Week 2 (Sept. 6 – Sept. 12)

Table of contents



Please complete at your earliest convenience, if you haven’t done so yet:

  • create your first post
  • send in the link to your website/blog: otherwise I don’t know where it lives, and we can’t see your work for the course!

By Monday 11:59PM

Optional extras: College skills 1: Email etiquette and keeping on top of your email

How do you write an email to your professor? And how do you make sure you don’t drown in your inbox? Check out these two tips and the two related writing exercises: College Skills 1: Email

Suggested completion for Exercise 1: Monday, 11.59PM

TIP: You can complete these optional tasks anytime, or not at all, but the information I provide is useful to help you navigate through college and good habits are easier to establish early on in your career! Also remember that more opportunities to write and get feedback are useful in making you a more confident writer.

By Tuesday 3.30PM (start of class)

We will talk about various policies, and you should come prepared to jump into the conversation at the time, or even start the conversation before class via our Google Chat Group.

Reading: Alfie Kohn, “The Case against Grades.” https://www.alfiekohn.org/article/case-grades/ 

  • Read this text in advance of class. You may print out a copy to annotate, or read it on the screen and take notes, or use Hypothes.is and annotate in our group hst269 (more about that below)

Guiding questions: (to help you think about the content of the text)

  • What is extrinsic motivation? Intrinsic?
  • What does Kohn mean with “… grading for learning is, to paraphrase a 1960’s-era slogan, rather like bombing for peace.”
  • Do grades measure what is important?

Questions for us:

  • What has to happen for you to give a course (this course!) your highest effort?
  • How would a teacher know you gave your highest effort in a task, even if your work is not yet of the highest quality (because you’re still learning, and making mistakes, messing up, and “shitty first drafts” are part of the learning process)?

Prepare for discussion about Classroom and Participation policies:

  • How would you like your fellow students to behave to create the optimal classroom atmosphere, to enhance our learning as a group?
    • What about chit-chatting, playing online games or texting to friends, getting up in the middle of your presentation to go to the bathroom,… does it disrupt your learning? Do you do it, and if so, why?
    • How to prepare before class to take part, and what should happen when students show up repeatedly without preparing?
  • [Almost] all of you are excited to be taking classes in person again: why?
    • What is the added value of being together in a room?
    • What can we do in a classroom to make sure you get that extra special experience?
  • What other ways are there you can think of to show participation, that do not involve raising your hand and jumping into a discussion, or answering questions?
    • Measuring participation in this way benefits a particular type of student: what if you’re not one of those?
    • How can you be a member “in good standing” in our Learning Community (which goes beyond the shared classroom time)

Think about these questions in advance, and write down your thoughts in a notebook or document. We will use this in class. Your brain needs time to ruminate on these questions, and having ideas ready by the time you get to class will free up space for more thoughtful discussion.

Tech stuff: Set up Hypothes.is

Chrome web browser works best for Hypothes.is. These instructions assume you use Chrome.

  • Go to web.hypothes.is to sign up for your account.
    • You can use an alias. If it doesn’t look anything like your name, please email me your Hypothes.is alias so I know whom to credit for great insights!
  • Install the Chrome extension for hypothes.is
  • Video tutorial: Follow the instructions in this video from IT/DLTOP for setting up an account if you’re not sure how it’s going!
  • Join our class group: hst269 (<– click on that link, and then “Join group”)

By Thursday 3:30PM (start of class)

  1. Prepare for class by looking into the terms on slides 15-16 from last week Thursday (or somewhere in the slides for the upcoming week Thursday):
  • Which ones can you explain confidently to a friend?
  • Which ones did you need to look up?
  • Which ones still don’t make sense?
  1. Identify a theme or topic you’re interested in, not connected to Chinese history per se [e.g. not “the Mongols”, but “empire building”, “conquest”, “ethnicity”]. Start with something that you’re already passionate about, is your major, or you take courses about. For those of you interested in medicine and TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine): that is a very big field, so which parts of medicine, what kind of questions are you most drawn to?

Jot this down in a notebook or document: don’t trust your memory to keep track of the great ideas you’ll have while walking across campus. Rather, spend a bit of time every day contemplating what possible connected questions or themes and topics there are, and that may lead you to other areas of interest. If you’re familiar with the “freewrite”, see this as a variation, a “freequestion” or “freethink”! Trust me to guide you next to the Chinese history content, I know a thing or two 😉 But we need various starting points and a web of ideas from you to get my web of connections and creative thinking started, too.

  1. Reading: Hansen, Valerie. The Open Empire: A History of China to 1800. Second ed. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 2015.
  • pp. 3-15 in the second edition.
  • If you don’t have the book: PDF (<– click on the PDF. When asked for password, use the password in the email I sent on Saturday (9/4). You can also find it on the Canvas page with all the info we’d rather not have floating around where everyone can access it, via Modules on Canvas.)
  • What are different ways of looking at Chinese history? What surprises you about the approach Hansen has to Chinese history in her textbook? Bring questions and answers to class, or annotate using Hypothes.is in our group hst269.

By Sunday 11:59PM

Brief writing exercise – details TBA.


Where to get help

  • Get Stuff Done Club: Wed. 1PM-2PM; Thu. 11AM-12PM, or by appointment via Google Calendar
    • All online, use the Zoom link in my email signature or via the Canvas page
  • Google Chat Group and the (anonymous) Padlet (both also useful for chatting, sharing fun stuff)
  • DLAs: Digital Learning Assistants: virtual drop-in times (for everything) and via Zoom: Workshops (see poster): Hypothes.is, WordPress, Voicethread [useful for other courses!]
  • Writing Center: Online appointments and in-person drop-ins available. Check the schedule
  • Trexler Library History Subject Guide (we will get our own dedicated subject guide for the course soon!)
  • Safety on/around campus: report an incident