Transition or Informal Paideia: A Choice in Blog Prompts

As the semester continues I’m hoping that I can give students more choice in blog prompts or that we might collaboratively come up with some blog prompts together. This week I am hinting at that by having two possible prompts that students can choose between.

Transition from High School to College

Next week we start #fyschat where we will be annotating a Washington Post article with The article is about why good high school students are not necessarily good college students. I thought that having students reflect on their own experience of transitioning from high school to college would be a cool way to tie things into #fyschat and that they may even want to share their posts during the Twitter chat on the 25th.

However, a few weeks ago I had given student’s a wildcard prompt and let them blog about anything that they wanted and many of them chose to blog about just that. So, that would be pretty boring for those students. Hence my reasoning for coming up with two options.


Being a first-year seminar this class is only half my design. Being an honors section puts on, even more, requirements to do certain assignments and use certain assessments. I don’t mind it at all. I actually think it is pretty awesome that we have a group of educators that are thinking about what all students should experience. I get a lot of freedom to put my own “digital citizenship” spin on things and I like thinking about ways to integrate things.

One of the assignments that everyone has to do is a “paideia essay”. The prompt is collectively written by the working group and it calls on students to personally reflect on some big questions. The questions center around what it means to be a college student at a liberal arts institution, what does the student feel called to do in terms of vocation, how does a liberal arts education fit into that, what does it mean to be an educated person, etc. It is also very practical as it asks questions about what the student will study and how they will study.

Another thing I did with one of the blog prompts in weeks past is that I based it on the prompt for the midterm paper. I did this to give students a way to write informally in public about the same topic that they would write about formally for the midterm. This gave them an opportunity to practice writing about those ideas on a public forum where I knew they would get feedback from each other (I do ask them to comment on each other’s posts) but they had a chance at getting some feedback from people that might read their posts.

So, the second option of the prompt is the informal paideia. Same as the assignment but on their blogs and written for the public.

I’m hoping that by giving some choice students will be able to pick a prompt that works for them. I’m hoping to get more creative with the prompts as we go along.



Image Credit: By user “a4gpa” ( [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

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