Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Your class blog

The primary forum for written work is your blog. You are required to post weekly blog entries relating to the literature studied in the classroom. Your blogs will receive a grade, accounting for 30% of each quarter’s grade. Blogs should be as long as they need to be to say what you have to say about some aspect of that week's reading, but a good guideline is 500 words, more if you discover you have a lot to say on a topic. I will not, however, grade primarily by length; rather, quantity will be the least important of four criteria, after regularity of entries, style, and, most importantly, originality of content. Instructions about creating and posting blog entries may be found on my blog at

Occasionally I will ask you to respond to particular prompts or questions on my blog, but often there is no set topic for your weekly entries. Rather, I ask you to find an element of the assigned reading that interests you and discuss it thoughtfully. This comment may take many forms, a few of which are suggested here:
• Discuss a character’s actions, words, personality, moral values, or humanity.
• Comment on the writer’s style, use of language, tone, irony, or imagery.
• Consider a topic or idea raised in class discussion, trying to go beyond what has already been stated.
• Raise and discuss a question about the text under consideration.
• Discuss the importance or meaning of a key passage or scene from the reading.
• For longer works, show how a scene or passage develops a theme or pattern identified in class.
• Make a comparison between a scene, character, or idea from the literature and something from another source or from your own experience
• Use an idea from my blog or from that of one of your classmates as a point of departure for your response.
• Locate relevant research material on the web, post a link to the site on your blog, and discuss your choice.

In all cases, your goals are to demonstrate close, careful reading of assigned texts, challenge yourself to creative, original thinking, write in an honest, authentic voice, and develop your fluency as a writer. Several times each semester, I will ask you to revise a blog entry, either expanding it, making its content more specific, or improving its focus, style, or organization. These revised entries will be submitted to me as hard copies and graded separately from your blogs as papers. Your papers will account for another 30% of your grade (419).