Journals are directed assignments which are designed to give students the opportunity
to practice particular critical thinking skills. Students are provided with
a copy of the assignment on paper, and they are asked to type out the assignment
or trigger exactly as worded as part of the heading for their paper.
Here is a sampling selection of CT Journal topics from the last two years. Sample
student responses are provided for most of them. (Click here to see the Instruction
Sheet which is given to students before beginning the sequence of
Take an idea or topic from todays class discussion and develop it in this manner: state the idea, elaborate on the idea, exemplify the idea, and illustrate the idea by means of an analogy.
Choose a passage of from 20-50 words from Hemingway and compare its stylistic features to those of a passage of similar length from Faulkner.
Write a process paper in which you walk your reader through your thought process as you read a poem.
Write a paper in which you develop a line of thought about The Catcher in the Rye by means of an extended analogy. Conclude with a paragraph discussing how your analogy helps you think differently about CITR.
Write a one-page monologue in a voice clearly different than your own.
Write an interpretive essay in which you examine the implications of one of the Frost poems.
Write a dialogue in in the form of an interview or conversation in which two speakers discuss The Catcher in the Rye. Include at least two specific references to the text.
Draw a clear, precise comparison between between two of the texts we have read. Include at least one quoted reference to each text to illustrate the point of comparison.
Quarter Reflection: The quarter reflection is your opportunity to stop and consider your progress as a student of English. The following questions are not meant to be answered mechanically in sequence; they gesture at a territory I would you to explore thoughtfully in writing. (The usual criteria apply: clarity, specifity, precision, logic, relevance, significance, breadth, and depth.) Looking back over the first quarter, what areas of growth can you point to? What do you feel you are doing well? What work do you feel proud of? What has interested you the most? Where have you struggled? Looking ahead to the second quarter, what specific goals do you have? What do you intend to work on? What kind of experiences or support would be most helpful to you?
Select one or more passages from All the Pretty Horses which strike you as being characteristic of McCarthys writing style. Write a well-formed essay in which you discuss how the authors manipulation of diction and syntax help to convey either theme or character.
Write a paper of between 500 and 1000 words in which you develop an original line of thought (that is, one which is not merely a summary of a point someone else has already made in class) in regard to Oedipus Rex. Incorporate at least two direct quotations from the text and two direct quotations from material you have placed or written in your commonplace book.
Pick a section of dialogue from "Oedipus Rex" - three to five interchanges - and type it out on your paper.Then continue the dialogue on your own, moving the play in another direction which you think represents an interesting alternative scenario. You may wish shift the setting,or rename the characters, but the new characters should in all psychological respects resemble the characters in the original.
Write an essay in which you think about some of the factors which shape your point of view. What factors are most important in your life right now? When you make decisions about what to do, how to act, or how to spend your time, what factors come into play?
Write an essay in which you a) identify one issue, concept, or concern which you think is thematic in The Poisonwood Bible, b) show by means of one or more quotations from the text where that idea is stated or implied, and c) discuss in an organized way your own thoughts on the subject.
(Sample Student Responses)
Type out a passage from the poem "Journal" by Billy Collins. Then write a response in which you discuss the passage first from one point of view, and then from another.
(Sample Student Responses)
Write a dialogue in which someone interviews you about your commonplace book and/or your essential questions.
Third Quarter Self-Assessment: Look over your CT journals to date and assess your strengths and weaknesses as a critical thinker. What do you think you do well? What do you think you need to work on? Identify at least two specific CT goals for yourself for 4th quarter.
Imagine that Shylock and Antonio each keep a journal. Write a journal entry for Shylock in which he talks about what he thinks about Antonio. Then write an entry for Antonio in which he talks about what he thinks about Shylock. (Write the journal in your own words; you dont have to mimic the style of speech or voice.)
Consider the situation of Jessica, who has decided to run away from home to marry Lorenzo, and to take her fathers jewels and money with her. Write a paragraph or two in which you develop a line of reasoning which justifies her actions. Then write another paragraph or two in which you develop a line of reasoning that criticizes her actions. Then write a concluding paragraph in which you tell what you think about her actions, and what makes you think that way.
Write a dialogue in which two people discuss conflicting points of view about one of the events, characters, or themes in The Merchant of Venice. The dialogue should consist of at least 10 exchanges, and aim for clarity, depth, and balance.
With your partners, write several versions of a narrative as told by each of three characters which appear in it.
Do a set of observations on campus through the eyes of one of the characters in The Poisonwood Bible. Write up your observations, making an effort to capture both the manner of thinking and the manner of speaking of the selected character.
Having completed your reading of the novel we have read and discussed together, write a summary paper in which you develop your thoughts about some issue or idea which you think is of significance in the novel. Try to meet each of the criteria found in the sophomore rubric.