To help you consider what’s meaningful to you, we will ask you to regularly reflect on the readings and discussions in your blog. We will also ask you to engage each other outside of class by reading and commenting on your class mates blogs.
(We propose these two questions as a starting point for each weekly blog post. Please feel free to develop your own question(s). The best questions are those that lead you to a deep exploration of something that matters to you.)
- What struck you most in reading today’s assignment? What was puzzling, intriguing, gratifying, troubling, or upsetting? Why?
- What specific thing (an image, a metaphor, a passage or a concept) would you like to hang onto? Why does it resonate with you? How is it related to your journey?
In this course you will blog extensively. Blogs will be used as a vehicle for your reflection on readings as well as goings on in the course. We use blogging in this course to accomplish an important goal — to connect your reading experience to your classroom experience by means of an on-going conversation that takes place virtually and in person. Your posts help us understand your engagement with the readings before class, knowledge which we incorporate into class discussion. Afterward, your blogging allows you to capture and synthesize your thoughts generated during class and connections you are making personally to the material.
- Read or view each assignment.
- When posting, use this convention for a title: yourmailid.date(mm/dd/yy).title
- Post your response in your blog, beginning with the 2 questions above. Or, if you have a burning idea that simply must be expressed, you may make your own observation. Do this by 10:00 AM the day of class.
- Each Friday after class, write a blog post in your personal blog summarizing what you consider to be a salient or evocative point from the discussion. It should be an observation that concludes with a question. These blog posts are called “synthesizing responses.” Keep in mind that these blog posts need to be rich enough that your fellow students will engage with them and the question you raise. The question, then, needs to be genuine, a question you are genuinely interested in exploring and that you feel will be interesting and intriguing to your fellow students. These synthesizing posts are to be completed by Monday, 10:00 AM.
- By Wednesday, 10:00 AM, comment on two other classmates’ synthesizing responses, responding to the question they had posed. Click here to find the names of the two people to whom you will respond.
- The most important aspect of this assignment is to do it. Don’t be a perfectionist — if you have done the reading and attended class, your intuitions are bound to be of value. If they are not well expressed, this is one way to develop the muscle that converts the ideas in your head to the words in your mouth — this is what college is for. The point of blogging is not to produce perfect or even completely coherent ideas, but to begin the process of talking, thinking, reflecting and writing.
- Timeliness is essential. Obviously, for this process to work, your comments and blogs have to be submitted on time. We are creating a rich conversation, and your timely participation is required. The critical path is your reading — if you get into a schedule for your reading, the rest will follow.
- Length is variable. One or two sentences is too short; the ideal is an engaging paragraph. This may be 150 to 250 words; for synthesizing posts, about fifty words longer.
- Consistency matters. Participation is essential to success. Participation here is evidence of your focus and engagement. Your focus and engagement is enough, given that you are students at the University of Virginia. If you are focused and engaged, good things will happen for you, your fellow students and for this exploration.
In class, we will discuss what makes good blog entries. Here is a summary of the views of a previous class.
- Audience. Your audience (classmates and professors) is familiar with the readings and our discussions. Please assume that we are genuinely interested in your views.
- Focus. A compelling bog entry focuses on a specific idea and explores it in some depth. Choose an idea that you know is your own, one that is not based on a cliché, and does not present a broad generalization.
- Specificity. When possible and necessary use concrete examples from your readings to support your point.
- Voice. Use or (re-)discover your own voice. We are all interested in your authentic and sincere response including the voice that comes with it.
- Insight. Use your personal reaction as a starting point but make sure that you offer your reader insights into how and why you came to know what you know and why your insight matters.
- In evaluating your blog posts, we are checking to make sure your posts are timely and substantive. You will be able to miss as many of 5 of the regular blogging posts without penalty. (The synthesizing posts, however, are more critical to your and the class’s success.)