Wednesday Reports

NEW!!! See below for information about Grading.

Each week beginning January 17, you will be expected to:

  • write a “Wednesday Report” of at least one page based on assigned readings for the coming Wednesday
  • post one section of this “Wednesday Report” online using the discuss tab at the top of the assigned readings
  • come to class on Wednesday with two printed copies of your “Wednesday Report”

These tasks must be completed before coming to class each Wednesday.

Writing Your Report

Each “Wednesday Report” will respond to all three of the following prompts:

  1. Identify at least one concept, event, claim, or proper noun mentioned in the readings that is unfamiliar to you. Use Reference Tools on the Internet or in the library to look up information about it and report your findings, along with the source(s) of any information you find. Anything that could be answered with a fact-check, quick definition, or basic research might be included under this prompt. Be sure to indicate when you are quoting directly from another source by using quotation marks.
  2. Identify one of the Questions raised in earlier weeks that one of the assigned readings or media clips helps to answer. Then explain why you think this source sheds light on this specific question.
  3. Identify any new questions raised by the readings that have not come up in class. (Using information from the readings to revise or improve one of our previous questions is acceptable here, too.)

The entire report will be no more than about one typed, single-spaced page. It may help to look at an Example Wednesday Report we created in class.

Sharing Your Report

Each week, you will post one of these three responses on the course website. To do so, first make sure you have your report saved somewhere on your own computer, and then follow these steps:

  1. Login to the course website.
  2. Find the readings page for the coming Wednesday.
  3. Click on the discuss tab at the top of the page. You should see your personal username under one of the three prompts for the week.
  4. Click on the edit tab.
  5. Scroll down and find your username; then copy and paste your answer to the corresponding prompt under your username.
  6. Click the “Save” buttom at the bottom of the text entry window. (You can enter something in the description box, but it’s not required.)
  7. If you find that you have something to add or a mistake you need to correct, just follow these same steps again.

Important: Please only enter text immediately under your username. This will avoid revision conflicts with other students who may be editing the page at the same time.

The responses posted on the discuss page each week are very important because we will use them to begin and guide our discussion in class on Wednesday.

Also, this discussion will be far more productive with a range of different replies to the prompts, rather than ten responses saying the same thing. Moreover, if your post online very closely resembles another student’s response, I won’t have a good way to assess how well you are meeting the objectives for the course.

For this reason, make sure you have an original response to the prompt that you answer online. This may require you to work on this part of your report earlier in the week, or to have several possible answers in mind in case another student has already made the reply you hoped to make.

Don’t forget to bring two copies of your entire “Wednesday Report,” containing your responses to all three prompts, to class on Wednesday.


When you copy and paste text into the wiki, you may find that formatting such as boldface, italics, and hyperlinks disappear. That’s because the wiki uses its own formatting syntax known as Markdown. When you click the edit tab, you’ll see tips on how to use this syntax to the left of the text entry box, or you can read about it on the Help page. You can also see examples of how the syntax works by clicking on the “Raw page source” link for any page in the Wiki; this will show you what the current page looks like in Markdown.


Common Abbreviations

Sometimes I will mark up your paper with abbreviations. If you see one you don’t understand, use this key:

  • DQ? - Is this a direct quote from some other source or website? To avoid plagiarism, remember to always enclose direct quotes with quotation marks, or paraphrase the passage in your own words without looking at the passage as you do it.
  • POV - Point of View. Consider the point of view of the person or organization who created the reading or source you are talking about.
  • The 5 C’s - On January 9, we talked about the five C’s of historical thinking. I may be reminding you to review those points and consider how they could improve your qustions.


If you got a 4: This means you’ve done truly excellent work on most, if not all, of the report! Your report uses the specific readings assigned to answer a specific question raised earlier in the course. You’ve shown a sophisticated ability to use the readings as evidence, but when appropriate, you’ve also noted the limitations of the readings, their points of view, and/or the sorts of evidence you might need to get from other readings to fully answer the question. The new questions you’ve posed draw on information gleaned from the readings or other parts of the course; they also reveal a deep understanding of the “Five C’s of historical thinking” by incorporating awareness of context and contingency into questions about causality or change over time. Information gathered in the research section is well sourced, and may even be integrated into answers in other parts of the report.

If you got a 3: Your report does a good job overall, and may even have an excellent section or sentence. But some claims may not be well sourced from the readings or your research. It could be that you have spoken generally and insightfully about what the readings tell you, without showing how these specific readings answer a specific question from the course’s Questions page. You may sometimes claim too much from the readings without considering the limitations of the source before you or weighing the evidence from one reading assignment against counter-evidence in another. More attention to the readings as sources—by analyzing their point of view, for example, or the contexts in which they originated—might improve your answers. Your new questions are well-formed, but some may be ahistorical, informative, or simple yes/no question. To improve them, consider again the “Five C’s of Historical Thinking” discussed in the first week of class; consider how you can turn a question about change over time or about cause-and-effect into one that also uses known information to sharpen the question’s parameters and motivation.

If you got a 2: Your report may be vague or over-general; it probably made limited use of the specific assigned readings. Your answers to old course questions usually rely more on personal opinion or prior knowledge than on evidence grounded in the readings. The new questions you pose may be good questions but are probably less historical in nature, and show limited evidence of comprehension of the “Five C’s of Historical Thinking.” They may be counterfactual questions, questions about the future, or informational questions. Begin by considering how you could turn such questions into ones about change over time, or about cause-and-effect.

If you got a 1: Your report expresses personal beliefs and may even report facts from the readings, but it does not use the readings as evidence to support your answers. It claims more than the readings can reasonably support or fails to take into account who created the readings and their points of view. Probably the report did not answer or refine a specific question from the Questions page. The new questions, as a whole, either aren’t new contributions (they echo or repeat questions already on the Questions page), or they entirely lack the hallmarks of historical thinking—they are not concerned with change over time, causality, contingency or context; they are either the sorts of questions historians can’t answer, or the sorts of questions that could be easily answered using the kinds of reference tools recommended for the first section of the report.