This semester, as in many terms past, my students are learning how to blog.
Yes, they each have a blog on a topic of their choice where they can post writing on topics that they choose as well as select assignments from me which they can delete after the semester is over. They are required to have an about page that introduces the writer to the reader as well as the conceit of the blog. They are encouraged to create a gravatar and to have a tagline.
So far, many of the students LOVE blogging! Yes, they are finding they love to write if it’s on a topic of their own choice and where they can express themselves in creative ways. Yay! In fact some of the students have already created a second blog on another topic!
In the coming weeks, students will be creating a group blog related to an issue raised by their book club book. They will use their blog in their presentation to the class about the issue—using the blog to store and organize their presentation. They can use the blog to post videos, interviews, powerpoints, slides, and other information that they want to share with the class. This way, we can all go back to their blog to learn more about their topic—and what they learn is also available as an online resource for others.
As part of their midterm,students wrote draft blog posts for Blog Action Day which takes place next Monday, October 15. Students could write about anything they wished related to the Blog Action Day theme, “Power of We” and were encouraged to think about and refer to what we’d been reading about including discrimination, the environment, and their book club book.
One wonderful new feature of WordPress is the ability to send a link to the draft of a post or page to readers for feedback so I had students send me their drafts for review. They only had about 45 minutes to write their drafts so what follows are some generic suggestions for improving their blog posts.
Just like any good piece of writing, a good blog post is full of specifics and uses documented information to support claims with evidence.
But what’s great about a blog is the ability to link to the world beyond a typical piece of paper to incorporate videos and other information. Blog post can also use colorful images to engage the reader in ways that a typical paper can’t and doesn’t. Blog posts can link to more in-depth information on the topic as well.
So take advantage of the genre by finding and adding photos, images, videos, etc that’s related to the topic to blog posts by Blog Action Day Monday Oct. 15. A simple addition is the Blog Action Day Logo which can be dragged from this site onto a desktop then uploaded by dragging it into the window that shows up when the “camera/media” button is clicked on the draft page.
Blogs are also awesome because they connect with the world beyond our classroom. I haven’t taught the students anything about SEO, but if they want their posts to be part of a larger conversation and to be found, they will want to tag their posts with Blog Action Day as directed in the prompt.
Just like any sort of writing, a good blog post starts with an introduction and some sort of a hook to bring the reader in. It should provide the reader with some sort of context and big picture also: in this case, mentioning Blog Action Day and the Power of We.
A blog post might have shorter paragraphs than a typical piece of academic writing but body paragraphs should still include the following:
- topic sentences
- course texts or references to sources to support claims
- the writer’s own experiences
- direct quotes using parenthetical citation (and links if possible)
- indirect quotes or paraphrases
- summary and analysis of evidence
- between paragraphs
- between ideas within paragraphs
Long form blog posts are similar in length to our reading responses. A short form blog post is 350-500 words; long form blog posts are 500-750 words.
Exceptional posts will:
* have an engaging intro and headline or title
* include relevant convincing examples and cite sources
* be well organized (intro, unified body paragraphs, conclusions)
* contain clear sentences with varied syntax and elegant prose
* have very few mechanical errors which do not overly detract from essay
Good or passing posts will:
* have a decent intro and title that provides context
* be organized (intro, unified body paragraphs, conclusions)
* contain clear sentences and examples
* have some mechanical errors that do not distract from content
* include examples and cite at least one text
Non-passing posts will:
* have body paragraphs which may not relate or digress
* be somewhat organized, possibly lack or have a short intro, short or missing conclusion
* examples and details may be poorly developed and executed
* sentences may be overly simple or awkwardly constructed
* mechanical errors may distract or obscure meaning
* lack sources to support opinions
Students are encouraged to revise their posts using the above guidelines and suggestions. Publish posts on Monday, Oct. 15, 2012. Please post the link to your Blog Action Day post in the comments below with your name so we can go around and read them and like them and comment on them! Students, please go visit each other’s blogs!