Mrs. Ruland's Social Studies Page

Writing and Other Skills Necessary for Success in Mrs. Ruland's Class

Quill Pen Divider

Due to Comcast's recent decision to end all web hosting, this site can now be found at Please edit your bookmarks.

Home Page


AP US History Course

AP World History Course

Law Class

US History Course

Modern World History Course

US History Internet Resources

World History Internet Resources



Writing and Sills Information

General Resources

Teacher Resources

Student Gallery

Mock Trial

Model UN


There are many skills that are called upon in a Social Studies class. Since my students are still in high school, they may not have learned all these skills. So I have gathered a number of resources to assist my students in their quest for success in my classes. I have links to college and library tutorials as well as my own guides for various items.

Different expectations are placed on different grade levels. My 9th grade students are not expected to write and conduct research at a college level. We will be learning and practicing some of these skills this year. If you feel that you are in particular need of help, come to my after school skills sessions, or check out some of the basic level tutorials. I have marked these with a single apple tiny apple icon.

Advanced Placement courses are designed to be college level course, so it is reasonable to infer that your writing and research should also be at a college level. However, you are still high school students and may not have all those skills fine tuned. If that is the case, this page can be very helpful. It is full of a wide variety of interactive tutorials, worksheets, and guides. Some will be assigned, but others are provided so that students can independently work on their weaknesses. I have marked sites with the following notations
tiny scroll icon basic refreshers
tiny scroll icontiny scroll icon tweak your skills, good reference
tiny scroll icontiny scroll icontiny scroll icon must see site — don't miss this one!

Writing/Research Skills

How can a Social Studies student show that he or she has a thorough understanding of a topic? By writing. Writing is so very important to the social studies student. I have collected what I think are some of the most helpful sites


AP US History - Study Skills: Improving Your Reading Skills
Good Advice from the people who administer the AP program. This also applies to the World History AP course.
Identifying the Argument of an Essay
Created by Metropolitan Community College, this is labelled as a tutorial in critical reasoning.

Note Taking

Note Taking
Created by a History professor at North Carolina State.
Note Taking
From Muskingum College Center for Advancement and Learning
Note Taking Skills
Some good hints if this is a weakness
Note Taking Skills
From the Academic Resource Center at Sweet Briar College
Slatta's Lazy S Ranch Home Range
Click on Notetaking in the left hand frame. Professor at North Carolina State University
Taking Lecture and Class Notes
Dartmouth University


CORE: Comprehensive Online Research Education tiny scroll icontiny scroll icon
An interactive tutorial designed to help students learn effective research strategies. Includes a variety of modules including Topic Evaluation, Internet, and Evaluating Sources. This site does require that you logon, but you can logon as guest.
The Historian's Toolbox
A 6 part tutorial designed for beginning college History majors.
History Writing Guides tiny scroll icontiny scroll icontiny scroll icon
One of the best college sites. Prepared by Bowdoin College. Extensive guide that covers the reading, writing, researching and evaluating of history. A must for all AP students
IPL Teenspace: A+ Research & Writing tiny scroll icon
Prepared by the Internet Public Library, this guide is written for teenagers.
Jules Benjamin, A Student's Guide to History
Contains sections on Study Assignments and Writing Assignments in History Courses, How to Research a History Topic, and How to Write a History Paper.
Reading, Writing and Research for History: a Guide for College Students
Produced by Bowdoin College
Student Experience Studies - Tutorials, How-to's & Step-by-Step Instructions
A great collection of information to help you work more effeciently, especially if you have Microsoft Office.
A Student's Guide to the Study of History -- Main tiny scroll icontiny scroll icon
Written by a college professor as a guide for any student studying history. Contains segments on taking notes in class, studying, as well as the various aspects of writing.
Study Guides and Strategies tiny apple icon tiny scroll icontiny scroll icontiny scroll icon
Created by the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul Minnesota. Contains sections on Preparing to Learn, Classroom Participation, Preparing for Tests, Writing Basics, Studying, Reading Skills, Taking Tests, and Webtruth.
Study Skills
UW-Madison Writing Center Writer's Handbook tiny scroll icontiny scroll icon
Very clearly written in a conversational tone rather than just a list of how-to.<


