Digital Portfolio – Quarter One

Cornell Note-Taking

Why do we take notes? Why do we write down something we need to remember? The human brain, capable of many amazing things, cannot recall every single thing it’s ever seen or heard. If we know we need  to know something in the future, we make sure we write it down so we can study it and put it into our long-term memory, or short-term memory if the info is only needed for a brief amount of time. In our US government class, we take notes using the Cornell method.  Devised in the 1950s by Cornell University professor Walter Pauk, it involves taking your notes, putting main ideas, questions, and comments in a recall column, and adding a brief summary of the topic of the notes at the bottom. In the example provided, I took notes on the Unity of the Colonies and their eventual independence from Britain using the Cornell method. It is the first document in the PDF. Link: Cornell notes & SOAPS analysis


Imagine that your in the middle of an argument with your best friend, spouse, parent, or anyone else of your choosing. You claim that what you did was right. “Not true! You are wrong!” they say. You could say “No, I’m not!” but  with evidence, you can prove that your actions were right and your opponent would have to refute you with their evidence if they have it. Without evidence, you couldn’t prove your claim. Without evidence, you couldn’t win this argument or any other. Without evidence, you’d have a difficult time convincing anyone you are right. In our US government class, we use argumentation to prove facts about the government, such as laws, powers of the government, and actions of government officials. We use the system of making a claim, providing several points of data (evidence) and the warrant that relates it back to the claim and explains it, and tying it all back into the claim with the impact. The picture shows an  example I made about the impact of Marbury v. Madison on the powers of the judicial branch.

Document Analysis

In order to understand something thoroughly, we analyze it. When we want to understand a document, we want to establish basics, like who the speaker is and who the audience is. We need to understand the context of the document: what time is it written in? what was happening then? Then, we can start to break down the content of the actual document itself. We need to establish the purpose that the speaker has in writing this document and what they would like to say to his/her audience. We read the document with all this in mind. Finally, what is the significance of the document and what impact did it have? By completing this thorough analysis, we are able to fully comprehend the document. This tool can help you break down any kind of document, from simple to extremely intricate. In our US Government class, we use the tool SOAPS to analyze documents: Speaker, Occasion, Audience, Purpose, and Significance. I have The PDF includes my SOAPS document analysis sheet on the Mayflower Compact. It is the second document in the PDF. Below, I have summarized by analysis in paragraph form. Link: Cornell notes & SOAPS analysis. Link to the Mayflower Compact: The Mayflower Compact

I identified the speaker of this document is the pilgrims coming to the new world in 1620. I figured this out because, for one, the document is titled The Mayflower Compact and some of the Pilgrims sailed over on the ship the Mayflower. They were Puritans from England and intended to form colonies in the new world, mainly for religious freedoms but for other things like opposition to British rule or opportunity. In the document, it describes a “Voyage to plant the First Colony in the Northern parts of Virginia.” In 1607, settlers arrived in Jamestown to form a colony, and these settlers making this compact wanted to establish yet another colony. This is the beginning of English settlers coming to this new land and colonizing it. There was religious conflict in England at the time, and many of the pilgrims left because the British government mistreated them. They agree to “Covenant and Combine [themselves] together into a Civil Body Politic.” They want to promise to each other to behave and work together in their new government of this colony. They intend for all settlers in the colony and settlers to come to read this. By their respectful tone to the King, saying they are “loyal subjects of [their] dread Sovereign Lord King James,” despite conflicts, they may also intend for the King of England to read this. As I stated, they want to promise to obey the laws and work coherently to form a government that is “convenient for the general good of the Colony.” They are giving legitimacy to a their own, new government by this. Popular sovereignty is also in play: the people agree to obey as long as the government works for the good of the people, unlike their monarchy at home in England. This whole document presents a radical idea. It was unheard of for the governed to give consent and legitimacy to their government. In England and many other countries at the time, legitimacy was derived from a divine source or by force. This covenant and new form of government would influence later ideas of the relationship between the government and the people, ideas that helped to form our government today.

Symbolic Representation

In this assignment, we had to describe the first ten amendments and use an image to help convey the idea of the amendment. We found these pictures on our own–these were not from our graphic novel, class resources, etc. We had to demonstrate that we understand the purpose of the amendment by finding this picture and describing its relation to the amendment. All these were posted to our blog, and mine can all be found on my home page. Here is the link to my post on the 8th amendment:

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