Tips for the Reflective Essay

  • Put a few keywords in the first paragraph that relate to the skill you are arguing improved. For example, if you are arguing that you got better at making improvements across multiple drafts in response to feedback, use a keyword like “process” in the first paragraph and then repeat it throughout.
  • Try to avoid lengthy descriptions. Instead, describe something on your way to something else. For example, instead of “I read Gosson and Castiglione on leisure” you could say “reading Gosson and Castiglione on leisure helped me improve x skill or y content knowledge area”
  • Re-read your last paragraph. It’s probably better than your first one. Move the best parts of it to the beginning to set up your overall argument.
  • Avoid a strictly chronological structure unless you use transitions to say why you move from step to step. For example, not “first I wrote paper 1, then I made a video essay” but rather “paper 1 brought to my attention x problem/strength in my communication strategy which I addressed in y way in my video essay”


Focus Group Planning

To ensure that you meet the assignment’s assessment criteria, plan a focus group on your project. Ask the focus group questions that will help you make sure your project does the following things:

  • Meets group work plan expectations
  • Includes high-quality marketing materials that appeal to an audience who might use the product
  • Has an impact/is useful to people outside of the class
  • Is original
  • Has polished, organized, and comprehensive documentation
  • Is complete
  • Is user-friendly

Focus Group Planning:

  1. Who will be the moderator and assistant moderator?
  2. Decide on some open-ended questions. Avoid questions that can be answered by a “yes” or “no” or that lead the focus group in a specific direction (i.e. by asking “how satisfied” or “to what extent”). Examples of open-ended questions include:
    – How and when do you use ____
    – Tell me about positive experiences or disappointments you’ve had with ____
    – Of the things we’ve talked about, what is most important to you?
  3. Make up your audience – how would you select a focus group? Who would be ideal, who would work?

Email me the document you write as you go through the three steps above. Please also include a list of group members who are not moderating, including their preferences (if any) for the focus group they would like to be in.

Examples of focus group questions are drawn from this document, which contains other helpful tips as well:


Hobby project group discussion


  • Who will be the project manager in charge of deadlines, reminders, meeting scheduling, etc?
  • What will be your protocol for communicating? Will you use email, text, Facebook? How long should group members have to respond?
  • How will you share your in-process work and keep your drafts organized? On Google Drive? Dropbox? What conventions will you use for naming the files and keeping the drafts separate? (i.e. Project103017)
  • What kinds of expertise does your project call for? How will you make sure everyone does their fair share of work?


For Friday:

  • Consult your schedule. Look for potential meeting times and conflicts. Make sure you are not committing to delivering your work at a time when you have too much other work due
  • Come to the meeting with ideas about the scope of the project. How long do you think it will take? What should be included? When should each phase of the project be complete?
  • A suggestion for what the rough draft of the project will be
  • 1-2 different roles you could assume. What will you be responsible for?

Twelfth Night and Book of the Courtier Study Guide

What is the value in studying Shakespeare and other forms of entertainment that perpetuate misogyny, violence, etc.?

Why is mistaken identity such a big theme in Twelfth Night?

Why is the play called Twelfth Night, or What You Will and not just Twelfth Night?

What do we learn about how people in the 90s read Shakespeare from the 1996 Trevor Nunn production?

What is the point of the unplayed games at the beginning of the Book of the Courtier? Do any of them give us hints about what the book is going to be about? How it’s going to be about it?

General Feedback: Short Paper 1

Paper Checklist:

  1. Did you answer all aspects of the prompt? This most obviously means answering all the questions of the prompt, but also includes submitting it in the right format and attaching the correct documentation to the submission.
  2. Do you have a clear sense of your audience? Are you persuading a specific audience?
  3. Do you say both what your argument is and why it matters?
  4. Do you use evidence to support your argument? Evidence can be quotations from a literary text, facts and figures, or other methods of shoring up credibility.
  5. After you give evidence, do you spend time in analysis?
  6. Do you move between your pieces of evidence and pieces of argument with logical transitions? Are you sure your reader understands why it makes sense to have one sentence follow another? One paragraph follow another?
  7. Does each paragraph sync with the paragraphs before and also offer something new? Do you avoid repetitive listing of examples that say the same thing?
  8. Do you follow the norms for MLA formatting? This includes the title of your paper and the layout of the first page; page numbering; paragraph indentation; spacing between lines and paragraphs; in-text citations; works cited lists
  9. Do you make sure that your paper is free from grammatical errors, typos, and spelling errors? This includes tense agreement mismatches, punctuation mistakes (especially regarding commas and quotation marks), and capitalization errors.
  10. Does your paper look like an academic paper? Does it match the expectations of the genre? Is there anything distracting about its layout? For instance, do you put your title in bold rather than leaving it in a matching typeface with the rest of your paper? Are your fonts different? Are your font sizes consistent?