AP US History Essay Writing Tips and Tutorials
Tutorials on Understanding Essay Prompts and on The Thesis Sentence
AP US History - Study Skills: Improving Your Writing Skills
Very good advice from the people who administer the AP program. Also applies to the World History AP course.
Basic Guide to Essay Writing tiny scroll icon
The title says it all; contains some examples.
The Five Paragraph Essay Wizard- Persuasive Essay and prompts tiny apple icontiny scroll icon
Easy to understand approach to writing the five paragraph essay.
Glossary of Exam Terms
How to Write a Compare Contrast Thesis
Written by a WHAP teacher.
How to Write A Historical Essay
Provided by an APUS History teacher.
How to Write History Essays tiny scroll icontiny scroll icon
A college professor's how-to guide, but this one uses humor.
Mrs. Ruland's Cues for Quality Writing tiny apple icon
Online version of the handout given to 9th grade US History
Mrs. Ruland's Hints for Academic Writing
Online version of the handout given to APUS
Mrs. Ruland's How to Create a Precis
Instructions on creating a certain type of summary
Mrs. Ruland's Writing History Essays: A Series of Mini-Lessons
Online version of the in-class lessons.
OWL at Purdue University: General Writing Concerns Handouts tiny scroll icon
Nice collection that deals with planning to write, effective writing, and revising and proofreading.
Paisley Currah's Writing Guide
Brooklyn College, CUNY
Paradigm Online Writing Assistant tiny scroll icontiny scroll icon
Very nice collection of lessons on organizing, revising, editing, documenting sources as well as the various types of essays.
Social Sciences: General advice for non-majors tiny scroll icontiny scroll icon
Provided by Dartmouth College to assist non-majors. Another great site for AP students
Thesis Statement
Shows examples of the difference between weak and strong thesis
Thesis Statements: What Are They?
Nice concise discussion of the thesis statement
Writing Guide
Produced by Rutgers University History Department
10 Commandments of Good Historical Writing by Theron F. Schlabach
Nice set of "rules" for writing a history paper.


Mrs. Ruland's Tutorial on Plagiarism and Paraphrasing tiny apple icon tiny scroll icontiny scroll icontiny scroll icon
Avoid the pitfalls and problems of plagiarism and learn how to paraphrase.
Academic Integrity at Princeton University
Center for Intellectual Property and Copyright in the Digital Environment
Citing Sources: Documentation Guidelines for citing sources and avoiding plagiarism
Colby, Bates, and Bowdoin (CBB) Plagiarism Resource Site tiny apple icon tiny scroll icontiny scroll icontiny scroll icon
Three colleges in Maine collaborated on this very impressive project.
Earl Babbie -- Plagiarism tiny scroll icontiny scroll icontiny scroll icon
Wonderful site that contains examples of acceptable and unacceptable paraphrasing. Learn how to avoid problems
Everything You Need To Know About Detecting Plagiarism and Preventing It
This site is useful for both teachers and students.
Georgetown University: What is Plagiarism?
Guide to Plagiarism and Cyber-Plagiarism
Guide to Writing Research Papers: A Statement on Plagiarism
OWL: Avoiding Plagiarism tiny scroll icontiny scroll icon
Very nice clear information on when to document sources. Very nice practice exercise.
The Nuts and Bolts of College Writing: Plagiarism
The Plagiarism Court: You Be the Judge
Plagiarism: Definitions, Examples and Penalties
Plagiarism and How to Avoid It by D. Gardner
Plagiarism: The Lemonade Tutorials
Plagiarism Tutorial
Select Flash or Non-Flash version from San Jose State Univeristy
Plagiarism: What It Is and How to Recognize and Avoid It
Sources: What is Plagiarism?
The St. Martin's Tutorial on Avoiding Plagiarism
Very thorough tutorial that goes step by step through the research and writing process. Written by a professor at UMass.
Understanding Plagiarism
What is Plagiarism?
What is Plagiarism?
Prepared by the History News Network
You Quote It, You Note It!
Fun animated tutorial from Vaughan Memorial Library in Canada.


Remember that research on the Internet is not the same as surfing the Internet. Being able to find appropriate and useful information requires different skills.

