And That’s a Wrap – Final Blog Portfolio

Dear Professor Vee,

It’s hard to believe that the school year is already over! For me this is a big moment; a week from today (Friday) I will be graduating, moving onto the next chapter, and doing everything in my power to accomplish the goals I have set for myself.

Your class challenged me in new ways compared to the previous writing courses I have taken. Communicating on the blog weekly, although it was sometimes tedious, was something that I grew to enjoy. I liked being able to see my classmates thoughts on topics that we had discussed in class and others that they brought up for outside the classroom discussion. I think this realm of communication worked well for our class and the goals we were trying to accomplish when learning what literacy is, how it is defined, and what things count as literacy and what does not. I don’t think blogging will work for all classes at the university level, but it definitely works well for classes like ours where there are many complex branches to be discussed. Do I see myself doing this in the future? Probably not. Although I found this experience to be very rewarding, it was sometimes time consuming and I had to set reminders for myself of when to do it. Even if I would start one, I have a feeling it would end up like the journals that I had when I was younger; it would be cool at first, but then I would get too busy/forget about it and never look at it again. It also doesn’t help that I truly enjoy reading much more than writing. However, I do like reading other people’s blogs about their adventures, cooking/baking recipes, etc. and I like having those realms to look to for something to read and learn on.

The blog posts that I have chosen for the final portfolio I think show the best progression in my online communication skills. As I had explained for the midterm, speaking online was something I was still grasping when the first portfolio was due, but I think I have a good general understanding of what works and what doesn’t for this literacy environment.

Have a wonderful summer and thank you for all your help with making me a better writer and opening my eyes to the complexity of literacy.

Caroline Owens

Best Blog Post:

What does race have to do with the ability to read and write?

Best Comment:

Should we be Shifting the Locus of Control?

Second Best Comment:

Do you think teacher may eventually be second to WWW?

The End of an Era: Final Blog Portfolio

Dear Professor Vee,

The links I have provided below reflect my proudest contributions to our class blog in this second half of the semester. I feel like it was only last week I was reflecting on my first two months of posts. I have similar opinions to the blog this time around and I think my opinions from my midterm portfolio have really strengthened. The blog has been an innovative and creative outlet through which I can share my opinions outside of class, which is something I have grown to enjoy. It is refreshing to see the intellectual thoughts that have been spread among our small class through this outlet.

The question I chose to present connects two readings that we were assigned this semester, one about Amish literacy struggles and another about a woman reflecting on her childhood struggles with literacy imagination. I am very proud of this because of the connection I found between the two. It was very interesting to hear the 3 students’ comments agreeing and disagreeing with the existence of this connection. The two comments I chose really reflect some of my deeper thought this part of the semester. I think I really developed a way to think about the questions in a more complex way and then share my thoughts with the other students in the class.

Because we spend so much time in class, being able to share opinions I don’t think to bring up in class or share opinions in anticipation on delving deeper into them in class discussions are really important to my learning experience in this class. The blog permits me to share my opinions directly after reading rather than forgetting the things that struck me the night before class. This outlet of expression has allowed me to do some of the work of which I’m most proud.

My Best Blog Post

My Best Comment

My Second Best Comment

A Temporarily Retired Blogger: Final Blog Portfolio

Blog Portfolio:





Dear Professor Vee,

I usually get the same comment on my report cards, something along the lines of “Michelle your work proves you understand the material however you need to participate more.” Every. Single. Time. I do not know if this is a blessing or a curse but as much as I love to write is just as much as I hate to verbally articulate my thoughts during group discussion. Evaluated discussion is frankly not my cup of tea because I have a hard time verbalizing my ideas. This is why I enjoy the blog component of our course—it is an outlet for me to articulate my thoughts without the on-the-spot pressure of class discussion. I have found the outside forum to very useful for me and I can imagine using a similar method as a teacher myself.

One reason I enjoy the blog component of the course is because in the short posts you are able to clearly illustrate your train of thoughts about the readings. In most of my blog posts and comments I start with an anecdote or a question that reflects my thoughts during the readings. For example, in my blog post about technology possibly replacing the teacher I was able to link my memory of using YouTube as a teacher to the reading about educational technology. With a textual space to provide such commentary and disclose my thoughts I think I was able to participate and demonstrate my understanding of the material.

