End of Semester reflection

You have two ways to complete this assignment:

as a written essay, or as an audio tour of your blog. If you choose the former, you will post your reflection to your blog. If you choose the latter, you will need to email me your audio tour because our free WordPress blogs do not support sharing audio files.

Whichever you choose, please have it on your blog or in my email by 4pm on the last day of final exams, Friday May 6,2016

Your purpose is to reflect on your learning: how have you developed as a writer, researcher, thinker, and blogger throughout this semester and course? You should comment on the quality and content of your blog entries. Here are some (neither inclusive nor exclusive) suggestions to consider:

  • Note where you have developed entries through adding media, copy-editing, or revising.
  • Consider how your approach to blogging changes depending on whether an entry is assigned or of your own devising.
  • Comment on assigned readings and other projects, and if/how they have contributed to your learning.
  • Also, consider how well the blogs you selected to follow have worked to encourage your learning, thinking, and questioning.
  • Did you add different blogs, or drop some that you started following in January? Did they affect your own blog style or content?
  • How much did you follow your classmates’ blogs? Whose entries challenged your thinking? How much did you comment?
  • Assess the strengths and weaknesses of bloggings as a learning tool. What did you find useful, frustrating, challenging, fun, annoying, etc?
  • And finally, what advice do you have for improving this course next year?

On Bullshit

For class on Tuesday, 26 April read Harry G. Frankfurt. On Bullshit.  Prepare for class discussion  by employing the Close Reading template, and writing a thoughtful, single-page response to this essay on your blog.  
You might also enjoy these brief (5-6 minutes each) video interviews with Frankfurt:  Bullshit 1 and Bullshit 2

Oral Presentations

Oral Presentations are scheduled for April 14, 19, and 26

April 26

Sela Weber

April 19

Mike Wagner

Meghan Ortizcazarin

Ali Jungles

Ellesse McCartney

April 14

Adam Essler

Ismail Ali:

John Vermdahl

Haley Anderson

Find one short (1-3 solid pages) background reading, or 3-10 minute video or audio on the subject of your research project that will help your audience prepare to listen to your oral presentation. This might be a piece of compelling journalism, a blog entry, or a shorter scholarly article. This must be posted to your blog three days before your scheduled presentation.

Audience members that are not presenting that day are responsible for the background readings, videos, and audios prior to class, and preparing at least one solid, open-ended question to jump-start the Q & A after your presentation. Questions should be written down to turn in on that class day.

Your presentation can assume this level of familiarity with your topic.

The aim or your presentation is to educate your audience about the topic as necessary and convince them of the reasonableness of your argument by employing logic, evidence, empathy and ethics.

You should speak for 8-10 minutes and handle questions and comments from the audience for approximately 5 minutes.

Each speaker will evaluate the audience, and the audience will provide feedback to each speaker.

You may use PowerPoint, Prezi or other presentation software if you desire; it is not required. If you do, be sure to follow best practices:

Death by PowerPoint is a witty video that demonstrates worst practices:

How to Design an Effective Presentation is a little drier, but full of good advice:

Presentation Zen is longer, but if you pay attention to the graphics you can see the advice in practice (the subtitles were added by YouTube; they are not part of the original presentation):



 For discussion in class on Thursday, 3/31 carefully read Singer, P. (1972). Famine, Affluence, and Morality. Philosophy & Public Affairs, 1(3), 229–243.

Write a single paragraph summary of the article in which you clearly articulate Singer’s thesis and most compelling argument, and relate them both to your understanding of the Benedictine Values we studied at the start of the semester.

The Laramie Project: Ten Years Later

Above is a link to an NPR story on the “Ten Years Later” project, in case you want to delve into more about how this play came to be. Now that you have seen the CSBSJU student production, prepare a blog entry in which you address at least one of these major questions raised by the play, and also consider how your understanding of Benedictine Values informs your response to it. Post by Tues evening, March 15

Is history something we create to suit our own needs and desires, or is it– can it ever be– the real and whole truth?

What is the difference between memory and history?

Who gets to tell our history?

How are we to find the truth amid the swirl of rumor, opinion and innuendo that surrounds us?

What is the meaning of Matthew Shepard? Of James Byrd, Jr? Why is the former name so much better known than the latter?


Class on Thurs, February 25

Bring two copies of your counter argument essay to class for peer editing with tutors from the writing workshop.

Eula Biss. “Sentimental Medicine; Why We Still Fear Vaccines.” Harper’s Magazine January 2013. 33-40.

Pay close attention to how Biss develops her argument, uses counter-argument, and introduces her sources. Use the Close Reading Template from the “Faulty Foundation of American Colleges” assignment to guide your margin notes.

Graded, full-class discussion on Tuesday, February 23 in preparation for your attendance at Eula Biss’s public reading at CSB on Thurs, February 25.

Link to video of Eula Biss’s reading:

Weekly Blog Entry

At a minimum, you must post one blog entry a week. Details in the link above.

Faulty Foundation

An essay to read, and a simple Close Reading template to complete and help you prepare a blog entry for class on Tuesday, 1/26.

Research Project schedule

These dates are all in the course Calendar, too. Link to the 1/28 assignment on thinking about topics. Link to the 2/2 assignment Preliminary Research Quest Worksheet.  Link to the 2/4 assignment Research Proposal Quest. Link to the Gloss on Research Paper Rubric. Link to Scholarly.

Campus Interviews Assignment

Dates for presentations to the class will be scheduled after you conduct your interview while you are also writing the essay based on that interview, and will be staggered over several class periods.

Benedictine Values Assignment

For discussion in class on Tuesday,  January 19: Read the “Prologue” to the Rule of Saint Benedict ( Read this summary of Benedictine Values. Choose one that interests you, and read the corresponding chapter in the quotation reference (for example, RB 19.1 refers to chapter 19 in the Rule.) Prepare a paragraph summary of your thoughts and reaction to this core value of your college. Post this paragraph to your Blog, and bring a copy to class on Tuesday.

January 14, 2016, we will meet in the computer lab in Simons G60 for WordPress training, so you can each create your own blog sites.
Thereafter, check the class WordPress site: for assignments and activities.

First written assignment:
Create a personal introduction for your WordPress site.

The WordPress site has excellent tutorials and documentation:

You may do this with text, images, and video in any combination. Include the following:
• Your name
• Your reasons for choosing CSB/SJU for your liberal arts college education—why and how you got here–  and your reaction to it thus far
• Your assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of your education to date, especially related to reading, research, writing, and critical thinking
• Your personal academic goals for this course
• Your thoughts—reaction, concerns, fears— about using WordPress to document your learning this semester
Due to be published on your site before Monday, January 18, 2016


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