Week One: Students Please Read This!

Often, we will begin class with a 10 minute silent reading period during which time I will check in with each student and log student page numbers (where you are in the book). I will break students into groups using this information. Always bring your book to class! You will be required to read three novels during the 16 week semester. Since this is an Introduction to Literature course, it is imperative that you plan your time outside of class to accommodate the assigned reading. All of your papers will be in response to our reading and discussion. You cannot write or discuss what you have not read, so stay on schedule!
Link to Class Blogs Fall 2011

Improved writing requires practice. The goal is to write a minimum of 500 words on your blog every week. I suggest writing a rough draft in a Word document and then cutting and pasting, after editing, onto your blog. Think of your blog as a journal, a place where you reflect on the reading and practice a variety of skills learned in class, including paraphrase, summary, direct/indirect quotations and analysis, but your journal is also a place for your own personal reflection on the issues brought up by the assigned reading. 

These blog journals are a place to either re-define or seek clarity on your own values and priorities, to examine personal connections with the reading topics, ideas and/or characters and to write about and build on lessons learned by people in both the past and present and thereby gain wisdom on your own life path. 

You will have open access to other student blog journals and therefore may want to refer to your peers' responses in your own posts. Since you are required to read and comment on peers' blogs weekly, a rich exchange of ideas is what I am encouraging, however, your blog should be a representation of your ideas as a result of your own reading of the assigned literature and other student posts. I encourage you to reference other student work or ideas in your posts and (even in your papers), but it is vitally important to our Learning Community that you ALWAYS attitribute the author (who originally presented the ideas) that you are referencing in your post. Attribution is a key aspect of academia and understanding attribution is one crucial to your success, which is why we will spend extensive time going over attribution and the use of proper citations and quotations. We will also discuss important signal phrases, such as, "according to" and "the author explains" so that you have a very clear idea on the language to use when referencing someone else's work. If you have ANY questions on this topic, please don't hesitate to ask me.

Here is the definition of plagiarism as explained by the Council of Writing Program Administrators: (Note: if I had not attributed this source the following definition would have been an example of Plagiarism because I copied and pasted this directly from the WPA website)

Definition: In an instructional setting, plagiarism occurs when a writer deliberately uses someone else’s language, ideas, or other original (not common-knowledge) material without acknowledg­ing its source.

This definition applies to texts published in print or on-line, to manuscripts, and to the work of other student writers.

According to the WPA website (note: this is attribution because I am using a signal phrase), "Ethical writers make every effort to acknowledge sources fully and appropriately in accordance with the contexts and genres of their writing. A student who attempts (even if clumsily) to identify and credit his or her source, but who misuses a specific citation format or incorrectly uses quota­tion marks or other forms of identifying material taken from other sources, has not plagiarized. Instead, such a student should be considered to have failed to cite and document sources appropri­ately."

Plagiarism Project:
Let's say I'm surfing the internet and I come across this very cool explanation of freedom of expression and the limitations of this freedom that I want to incorporate into my blog, so I cut and paste the information onto my blog. If I don't attribute this source correctly, I have just plagiarized. For a writer, plagiarism is the equivalent of stealing. For a student, plagiarism is cheating. In the Academic world, plagiarism is considered to be: stealing, cheating and lying. No matter how you want to look at it: plagiarism is bad. Is that a clear enough definition? If not, please see me.

Question: Okay, so what do I do if I come across a cool passage that I want to incorporate into my blog? 
Answer: Attribute the source!

Question: What does attribute, or attribution, mean?
Answer:  Tell your audience where you got the information. 

Question: How do I tell my audience where I got the information?
Answer: You have several choices:

1. Explain where you got the information by incorporating a simple sentence before the excerpt.
Example: Here is the what the Mission Statement from the Kresge College website at University of California, Santa Cruz, says about the Freedom of Expression:

2. Use a short signal phrase and quote the material, then explain the significance of quoted material (quote sandwich)
Example: According the Kresge College website, "insert quotation." The statement makes clear that, although the college supports the freedom of expression, the students of Kresge make a clear distinction between the freedom to express one's views and speech that infringes upon the rights of others, especially speech that targets individuals and groups of people who have been historically discriminated against.

