CT Journal: 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 goals for yourself for fourth quarter.

Bennett G.

The purpose of doing and completing CT journals, from my perspective, is to allow oneself to grow as a writer and as a thinker, exploring new ways of undertaking an assignment and the thought process involved throughout. Solid, relevant, and innovative ideas, which are articulately presented, are the core and obligatory ingredients in crafting an effective CT journal.

Last quarter, all the CT journals which I wrote received high marks. This is a success for which I give credit to my trying to achieve my view on what a CT journal's purpose should be. In many cases, before I began to commence writing a journal entry, I would start to think of ideas and concepts concerning that particular journal topic and begin to organize how I'd put it on paper. That way I already had some ideas to play around with before I began pounding away at the keyboard.

Presentation and eloquence in writing are among my top priorities when I set out working on a journal. I always like to write with a dictionary close at hand, so the power of researching the meaning of a particular word I might use but may be uncertain to me is within my finger tips. So far, my teachers have appreciated the writing style which has resulted from this extra concern about finding the best word I can.

Another of my strengths in tackling CT journal assignments has been that, in some journals in particular, such as my first entry concerning "Antigone: the video versus Antigone: the play", I take the time to weave in, in depth, every minute idea that strikes to me as relevant and important. A great deal of patience is an invaluable trait when working through a CT journal. Several of these assignments required finding and quoting passages in The Poisonwood Bible. I recollect times where I would spend great lengths of time rereading and scanning through various sections of the novel, in search of quotes best suited to my ideas or a quote from which I could draw useful ideas and build upon them. By utilizing this method of carefully scrutinizing each page, I could put together a CT journal more elegantly, with more precision and greater depth. CT journals #2, 3, and 5 are examples of the rewards of patient and meticulous searching to find the passage best suited for careful and thoughtful study.

However, a writer and a critical thinker should always continue to ponder and keep in mind ways of raising his or her present and future literary works to a higher level, with a greater degree of finesse, cohesiveness, and depth. The sun has set upon the third quarter and the fourth and final quarter peering over the eastern horizon. With the coming of the fourth quarter, the quality of work which is expected of us students is raised a notch higher. In order to succeed, I must always look beyond past victories and reinvent my means of compromising the obstacles awaiting down the road with renewed vigor. By "reinventing" my critical thinking skills, I mean to improve my present abilities by complementing them with two goals, drawn from flaws in my CT journals which I have observed and will explore below.

In my first CT journal, I believe I thoroughly went through the topic of comparing the video of Antigone to the play of Antigone in the utmost detail and completeness. However, as I glance at some of my other CT journals, namely #2, 3, and 4, I feel as if they are unfinished in some way or another, that I'd forgotten or overlooked some aspects that would have made that work more powerful. I remember that I felt uneasy as I handed them in, afraid that my compositions wouldn't pass muster to receive a coveted "5" rating. Because this had troubled me, I chose CT journal #4, the journal which concerned me the most, as my paper to revise instead of a writing sample such as many of my peers chose to revise. My first goal for the fourth quarter is to consistently turn in CT journals with work that satisfies me in terms of completeness, as well as depth and coherence, etc. This way at least I'll believe that I have done a good job and have done my darnedest on a journal which satisfies me. Even if the grade that I receive on my journal doesn't satisfy me, at least I can take solace in knowing that I've put effort into making it as complete as possible, and if the work is marked down in other areas, then it will be a good candidate for revision.

In some of my CT journals, # 2 and my pre-revision #4 in particular, I felt that in some areas I had just regurgitated either overly obvious information or an idea I'd borrowed from a class discussion, but rephrased and repackaged in my ornate writing style. Essentially all the ideas I brought forth to the table in pre-revision #4 were taken from the points I and a few others presented in the part of The Poisonwood Bible class discussion which focused on the importance of Rachel's character. My second goal is to strive to predominantly fill my future CT journals with fresh, innovative ideas - raising questions that haven't been mentioned before and challenging myself to answer them. This way I can contribute new information from my own perspective to the intellectual community that is our class room, and perhaps others will learn from this and be inspired to do likewise.

Brent T.

Dear Journal,

I'd like to have a brief talk with you about myself. The past quarter has been kind to me, and I was able to receive good grades on my CT journals. However, I really have to figure out what I did last quarter to continue producing acceptable work. I've already skimmed through my journals, and I can picture a few areas where I thought I did well and more areas where I thought I needed work.

One of strong points I found throughout most of my journals was the structure of my paragraphs. In other words, the order of my explanations seemed organized while leading up to my conclusion. I also noticed that the information I presented in my paragraphs were relevant to my conclusion, which I normally don't do. Another "strength" I picked up on was the length of each journal. It was fairly consistent at around a page and a half, but I did have one journal that was about a eighth of a page shorter. The length probably had nothing to do with the grade I got (I think) because content is more important, but my collection of journals would definitely look much more uniform if each journal had a consistent length. As a critical thinker, a strong point I find in myself is that when I explained my ideas I usually incorporate another idea that takes a much different approach. Kind of like point if view thing where I try to get all the "what ifs." This can be good when my second idea stands up for itself, but it sometimes doesn't work when I can't support it

A weak point I noticed was how I didn't finish my ideas once I presented them. I vaguely explained most of my ideas, and in rare cases I included an example. Having myself explain my thoughts in more detail may give me a chance to think more carefully about what I'm saying, and it may even open my mind up to new possibilities (different angles to look at the trigger from. A weakness I noticed in my critical thinking skills is how I don't consider my own own ideas in the journal. I listed down my ideas, sometimes unclear, and then failed to test the implications and incorporate the observations I'd made to come up with my ideas in the first place.

This brings me to my goals, and my hopes for the fourth quarter. My first goal is to complete my ideas with the use of examples and evidence. I explained earlier the benefits of putting in that extra effort to add more detail. My second goal is to question myself. At times I think my ideas are so great that they must be right, but I have to stop myself when this happens and create a scenario in my mind that says I'm wrong. Another goal I have is to really "voice" my ideas. I mean this literally because I have to boost my participation in class, so it will help me write these papers, for one thing, and maybe expand some of our discussions.