I have just finished grading my students’ blogs from the first semester. I jumped into this blogging project with only a vague idea of what I wanted, so I’ve definitely been learning a lot. What I did know was that I wanted my students to blog for reader response. I asked students to contextualize a reflection by using a quote at the beginning of the post and then to draw on their own experiences to respond to the literature.
In terms of Costa’s levels of inquiry, which I shared with students at the beginning of the year, blogging should meet Level 3 of reading and inquiry: the evaluative level. Classroom discussion is conducted at Levels 1 and 2: literal and interpretive.
Advice about Content
Respond to the literature.
Don’t summarize or even analyze. Use your own life experiences, interests, or perspective to connect to and interact with the literature.
Unify your post.
Choose one quote or pattern in the text and build your response around that element. Strive for one main idea or point in your post rather than a series of isolated comments on different aspects of the text.
Unify your blog.
Think about how you will communicate your voice in your blog. Is there a way to use titles, format, or subject matter to create unity in your entire blog?
Try to encourage commenting and dialogue.
Think about how you can encourage other people to comment on your posts. An easy way to do this is to ask a question or two at the end of the post that asks your readers to respond to what you have written.
Advice about Presentation
Use more white space.
When reading a blog, it’s tough for the eye to process large chunks of text and long paragraphs. Break it up more than you would in a piece published in print.
I’m not expecting perfection here; we can all make typos. But there’s a point at which our writing moves from accidental misses to downright sloppy. Read your posts again. Read them out loud. Fix the errors.
Be careful that your background doesn’t obscure your text.
If you choose to include a background image that goes behind all of your text, be sure that the text is still readable.
What else would you add to this list? What are some other ways in which students can improve their blogging experience?
“Use more white space.”
This is SO true, especially with longer works like novels. I learned of the importance of white space from indie author J.A. Konrath. Just think about all those old/classic books you’ve read with page-long paragraphs. In the words of Monty Python: My brain hurts!
Yes, and it’s especially bad when reading on a screen!