What Went Wrong on Rome Test

By , November 25, 2019 8:00 pm

Nov. 25, 2019

Hello class;

a number of people seem surprised by the low marks on the Julius Caesar and Roman Emperor paragraphs. Here I will attempt to give some hints on how to avoid these problems in the future. We have been practicing these things all semester. Keep pushing yourself to learn from experience (wisdom!!) .

Julius Caesar paragraph

  1. factual knowledge is low – you have the worksheets in front of you but are not using the details. I am not looking for general ideas – I am looking for you to pick out the details of what is most important. These should be giveaway marks. If you are getting low marks for details then you are potentially being lazy or don’t know what’s in your notes. Study for tests – don’t take open book for granted.
  2. arguments are not connecting back directly to the topic sentence. This is the weakest area.  I don’t care if you’re getting sick of the see-saw – all good writing is a balance of detailed evidence and well-explained argument. We’re not there yet, folks!
  • if you chose the argument that he took a risky path by alienating the Senate, you should have emphasized the risk – that he made the Senators feel so offended that they organized a conspiracy to kill him. It’s not really a full argument if you don’t explain this. Don’t assume the reader knows this. It’s your job to tell it directly. And please don’t wait until the concluding sentence to do so – this is a persuasive paragraph, not a whodunit mystery where you find out the most important information on the last page of the book!
  • if you chose the argument that he suffered for his break with tradition,  you should have emphasized how he suffered – see above for how to emphasize his death at the hands of those who didn’t want to give up their traditional power.
  • HTC Continuity and Change: instead of just repeating the word change, you could deliberately do the following:
    • use synonyms for change
    • refer to progress and decline of different groups (such as Caesar and his friends going up in the world and the Senate feeling like they were going down)
    • use the vocab of continuity when you talk about tradition
      • words like preserve, keep, hold onto, etc.

Roman Emperor paragraph

  1. details of emperors’ contributions were okay but not as high as expected. Again, avoid general points like Trajan expanded the empire to its maximum (to where, by conquering whom?), or Hadrian built walls (where, to do what?)
  2. arguments on inevitable decline or could have been avoided were okay but just not explained as much as they could have been
  3. really weak knowledge of generic factors of decline – sometimes even missing altogether. We spent time on these – you should have been more familiar, or you should have checked your notes!
  4. HTC Causes and Consequences: there were a lot of things you could have pointed out rather than just repeating ’caused.’
  • intended or unintended consequences
  • short-, medium-, long-term causes
  • the weight of one cause over another

I hope these pointers will help you in the future. In particular, as you prepare your CCA Step 2 Timeline with Attitude (with a focus on continuity and change), I hope you will be very direct about progress and decline for particular groups (perspectives).

I really, really care about your skill development. I hope you will take this feedback to heart and apply it in the future. I think a lot of it comes down to poor preparation: you need to be ready for a test, not just show up and open your binder hoping to copy out a few lines here and there. Engage in class discussions – get involved to make the most out of your learning. It has been shown to work.

I love our class! I hope I don’t kill your love of history by pushing you to do better in your written work.

Ms. G

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