Blogging Goals: Communication, Trust, Respect, Courtesy, Integrity, Scholarship, Self-Discipline
The blogging experience is, as I’ve said time and time again, an opportunity where the walls of my classroom disappear and the students begin to engage – as both writers and readers – in a medium where they find comfort – the virtual landscape. However, the ultimate goal is to have students now “see” each other in ways they never saw before – to see each others’ hearts and minds, transferring that understanding, respect, and friendship back into the classroom when our walls surround us once again. It is builds our community of learners. It teaches them as much about themselves as it teaches them about each other.
Blog Writing Criteria
Ideas: Writer generates original and compelling ideas with astute opinions; synthesizes complex concepts, and offers keen insights.
Students are given a variety of topics where they are given a range of choice within that topic. Their ideas must be fresh, unique, insightful, and truly theirs because they are engaged in the subject matter.
- For instance, the This I Believe or Life Philosophies assignment has students express their core beliefs – for each student this is a personal and often transcendent experience. In response to our textual studies, students have the choice of responding to any aspect of the study that interested them. (Tori’s poetic approach to Night whereas Michael wrote a Critical Analytical Essay). However, students also have “FREE CHOICE” opportunities where the students can write whatever they choose.
- When a student chooses a poetic mode, I expect them to write about their own poem in prose.
EVIDENCE: Writer’s choice of supporting evidence and detail is rich and substantive; sources are integrated in a sophisticated manner.
- Blogs are expected to be detailed, fleshed out, explored with depth. Paragraphing need not be extensive unless they choose to write a CARL (Critical Analytical Response to Literature). In fact, with blogging, shorter snappy paragraphs hold the audiences attention better. Here’s some good advice about When to Make a New Paragraph.
- Students may even bullet their approach – as I am doing here – if relevant.
STRUCTURE: Writer’s theme/thesis and evidence are structurally presented clearly and artfully, enhancing impact. Piece flows with coherence and unity.
- The key in any blog structure is that it supports the style of writing the student chooses. A short story structure needs a beginning, a middle and an end. An essay has an introduction, a body, and a conclusion. Recipes are guides, but writers need be chefs and to structure their work with their own style – but still make it taste great! Here’s solid advice about Organization.
STYLE: Writer’s stylistic voice is clear. Varied and elegant sentences enhance impact. Rich, effective diction.
This criteria is the one where most students begin to flourish in blog writing – thank goodness! This is where you start to really experiment with diction, figurative language, and all those rhetorical devices and syntax structures you have been taught in class, leading to an emerging voice that is truly yours. Again, Ms. Kathleen Cali offers solid advice here about developing Style in our writing.
GUMPS – Grammar, Usage, Mechanics, Punctuation, and Spelling: Writing contains very few or no errors. Use of mechanics enhances meaning. Writer “breaks rules” artfully.
- This criteria is the one many students fear because when students are rather GUMPY their writing lacks polish and professionalism, which is an expectation in blog writing, and so the blog can intimidate when students have not learned these skills. Although we can’t relearn all our GUMPS at once, blog writing can help us pay attention to hone these skills, and writing processes in class can help us learn these skills. Our work with No Red Ink and/or Bedford Exercises will help train us to be less GUMPY and more professional. Again the Conventions are discussed by Ms. Cali.
EFFORT and QUALITY: Generally these are the polishing and formatting techniques connected to the digital medium of blogging.
- Length: The entry is a thoughtful and relevant in length = 400-1000 words. A minimum of 400 words is necessary to really establish the writing criteria listed above. More than a 1000 can lose your blog reader.
- VISUALS offer support and interest. Use your own pictures or visuals that are free for public usage. If in your google image search you find the perfect visual, then always cite the source in the caption.
QUOTATION feature offers you a tool to have quotes from your own blog or famous quotes that relate to your blog stand out. See Jas’ use of it in this This I Believe blog.
- Cites all sources and offers links to sources using embedding connections, as I have done throughout this post. Notice when the colour is different, that is a link to further the information, but can also cite the source of inspiration, etc… It is also important to cite sources at the end of the blog. Use Cite This for Me.
- Interesting, captivating, and relevant title. – This I Believe is not as informative as This I Believe: Everlasting Knights, but Move On: Simple, Expressive, and Infinitely Expansive is downright intriguing.
- TAGS – Thoughtful and Relevant – tagging is essential to help readers understand key topics and themes in your blog. It also organizes the assignments and topics in the TAG CLOUD. Read about Tags and Categories here.
- CATEGORY Clicked – In our class blogs, each Category is the name of a student. Think of the class blog as an anthology of writers. The Category as a students’ name becomes the section where all the students’ writing is stored. In students’ blogs, categories can be genres: fiction, non-fiction, poems, inspiring randoms, letters, etc…
TIMELINESS: Entry is on time by 7pm, early on the day due, or earlier!!! 5/5. Late within 72 hours is 4/5. Late within 2 weeks is 3/5. Late within 3 weeks is 2/5. Late within a month is 1/5. After a month is 0/5.
- Writing in the real world requires deadlines to be respected. Writing digitally requires self-discipline and vigilance to maintain your digital footprint and audience.
WRITING the blog is the first step of engaging the students to truly “see” each other. The second step is for students to actively READ each others’ blogs and to discuss what they appreciate about each others work. The third expectation is that students offer feedback by COMMENTING on at least two blogs, ensuring all students in the class receive regular feedback. The criteria for commenting has been established in this previous blog titled Etiquettes with Blogging.
Our goal this year is to expand our readership from within the classroom and school into the great wide yonder. We’ll be establishing connections with schools around the world, starting with Dr. Forman’s senior English class at The Buckley School in Sherman Oaks, California.
Blogging Basics 101,. ‘What Is The Difference Between Blog Categories And Blog Tags? – Blogging Basics 101’. N.p., 2010. Web. 13 Sept. 2015.
Hunniblog302015.edublogs.org,. ‘The HUNNI Blog 30-1 – 2015 | Communication Trust Respect Courtesy Integrity Scholarship Self-Discipline’. N.p., 2015. Web. 13 Sept. 2015.
Hunnisett, Pamela. ‘This I Believe: Blogging Transforms The English Classroom’. thehunni 2015. Web. 13 Sept. 2015.
Learnnc.org,. ‘Organization – The Five Features Of Effective Writing’. N.p., 2015. Web. 13 Sept. 2015.
Saidsimple.com,. ‘When To Make A New Paragraph’. N.p., 2015. Web. 13 Sept. 2015.