From Prof Miller – on blogging

I’m really enjoying these entries so far! Thank you all for participating in this blogging experiment with me. I think it’s going quite well so far — Please share your thoughts with me/each other on this aspect of the class as we continue.

A couple of my thoughts and questions on the whole blogging thing;

One of the most important objectives of the blogging assignment for me was to encourage students to engage in low-stakes writing. By asking that you all contribute to the blog though brief, regular entries that we can all access and comment on, my hope is that we create and maintain a conversation that is engaging and informal, while continuously inspiring our (sociological) imaginations and creativity.

I’m thinking about the best way for me to respond to individual blog entries. What would be most helpful to you individually, and most productive to the whole group? As a writer, I always have the instinct to make comments on grammar, sentence structure, spelling, etc. Sometimes this amounts to my copy-editing student papers. Because the writing we’re doing on this blog is LOW STAKES*, however, I think my comments on structure etc should be reserved for the more formal writing assignments, and for the posts I’ll comment on content only. If you would like to receive comments on your writing, let me know. There’s always room for improvement in all writing, for the sake of clarity and unambiguous communication.

*What is meant by “low stakes writing”? Peter Elbow, in “Writing for Learning – Not Just for Demonstrating Learning,” provides the following;

the goal isn’t so much good writing as coming to learn, understand, remember and figure out what you don’t yet know. Even though low stakes writing-to-learn is not always good as writing, it is particularly effective at promoting learning and involvement in course material, and it is much easier on teachers–especially those who aren’t writing teachers. Link here for more on this.

Regarding format and frequency; I was speaking to a friend last night (we were at a Celebrate Brooklyn concert – an amazing concert series in Prospect Park. You should definitely check out a show sometime this summer!). She has used blogs in her classroom, and describes a scheme she used which worked quite well – she divided her students up into three groups – the first would write a blog entry, the second group would comment on the first, and the third would add multimedia – links, photos, film clips, etc. I’ll ask her more about how she did it. Do you think something like this would work for our class?

Finally, is expecting you to write two blog posts a week too much? Keep me in the loop about your workload overall and whether the assignments for this class are realistic, considering that most of you  have lives, jobs, families, etc.

Moving forward;

Feel free to incorporate multimedia – links, pictures, video clips, songs, etc.  You are welcomed to “think outside the box” when it comes to the format of your writing here. If you’d like to write a piece of fiction or poetry or make a short film or compose a piece of music inspired by and connected to the class, go for it!

Be sure to read each other’s entries, and feel free to comment on each other’s writing, online and/or in class.

Some more links on blogging in the classroom I’ve come across in my meanderings on the subject:

Using Blogging as a Learning Tool

M.I.T. Taking Student Blogs to Nth Degree

Using Blogs in the Classroom

See you Monday!

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