First, I would like to give my apologies for the lack of material here in the last several weeks. I fell out of the rhythm during the Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Religion and a trip to North Carolina for thanksgiving break. Since then I have been mostly winding up the semester and trying to get some serious writing done on my dissertation. Things have gotten to a point, though, where I thought it would be good to start getting content up here again.
My student’s portfolios came in on Thursday. I have been reading them slowly and carefully for the last couple of days. It is nice to have the leisure to spend time really digesting the good work my students have done. I am not sure if I will have this when I am up to teaching a full load. They have universally impressed me so far; as a result, I am planning on publishing a number of the essays from the portfolios on a directory in religiousthought.com. I’ll make sure to let you know when they are there. It is nice to have a group of students who have taken to heart the call not merely to write good papers, but to write papers that people would want to read. They have certainly succeeded in that where I am concerned. I encouraged them and prodded them and set them to their tasks, but they did the writing and the revising and the conferencing with each other that made such a good body of work. I think after this semester I understand better the notion of writing as a social act taking place within a community of writers.
I think one of the keystones of this semester’s work was the class blog. While they did not use a whole lot of this work for their portfolio writings, it is clear that it made them aware of their writing as something that is read by an audience. I am going to keep that same assignment next semester, asking them to write about five entries throughout their semester as part of their participation in the class. Then, aside from the papers, I am going to have the keep a comment journal where they have to write down a sentence from their readings each class and write an informal paragraph responding to it. I feel like I want to experiment with this next class techniques for drawing out their individual voices more, and I think this may help facilitate that.