Your Weekly Reflection entries (also done as blog posts), due most Fridays when there isn’t a special assignment due, offer a chance to reflect on a week’s topic as a whole and create your own archive of thinking for the course (which we will use at the end of the semester). There is not a specific question to answer, nor are you meant to summarize what you read for the week. I want to get your reaction to the set of the week’s readings and how they relate to previous readings.
Even without specific prompts to address, there are a few questions to keep in mind when composing your entry: What did you learn? What was confusing? What ideas did you find most interesting? What aspects were boring? How did the readings help you think about the week’s topic differently? Or not? What questions do you have?
You may have found the readings totally uninteresting. That’s cool—I might, too. You should try to reflect on why they are useful for us in the context of the course, but a very successful journal entry can explain why they the articles did not engage you or were not helpful for you. Keep in mind that upper level history courses are supposed to be a challenge!
The point of this exercise is to help you solidify in your mind what you took away from the readings as a whole with specific examples from the individual readings. I usually ask a few guiding questions so you have a default starting point, but we’re all interested in different things and in a position to learn different things from the readings. So, tell me what your experience was for the week—these are meant to be open-ended descriptions of your learning experience. It’s impossible to learn everything worth knowing from each article after one reading (or several). I certainly haven’t!
These assignments get scored similar to the reading responses, but with more points because they are more work (both in analysis and writing). Most readings have way more cool stuff in them than can be absorbed in one reading so there really isn’t a “right” answer. I look for genuine engagement with and reflection on the course material. As explained above, the reflections should make clear that you’ve done the readings and developed some thoughts about them. If that is NOT clear to me, I’ll ask you some questions that you should address if you want to move to a higher point score for that assignment.
You can earn either 5, 10, or 15 points. You can also get up to 3 extra credit points if you put extra work into a post. Extra words do not automatically equate to extra points—they need to be substantive.
15 points: Clearly demonstrates broad familiarity with the readings across the week, exhibits original thinking, connects current readings to past readings, and is clearly articulated.
10 points: Shows familiarity with the some of the reading and offers some critical reflection on key themes, but uneven coverage of the readings and/or could use significant improvements in writing.
5 points: Some effort, but doesn’t show much engagement with the readings or is difficult to understand.
0 points: Nothing posted, or otherwise so unintelligible that I can’t even guess at what you were trying to do.