Teaching Tuesday: Requiring Students to Blog about the Class

Teaching Tuesday: Requiring Students to Blog about the Class

This semester, I’m teaching a grad course on the linked stories form and an undergraduate course on the novel form.

These past two weeks, in both classes, we’ve been talking about subplots, layers, and throughlines.

My students have been doing an excellent job of sharing their notes on our course blogs.

Each week, I select one student to be our class “scribe.” They turn their notes from class (lecture + discussion + personal anecdotes/flavor) into a class “report.”

And I grade it.

Here are a few samples.

What I’ve learned

I feel like it’s only fair to share my course content (to a certain extent), since most of my course content in novel-writing comes from materials I’ve been able to find online.

I made my students contributors to these course blogs, which means they format their posts, and I check them over and publish them. Or they can publish them on their own blogs and I reblog them.

I love how the practice of students blogging about the course enables me to see their notes, what they learned, what made an impression (and what didn’t).

I encourage them to post on their own blog (like Kelsey E. did). What better time to start a blog than when you’re in school and you’re immersed in books and writing? If you like what some of them have to say, feel free to follow them back to their blogs or just say, “Good job” or “Thank you.”

Some of them, however, aren’t yet comfortable with having an online presence. And that’s okay, too.

I’ve been trying to figure out for the last few years how to incorporate the social media practices of literary citizenship into my courses, and I think I may have finally figured it out. Here is the rubric I use to assess/grade their blog posts, which are worth 10% of their grade:

Blog Post Rubric

Yes, I know this is a certain kind of blogging–that’s being graded by the professor–and so the students probably aren’t going to talk smack about me or the material. As if that’s what blogging is anyway.

So many people think blogging is about bragging. It’s not. To me, blogging is teaching. It’s sharing. And what better way to engage in that process than to blog about a class you’re taking, esp. when you have the professor’s permission to do so.

I came up with this idea after teaching at a few writer’s conferences and festivals. Many of the attendees shared what they learned from me. I wondered: why shouldn’t I encourage my college students to do what is de rigueur at conferences?

One reason why I do this: knowing how to blog is a marketable skill. My former student Ashley Ford works for Pivot Marketing in Indianapolis and here’s a blog post about blogging, also known as “sponsored posts.”


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