Monthly Archives: September 2018

Tuesday, 04 Sep 2018


RWaL, Ch 1

RWaL = Reading and Writing about Literature


RWaL, Ch 2

Respond to the whole chapter, and then demonstrate your ability to apply some of the acting reading strategies mentioned in the chapter to any literary work of your choice.


RWaL, Ch 3

Respond to the whole chapter, and then demonstrate your ability to use quotations effectively, in some of the special situations described in the chapter.

Thursday, 06 Sep 2018


RWaL, Ch 4

Respond overall to the whole chapter.

Of the typical writing assignments mentioned in the chapter, with which are you most familiar? Which ones do you have the most questions about?


Response or Explication

Review the Ch 4 sections “Response” and “Explication.”

  • “Response” offers a sample personal response to the text “Girl.”
  • “Explication” offers a sample explication of the poem “Upon Julia’s Clothes.”

For this assignment, I am asking you to do one of the following:

  • Write your own personal response to “Upon Julia’s Clothes” (following the model the textbook applies to “Girl”)
  • Write an explication of “Girl” (following the model the textbook applies to “Upon Julia’s Clothes”)




What did you learn from the section on “analysis”?

(This prompt doesn’t ask you to analyze anything; it just asks you to discuss what the textbook says about the literary technique of analysis.)


Discussion Portfolio 1

This assignment asks you to review your contributions to the course so far, to evaluate your participation in several categories, and to write a synthesis paper that attempts to make something new and significant from the results of your analysis.

This synthesis paper is a personal reflection on your work, so I do expect you to refer to yourself and your accomplishments; however, I am also asking you to demonstrate your ability to back up your claims with evidence.

Your Discussion Portfolio

I am asking for an introduction that presents the main idea that your portfolio will support, a brief section that responds to each of the required categories, and a conclusion that connects what you have just written about to your progress meeting the course goals (check the syllabus).

Although I am going to read your introduction first, you should probably write it last — after you have completed the sections on the required categories of participation.

Required Sections

Your participation portfolio should include a brief section that demonstrates how you have met each criteria. For example, for the criteria “Depth,” you might write:


I sometimes have trouble writing more than a few sentences, so I was very pleased with my in-depth posts on “Rip Van Winkle” and Foster’s idea of the quest in Chapter 1.

First I drew on what I learned in a history class to explored the historical context of Irving’s “Rip Van Winkle.”  In that Canvas post, I asked, “Does Rip’s attitude toward his wife accurately reflect gender attitudes of the time period, or does the story include a critique?” When I started that post I was unsure, but after re-reading comments from Sally and Gus, I now see that it was probably my 21st-century values about gender that conditioned me to see more critique than there really was in the story. I can see now that the story seems to accept the status quo, treating Rip as lazy rather than celebrating his nurturing side and valuing care-giving as an important contribution to society.

Second, I was very interested in what Foster wrote about the quest in literature, because I am very familiar with fantasy films and YA books. Now that I’ve read Foster’s Chapter 1, I will always think of a quest every time I see a character take a trip in a book or movie. During class, I was a little nervous bringing in Judy’s trip from Bunnyburrow to Zootopia as an example of a quest, but because Fred said it helped him understand Foster’s point, I’m glad I did. I thought my answer to Fred’s question about Phyllis Wheatley showed a willingness to go into depth: “You’re right that Judy’s situation is different because she chose to go to Zootopia. Wheatley didn’t choose to go to America, but Foster does point out that most of the time the person setting out on the quest is looking for something very different than they find. Wheatley did choose to use that journey as an opportunity to chastise the assumptions of racist Christians, which is a goal I really approve of. Her poem lets her use language to transcend her circumstances, which is an inspiration to us all.”

The above includes two good examples of depth, and demonstrates that the student engaged with specific, named classmates, and that the student is continuing to think about the topic. This is a strong submission because it includes more than one example, and strong support (in the form of direct quotations and analysis) for why these instances count as “depth.” A weaker submission in this category might not include as much convincing evidence, or might only include one example.

Your participation portfolio should include the following sections:

Introduction (presenting the main point you want to get across in this portfolio.)

Categories (separate labeled sections, clearly marked, addressing each of the following(

  1. Depth (you have gone into more than usual detail, in terms of length, complexity of argument, use of quotations, etc.)
  2. Riskiness (you have not only written several posts that build on your strengths, you have also taken risks that take you out of your comfort zone)
  3. Intertextuality (something someone else wrote (in this class, on the syllabus, or anywhere) sparked you to include and respond to a quotation, or otherwise engaged you to make a significant comparison/connection/contrast. You have demonstrated your ability to draw on more sources than just the day’s assigned readings)
  4. Discussion (something you wrote in Canvas or said in class launched or participated substantially in an extended, thoughtful discussion — one that you helped to sustain by making further contributions.)
  5. Timeliness (you were unusually early with a Canvas submission; or, you made a relevant connection to current events; or you chose to return to an older issue and expand or update your thoughts)
  6. Coverage (sometimes just keeping up, or catching up, is worth a pat on the shoulder; every post you write doesn’t have to be brilliant; here is where you prove you posted something on your blog each time you were asked).

Conclusion (To what extent does this portfolio provide documentation of your progress towards achieving the course goals? Review the course goals, as stated in the syllabus; pick one or two that are most important to what you want to get out of this class, and using the information you have provided in your portfolio, assess your progress.

The precise nature of the participation portfolio assignments I create vary from class to class, so I may not already have a model of exactly what I want you to produce. In some classes, the nature of the assignments I create means students do more of their reflection in Canvas; in other classes, students do more of their reflection on individual WordPress weblogs. In face-to-face classes, students talk to each other face-to-face; in online classes, students write more to each other.

Here are links to portfolio assignments my students created for classes in which each student had an individual WordPress weblog.

Your participation portfolio may reflect your participation in face-to-face discussions or comments you leave during the peer-review process. It’s all fair game. Just make sure to identify clearly all the sources you draw upon. You do not need to include a formal Works Cited list, but please do be as specific as you can. For example:

During our class discussion on Foster Chapter 2, Sally said [paraphrase what you remember about her point]. In a comment on Billy’s Ex 2 rough draft, I made the opposite point when I wrote “whatever whatever.”

I consider “Depth” and “Riskiness” to be the most important sections, so those are weighed more heavily.

Tuesday, 11 Sep 2018


RWaL, Chapter 7 (1 of 2)

Respond to “Elements of Drama”


RWaL, Chapter 7 (2 of 2)

Respond to “How to Read a Play”


The Taming of a Shrew, Act 1

Choose a brief passage that you found challenging to understand.

What are some strategies you used in order to make sense of the passage?

Some possible strategies might include

  • looking up the definitions of unfamiliar words
  • reading the passage aloud
  • watching a video of a production (but beware — an individual director’s production or an individual actor’s line delivery is an interpretation… different directors and different actors will give very different treatments of the same lines. Be sure you are responding to the words in the script, rather than the individual choices made by the artists involved in the production you consult)
  • working with a partner from the class
  • making a list of who the various characters are in each scene, what each character wants, what each character does, and what changes by the end of each scene
  • consulting your textbook for additional ideas

What do you understand about this passage that you didn’t understand before you started exploring it in depth?