Digital Portfolio – Quarter Two

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. This method of taking notes is said to improve critical thinking and retention of the information discussed. They can be used as a study tool, and they assist in giving the student a greater understanding of the material covered in class. It is a well-organized way to take notes. You can further break down the information and make sure there are no gaps, and you can write down any questions you may want to ask your teacher. Overall, it is a more effective, organized way to take notes to increase your understanding of the material and improve your critical thinking. In the example provided, I used the Cornell note-taking system to take notes on lesson 3.5 about the Seneca Falls Declaration.



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. This provides a more thorough analysis and greater understanding of the claim. Not only do you provide the evidence, you have to make sure to explain the significance and relation to the claim that the evidence has. In the warrant, you relate your evidence back to your claim as a whole. In the impact, you relate all of your datas and warrants back to the claim and provide a big picture look at your topic. In this example, I am arguing that the 13th-15th Amendment helped end the crisis of slavery in America using the claim, data, warrant method.


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. You need to use evidence to back up all 5 of those parts and to show how you found that out. With this useful tool, we can break down and fully understand any document. I chose to use this tool for the document “Gettysburg Address”. The link to the original document can be found here:

The speaker in this document is Abraham Lincoln, and I know this because I know the historical background when it comes to this document. He is very famous for this powerful speech he gave, and I also noticed this version of the speech (in document form) is from The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln, vol. 7, which is another giveaway as to who the speaker is. As the President at this time, Lincoln was speaking  at the consecration of the Gettysburg Cemetery on November 19, 1863. The brave soldiers who died in the Battle of Gettysburg were being commemorated and honored. I also know this occasion from background knowledge; not to mention, Lincoln makes several references to the men who fought and the Civil War. The audience was the crowd at this consecration of the cemetery. It was a huge crowd as this was a massive event; thousands descended upon Gettysburg as this was one of the largest battles in the Civil War. He, in a greater sense, is speaking to the country’s people, and he is calling on them to do what he asks them to. Many believe that Lincoln would give some long speech to mourn the deaths of the soldiers who died, but he instead shocked everyone by giving a speech that only lasted around 2 minutes. Many people were actually disappointed, but the speech remains today one of the most influential pieces of work in American history. He tells the people that these men died in vain if we do not continue on in the work that they have done. Instead of promoting his own beliefs or mentioning the previous fighting in the Civil War, he avoids all of that. He replaced the ideas of the audience concerning the war with ones of purpose. He put this war on a higher level, a fight for liberty and equality, and he transcended sectionalism. He corrected the government’s imperfections. Lincoln was able to shift the attention from major events such as this battle, and this speech brought the country together instead. Lincoln changed the meaning of the Constitution, and his view changed many’s view on America itself. He says “that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion — that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain — that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.” He unites the government under the promise equality for all. He effectively removed the Constitution from the embarrassing compromises that allowed slavery, and he reinforced its superior parts, like equality of all men under the law. Lincoln’s short speech reset the foundation on which the United States has built itself, and in doing so changed how Americans see their country and its history.


A timeline is a classic way to organize a number of events. Everything is easily found and in chronological order. A timeline a linear representation of important events in the order in which they occurred. It is an easy-to-understand graphic that comes in handy especially when studying history. You can show time as a picture. The relationship and order of events can be clearly seen in a timeline. You can easily visualize patterns of behavior or events on a timeline, and you can draw conclusions about important events and their place in time. In our US Government class, we made timelines for the crisis of American slavery. This includes all the events throughout the time of slavery in our country plus a description and picture for each event, using a timeline software called Dipity. This timeline can be found here:

Historical Fiction

According to, historical fiction is the genre of literature comprising narratives that take place in the past and are characterized chiefly by animaginative reconstruction of historical events and personage. In other words, it is taking the setting and situation with all of its historical facts, but the author creates the story he wants to tell and the characters he wants to use. For educational purposes, it increases the student’s understanding of the situations these people in history were going through. It helps to put the author into the shoes of these people of times past. It balances fact and fiction while enriching the curriculum and illuminating these time periods for the student. When they are the author, it allows the student to share their opinions, and it gives them a new perspective on the events they are studying. In our US Government class, we wrote a historical fiction of what might’ve happened if the Indian Removal Act was not passed. After studying several alternatives, we all authored our own version of this event in US history and posted it on our blogs. My alternative history can be found at this link:


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s