Everything we do in class is geared towards giving you ideas to develop in your weekly blog posts. Every blog post is geared towards helping you write the major course assignment in each class, which is designed to assess the Student Learning Outcomes in the course. In English 101, the final assignment to SHOW Jen your learning/understanding/comprehension is your final portfolio (particularly the capstone assignment of Essay #2). In English 102, this assignment is your final research paper.
For more details, please refer the appropriate syllabus designed specifically for your course.
The Prompt for Blog #1: Explore, in writing, anything we covered in class over the week or anything that Jen assigned as reading.
Purpose(s): To build CONNECTION between your current identity and the material we cover in class. To build CONNECTION between yourself and your peers. To build connection between you and Jen (the instructor.) To practice INVENTION (going from “not-knowing” to or having “no idea”) to having an idea. To practice writing to DISCOVER (rather than writing to SHOW learning, as you would in a formal essay.) To deepen your understanding of/response to core concepts covered in class. To ask questions (and possibly pose responses.) To relate personal experiences that connect with the ideas/concepts/skills. To teach your peers through your own learning and process of discovery through writing.
Process: Please use your in-class freewrites, your notes and Jen’s notes (see the schedule) to remind yourself/refresh your memory.
Potential Ideas: Blog entry #1 could be a letter of introduction to Jen and your peers. Blog #1 might just be one or all of your freewrites written in class typed out (and possibly expanded.) Blog #1 could involve you taking key quotes from Ballenger (citing them correctly, of course!) and then writing in response to them. Blog #1 could expand and discuss what you discussed in small groups. Blog #1 may include pictures and/or links to other websites.
Tone/Style: This blog may be as formal as you like . . . OR it may be a complete freewrite with no checking for grammar and/or spelling. Your blogs are YOURS– so they may be crafted and revised as many times as you have the energy and passion for, or they may be written off the cuff at the last minute.
One Caution: There is a great deal of freedom in this assignment for a variety of pedagogical purposes (see “Purposes” above.) Part of INVENTION (the first stage of the writing and reading processes) is to get messy– to contradict yourself– to ask questions– to go off on seemingly unrelated tangents (because there is a deeper connection there your unconscious can see but your conscious mind cannot.) it is like trying to do very complex math– you must show your work. You must write the “wrong” thing. You must MAKE MISTAKES.
That said, too often students use the blogs strictly as a journal about off-topic areas of their lives outside of class that are NOT related back to the concepts we are reading/writing/discussing . . . and then find that the blog entries are not useful to them (and then complain publicly on Rate My Professor). If you participate mindfully in the opening freewrites, take notes in class, participate actively in class and READ THE READINGS, the blog entries are a chance to jump off on those writing and readings and really RESPOND– make connections– feel connected.
Ideas for 101: Your experience the first day of class. Just describing your perceptions of this first week is valid and will be useful. Write about specifics from Sir Ken Robinson’s Ted Talk that you either agreed or disagreed with and/or specific experiences from your educational history that relate. You might start to explore reactions to Paul Tough’s essay on Success and Failure. Just use the 800 words to start brainstorming stories/narratives for Essay #1. Revisit any of the freewrites we have done in class and expand on them.
Ideas for 102: Your experience of the first day of class. How did you feel? What do you remember? Malcolm Gladwell’s Ted Talk and how it relates to research, the nature of research, the research paper, the work we will be doing in class, etc. Howard Moskovitch and his notion of “perfect Pepsi’s” and his debunking of the Platonic ideal. Make an analogy between the (false mustard) hierarchy and Ballenger’s metaphor of “Where’s Waldo?” Research as boundless– the research process as asking questions (rather than proving answers). Your impressions of Ballenger’s “Theories of Intelligence” as his example of “The Creative Research Paper” What you are excited about when you think about blogging. What you are nervous about. Questions about the syllabus. Questions about English 102 in general. What you are excited about in terms of the class/syllabus. What you are nervous about or have questions about in terms of the class/syllabus. A letter of introduction to your peers and to your instructor. Expand on your first day freewrite: WHY English 102? Why is this class so important? (see Jen’s prompt from that day). What topics are you thinking about writing about? What questions have you always wanted to answer? Do Exercise 1.1: Building an Interest Inventory (In Ballenger).