PDP 150 Personal Development Portfolio Fall 2007

Notetaking and Recitation  Essay Adventures  TRANSITION TO COLLEGE  GUIDELINES FOR FINAL REFLECTIVE ESSAY Reflection Examples
PLANS: Week1 & Week2 Week3 Week4 Week5 Week6 Week7 Week8 Week9 Week 10 Week11 Week12 Week13 Week14

This is a WEB Blog for the class.  It will be a blow by blow account of what has been going on in reverse chronological order.

Don't forget to bring your Reflective Journals to class on Monday -- I'll be picking them up along with your Draft Reflective Essays ... We're coming down to the wire!!  Christmas will be here before you know it.

Nov 16, 2007 The Great Debate Rehearsal -- Last night we also had the second installment of the party, this one for Section 23.  Matt, Bryan, and Lesli came and it was a riot!  Bryan had the frog eating the insects (well the Cricket might be quite a meal), and Lesli was a good sport when someone put the Gila Monster on her head.  Matt was demonstrating the biblical principle that the Lion shall lie down with the Chicken (hmmm.... something like that.)  We also played Botticelli and Bryan was stumped for a long time when we put Phaedrus on his back.  Lesli finally figured out Shrek and Matt was a credible Abraham Lincoln.

Nov 15, 2007 The Great Debate approaches.  Last night we had phase 1 of the two parties we are having at my house.  Party 1 was a great success with Black, Dallas, Seth, Carly, and Stephen in attendance.  The puppets were ecstatic, especially the turtle who has not gotten out much.  Blake revealed his secret identity as a puppeteer when he found the Old Man -- wow!  He was making that puppet do really great things.  Here are a couple of pictures.  I took the red-eye out of all the pictures I took (there were only six) and put them on the R: Drive in case any of you want them.

Nov 9, 2007 -- We discussed The Great Debate in class especially the roles.  A handout detailed the roles, rules, and organization.

Section 11: Death Penalty (9), Abortion (8), Drugs/Steroids in Sports/Legalization of Marijuana summed to (8), Underage Drinking (6), and Convos and Illegal Immigrants each got (5)

Section 23: Illegal Immigration (8), Underage Drinking (8), Coed vs. Non-Coed Dorms (7), and Stem-Cell Research, Dorm Conditions, Convocations and the combination of Steroids in Sports and Legalization of Marijuana all got (6)

Discussed Feynman -- in Section 23 we discussed the influence his father had on him, his view of teaching (chaos and he says he wasn't very good), his rejection of honors, and his role in the Manhattan Project.  We also discussed him in Section 11 but the discussion was not as wide ranging.

Combined reports of Role selection, each student was asked for their top three roles and these were summed up. When weights were applied they came out: 31, 38, 15, 47, 31.  Interestingly the weighted average did not change the order of preference.


Nov 7, 2007 Middle of Week 11 -- today we hear from Richard Feynman, "The Pleasure of Finding Things Out"  We will be finalizing the debate topic for The Great Debate this week and beginning the run up for the Final Reflective Essay.

Oct 22, 2007 THE GREAT DEBATE data below gives the results Score is created by assigning 3 points to each first choice and 2 to second and 1 to third and accumulating the result.  The data was sorted into descending order first by Score and then by Total # selecting the topic.  The spreadsheet is on the R: Drive.



Oct 17, 2007 -- We've been learning a little about C.S. Lewis by playing the vignettes about Lewis from the PBS show "The Question of God" and today we heard about Lewis's conversion to Christianity and I handed out the C.S. Lewis's life time-line with a quote from Surprised by Joy describing C.S. Lewis's meeting with The Great Knock.  Then we listened to Joss Ackland read the introduction and the first of the letters in The Screwtape Letters and discussed it a little.  On Friday we will listen to the only one of the broadcast talks in C.S. Lewis's own voice that actually is preserved -- one called Beyond Personality.  Don't forget your Great Person essay is due in electronic form.

