Friday, 4 October 2013

Blogging in ENG3U1

Big Ideas (specific to ENG3U1 at ODSS)

Through blogging, students will demonstrate their knowledge and understanding of the following two big ideas:

  • A person’s message is best understood by an audience when it is communicated in a clear and concise manner.
  • Considering multiple viewpoints allows people to better understand the world around them.


My rationale for blogging can be found in this presentation.  I do this presentation with students so they understand WHY we are blogging in class.


  • Summative

Students open their own blog and write posts over the course of the semester.  Additionally, they are required to respond to others’ blog posts.

I used this rubric last year to evaluate student blogs.  Essentially, I printed off one rubric for each student, alphabetized them in a duotang and as I read students’ blogs and responses, I put check marks in the appropriate boxes.  At the end of the year, I looked where most of the check marks fell and assigned a grade.  Throughout the semester, students could come take a look at their rubric to get a sense of how they were doing.

This year, I am going to open a folder on UG Cloud entitled “ENG3U1 Blogging Rubrics”.  I will share each student’s rubric with him/her.  This way students can see how they are doing at their leisure.  Additionally, I have re imagined my rubric, so that each post and response will have its own assigned mark.  

Last year, students were required to write 10 posts and respond to 15.  The focus was too much on quantity instead of quality.  This year I don’t have an explicit number of blog posts and responses that need to be completed.  I want the students to focus on writing a few really strong posts that spark discussion and for students to intelligently reply to and continue discussions on others’ blogs.

  • Formative

The first couple of posts and responses will essentially be formative.  Like last year, my responses to the first blog posts will focus on giving them feedback.  Similarly, I will respond to each student’s first response to give him or her feedback about leaving a blog comments.

Furthermore, as students start blogging, we are also having chapter seminars on The Kite Runner.  Students are responsible for leading their classmates through discussion.  My goal is for students to make the connection between having a face-to-face discussion and how it can be translated to an online environment.

Sequence of Learning

There are only three days of formal “lessons” about blogging.  After that, blogging is something that will happen occasionally as a group activity, but mostly students will be expected to blog at home.  Additionally, as we work our way through the novel study and ISU, I will have a couple of Chromebooks available so that students can choose to blog in class, instead of work on their other tasks.

  • Lesson 1

This lesson focuses on the WHY of blogging.  I share with students the presentation I linked to in Rationale.

We also get into the HOW of blogging.  Students actually set up their blog and add me as an author.

  • Lesson 2

In this lesson, we look at digital citizenship.  I really want to avoid the lecture style of “do this” and “don’t do that”.  I developed an informal presentation to help guide discussion.  We also discuss picking a profile picture, because they need to do that in this lesson.

From there, we look again at the course big ideas that blogging gets to and I show them examples of blog posts from last year.  I already have shared the document with them so that they can access it for future reference.

Students have the remainder of the period to select a profile picture and customize their blogs.  They should be able to start writing their first post.  While students can essentially write about anything, some students require ideas.  I have two prompts prepared for them.

The first prompt looks at costumes and culture.  This article about Halloween costumes generated a lot of discussion last year.

The second prompt looks at Grand Theft Auto V.  Students can read Grand Theft Auto V designed deliberately  to degrade women.  

  • Lesson 3

This lesson happens once most students have written a blog post.  Students go back to their first post and read my feedback.  They are then required to respond to my comments and suggestions about their blog post.

Afterwards, we look at Bill Ferriter’s Tips for Leaving a Good Blog Comment.  Students now have the opportunity to read their classmates’ blog posts and respond to them.

Concluding Thoughts

Last year was my first year experimenting with blogs.  I am trying individual blogs this year, which is a change from the collaborative blogs I did last year.  Below are links to my reflections about blogging last year.

Improving the Blogging Experience for Student

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