread. Blackboard provides video tutorials on using its Discussion tool. Learning about the tools will save you time. These two examples may help you understand why posting within a thread is useful for your colleagues in the Working Group and why sometimes creating a new thread is useful.

Example 1: If a student had posted a new message called Reconstruction Act of 1867 and if you have a question about that act, you need to post within an existing thread:

1.     Click on the message Reconstruction Act of 1867.

2.    Read all questions and answers in that thread.

3.    If your question has not been asked or if someone asks a question that you know, then click on that message in the thread, click Reply, and then click Submit.
Tip:  It is a good idea to change the subject line so everyone knows what you mean.

Example 2: On the other hand, if no one has posted on Hamilton’s financial policies or on the national bank and if you are unclear on the meaning of the statement “bank notes circulated as currency,” you need to create a new thread:

1.     Click on Create Thread and write in the Subject line something that reveals your question such Hamilton’s national bank and Meaning of “bank notes circulated as currency.”

2.    In the body of the message, you would make your question as brief and clear as you can.

So you could write this in the message:

I am using the 4th edition in paper and the National Bank is covered on pages 179-180.

On 180, it says “bank notes circulated as currency,” What does that mean?

I know we are not to use outside sources, so how can I figure this out.


3.    When you finish, click Submit.

Late Discussion posts will not be accepted. Once the topic is locked, responses will no longer be accepted.




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History – Dr. Bibus

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