Peer Review for Short Paper 1

Peer Review Guidelines for Short Paper 1


1) Read the paper in full one time without stopping to ask for clarification. Respond as a reader in the author’s target audience (not as if you were going to grade it). This means that you might:

  • Note where you had to reread a sentence (this often means the sentence is worded in a confusing way)
  • Note elements of the paper that seemed distracting to you as you were trying to follow the author’s main point and decide whether or not you agree with it
  • Note sentences and paragraphs that seemed especially convincing to you as key moments where the argument comes through most persuasively and clearly.

2) Write down what you take to be the author’s:

  • Purpose (probably some version of “to convince hobbyists to not do x hobby” or “to convince people in authority to enact rules to keep others from doing x hobby”)
  • Audience (who the author wants to convince the hobby is bad)
  • Stance (what the argument is and why the author says that it matters).

3) Read through the paper again. Mark what you take to be the:

  • Opening anecdote (exordium)
  • Description of the reason for writing (narratio)
  • Thesis (proposito)
  • Analysis of the negative aspects of the hobby and a prediction of where they will eventually lead society (partitio)
  • Evidence offered as proof of the author’s claims (confirmatio)
  • An acknowledgement of possible exceptions that anticipates likely arguments against the author’s case (reprehensio)
  • A conclusion with an exhortation to take action (peroratio)

After you have collected your peer reviews, incorporate their suggestions into your paper. Explain how you have done so in the brief attached reflection you turn in with your paper.

Gosson workshop

Discussion questions:

a. Why does he start the pamphlet with the story about Caligula? What does the story mean and how can that meaning apply to what Gosson is trying to do?
b. Why does he say dancing, gymastics, cardplaying, gambling with dice, and fencing are bad? How are they alike and different?
c. Why does he choose a school as his unifying metaphor?
d. How does Gosson teach? Delight? Persuade?


Find each of the following seven rhetorical moves in Gosson’s School of Abuse excerpts (pages 1-11 and 32-37). This .pdf from the website Silva Rhetoricae is a useful addition resource:

  1. An opening anecdote (exordium)
  2. A description of his reason for writing, the occasion for his argument (narratio)
  3. A thesis – for instance, the theater has a detrimental effect upon society that can be curbed if his audience takes proper action (propositio)
  4. An analysis of the negative aspects of the hobby and a prediction of where they will eventually lead society (partitio)
  5. Evidence offered as proof of his claims (confirmatio)
  6. An acknowledgement of possible exceptions that anticipates likely arguments against his case (reprehensio or refutatio)
  7. A conclusion with an exhortation to take action (peroratio)

Defining hobbies

The results of our hobby definition workshop are in! Here are the hobby characteristics noted across the three sections of Hobby Histories:

  • Not primary income source
  • Repetitive
  • Purposeful
  • Fun
  • Open-ended activity
  • Non-professional
  • Internal motivation
  • Generally low barrier for entry
  • Skill-building
  • Potentially social

I have synthesized these points into the following definition:

“hobby,” n. Draft 1. (9/1)

A hobby is a non-professional, open-ended activity done for fun. While hobbies involve an element of skill-building, the barrier for entry is typically low: any interested person with the capability to engage in a hobby may do so. To count as a hobby, an activity must be performed with some degree of regularity over a period of time. While not all hobbyists seek the company of other hobbyists, shared communities typically develop around the practice of hobbies.

 Draft 2. (9/6)

A hobby is a non-professional, open-ended recreational activity performed regularly over a period time.  While hobbies involve an element of skill-building, expertise is not a prerequisite for participation in a hobby.