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Sisters in the Struggle: Kentucky Women in the Civil Rights Era, 1920s-1970s: 1f. Journaling, Participation, and Projects

Journal, Participation, Projects

Double entry research journal (10 blog entries of at least 250 words each) – 20%

            This is not a formal writing exercise. Instead, this important requirement is to facilitate your efforts to understand the complexities of this course better by reflection. For example, you will be asking yourself, “What do I not know?” A journal is not just a diary (which concentrates only on the “I” perspective) and not only class reading notes (which concentrate only on the “it”), but a rich and unusual combination of the two.  The descriptive tags are as important as your main text (hence double entry).  Your journal will be graded by the number (and regularity) of entries.  At the end of each Unit, I will post a privately graded assessment of your blog journal and comments on other journals to that point. No entries should be posted late since you are expected to keep your journal blog up to date each week.  Create your blog no later than Thursday of the second week of class – using the part of our open knowledge initiative. Use a pseudonym – DO NOT USE YOUR REAL NAME. We will only identify each other by an assumed name when we are your blogs to preserve anonymity and protect your privacy rights.

                You must write at least ten (10) entries (starting 3rd week of class) and, each week, add comments to at least two of your classmates’ blogs each week.  Your comments must be posted by Friday afternoon of each week.  Write regularly and informally. This task will be much easier for you if you write your entry at the same time of day. Use a comfortable style, knowing that this is a time for reflection, and not a formal paper.  It is a way also for your classmates to get to know you. 

                Use your journal blog entries to understand and to accomplish your research.  Record what happens as you select a topic, then develop and modify that topic through researching and writing about it over a period of time – a running record of what you observe yourself doing as you create a research project. The journal provides a handy and appropriate place to keep track of ideas and materials as you work.  It might prove quite useful when it comes to studying for the course exams.  You might, for instance, make it a regular habit to respond to every book, article or primary resource you read as you progress through the course.  If your responses include observations, speculations, questions, doubts or summaries you can be sure you have a solid record of your own thought to supplement your class notes.  In other words, think of the blog as a practice site. 

·         Observation and Awareness:  record, in your own language what you see or hear; comment on classroom experiences, create a summary of main points of an article or the main characteristics of an oral history interview – look for details, use quotations, examples, analogies, descriptive language

·         Speculation and Questions: wonder “What if?” and try to identify areas of the text or observations that are hardest for you to understand and to react to, to contemplate in writing, and to create a context and connections for main points;  summarize conversations you have with your classmates or comment on how effective your workgroup is working (or not)

·         Dialogue and Revision:  talk to me and your classmates in your blog, use it to find out things about each other – but don’t expect complete candor; ask for help and see what happens; look at previous entries and write about whether it’s the same as how you think now and why you changed your mind; build opportunities for revision in your projects

                Use your blog as a way to explore what you are learning and encourage your readers to comment.  Your comments on your classmates' blogs should be constructive and provide some additional historical data or analysis.  Critical inquiry is important to a scholarly environment, but keep any personal or anecdotal comments to a minimum.  Your comments, if not pertinent to the blog entry or supportive in the sense of helping the online community learn more about Kentucky women's lives during the civil rights era, can be deleted by the blog owner and your grade for this assignment will be lower.  While you can be supportive by saying, "I agree" or "Wow, I never thought of that," these statements alone are not sufficient.  Finally, make sure you cite your sources for all references and above all - it is always a good and respectful thing to link to other sites and  attribute others for their ideas.


Class Participation and Creation of Open Knowledge Initiative - 20% of total grade

                Participation in this class discussion will focus on the course materials and on the issues raised in presentations and the online Open Knowledge Outreach initiative.  We will be using a class group in, and you will be expected to show your participation both in class and in building the different annotations to show up in the main site for the course. Part of each class will be spent on interpretive activities in which we will develop and debate historical interpretations of primary sources.  In addition, you will be expected to contribute constructively in discussions both in the classroom and online about the issues raised in the individual and team projects.  I am happy to help you plan in advance how to engage your peers in discussion.  My evaluation of your participation is cumulative and normative: it will depend on how much you contribute to the success of the overall discussion by your peers both in the classroom and online.  Frequent participation or a lack of participation can raise or lower a borderline grade by up to 2 percentage points.

                One of the key tasks for any historian is to keep notes on what is being read and discussed: some people call it a research log and others prefer an annotated bibliography type of format (for more on annotated bibliographies, see the Purdue Online Writing Lab, We will discuss this activity in class and learn how some professional historians go about it. For purposes of the Open Knowledge Outreach initiative, you will need to keep a public record of the sources you acquire (or chose not to use) during the semester. Your personal research log or annotated bibliography will help build the common knowledge base that will provide much of the research for your individual project as well as the group project - and will be critical to the building of the Open Knowledge site. Essentially, you will be keeping an open research notebook for the semester, to be contributed to at least weekly. I will be checking your annotated bibliography at least every other week, so you will need to stay up-to-date with your work on this assignment. This is your place to store your favorite images, highlights of online resources and bookmark links to websites, articles, data sources, pictures, videos, etc. that are relevant to our exploration of the history of Kentucky women in the civil rights era.


