All about blogging! (for this class, at least)


Here are the instructions for blogging, as copied from the syllabus — below that are a few Frequently Asked Questions.

You’ll write a total of 8 blog posts over the course of the quarter. Two of those posts, you’ll revise and submit as a portfolio at the quarter’s end. Blogging comprises 25% of your final grade.

Blogging: Each week, I’ll ask you to make a post of 250-300 words on the class blog. While academic essay writing is often oriented towards advancing an argument, blog writing is often oriented towards being informative, or process-oriented – it’s an opportunity for you to work through an idea in draft form.

Sometimes, these posts will be in response to a specific question or set of instructions, other times, it will be your job to decide what to write about. Either way, your goals in writing posts should be to:
• Remain focused on a specific topic or question
• Present a balance of evidence and commentary, using quotations and citations
• Explain why your subject matter is important – why it matters to this class, and why it needs to be written about, and discussed.

Posting is not the end of the assignment. After posting you need to foster the discussion you are initiating. When people comment you need to give substantive responses. Try to engage everyone who comments in some fashion and try to use the comments to sustain a conversation you began at the end of your post. (In general, you don’t need to keep the conversation going past the end of the week, and I do know that you have other classes — but I do keep track of comments, and so when you maintain a discussion well, I notice.)

Blog posts will always be due by Tuesday at 8 p.m., so that there is time to read them before Thursday’s class session. This includes your introductory blog for the first week.

In order to get credit for blog posts, you must tag them, using the following formula: Week 1: week1blog; Week 2: week2blog, etc. See the blog for an example.

Commenting: Each week, I’ll ask you to make at least one substantive comment (25 words minimum) on one of your classmates’ posts, by Wednesday at 8 p.m. Substantive means that you need to respond to the specific idea that the original poster introduced, and extend the discussion further. (While I encourage you to support your classmates, brief comments that say nothing more than “Great post!” will not be given credit.)



Q: Are blog posts like papers?

A: Sort of. In both cases, I want you to write as though someone else will be reading your words. But blog posts can be less formal, and more conversational than papers. In traditional academic essays, you’re often expected to write towards some resolution — making a convincing claim, for example. In a blog post, you might just be working on asking a question, and explaining why it’s hard to answer. You could also use a blog post to draw a connection between two texts or authors whom we’ve read.

Q: Do I need to polish my posts for grammar and stuff?

A: Well, your readers need to be able to understand what you’re saying — but no, one of the reasons I’m asking you to blog is that I think it’s valuable to write to test things out, and to write roughly, as well as to work on polished writing.

Q: How do I know what to write about?

A: You’ll always have a blog assignment given out on Thursday’s class. Sometimes I’ll ask you to write on a specific topic; other times, I’ll give you a choice between several, and other times, I’ll leave it entirely up to you.

Q: Do I need to read everyone else’s blog posts?

A: Yes — you do — both because it’s part of being a community, and because reading other people’s blogs will help you navigate the readings, and develop ideas for your papers.

Q: How are blog posts and comments graded?

A: You get 2 points each week for a good blog post; 1 point if I think you’re not fulfilling the assignment (either because of being off-topic, unfocused, or too short). You also get 2 points for commenting; 1 point if the comment is too brief (though on the first week, I’m going easy on people.) In both cases, I reserve the right to award an extra point for excellent blogging and/or commenting that goes above and beyond excellent.

Q: Will you comment on everyone’s posts every week?

A: If I do, the comments may not be substantive — or I may leave substantive comments on half the class’s posts one week, and the other half the other week — but I do read them all.

Q: How do I login?

A: Look at the righthand column — there’s a login link that should take you to your dashboard.

Q: What are tags?

A: Tags are a sorting mechanism that help bloggers (and other website creators) organize information. To test out tagging, just click on any tag — you’ll get all the posts that are marked with it. To see what tags are being used, check out the tag cloud in the righthand column.

Q: How else can I sort posts?

A: Try clicking on the name of the post author — you should see all of their posts come up.

Q: How can I get a picture associated with my blog ID?

A: Sign up at Gravatar!

Q: I’ve got other questions!

A: Then just ask me, in class, via email, or by posting on the blog.


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