How can I be sure that I am answering the right question when I am writing for a class?
When you approach a writing prompt, you want to make sure you grasp three main things in the assignment. You need to know that your writing reflects the right sort of critical thinking, you need to make sure that you are clear about the intended audience, and you want to make certain that you are clear about the teacher's/professor's expectations for providing supporting evidence. In an effort to make sure that you understand the question, you need to focus on the verbs in the prompt. Are you being asked to analyze? Does the teacher want you to describe or explain? Do they want you to argue in favor of a particular point? Examining the verbs - analyze, explain, argue - will help you to define the structure and direction of your paper. As you consider your audience, be aware that there are common traps that trip up students. Unless the teach is explicit, your audience is not your classmates or even yourself. The teacher is certainly a part of the audience, but in general you want to assume that the audience doesn't have the same level of expertise or knowledge that he or she does. Sometimes teachers will give you explicit instructions for an assignment that you will need to keep in mind: a letter to your representative for example, or a graduation speech or a eulogy. Each of these will have a specific audience in mind and you will need to maintain an awareness of this audience as you develop your points. Finally, determining the type of evidence expected can be critical in your success at answering the prompt. Some assignments ask for personal anecdotes or opinions while others require a more scholarly bent with well researched facts to support your claim. It would be disastrous to your efforts if you mixed up the two. In short, when you are trying to provide a masterful response to a prompt, analyze the verb choice, consider your audience, and make precise choices about your evidence and you won't go wrong.
What was the cause of the Civil War?
The American Civil War began because of the political, economic and moral realities of Slavery. Americans, to their credit or to their shame, react decisively when they perceive a problem of injustice. Just so, when the realities of slavery came to light in the middle part of the 19th Century, the people of this nation took the noble and moral course that the institution should be eradicated whatever the cost. Slavery gave our young nation an enormous economic benefit. Close to 80% of our export dollars were the product of the work of slaves. If financial gain were the only motive factor for the people of this country, undoubtedly the practice of manipulating human beings like property would have spread more completely across our nation. However, there was a moral underpinning that accompanied the Europeans who settled this land when they immigrated to the “New World”, and that moral code insisted that such a spreading of slavery would be unconscionable. This American morality became impassioned by the dissemination of information that forced the hand of even the most calloused law maker. With the publishing of Uncle Tom’s Cabin and the rising publication of news stories and features exposing the evils of slavery, the American public and the law makers who represented them, could not leave their heads in the sand. They were forced to wrestle with their conscience, and any thoughts along this line would eventually lead to the clear conclusion that enslaving human beings is wrong. At first, political leaders were content to try and restrict the spread, but soon both public and political forces became insistent and it was no longer enough simply to corral the evil; it needed to be eliminated from our national landscape. The Southern view reports a similar process of defending a moral high ground, but the Southern stance reflected the defense of a more political injustice. The concern of the people of the South was for the integrity of the Constitution. Here, rather than being led by morality as they were in the North, the predominant Southern position hinged on the politics. The Constitution was sacred, not human life. The right to own property is protected by the Constitution, and in the South slaves were as essential an economic possession as the automobile is today. The South was concerned that as the nation grew a political imbalance would inevitably result in the political overthrow of the institution of slavery. A political juggling act had been going on in America for nearly half a century, and without some decisive action, the situation would likely continue for another half century or more. While the Southern states seemed willing to wait, the North had no such patience. Clearly, the issue of slavery was the root cause of the Civil War, though the power and direction of its impact was not the same in all quarters. In the North, the moral foundation of slavery was and will forever be corrupt, and in the South the right to own property was to be protected at all costs. Claiming irreconcilable differences, the Union decided to end the debate and the search for compromise, and so the war began.
What is the best way to get students to behave in your classroom?
If you want to make certain that your students are behaving in your classes, you will do well to focus your preparation on three basic challenges. First, you want to make sure that you build relationships with your students. This may seem simpler than it truly is. You need to find a way to get to know about their lives both inside and outside of school, and you need to find ways to let them get to know you. By developing relationships with your kids you will help them to believe that you care about them and through this to develop an investment in maintaining a positive connection to you. The second step involves setting up clear and enforceable systems for moving through the basic routines of class. From managing entry into the class to a clean, crisp and well organized closing, you need to help students move through the routine processes without having to think or negotiate the process. Frequent reminders throughout the year will help the habits to become routine, and will save time and eliminate the drama that often accompanies transitions. Finally, you need to create engaging lessons. Your students have wonderful brains that need to be activated. If you can't do it, they will do it themselves. When they do, it is likely that their amusements will cause disruption. Engaging lessons begin with a compelling question and the context for answering it. The second part of that sentence offers the key: your students need to be the ones who answer the question, and they need to have a foundation from which to do it. You need to start with what they already know, and build understanding from that humble beginning. If your students know that you know them, if they know what they need to do in your class and when, and if they are doing meaningful work at a level they can manage, then your classroom will see a minimum of distracting behavior and a maximum of learning.