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Portfolios are selected collections of work, and they can be especially effective
post-process teaching tools for adult learners, who are trying to adapt
course materials in various contexts. Kathleen Blake Yancey's mantra for building
portfolios is "collect, select, and reflect." As a hueristic for portfolio
pedagogy, this works very well, but being selective when it comes to Favorites
or Bookmarks of useful links for students in the Classical Rhetoric course
is not as easy as it seems. Peggy O'Neill (2002), for instance, talks about
how the collection stage for job search materials and teacher portfolios
is relatively easy (p.36). But because of the girth of material on classical
rhetoric online, this is not the case. The selection process must be combined
with the collection process.
Similarly, a teacher's close selection of content, as well as flexibility
to add material the students bring in to course requirements,
leaves a mental residue or ghosting effect on students' engagement
with the material. That is, syllabus use(r)ful
perusings were my selections for the course and specific student interests.
They are entry points for each student into related material from which
I knew each student would learn. In nearly every case, one of these perusings,
or one that sophists began to share with one another through their blogs,
which I reposted here, led each down a path of deep reflection and meaningful
Carefully selecting each link for specific reasons helped me create an assignment
set that would both challenge my students and follow the three principles
that Crowley and Hawhee (2004) use to frame their book.
I wanted each of my students to find engaging ideas to study and to find treasures, like DVD Easter Eggs, that would support personally meaningful individual directions they might explore. The assignments
needed to enable students to reference the subcultures in which they live,
to provide room for disagreement, and to affect change in their own teaching,
research, and service. Thinking through the links that students created helped me to think through the assignment set.
Rather than ask my students to submit portfolios, which
can be time-consuming for teachesr and students in a course with a heightened pace such as this one, I required
a reflective component with each step in the course, often in the guise of
a blog prompt.