1. How do you feel concerning the pace of the course so far? Was the pacing of the research paper adequate for you to complete the entire assignment with the deadlines provided?
The large workload which we have been given is causing me to really develope as an English student. The pace often feels too fast. I feel as if I get as much work in this class as most of my other classes combined. I often feel a lot of pressure because I get afraid that I will not be able to complete assignments on time. However, somehow it usually works out. The time given to complete the research paper felt rushed. I was able to complete the entire project on time. However, I wish I had more time to complete it because I could have improved it further. A lot of time was concentrated on the first book. Whereas, I felt like there was no time to read and work the second book into the paper.
2. Did the structure of the research assignments help you? Why or why not? How did you feel about the way classroom time was organized? The library time? The lab time?
The structure of the research assignments was both good and bad for me. I was glad that we never wound up writing three separate essays for the components of the paper. However, I had trouble working in the historical parts based on the way that we we supposed to put it together. Perhaps there is another way? Or else I just need more practice at the process. It was helpful for me to write the literary analysis first. However, it would have been easier to incorporate the second book if I had read both books before choosing a theme. I felt that classroom time was pretty well organized. We did not spend many days there, but the ones that were there were helpful. The library time was a very important part to writing the essay. We were there for many days, but I still wound up going there during lunch periods in order to gather the information I needed. I do not recall any lab time for theresearch paper.
3. What did you think of the books we selected for the research paper reading list?
There were many books to choose from for the research paper reading list. This was definitely beneficial because I was able to find categories which interested me. I enjoyed reading the books that I chose. However, there were some books in my category which I felt should be removed from the list because they were not popular books and were extremely lengthy. The option to choose your own book if it fit the category was appreciated.
4. Do you feel competent in the research process? Did you have difficulties which were/were not addressed?
I generally feel competent in the well structured research process. I adapted to the tasks which we were asked to follow. The one aspect which I was unable to conform to was the notetaking portion of the project. I did not like the note card system and wound up using my own method of notetaking midway throught the project. Other than that the process was good.
5. How do you feel about the digital portfolios now? Has your opinion changed/stayed the same?
My opinion on the digital portfolios has changed now that I have a better understanding of what it means to create a web page. Once I got my site running I realized that maintaining it was a simple task. I feel that I know what I am doing now. That confidence gives me a higher aspiration to continue the work on the portfolios. I feel that it is a great skill to have for the future. My only wish is that we get more class time to work on them.
6. If you were to be given the opportunity to work with your teacher on updating and revising this project, what would you change? And why would you change it?
If I were given the opportunity to revise and update the research paper that we wrote this semester, there are some changes that I would make. First off, I would not require the students to take notes on index cards. I would merely have it be a suggestion. This is because I feel that we are old enough to know what note taking methods work for us. Therefore, if one does not like that method it should be okay. Additionally, I would try to give the students more library time because I had to photocopy everything and take notes at home due to time shortage. I would make the calendar more rigid with exact dates that were achievable for the students. This is because we were extremely pressured by time. The literary analysis turned into the focus of the paper, and not time was devoted to the historical and biographical portions. I think if the students were given more time these could have been developed and the second book could have been incorporated more.
7. What would you do differently, knowing what you now know if we were to do a lesson similar to this in the future?
If we were to do a project similar to this in the future (the time has come with much thanks to this new project!) there are things that I would do differently. I would read my books sooner. This is because I procrastinated the reading portion of the project which set back my entire time schedule. Therefore, I would complete that as quickly as possible and then jump into the written portion. Additionally, I would be sure to read both/all books before doing any work on the paper because on this paper the theme I chose was not a major topic in the second book I read. Another change I would make is on my literary analysis. I need to find a better theme because last time I chose one that I had trouble sticking to due to lack of supporting detail. From my experience with this project I also see the importance of rough drafts. I did not put a lot of effort into my first two drafts. This caused me to have a lot of work to do in the final stages of the writing. Therefore, I would treat each draft as a final draft on a future project.
8. What piece of your digital portfolio, including your research paper already/soon to be added to your web site, are you most proud of having for public reading? why? Which represents the greatest growth in your writing skills? Specify the improved skills. Which do you think is the most interesting for others to read? why?
The piece of my digital portfolio that I am most proud of having for public reading is my research paper. This is because I put the most amount of work into it. I had never written a research paper that involved that much information. I spent countless hours on it and am proud of the final product. Therefore, I would like the public to read it. The research paper also happens to be the part of my digital portfolio that represents the greatest growth in my writing skills. I spent a long time formulating a thesis sentence for it and feel more accustomed with creating thesis sentences now. I had to improve my techniques in a literary analysis for the paper. Additionally, I had to learn the exact form for a works cited list. I also learned how to incorporate biographical and historical research into a literary analysis. Since this was my first research paper with this format there is definitely room for improvement in it. However, for the first go I feel that I developed my writing skills a lot.
I think the most interesting part of my digital portfolio for others to read, is my personal narrative. This is because it is written from my own view about a topic that is very vivid to me. I believe that other readers will be able to connect with in some sort of aspect. This connection would make it more interesting for them to read. I did not quote other people when I wrote it. Therefore, my narrative is easy for other students to comprehend and less boring than reading a research paper.
9. If a neutral person asked you about this unit, and you weren't in a good mood but not a bad one either, what would you say? What criteria would you use to make this statement?
If a neutral person asked me about this unit I would have a lot to say. The comments would be both positive and negative. First off I would explain how much work there is to be done. I would tell them that we read eight novels in one semester, wrote a research paper, a newspaper article, a personal narrative, many journal entries, and much more. I would tell them that it took a lot of time to complete all of these assignments. I would also tell the person that we created digital portfolios which was a completely new concept for me. Then I would tell them more about the individual assignments. I would tell them that I enjoyed creating the digital portfolio, however that I did not like the research paper at all. I would also tell them which books were interesting and which ones were not, based on my feelings on them. For instance, I would say that My Name is Asher Lev and Catcher in the Rye were entertaining books, while The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn was on the dull side. Once I had described all the assignments I would tell the person that one receives by far the most amount of work in this class. I would tell them the importance of knowing everything when it came to vocabulary tests, because it is not a good feeling to know that your grade will drop if you do poorly on one. Finally I would tell the person that the course is beneficial to becoming an all around better English student despite the struggle to fit that mold.
10. Tell us anything else that's on your mind concerning this project, even if it is a reiteration of a previous thought.
I feel that I have expressed all that is important to me on the last research paper. Therefore, I would like to devote this question to speak of the new project we have been assigned. I plan on applying my experience from the last research paper and all the work from the first semester to this new project. I am concerned with the time pressure however. I feel that the due date is highly unachievable. I base this in comparison to the last paper. We had more time to complete it and we were still extremely stressed. This new project is MUCH more involved and therefore I do not find myself being able to complete it so soon. Anyway, the first semester was a successful one and I look forward to a similar second semester.