Friday, January 11, 2008

Blogging, learning, and reflecting...

Throughout the semester, we've completed a variety of assignments in this class, from essays structured in exact ways, to more personal and opinionated pieces. One part of the class involved using a blog - first this one and then your own personal blogs - as a way to share ideas, respond to ideas, and publish our work. I hope, too, it helped you learn in a more personal way.

As you completed your final research essay, the blogs played a larger role than in any other assignment. I required that you keep track of some of your research and post regular reflections and ideas about what you had found. I asked that you hyperlink to your sources as a way to cite and acknowledge where your ideas came from. Then, when you got closer to the end of your research, I asked that you post parts of your essay on the blog, too. At all stages, I was able to post comments on your ideas and thinking. Your classmates were also able to share your ideas and leave their own comments.

Now that we're done, I'd like to hear your thoughts about our blogging. In that spirit, I assign the final blog entry of the year. Write a thoughtful, well-developed blog that answers most or all of the following prompts...

What was the most valuable part of the blogging process? How did using a blog help or not help you learn in class this semester? What is it you're most proud of that you have written on your blog this year? (Be sure to include the hyperlink to your post) What might you suggest to use blogs like this more effectively in a learning environment?

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Show me your introductions!

How a writer grabs a reader's attention can be the most important part of a piece of writing. After all, if the reader is bored after the first few sentences, what good is any of the rest of the essay? To catch a reader's attention, your introduction needs a compelling hook, as outlined in this excellent resource site from John Jay College.

How do you plan to start your essay? What will you do to grab the reader's attention? Select one of the styles of hooks from the John Jay writing tutorial site and write a rough draft of your introduction. Before you write, you should review these excellent exercises from John Jay to help you. Once you have it written, test drive your introduction on the blog.

Here's how I'd like you to do it.

First, review the site on introductions and write your introduction on your blog.

Next, underneath your introduction, write a few sentences that briefly explain why you chose to start your essay the way you did.

Finally, ask a question you'd like answered about your introduction. It should be a question about your writing, not the content of your essay. For example, you might ask the readers whether the question you started with works or not. Ask a specific, focused question that invites concrete feedback.

Once you've done that, go read your classmates' introductions and give them some feedback.

Final essay checklist

We're getting down to the end of the semester, and you should be proceeding along with your final essay. At this point, I've enjoyed keeping track of your blogs and postings as you conduct your research and begin your writing.

The final essay will be due Monday, Jan. 14 at the beginning of class. Remember, it's your final essay so don't procrastinate or make a solid effort to write it well.

As you prepare the final draft, please remember the requirements of the essay:
  • At least five pages of well-written prose that follows standard written conventions
  • A compelling introduction that grabs a reader's attention -as explained here
  • An essay body that fully develops your topic and focus
  • At least five sources cited and mentioned in your essay
  • A works cited page with all sources

Good luck and enjoy.