Finding Information on the Internet tiny scroll icontiny scroll icon
Very nice tutorial from UC Berkley on how to find information; includes how to use search engines effectively.
A Helpful Guide to Search Engines
Not as clear as some.
History: A Research Guide
Internet Detective
Interactive tutorial that covers doing research on the Internet and evaluating the results
Literary Criticism
Internet Public Libary guide to finding literary criticism on the Internet
Online Research Guide
Prepared by the Springfield Township High School, PA
OWL: Handouts: Research and Documenting Sources tiny scroll icon
Clear discussion of many issues regarding research.
OWL: Internet Research: Searching the World Wide Web tiny apple icontiny scroll icontiny scroll icon
This is a great resource if you are sometimes unable to find the information you want; it may be your searching skills. Try the interactive tutorial too.
Research and Documentation Online
Contains information on Finding Sources and Documenting Sources in the Humanities, Social Sciences and History. Includes sample MLA paper, APA paper, and Chicago paper.
Searching for Reliable Resources
Interesting WebQuest prepared by Sacramento State University
A Student's Guide to WWW Research: Web Searching, Web Page Evaluation, and Research Strategies tiny apple icontiny scroll icon
This site is for the beginner but can also help more experienced searchers. It starts with the anatomy of a web page, discusses the types of pages, and discuses how to search.
Using the Internet as a Resource for Historical Research and Writing tiny scroll icontiny scroll icon
This is the more involved site for those who already know the basics, but want to learn how to do it even better.
Using Primary Sources on the Web
How to find, evaluate, and site a primary document.
Vaughn Memorial Libary Tutorials
Nice collection of fun tutorials dealing with various aspects of the research process and the use of materials
21st Century Information Fluency
Good site if your internet research skills a weak

Evaluating Internet Resources

Once you have found some Internet resources, you must be able to evaluate just how useful/valid/accurate they are. Anyone can put anything on the Internet. It doesn't have to be truthful. These sites can help you learn how to recognize the good from the bad.

Checklist for Evaluating Web Resources tiny apple icon
Nice, simple checklist
Evaluating Web Information tiny apple icontiny scroll icon
Provides a number of questions and tips to use when looking for quality information. Discusses authority, coverage, objectivity, accuracy and currency; provides examples for each; has a practice exercise.
Evaluating Web Pages: Techniques to Apply and Questions to Ask tiny scroll icon
Nice interactive tutorial from UC Berkley
Evaluating Web Resources tiny scroll icontiny scroll icon
Contains checklists for the various types of web pages as well as how to recognize them. Discusses advocacy, business/marketing informational, news and personal web pages.
Evaluating Web Sites
Nice site from Cornell University Library.
Evaluation Criteria from "The Good, The Bad & The Ugly: or, Why It's a Good Idea to Evaluate Web Sources"tiny apple icontiny scroll icon
Very clear checklist.
Five criteria for evaluating Web pages tiny apple icontiny scroll icon
Nice chart with criteria and how to evaluate the basic elements.
How to Evaluate the Information You Find
ICYouSee: T is for Thinking tiny scroll icontiny scroll icontiny scroll icon
Great interactive tutorial from Ithica College. Approach it with an open mind, do all the activities, and you will have an understanding of the problem and how to protect yourself.
Kathy Schrock's Guide for Educators: Critical Evaluation Surveys and Resources
With the advent of the World Wide Web and the huge amount of information that is contained there, students need to be able to critically evaluate a Web page for authenticity, applicability, authorship, bias, and usability. The ability to critically evaluate information is an important skill in this information age.
Rating System for Evaluating Public History Web Sites
Reading News Critically tiny scroll icontiny scroll icon
This is a nice WebQuest for recognizing bias.
A Student's Guide to WWW Research: Web Searching, Web Page Evaluation, and Research Strategies tiny scroll icon
Sections of this guide deal with evaluating for relevance, authority and accuracy.
Vaughan Memorial Library Tutorials - Credible Sources Count
A fun interactive tutorial designed to teach students how to evaluate the information they find on the web.
Web Page Evaluation Worksheet tiny scroll icon
WYSIWYG: Web Site Reliability WebQuest tiny scroll icon
Nice way to step through the process.

Working With Sources

This is particularly important for the AP students who will have to learn how to answer a Document Based Question (DBQ). However, all my students are expected to interpret maps, charts, political cartoons, and a wide variety of primary and secondary sources.