If there is one student like me there may be others in the future. I hope to find ways to infuse both on-the-spot class discussion (because it’s an important skill) and exterior participation in my own classroom. Whether that means we turn to online blogs or handwritten personal journals, having a way to see the thoughts and progress of my students will be very helpful to my instruction. While my students will be forced to write some sort of reflections I on the other hand will not be required to write for much longer after college. However it is on my bucket list to start a blog. I am not sure what the topic will be (education, travel, etc.) but I do know that having a place to articulate your thoughts can be therapeutic. To close, I want to reiterate that I enjoyed the unique blog component of the course I hope you keep it for semesters to come.


A temporarily retired blogger,

Michelle Desjardins

Changing View of Literacy

When people ask me what writing course I’m taking (since I’m in the engineering school I only have to take one) and I tell them it is ‘Uses of Literacy’, their response is usually along the lines of, “The uses of literacy? There’re like two: reading and writing, right? How can you have an entire class on such as simple topic?”. Before this class, I would have probably said the same thing. But now, towards the end of things, I have a completely, utterly different view on this class, and literacy as a whole.

My question is this: How much has your understanding of literacy changed since you started this class, and in what ways have specific authors shaped your view of literacy throughout the course?

What is the best way to teach literacy?

After talking and thinking a lot about literacy this semester, we’ve all developed our own ideas about the best definitions of literacy.  We know that there are huge consequences for every one of these definitions and we’ve read about how that can affect students.  A lot of the readings that we’ve done have been about teaching literacy in English classes.  Since many of us plan to go into education, I’m sure we’ve all developed our own ideas about how best to teach literacy.  In your opinion, based on the readings we’ve done and discussions we’ve had this semester, what do you think is the best way to teach literacy skills?  Are there few things that you think are key in teaching literacy skills?

Most Detrimental Aspect of Literacy

After going through the course and discussing the several aspects of literacy that were brought up throughout the semester (culture, langauge barriers, drive to succeed, economics, etc.) what do you think is the most detrimental one toward a child’s literacy? Why do you think this is the most detrimental and not another topic? Do you think the detriment that you chose is more of a personal problem, a problem in the education system, or a combination of the both?

Moving Forward

As the topic is up for grabs, I have been thinking a lot about what to ask. While doing the Literacy Remixed projects, I began to realize how much I’ve been thinking about literacy and applying some of the concepts we’ve talked about in this class to other things in my life. I didn’t know that I was doing this until I got caught in a discussion with my friend a few nights ago about how socioeconomic disparities affect so much in one’s perception of life. It has also got me thinking about how privileged I am in my situation. I am curious: Has this class has either changed your thinking about anything or started new discussions amongst your peers?

To The Non-writers in The Class

As a Lit major, I write at least one paper a week. To my fellow English majors this might not seem too abnormal, however the people in my peer editing group were appalled by this statement. Being that Uses of Literacy is mainly a composition course, I would love to hear the outsiders take on the comp. requirement, and writing intensive courses, in general. Did you hate it as much as you thought you would? Do you agree with Pitt’s mandatory writing requirements? Would you take another comp course if you were given the chance?

Feel free to speak your mind. This is a broad question about Comp. courses in general, not about Professor Vee, or about our class in particular! I am interested in being a High school English teacher, which is why I am excited to hear how it feels to have mandatory writing, so open up! You might even help some of my future students that despise writing.

Favorite Reading of the Year?

This may seem like a very cliché question to ask, but given the free topic this week, I wanted to ask you all:

What was your favorite reading this semester? More specifically, what reading was most challenging to you, what did you learn from it, and how will you apply this knowledge outside of this class. This class, in teaching us a lot about learning, has taught us a lot about ourselves and gives us the capability to apply this new knowledge to environments in which we learn.

So, to word my question a bit more concisely…. what was your favorite or most challenging reading this semester? Why that one? What did it teach you about yourself as a learner or teacher as well as about those who taught or teach you? Lastly, does it apply to life outside the classroom? If so, how?

Teaching Literacy

Since it’s the last week and any topic is up for grabs, I wanted to ask about something related to my final essay.

What kind of reading teaches the best writing?

Our Fish reading from last week made the point that reading doesn’t necessarily make someone a better writer, that working with what we’ve read will improve our writing. He even advocates practices attempting to recreate those styles, although I personally have always found those practices awfully tedious.

There are a lot of angles to this question. Does entertaining writing like stories or novels teach us better than articles or texts? Do older novels work better than recent one? Why?

Are they equally helpful if the method is right, or do they each teach us something different? What can we only learn from particular types of reading? Or is it possible to learn anything from anywhere?