PLN Day 34: My Definition of a Great Classroom Blog/ Blogpost

15 02 2010

With my PLN over a month old, I used Google Reader to check out each of my students Blogs, and I offered a comment or two on each.   I found that when students are asked to write a Blog for a class, several students went above and beyond, eight more have developed their Blogs somewhat, and yet fully half have not developed their blogs much or at all.  I haven’t been communicating very clear instructions or expectations, because this is so new to me that I haven’t known what those directions or expectations should be.  But now I think I do.  While it is fresh in my mind, these are the characteristics to me of exceptional Blog posts:

1.  They report something (a resource, an understanding, etc.) that is both useful to them and to the class as a whole.

2.  Ideally, the post would appeal to a larger audience, perhaps of fellow teachers, students, and related professionals in the field.

3.  They offer concrete illustrations of things that they find. This might include the use of quotations.  The author might post videos and pictures.

4.  They show the resources and people and experiences that have lead them to the understanding they are conveying, but they do not include disassociated lists of links, but integrate them into the text.  They also do not present links without any prefacing commentary or without explaining in some manner why we might want to click on that link.

5.  They are reasonably well written, meaning that they have an audience in mind and are actually trying to communicate to that audience as effectively as they can.  They are relatively free of errors that are distracting and/or that detract from the piece’s meaning.

6.  A post needs to find its bearings somewhat, to work towards some sort of meaning, insight or understanding.  It is somewhat disappointing to read a Blog where every post exists in a state of perpetual disorientation:  “What is this post?  What is this Blog?  I’m so bad with computers! This is all so new!  Where am I?”  Maybe this is OK for day one, but future posts should show some resilience, and acknowledge that there’s work to be done, and that though cluelessness is often the human condition it shouldn’t be worn as a badge of honor.

7.  Every Blog should be somewhat identifiable in its purpose.  For the purposes of this class, the Blog’s title should include something about PLNS, about English Education, about Educational Technology, or Pedagogy, or some combination of the above, so that if someone stumbled upon it from Denmark they could figure out what was going on at your Blog.

8.  A Blog should be aesthetically pleasing.  At the least, it should have text that is readable without hurting your eyes.

9.  A Blog should be current.  Postings should happen regularly enough to be worth checking into every once in a while.  This is important.  Students are used to big culminating assessments, but I think I might place value on how steadily a Blog develops.  For instance, many (but not all) Blogs in my class were written the night before a specified deadline, and one or no posts followed that.  It’s the ‘wait to be told’ approach that sends up all sorts of red flags with me, and is the sort of thing I’m often tempted to tie the entire course grade to.

10.  Ideally, as is the case with all writing, there should be some commitment on the part of the author to the material, and not just a super safe little jot.  Worse still is a sort of blithe indifference, and of that the worst is trite whining on really obvious topics.  But even this is better than no writing at all.  I have always liked how in Dante’s Inferno he has a group in hell who parade around with signs that say nothing at all, as punishment for their indifference or callow lack of engagement with anything.

11.  The best Blogs don’t make a habit of recycling other Blogs, but go beyond and add something significant to the conversation.  Some Bloggers have a staunch commitment to as much originality as possible, and they see large-scale content recycling as polluting and watering down Web 2.0.

12.  A good blog is in communication with other blogs, and its author comments on other’s blogs and earns comments from others.  Ideally, a blogger promotes the blog to a larger audience that the class itself.

With that in mind, my rubric will be:

A:  Meets or exceeds expectations in areas 1-12.

B:  A good effort, but falls short in a few areas specified in 1-12.

C:  The blog’s outstanding characteristics would include some major shortcomings in areas 1-12.

D:  The blog had few aspirations of any meaningful type, or possessed them for too short a period to be of use to this class and the world of January February March and April.

F:  The Blog could be reproduced in its entirety in several hours.

I’m a big believer in modeling, which is why I am producing a blog alongside you all.  In addition, I will produce some examples.  So far, in our class, I want to call attention to some outstanding Blogs.

Jessie Bindrim’s Blog Let Us Talk possesses many of these characteristics.  She brings interesting resources into the conversation and goes in all sorts of interesting directions.  In addition, she writes with energy and just generally seems to want to communicate her ideas effectively.

Kim Cuppett’s Blog Implementing Technology in the Classroom:PLN’s, Methods, Strategies, and Techniques to Consider is already looking highly professional and is definitely engaging in meaningful and worthwhile conversations about education and technology. Look especially at her post Cooperative Learning:  The Basics.

Laura Young’s Blog Teaching and/or Technology has a lot going for it, and she is finding really unusual resources and making connections in a blog that has been continuously surprising.

Rachel Dabiero’s Blog Rachel Lynne’ Blog: Exploring English Education tends to go a more philosophical or literary direction, which is much appreciated.

Check out Caitlin Mulroy’s Blog caitlin’s PLN blog.  Her latest two posts are outstanding, and she has been connecting with people on the English Companion Ning and has created some really interesting conversations there.

Some Blogs have a post that represents a certain breakthrough, like Ben Craig’s “Aint No Sunshine When She’s Gone.” I could spend the next hour backsearching to include a half dozen other examples of blog posts that had something in them I found useful or interesting, but never fear.  A diligent Blogger will have his/her day.   I promise to digest these Blogs on a regular basis, so keep cranking and a shout out is highly probable in the future.  It’s been an adventure people.  I welcome your comments.




4 responses

17 02 2010

Jason, I find this post very helpful in helping gain a better understanding of what it is you’re looking for in our blogs. While I was able to understand from your instructions in class, it is still very nice to have a more concrete rubric to refer to. Thank you for taking the time to create this post!

18 03 2010
PLN Day 64: LLED 420 Blog Digest « Whitneymeister's English Education Blog

[…] PLN Day 64: LLED 420 Blog Digest 18 03 2010 I have had my LLED 420 class blog all semester long, and I subscribe to all 21 on Google Reader. Their task is to develop their PLNs by finding resources and people to support their learning, and to use the blog to report back and share their emerging understandings while providing useful resources to their classmates and a larger audience.  They are free to blog about virtually anything, though chiefly the emphasis has to do with their course of study.  Thus it is typical to see posts where students reflect about things that are going on in class, and they most commonly write on the subjects of English education, literature, literacy, educational technology, personal learning networks, and pedagogy. I started off without giving many guidelines at all.  Then I provided some in a post “PLN Day 34:  My Definition of a Good Blog/ Blogpost.” […]

5 01 2012
English Expressions

Yes, this blog is very helpful for both teachers and students.Also, everybody gain a lot after reading this blog and parents/guidance must read it.

27 06 2012
Hyip Template

I do many of these things already, but look forward to implementing the others.

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