DBQ/CRQ: Teaching with Documents by Peter Pappas tiny apple icontiny scroll icontiny scroll icon
Contains a variety of worksheets designed for the different types of documents used in social studies. Includes discussion of how to identify the various types of sources and how to analyze them.
Do History
Site that shows you how to piece together the past from the fragments that have survived using a case study. Part of the Center for History and New Media at George Mason University.
Focus on Cartoons
Created by the British National Archive Learning Curve
Focus on Film
Created by the British National Archive Learning Curve
Focus on How to Read a Document
Created by the British National Archive Learning Curve
Football DBQ tiny scroll icontiny scroll icontiny scroll icon
A fun exercise that demonstrates the importance of POV
History Writing Guides tiny scroll icontiny scroll icon
Bowdoin College guide on how to read and evaluate primary sources.
How to Read a Document tiny scroll icontiny scroll icontiny scroll icon
Great tutorial on POV
How to Use Primary Sources
The New Jersey Historical Society has created this fun series of lessons using a variety of documents in their collection to demonstrate how different types of primary sources can be analysed and used.
Making Sense of Documents
History Matters site that combines how-to guides on making sense of oral history, numbers, American popular songs, photography, letters and diaries as well as a series of pages featuring scholars in action analyzing a variety of documents.
Making Sense of Films
In-depth essay with examples.
Making Sense of Maps tiny apple icontiny scroll icon
Good basic information.
Mrs. Ruland's Document Based Question (DBQ) Essay Hints
Mrs. Ruland's How to Use Evidence
NARA | Digital Classroom | Teaching With Documents: Document Analysis Worksheets tiny scroll icontiny scroll icontiny scroll icon
The various document analysis worksheets used in class.
Primary Source Document Exercise
This exercise was created by the Smithsonian as a way to introduce students to the use, comparison, and evaluation of primary source documents.
Sources: Their Use and Acknowledgement
Create by Dartmouth College
Teacher Resources - The Historian's Sources Lesson Overview tiny apple icon
Wonderful interactive lesson on primary sources.
The Use of Evidence
Using Primary Sources on the Web
Interesting tutorial with examples; deals with finding, evaluating and citing primary sources.
Why Study History Through Primary Sources


APAStyle. org - Electronic References
Clear information from the APA on how to cite online sources.
A Brief Citation Guide for Internet Sources in History and the Humanities
Simple guide with examples.
Citing Your Sources
A nice resource from the University of Portland. Contains links on APA, MLA, and Chicago styles. - Free, Automatic Bibliography Formatting, Alphabetizing, and Printing.
Create bibliographies in either MLA or APA format. Now there is no excuse!
Learning Page of the Library of Congress: Citing Electronic Sources
Nice guide with clear examples; contains some highlights from the Library's collections.
net.TUTOR: Citing Net Sources
Includes information on both APA and MLA formats
NoodleBib - The MLA and APA Bibliography Composer
Create bibliographies in either MLA or APA format. Now there is no excuse! Now required a paid subscription.
ONLINE! Citation Styles
Information on citing a variety of sources in a variety of formats.
OWL (Online Writing Lab) at Purdue University tiny scroll icontiny scroll icontiny scroll icon
Wonderful resource! Click on Research and Citation on the right side for information on APA and MLA formats.
Research Guides and Tools
Nice site from Ohio State University; contains information on APA, MLA, and Chicago styles.
Style Sheets for Citing Internet & Electronic Sources
Produced by UC Berkley; thorough
The Ultimate Writing Style Guides Resource for the APA, MLA, Chicago, and CSE Manuals
Does not contain how to information, but does have a very extensive list of sources for each style manual.


During the course of the year, you will be given an assignment to create a PowerPoint presentation. There will some computer lab instruction, but some of you may want more information.

Microsoft PowerPoint 2000 tutorial
Step-by-step interactive tutorial by Florida Gulf Coast University.
Mrs. Ruland's hints for proper Power Point Presentation format
These are the guidelines for any Power Point presentation in Mrs. Ruland's clases. Deductions will result for non-compliance.
PowerPoint in the Classroom
This was created in conjunction with Microsoft and was designed for use by students

Web Pages

AP and GT students will be creating webliographies on various topics. I have created a very simple guide to creating a web page, but I know that some of you will want to go beyond the basics. Please remember that there are style considerations.

HTML tutorials & lessons in web page design
Mrs. Ruland's Guide to Creating Your Own Web Page HTML Tutorials & Javascript - PageTutor


e-mail Mrs. Ruland

Report any Broken Links

Last updated August 4, 2010

This work by Marcella Ruland is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.