WordPress e-portfolios (80% of final grade): 

  1. Home: weekly blog posts, 450-600 words (300 before class to be counted “on time”)
  2. Glossary page: philosophical terms (20 minimum, 50 maximum)
  3. My Comments page: links and a copy of the comments you make on other student blogs
  4. About Me page: Introduce yourself.
  5. Final self-assessment: this is an email to me arguing for the final grade you believe you have earned.

Your complete final portfolio should be about 6000 words of your best writing. Everything counts toward the final word count.

A few examples of complete student portfolios from previous semesters:

Weekly Blog Post Assignment

  1. A minimum of ten are required on time (with a minimum of 300 words) posted to your portfolio before class. 
  2. No more than one a week counts for your ten on-time.
  3. Final length should be 450-600 words, depending on the number of blogs you include in your portfolio.
  4. Drafts may be revised as long as the initial post is on time.
  5. Read the assigned pages carefully and choose at least one passage from the reading for analysis. Always cite specific page and/or paragraph number.
  6. Give the word count below each blog entry.

Blog Checklist:

Every single blog post should include the following:

  • At least one short quote, citing the page/paragraph/section of the assigned reading.
  • An explanation of the quote’s meaning in your own words and why it is relevant.
  • An original example or practical application, either in your analysis of the reading or to demonstrate your own view.
  • If there is a blog prompt, be sure to address the prompt.
  • Blogs should be about half pure analysis of the reading and half your own response/critique/evaluation/practical application.

Blog posts without these features are unacceptable.

Weekly Commenting Assignment

  • You must comment on two of your peers’ blog posts EVERY WEEK, starting week 3.
  • You will find links to student blogs at the course wordpress site on the blogroll page.
  • After commenting on another student’s blog, cut and paste that comment, including the date, to the comments page on your own blog.
  • Comments must be constructive. You may make suggestions, ask questions, or offer your own view on the issue, but this is NOT the place for vicious debate.

Weekly Glossary

  • Keep a glossary of vocabulary words from the reading or lectures.
  • A minimum of 20 words is expected, or about two a week. Maximum is 50.
  • Always cite your sources, either the original reading, lecture, or an online philosophical dictionary. (EX: sapiensnonsum)
  • Divide words by philosopher or topic. (EX: recountedsecrets)

Participation (20% of the final grade)

  • Participation means more than simply talking, but saying intelligent and helpful things that demonstrate your familiarity with the assigned reading. You will be assessed on quality (not mere quantity) of discussion. In-class writing, group projects and informal blog presentations (instructions below) count for participation. These may not be made up outside of class.

Classroom activities

These count for your participation and are not on the schedule. They cannot be made up for any reason. I take notes on performance during every class. No credit is awarded for your mere presence in the classroom. You may consult me at any time if you are unsure of your performance. I will provide examples and coach you during these activities.


  • Read the assigned passage quietly to yourself. Underline important points and make interpretive notes in the margin. (10 minutes).
  • Discuss the passage with your partner. Come to some conclusion about its meaning and think of a simple way to explain it to the rest of the class. (15 minutes).
  • I will choose which partner will present your findings to the rest of the class, but both partners are responsible for the content of the share.

Learning Circle

  • Sometimes, I will put the entire class in a circle. Those students who have written blogs for that day, will give an informal summary of their writing. Questions or comments are not permitted. during  blog presentation. After the blog summaries are finished, the circle opens to discussion. Only one person may speak at a time. Philosophy is not a blood sport in my classroom,, and discussion is expected to be a cooperative exploration of the material

Deep Reading

  1. Read the passage and take notes, underline and define terms.
  2. Re-read the passage, making sure you noted the main points.
  3. Mentally, restate the passage in your own words.
  4. Without looking at the passage or your notes, briefly summarize the passage.
  5. Compare your summary to your notes and make any needed adjustments.
  6. Step 4 should be turned in after discussion.

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