Group Project – Service Learning – 30% of total grade

                The Group Project will be a combination of individual and group work, coming up with a specific goal that contributes to and strengthens a particular community in some way.   Your grade for this project is broken down into the following elements:

1.       Project Proposal and wiki page (5%)

2.       Roundtable Discussion (5%)

3.       Peer Evaluations (5%)

4.       Final Project (15%)

Students will be placed in research teams of 3-5 each and a “team page” created on the course wiki by the 4th week of classes.  Articulate a plan of study for your group and put it on the class wiki. Each student will keep a weekly working journal with photos, videos, links and observations (usually between 250-500 words per week).  

                The Group Project Proposal is due October 14th.   Include the following on your team's wikipage to receive up to 5% toward the final group project grade:

·         Your team members and their particular roles in the service learning project.  Include plans for research time in the library and online and how each team member will contribute.

·         The particular event or people/person your group wants to study. Plan how the community will be consulted - how campus-community boundaries will be negotiated and crossed.

·         A list of 3 topics of interest about the event or people/person that you will explore. Explain and justify.

·         A list of 10 key resources annotated with potential topics of foci for your work. Explain and justify.

Prepare an interesting presentation on your research that would form the basis for a roundtable discussion in class.  The roundtable discussion will contribute up to 5% of your project’s grade. When the project is finally finished (no later than December 17, 3:30 p.m.), you must submit to me a completed evaluation form for each of your group’s members (including yourself) assessing their contribution to the group effort.  Your self-evaluation and your team members’ peer evaluations will be averaged to provide another 5% of your grade.


Some examples of group projects are:

Ø  Explore and analyze existing oral history interviews of Kentucky women to find a common theme and pose an hypothesis about their experiences using the class digital repository to offer access to their voices, images and documentary records that supports the particular argument presented for users of the site to comment on or add new insights;

Ø  Interview and collect documents from Kentucky women who were activists during the time periods examined in this class building a community-based wiki for a local historical society to use and support;

Ø  Study the history of social protest or women's activism in the surrounding community and build a walking tour for people to download and use via an iPhone application;

Ø  Explore the meeting minutes of a women's group, weighing the tensions between communal values and individual aspirations and how these have changed over time and in different cultural settings - crafting a video depicting how the group might have conducted their meetings and reacted to outside pressures;

Ø  Work with local grassroots organizations to inform them of the history of an issue and possible strategies for resolving the issues, building an online community forum using authentic historic voices and documents, so that they will be better able to evaluate and act upon the actions of local government officials and policymakers today on such issues as domestic violence, immigration, and residential and educational segregation;

Ø  Use an annotated collection of images and music to explore the moral aspects of volunteering in the mid-twentieth century and the gendering of such virtues as benevolence, generosity and gratitude;

Ø  Focus on the moral and ethical assumptions underlying philanthropy in women's groups, notions of selflessness and charity, and the effect of race and class on the ethics of their philanthropy using selected audio clips from oral history interviews.


The grade for the final group project will be allotted following these three areas of equal weight totaling 15%.  These components were established by Campus Compact (, of which UK is a member, as critical for a successful service learning project:

1.       Engagement and Reciprocity – Does the service component meet a public good? How do you know this?  Every individual, organization, and entity involved in the service learning functions as both a teacher and a learner; participants are perceived as colleagues, not as servers and clients - how is reciprocity evident in the service component? (5%)

2.       Reflection Blog Entries – Did each member of the group link their service experience to course content and reflect upon why the service is important? (5%)

3.       Public Dissemination – How accessible is the service work presented to the public and did the group made an opportunity for the community to enter into a public dialogue?  To whose advantage? (5%)


Individual Project in Interpreting History: Building a Wikipedia Entry – 30%

            Students will also complete an individual project that either a) develops a biography of a Kentucky woman whose life was impacted by or was a critical influence on the civil rights movement, or b) explores in depth a political event involving women that is a key part of the Kentucky civil rights movement but is not examined closely in the course.  Students will build and refine an general encyclopedic entry of not less than 1,000 words.  This article will be published in Wikipedia.  It should draw on high-quality scholarly sources, use Wikipedia Style Guidelines (, and adhere to the three fundamental principles of the Wikimedia Foundation: neutral point of view, verifiability and no original research (  Students should also request a peer review of the entry from the Wikipedia editor community (

                Each student must craft a carefully prepared prospectus, consisting of a 1 page description of the project and a bibliography of primary and secondary sources no later than the afternoon of October 7th. Each student should meet with me by appointment to discuss her/his proposed project topic before preparing the prospectus. Each student will create her or his own Wikipedia login ID, will become familiar with Wikipedia as a community and as a knowledge resource. The final project must be published on Wikipedia and completed before the Thanksgiving break. Late projects will lose 5 points for each day they are late up to three days; no entries will be accepted after 5 pm on November 27.


Writing about Events:  You may choose to focus on an event central to women in a local community or significant at a state or national level – either way these questions offer a way to get started:

ü  What happened and how does this relate to the course topic and readings?

ü  Who did it?  When did it happen?  What was it like?

ü  What does it mean within a women’s history context?

Writing about People: You might examine a woman’s life within the context of a national event or you might examine the effect that that person had on a particular local or statewide movement – either way, these questions may help get your investigation going:

ü  When and where did she live? What is her background? What did she do and how does this relate to the course topic and readings?

ü  What are her important ideas, acts and relationships with others you are studying in this class?

ü  What is her contribution to her times?