Tuesday, October 30, 2007

So what is a blog anyway?

In the last two weeks, we've begun to use individual blogs in this class. It started with my class blog - the actual site you are reading this on - where I wrote something and asked you to leave a comment about it. It has now moved to each of you creating your own blog. For the rest of this semester, you will be maintaining the blog.

That leads me to my next point. If we are now going to do more of our writing online, using a blog, then what is it that we should know about this communication form? Writing a blog is fundamentally different than any other kind of writing you've probably been asked to do in school. One teacher in Colorado explains blogging this way: "The value of blogging, as I've come to learn, is in the way that it requires that I interact with source material, either another blogger or any other text that I can find to quote and think about. That interaction with sources is what I think is so, so, so essential in the education of students." He's right. A blog can be a strong educational tool, and I hope you come to realize that, too.

But what exactly is a blog anyway?

One plase to start is the place that provided the technology for you to create a free blog - Blogger. They have a definition here. A little closer to home, a student who used a blog for class writing assignments weighs in on the blogging process. And finally, eBizMBA.com has ranked the most popular blogs in the world. Check a few of them out.
What are the unique characteristics of a blog that make it different from other forms of writing or communication? One blog you might be familiar with is this one, which I've used to communicate to you as part of class. Take a closer look at this posting, for example. What do you notice? Write a blog posting of your own that addresses this topic.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

The introduction of your essay

Writing a blog will earn you admission into your number one college. Your writing will grow stronger, more reflective, and interesting. That's what colleges are looking for these days.

I hope I caught your attention. The first few lines of any essay, whether it's a blog or on traditional 8 1/2 X 11 paper, needs to stand out. If you want to grab the attention of a college admissions officer, then you better write an essay with a memorable introduction.

To help you along, for your next blog assignment I am asking you to post your introduction to your blog. But wait, it's more than just cutting and pasting the first few sentences of your college application essay. In your posting, briefly explain what you were trying to do with your introduction and why you made the choices that you did. Finally, pose a question about your introduction - your writing, choice of topic, order of information etc... - that you'd like your classmates to post a comment about.

Once you do that, go out and read the introductions of your classmates. See what they have to say and leave a comment for them.

Remember, this is a writing assignment, so the following should always apply when writing and posting:
  • Proofread and run spellcheck

  • Write a catchy title related to your post

  • Take your time and let your thinking show in your writing

Good luck and enjoy.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Are you ready to write a college essay?

It's time to start looking at the qualities of a good college essay. All of you have likely begun writing your college essay. However, to help you develop one that will leave a strong impression on whoever reads it, it is important that you take the time to first read some samples and explore some of the resources out there for you.

First of all, it's important to know that there is no one right formula for writing a college essay just waiting for you somewhere. I'm going to assume you have a topic or you have already begun to think about some ideas for your essay. Your topic is a crucial first step. Good writing can make almost any topic seem interesting, but keep in mind that if you're looking to stand out to a college admissions officer, you have to make it so.

What we've been learning in this class are strategies and techniques to build strong writing skills. That's what is going to Writing the Essay is how to You must write clearly, expressively, and confidently. Above all, you must write well. And you must be willing to revise, revise, revise.

So here goes. Check out some of the following sites and see what you can learn from them. Then, in your own blog entry write a posting that reflects on what makes writing a college essay so challenging and/or so important. Feel free to use ideas you glean from your reading. What are your thoughts on this entire process? What do you intend to do?

Here are some links to help provide you guidance on the college-essay writing process:

What should be apparent in all this is that there is an abundance of advice, tips, and examples for you out there. Essentially it comes down to what you are going to do with your essay to make it stand out. This class is not designed for your college essay, but to help you write better. That's what's going to get you noticed in any writing you do.

Good luck.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Sharing a piece of your observation essay

This blog assignment is due before class starts on Monday, Oct. 15

Earlier this week you were assigned to write an observation essay, an assignment which requires you tell in detail about a specific event or experience. Your essay should include telling details and well-written, interesting sentences.

As you work on this assignment, I am going to ask that you post an excerpt from your essay in the comment section of this blog. It can be as short as three to four sentences, or as much as an entire paragraph. However, it must be an excerpt that you illustrate the following:
  • Several telling, specific details that demonstrate a close observation of your event.
  • Several well-crafted sentences, including those beginning with effective ING phrases or subordinate clauses.

Your excerpt is not a summary of your essay in progress. Instead, it is a paragraph that's part of your larger assignment. The purpose here is to share a piece of your work with your classmates and to provide opportunity for more feedback on your writing.

Before submitting your writing, remember to PROOFREAD!

Monday, October 8, 2007

The Observing paper

Your next assignment involves writing a detailed, close observation about an incident you have experienced or observed. It does not have to be an event of earth-shattering significance, just something you remember vividly. The more specific you can remember it and bring those vivid details into focus, the more interesting your paper will be.

However, you must write your essay in third-person narration. Even though it is an incident you recall or observed, you must write it as if you were simply an observer. Use the pronouns he, she, or they without referring to yourself directly.

The observation must be focused and limited, so you can develop it fully. Think about an event and describe all aspects of it, like the author of a novel might. If your event is too broad or covers too long a period of time, you will have difficulty precisely developing your idea.

Some possible topic ideas to help you get started: your most embarrassing moment, the most horrifying, or the most terrifying.

Rough draft due: Tuesday, Oct. 16. Final draft due: Thursday, Oct. 18