ESSAY Due April 15 by 5pm // WEBSITE Due on May 6 by 5pm

The highlight of this semester will be a website project that students will undertake to explain the significance of an important election in US history for a classroom audience.  By Monday, April 15, students must submit an 8- to 10-page narrative essay on their subject, relying on a range of primary and secondary sources, and employing Chicago-style footnotes.  This draft essay will receive a provisional or temporary grade. By Monday, May 6, students should revise the draft essay and transform it into website on the free platform Weebly.  Each website should include an array of properly credited and captioned images as well as at least one embedded short video (about 1 to 2 minutes). Projects will be graded on depth of analysis, research and design effort, and quality of prose. Late research submissions will be penalized up to 5 points per day.

All submissions by email (either with Word doc or PDF attachment or by email URL link)

  • Students should consult with Prof. Pinsker over email as they consider topics, which may include any local, state, or federal election in the US from 1789 to 2008

Most important, students should also strive to engage classroom audiences with visual and multi-media tools such as timelines and short videos.

  • Students may incorporate revised versions of their previously submitted multi-media appendixes.  They may also attempt to use other tools like Google Maps, podcasts, etc.  

Students may embed and curate multi-media elements from outside sources, but they must take care to credit and caption those sources properly.

  • Credits offer short acknowledgments of sources (Library of Congress) or (House Divided Project at Dickinson College).  Captions provide brief descriptions of images or multi-media.

All text content at the student-produced websites should be original and cited with Chicago-style footnotes.

Students should submit a link to their website by email to Prof. Pinsker.  Late projects will be penalized up to 5 points per day.

Weebly guidance

  • Building websites in Weebly is easy –and free.  Just make sure you sign up for the free version of the site and pick the “subdomain” URL that allows for Weebly branding (e.g. 1876election.weebly.com).  NOTE: sometimes your desired subdomain URL is not available.  Just keep trying.
  • PRIVACY:  Your Weebly sites can be kept essentially private if you change the SEO settings on your web pages to “Discourage Search Engines”
  • All websites should have at least three content pages: e.g. Background, Campaign, Election Day.  All sites should also have a separate home page that describes both the nature of the project (class and semester) and the author (grad year and major).

Model Sites

Finally, here are some model student-produced Weebly sites culled from the Student Hall of Fame.  Take special notice of how these students organized their content toward teaching goals.  Also, pay attention to the ways they employed embedded images, multi-media resources, and hypertext links to primary sources.

Video Tutorials

Creating and embedding short documentary-style videos into your websites is one of the best ways to enhance the learning potential of your website.

  • STUDENT MODEL:  Slave Stampede (Narrated by Liz McCreary)
  • STUDENT MODEL:  Roger Taney (Narrated by Sarah Goldberg)
  • STUDENT MODEL:  Moncure Conway (Narrated by Sam Weisman)
  • Students may chose to convert part of their paper (such as the opening paragraphs) into a video narration, or they may craft an original script
  • Consider using the free version of the online platform WeVideo, but you may also consider relying on software such as iMovie or Windows Moviemaker –but just remember that sharing those videos will require you to post them first at an online platform like YouTube.  
  • Remember to provide CLEAR audio narration.  Usually, you can achieve good sound quality simply by recording into your cell phone in a quiet room.  Just speak close to the phone, vary your tone and pacing, and try to sound natural.  
  • Also critical for the success of your video will be images.  Make sure they are high resolution, and be creative in cropping, framing and using tools such as pan & zoom, in order to create a sense of engagement.
  • Finally, make sure your images, music and sound effects are in the public domain and properly credited at the end of your video.  You can find lots of examples of compelling short documentary videos at the House Divided Project YouTube channel.

Other Multi-Media Tutorials