Course Requirements

Requirements for Mr. Jordan's History Classes


What do the grades mean? A, A- indicates excellent performance; B+, B, B- indicates good performance; C+, C, C- indicates satisfactory performance; D+, D, D- indicates less than satisfactory performance; E indicates unsatisfactory performance. (adapted from the website of Lane Community College). At Phillips Exeter Academy, we have a high standard of excellence, perhaps even higher even than Lane CC--but not the Bible: according to Psalm 107, God is merely good (see below).


Class participation is mandatory, not optional. For an explanation of how your class participation may affect your grade, go to the Discussing History tab and select Grading. To assess your own contributions to the class, consider the following:

1. Presence, physical and otherwise. Students need to attend class in both body and spirit. Body language says a lot about a person's mental presence and attentiveness--maybe even more-so during online classes. I assume that excused absences are for a good reason, unexcused absences reflect a lack of commitment to the class. On rare occasions, students may need to leave a class that is underway, usually to use the lavatory; on most days, such business should be taken care of in-between classes and frequently leaving class in the middle of a period is not acceptable short of a documented medical condition.

2. Degree of preparation. Did you bring the readings and reference them during class? You should mark up the readings with underlining or highlighting and notes in the margins as a way of preparing to cite things from the reading as evidence during discussions.

3. Frequency of participation. Did you participate frequently without monopolizing the discussion?

4. Appropriateness of participation. Did you respond to what others said in constructive ways? Did you listen with an open mind and seek to understand others' ideas? Did you respond constructively and were you sometimes persuaded by opposing points of view?

5. Etiquette. Did you treat all members of the class with respect at all times? Did you direct remarks to other students or the group rather than the teacher? Please do not use OTHER electronic devices during the class.

For more on these criteria, see the Harkness discussion Guide under the Discussing History tab.

Attention quiet students. Students who regularly do not participate in class discussions may have their grade reduced. But rather than reduce your grade I would like to help you get involved in the discussion. If you are regularly not participating in class for some reason, please set up a meeting with me about how you can get into the conversation. Go here for more specifics on how class participation effects your grade.

For an interesting article about how positive group dynamics are more important than cumulative intelligence in determining the effectiveness of a group, follow this link to the Boston Globe.


Include your name, section letter, and a word count in the heading. No title page is necessary, but do number your pages. Please turn in physical (not electronic) copies of your papers.

ON WORD LIMITS: Do not ask: "how strict are you about word limits?" Here's how I interpret that question: "Can you give me a higher word limit so I can write a more thorough paper and get an unfair advantage over my classmates?" The word limit is the word limit. If you go over it, you will be risking a reduced grade.

“Putting things off is the greatest waste of life: it snatches away each day as it comes, and denies us the present by promising the future.” — Seneca,

DEADLINES. Meeting deadlines is an important life skill and school is where we first are forced to practice it, for our own good. Turn your papers in before the end of the class period when it is due.

Occasionally there are unavoidable reasons you need extra time. If you are experiencing one of these, read my LATE PAPER POLICY HERE, before asking me for an extension.

ASSESSMENT OF PAPERS: How do I decide what grade to put on your papers? You can read about my standards for history papers here. A different, more elaborate, set of standards applies to research papers, especially the "333."

WHEN YOU GET YOUR PAPER BACK: Read the comments carefully and reflect on them. My comments may include suggestions for you to read certain sections of the Paper-Writing Guide (PWG) and other pages on my website. Make sure you read those. It will help you do better on the next paper.

HELP WITH WRITING PAPERS: If students have questions about the paper prompt or the assignment generally, they should ask them in class, since other students may have the same question. I will not read and comment on individual student papers in advance of the due date. The writing center is available for help with writing issues (item D on my "Assessment of Papers" page), but ultimately the paper is a product of your own work and your "mastery and understanding of the history we studied in preparation" for the paper (item A), which requires you to read carefully and review and study. No one can do it for you.

The exception is for research papers in which part of the assignment for every student involves feedback on drafts.

REWRITE POLICY: Rewrites are allowed for students who receive a paper with a grade below B-. Before you ask to do a rewrite, please read these guidelines.


NOTE-TAKING: You should take notes on your reading for two reasons. First, it will help you process and retain information. Second, they will be helpful when studying for exams, writing papers, or taking open-note quizzes. Don't take notes on everything. Write down the most important events, dates, people, concepts and themes. You should also write down any questions that you have. Finally, look up words that you don’t know. Take notes in class too: write down information that I've put up on the board, any sudden revelations that come to you, or ideas that you would like to write about at a later time. In-class note taking is particularly helpful for people who speak infrequently (it keeps them focused on the discussion) or too frequently (it gives them something to do other than speak incessantly).

SHOWING UP: Completing assigned work on time, arriving to class on time, marking up your readings and bringing them to class. Take care of the fundamentals. Do your job. Show up. A successful class at Exeter depends on everyone doing their part. Exonians don't tend to work a part time job through High School. That's because the workload here is so heavy. That's too bad, because you learn a lot of valuable lessons in the teenager workplace. So consider this your job. Harkness classes rely on student participation. When you show up late, fail to meet deadlines, don't participate, it degrades the experience for everyone else who is part of this team effort. DO YOUR JOB.

HISTORY DEPARTMENT PLAGIARISM POLICY. You are responsible for knowing and following the policy:

The most basic definition of plagiarism is the theft of another's intellectual property. The most serious form of plagiarism is the deliberate use of a source without alteration or attribution; cutting and pasting unacknowledged material from the Internet into an essay is one example. Copying the work of another person, failing to cite sources, failing to place borrowed phrasing between quotation marks, failing to paraphrase, and misuse of footnotes/citations may also be considered forms of plagiarism.

The History Department expects that students will cite their sources in their writing, as one of our educational goals is to train students in this critical scholarly practice. History teachers understand that mistakes in citation might occur as part of the learning process and that these mistakes may be unintentional. One of the tasks of the teacher is to notify a student when a form of misuse has occurred, so that a student might avoid this mistake in the future.

However, plagiarism can be a serious issue of academic dishonesty and can lead to disciplinary action. In a case of academic dishonesty involving plagiarism, a teacher must notify the chair of the history department and a discipline case may ensue. We expect that students will follow the guidelines for citing sources, ask their teachers when they have questions about citations, and learn from their mistakes. Above all, we expect that students will be honest in representing their own work and in acknowledging the sources they have used.

MISSED CLASSES: If you miss a class you are expected to complete the reading; get notes from a classmate; obtain any missed handouts or assignments; and come to the following class fully prepared. Missing a class is not an excuse for being unprepared the next time.

CONTACT ME: During the weird fall 2020 term, I will hold office hours over zoom during the office hours block Thursdays. Email: In normal times I say: "I tend to be in my classroom in between classes. Come by if you have a free, or shoot me an email listing your free periods and we can set up an appointment. I do evening duty in Peabody Hall one night a week (it's Thursday for the 2018-19 school year). I love to discuss history, writing, Harkness, etc. with my students, so please don't hesitate to meet with me."


In other words, he would get a B from Lane Community College.