Critical Thinking Journal
Sophomore English
Mr. Schauble

One of your requirements during this semester will be to maintain one section of your three-ring looseleaf binder in which you will be asked to place your responses to a series of writing tasks which you will be given each week. In some cases, these writings will be done in class; more often, they will be assigned as homework. I may ask you to get started on the assignment in class and complete it for homework. Assignments done or begun in class may be handwritten, but should be legible and carefully written. Assignments done at home should be typed. In most cases, I will expect the finished product to be about a page or two in length - although you may find yourself doing more, and that’s okay - and it should represent a mature, thoughtful effort on your part.

Prompts or “triggers” for these assignments will usually be provided, but occasionally I may ask you to come up with your own question or topic. Usually when you come to class I will ask you to hand in your journal entry and I will grade it and/or respond to it. At other times, I may ask you to share what you have written with your classmates, or simply to put it into your binder.

I have several purposes in mind in asking you to maintain this journal. One is that the journal will provide a regular place for you to collect your thoughts and to practice critical thinking. Another is to give me a place to go when I want to take a look at your thinking so that I can help you try to progress as a thinker and so that I can make more thoughtful decisions about how to structure the course to meet your needs.

I am making several assumptions. The first is that writing itself is a valuable tool for thinking. My personal experiences as a teacher and as a writer have convinced me that there is no more powerful way to examine and deepen your thinking than to write your way through it. Writing not only helps you to clarify and sharpen your thinking, it can also has the potential to lead you to ideas that you would not be able to get at any other way.

Another assumption is that regular writing is an act of discipline which pays dividends. Like any other skill-intensive activity, writing improves with practice. Musicians practice. Athletes practice. Magicians practice. Perhaps none of you, once you arrive at college, will be playing music or sports, or performing magic tricks. But all of you will be judged, in your college courses, and quite probably afterwards as well - by how well you think and how well you write. The work you do now will be a sort of foundation on which to build toward future successes.

Please date and number each of your entries in the CT journal. When there is a prompt or trigger, write the trigger at the top of the page before you begin your response. You are welcome to do additional entries on your own initiative for extra credit if you so desire. I will ask you to work from your CT journal from time to time during the semester, so bring it to class each day unless I tell you not to.