Oct 11, 2007 -- Yesterday we viewed the Hero's Adventure or what I call, the Hero's Journey, an interview of Joseph Campbell by Bill Moyers which explores the roles of Myth in our lives and in particular the myths of the hero and the role heroes play.  We are each the hero of our own journey and I want to coordinate this idea with the Library Mission to explore the lives a particular men and women we may wish to adopt as role models.  Each of our journeys is individual and intimate, but we are not atomic, we live in community and we are formed by our associations.  We can chose and to be fully alive is to make those choices conscious and informed.  Next week we explore life from the viewpoint of a couple of demons: The Screwtape Letters, and we explore the life of C.S. Lewis the author of this little book.

The Library Mission: A Journey Seeking Heroes

On the left is a little thumbnail example drawn from last year's Library Mission on what a slide might look like.  The idea is to cram as much information as possible onto one slide but still make it as readable and clear as possible so images are helpful, maybe some bullet lists or points you can expand on briefly.  You will have about 2 minutes to talk about your Great Person from your position.  I'm going to put all the slides into a single power point presentation which is why they all have to have a black background.  Powerpoint doesn't like different formats for every slide so we'll go with black background and white text.

The general format should be pretty much as shown: Name of Great Person, their dates in somewhat smaller font, and your name below in a smaller font.  Then typically a picture of the great person or something associated with them or both and then a lot of information.  The information could also be in diagrammatic form but it has to be readable.

Oct 4, 2007 -- We viewed Michael Crichton's talk which focused on the limitations of human understanding and the danger of the politicalization of science.  Then we viewed a video on the Global Warming Crisis which presented the case that carbon dioxide was not the global warming driver it has been claimed to be.  We will be discussing the role Critical Thinking should play in our lives on Friday.

Sept 26, 2007 -- We started talking a little about Th!nk, in particular the students were assigned an inspectional reading and were supposed to come to class with about five topics the author was addressing based on their inspectional reading.  Well the compliance was about 25% max.  That was a little disappointing.  We did talk about a few of the author's points, in particular that there is a problem, the idea of role models was introduced using my experience with a Toastmaster's talk that I entitled "Ghosts in Us" focusing on all the influences that form our character and the fact that we should begin to consciously pick our role models as we grow older and more mature.  Friday we will be listening to Michael Crichton's keynote address "States of Fear: Science or Politics?"

Sept 25, 2007 -- We finished up Zen yesterday and will be going on to Th!nk starting tomorrow.  Don't forget to do an inspectional reading of Think and make a list of some major topics.  Bring the book to class.  I asked the powers that be about the Reflective essay and you'll be pleased to know that you're going to be turning it in to me for your grade.  PDP-200 and PDP-300 are reported on your transcript with U=Unsatisfactory and S= Satisfactory grades and that is also true of your Convocation Grade.  The fully engaged student should recognize that the message sent by Unsatisfactory grade is not a favorable one and you should strive not to have bad marks on your record.

Sept 18, 2007 -- This Week we are reading Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance (see Week 3 Plan of Week) the essay this week is Essay Adventure #1 in the Essay Adventure handout.  Next week you will be writing an reflective essay on the book.  Tomorrow (Wednesday Sept 19th we will be discussing Chapter 8 through 15 and you are supposed to be bringing discussion questions to class.


The above chart is the result of the reading instrument given on September 17th.  The box and whisker plot is read in quartiles with 25% of section 23, for example, scoring in the first quartile (116 to 182 wpm).  Most meaningful is the mid-range 50% second and third quartiles which were 182-243 wpm in section 23 and 186-234.5 wpm in section 11. 

http://www.reachoutmichigan.org/learn/suggest.html gives the following: "The average college student reads between 250 and 350 words per minute on fiction and non-technical materials. A "good" reading speed is around 500 to 700 words per minute, but some people can read 1000 words per minute or more on these materials."  On this standard some improvement is clearly possible.  If you are in the bottom 25% you might want to consider focused effort to improve your reading speed since low reading speed and comprehension mean taking much longer to effectively study and learn the material you are reading.

