Journal Assignments

JOURNAL REQUIREMENTS for Senior IB History of the Americas

Dr. D. Schmidt

This assignment encourages you (isn’t that a better way to say it than forces you!!!) to gain some contemporary perspectives on topics relevant to this class. It will help you to see how historic events continue to impact the world today. Plus, it will hone your abilities to summarize, evaluate, and assess information. Finally, we will occasionally have a chance to discuss some of the journal articles through class discussions.

Journals constitute 10% of a 9 weeks’ grade, so it is important to do them. I will not accept late journals. The due dates of journals will be posted weeks in advance.

Your journal should consist of either a three-ring binder within which you include your journal articles and analyses, or a notebook or folder that includes them. I will not accept individual and loose articles and analyses. There will be a journal assignment every nine weeks.

A journal assignment requires that you locate 3 newspaper or magazine articles dealing with topics relevant to Senior Level History of the Americas. The articles cannot be more than 6 months old. Your sources should be legitimate and professional, although they can come from either mainstream US sources (New York Times, CNN, Gainesville Sun, The Economist, etc.), the foreign press (BBC News, Latin American papers), or even socialist sources. Please avoid sources that appear extreme in their perspectives. Articles should be long enough to provide details and insight, i.e., an article that is only a paragraph or two long is not going to be useful.

You do not need to print the entire article to include with your journal—a couple paragraphs will suffice. Please include source information (author, publisher, date).

Your task is then to briefly summarize the article (a paragraph should do this in most cases), then discuss as many of the following as would be appropriate:


How does the article relate to issues and history as we have been discussing it?


What questions does the article raise for you that you’d like to know the answers to (if I can, I’ll try to provide those answers)


What is your reaction to the event or person being described?


Are there notable biases in the perspective? What are they?

Most summaries and analyses will be less than a page long per article if typed

. If your handwriting is hard to read, please type!! I am old and my eyes are already bad.

Here are some relevant topics for your journaling activity.


Any Latin American news that provides insight into political, economic and social conditions, foreign affairs, development issues, population dynamics, etc. Please do not do stories on things that are of minor use to understanding the culture and social dynamics of Latin America (like a small-scale crime, a flood, etc.)


Any news that pertains to one of the 20th C. topics we will study 2nd semester: world wars, the Cold War era, single-party states and leaders (here Castro would count)

Do not do topics that are not related to this course. For instance, articles on non-historical topics or countries we will not discuss at all would not be acceptable.

I strongly suggest that you begin the year finding articles related to Latin America, and especially to a country (e.g., Brazil, Cuba, Venezuela, Mexico) or person (e.g., Castro, Chavez) which interests you. I encourage you to continue finding articles in later journals about a topic and/or country you find interesting, e.g., you may come across a developing story about Mexico that you decide to follow over the months. You can turn in a journal with 3 articles on the same topic, but they must be sufficiently different enough to justify doing that. If they offer different interpretations of an event or person, that would certainly be appropriate. Otherwise, look for different topics. As the year progresses, you might want to begin searching for articles dealing with 20th c. topics.

I will try and give you examples as I myself find them during the year.

Do not get overly carried away with your analyses. Some students in the past spent more time on these journals than on homework and studying, and that’s not the right priority here.

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