3. Use a signal phrase with a brief explanation as to the reason you are using the quoted material.

According to the Kresge College Mission statement, Freedom of Expression has its limitations:
Kresge College, acknowledging that difference is integral to our community of students, staff and faculty, upholds the ideals of cultural, ethnic, sexual, political and religious diversity. Kresge realizes that freedom to decide and to express one's opinion and beliefs is of the utmost importance. However, attitudes of disrespect or intolerance of the beliefs, ideas, lifestyles or personhood of another are not conducive to the academic and social environment Kresge strives to create. Freedom of expression does not mean freedom to violate others' rights or cause harm to any individual or group of individuals. Acts of oppression, such as, but not limited to racism, sexism, and homophobia, violate mutual respect and undermine community trust. We, the Kresge community, along with the University, will not accept or tolerate such acts and will, with due process, hold accountable those whose actions are not in accordance with our expressed ideals. In choosing to be affiliated with Kresge, we affirm these ideals and make a personal commitment to practice them in our daily lives.
- Kresge College Students, 1988, UCSC

4. Use MLA style citations and a Works Cited page. For all of your Formal Papers this will be required.
Example: Acts of oppression, such as, but not limited to racism, sexism, and homophobia, violate mutual respect and undermine community trust ("Kresge Mission Statement").

 Works Cited
 "Kresge Mission Statement." UCSC. University of California, Santa Cruz. Web. 11 Jan. 2011.

5. Paraphrase the material using a signal phrase/attribution
Example: The Kresge Mission statement acknowledges the value of our first amendment rights as pertains to the freedom of speech, but the students also acknowledge that freedom of expression, in their college, does not extend to those statements that violate the personal freedoms (and choices) of others.

6. Paraphrase, attribute and incorporate specific language from the excerpt

 The Kresge Mission statement acknowledges the value of student "differences" and the "freedom to decide and to express one's opinion and beliefs," while at the same time the Mission makes clear the distinction between "the freedom of expression" and "acts of oppression."

Week One: Homework: 
  • Create your blog Click Here to get started.
  • Write your I am... introductory post and send me your blog URL address via e-mail: knapps7@gmail.com
  • Check your course schedule for this week's Writing Prompts. All responses should be posted on your blog by Sunday night.
  • Once you send me your URL, I will link you to your class blog and send you the link
  • You can check out student sample blogs (scroll down to the right side) if you are unsure of how we will be using blogs as reading journal.
  • All Reading Journals are public, so please write only what you are comfortable sharing.
From your Syllabus:
Electronic Reading Journals (blogs) will make up a significant portion of your grade and require thoughtful written responses to instructor assigned prompts in an electronic, online format. We will be using the Blogger software platform. Students must post their written responses by Sunday at 5 p.m.. Student blogs will regularly be the subject of our class meeting and discussion. I will link all student  blogs to our classroom blog. Please send me your entire URL via E-Mail so I can link your blog. See example below.

Example of a URL:  http://instructorknapp.blogspot.com

In order to receive Full Credit for your Reading Journal blog, you must: write a minimum of at least one page  with detailed references to the text (about 500 words), demonstrating that you have put some thought and effort into the exercise and post your blog entry by 5 p.m. Sunday. These entries are a significant portion of your grade (see assessment) and they should not be taken lightly. Since this is a writing class, always strive to write well. However, blogs are valued more for the ideas that you present and critical approaches you take to working with the assignments than for perfect grammar and vocabulary. In other words, don't get bogged down by the details - express yourself and your reactions to the readings. Clear expression of your ideas and thoughtful analysis are an integral part of good writing and these skills take practice. The blog prompts are designed to give you this practice. You can revise your Reading Journal blogs as many times as you like before the quarterly grades.

 Audience: In using Blogger, you are writing for a living audience. Keep in mind that your analysis can be read by people outside of our classroom who are interested in literature and our authors. In the case of the first novel, your posts may even be read by the author. You blog may be passed around in literary discussions. Your blog may be read by anyone who searches for information on our author or the book (most likely using the Blogger search function). See example below. As a student Blogger, you have a living audience, which is one of the reasons I go to the extra trouble of setting up student blogs. I want you to take responsibility for your writing and realize that what you think does matter, not just to your instructor, but to a real audience of your peers and the public. Treat your words with respect. They have power.

Example of Student Blogger Inspiring a Debate in the Real World (Scroll down to: Ouch)

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