Concept Mapping and Notetaking

To take notes effectively you need to practice extracting ideas for oral presentations and from written material and develop a patter of activity that accomplishes that effectively.  A good resource to look at is Mortimer Adler and Charles Van Doren's seminal work: How to Read a Book: The Classic Guide to Intelligent Reading. Check out the Notetaking and Recitation link at the top of the page for a very sparse outline of some of Adler and Van Doren's points.

Classroom Assignment In Concept Mapping

Two short readings are presented.  The idea is to identify the main concepts and relationships among the ideas of Aristotle drawn from the Nicomachean Ethics and the ideas of Augustine drawn from De Doctrina Christiana.  You should do these two assignments in sequence and then following the ideas of Adler and Van Doren attempt to merge the two sets of concepts.  How do Aristotle and Augustine's ideas compare and contrast?  Be prepared to talk about this.  You should make a concerted effort to create an effective notetaking style which will serve you well not only in your years at college but in your future life.  It will help make you an effective listener and a quick study and a better oral and written communicator.

C.S. Lewis On The Liberal Arts

CLASSROOM ASSIGNMENT -- Read the short essay on C.S. Lewis On the Liberal Arts and reduce it to a succinct set of notes.  One strategy you might adopt is to try to extract topic sentences from the eleven paragraphs.  Good notes should capture the ideas so that you know what the essay is saying.  You should then engage the ideas to assess them in the context of the principles and facts which they embody.  Do this for the essay and be prepared to talk about it in class.  Besides the ideas, how would you characterize the general structure of the essay?  If you have to write an essay of your own, could you structure it in a similar way?  Try to develop a general framework for writing your essay.  What would it look like?

Week 1 Assignment: Write a short Essay about your Into the Streets Experience
Essay 300 to 500 words on “Into the Streets” an experience in Community Action. 
(Due in hardcopy and electronic form on Friday)

Your "Into the Streets" essay should describe your experience and touch on three themes: 1) W5H the answers to the Journalists questions: Who? What? Where? When? Why? and How? (you can amplify the questions any way you wish but this should be objective material, the journalist kind of view), 2) So What? This is the chance to give your personal take.  What did the experience mean to you?  Was it new, different, meaningful, etc.?  Finally 3) Now What?  The "Into the Streets" experience is intended to focus you on the idea that you are part of something larger than yourself.  Did the experience make that point with you?  Is there any difference in your life likely to come out of the experience going forward?  (Due Friday in Electronic and Hardcopy form.)

Week 2 Assignment: Write an Initial Reflective Essay.
See Here for Instructions

Week 3 Assignment: Write an Essay Adventure on Essay Adventure 1
ASSIGNMENT: for Week Essay Adventure 1
Hint: Use your Reflective Journal and write thoughts and reflections as you read the individual essays and then develop a Hook/Thumbnail/Development/Climax/Bookend structure for your essay based on your reflections.  500 to 750 words due Friday. See the link Essay Adventures.

Before the Beginning May 31, 2007       The Journey Begins

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert Pirsig
For Pirsig this painting by the cubist Lyonel Feininger represented The Church of Reason




The Church of the Minorities by Lyonel Feininger

We begin our own journey by reading Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.  This is a remarkable book in which everything is brought to the service of the narrator: the weather, the occasional events of the journey, the moods of the narrator's son Chris, the attitudes of their companions and most of all the reflections of the author engaged as much on an interior journey as on the exterior one.

This book has inspired many.  It has infuriated others.  It is worth engaging.  Some have made it the object of their own Chautauqua's and followed Pirsig's path across the country.

Now it is your turn!

A set of notes which will help you with reading Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.  The idea is to compact the ideas in Zen as much as possible.  The compression ratio here is 45 pages to one 12 pt single spaced pages of notes.  It's all run together so you need markers to help you navigate. Various forms of emphasis are used to accomplish that.  The notes here were originally handwritten and they were transcribed by typing them into Microsoft Word and so various handwritten forms of emphasis had to be translated into something that Word would understand -- so bold, underline and allcaps were the emphasis chosen.  Page numbers were set off in parentheses so you can navigate to any section of the book by observing the page numbers and the all-bold, all caps CHAPTER TITLES.