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Course Blog Assignment

Purpose:

No matter the specific type of prompt given to students, creating a course blog allows them to build a collection of writings and materials, independent of the LMS, that they are able to reference, continue, and/or use as a portfolio piece after they have completed the course. American Honors students may want to include a link to their course blog in an application to a transfer school, internship, or any other opportunity. Outside of the weekly course discussions, students can use the blog setting for deeper and more personal thought and reflection. Reading through the collection at the end of the term should demonstrate the student’s cognitive and affective growth on the subject the blog is addressing, and should lead the reader on a journey.  

Grading:

When grading a course blog, always consider the blog a term-long project. A suggested culmination rubric for the blog in its entirety can be found at the end of this document. Blog entries should not take the place of online discussion boards, and posts can be graded weekly or reviewed as part of the whole at the end of the course.

Options for Weekly Posting Assignment Prompts:

Use: Each of these options could be used alone or combined. Best practices would be to choose at least one of the prompts to have every week or almost every week, and then spice in some of the others as they fit with the material and to reinvigorate students’ enthusiasm for the blogs themselves.

Sample schedule of prompts (full descriptions listed below with other examples):

Week 1: (First week’s post) + (Response)

Week 2: (Reflection) + (Response)

Week 3: (Reflection) + (Research & Connect) + (Response)

Week 4: (Review) + (Reflection) + (Response)

Week 5: …

Title: Course Blog (or other chosen by Instructor)

Description: Students, you will be creating your own course blog that you will be adding to over the course of the term. Below are links to free blogs, though you are welcome to use any website you feel comfortable with, as long as the blog entries allow for comments. For this first week, create your blog with a title and small ‘About Me’ section with a picture. To turn in this assignment, you will need to submit the direct link to your blog. 

(Option: First week’s post) Along with creating your blog, create your first post with a short personal introduction, including any background or experience you may have with the course topic. Then, please share why you chose to take this course, and what your personal and learning goals are for this course.

Recommended Blog Sites:

http://www.blogger.com

http://www.blog.com

http://www.weebly.com

http://www.wix.com

Help Center:

https://support.google.com/blogger/

http://support.blog.com/

http://hc.weebly.com/hc/en-us

https://www.wix.com/support/html5/

Please note that you will need to contact the individual site you choose for any technical help you may need, which is why the Help Centers have been linked here.

(Option: Tie into Introductory Discussion Board) Ask students to share the link to their blogs in a welcome or introductory discussion board. If requiring the ‘First week’s post’ option from above, encourage students to reuse the post as their discussion board posting. 

After all the students have submitted their Blogs’ Website URLs, create a Page in the LMS to share the links with the rest of the class. Be sure to include the each student’s name and link, and place the page in the first week’s module, information or welcome module, or other location that is easily found and accessed by the students. Post an announcement to the class once the links have been posted with the location of the page, and encourage the students to browse through their classmates’ blogs.

LMS Guide: Creating an assignment in the LMS for each post prompt benefits the student by automatically adding entries onto the Assignments, Syllabus, and Calendar pages.

Include Quantifying Limits: When building weekly prompts, be sure to include a sentence or two quantifying the post, such as “Please write 1-2 full paragraphs and include a picture”.

  • For Graded: Simple grading criteria such as those below can be used each week:
    • Student went into appropriate detail & depth: X Points
    • Student met length with correct grammar and spelling: X Points
  • For Ungraded: Choose “Not Graded” from “Display Grade as” dropdown

Blog Assignment Prompt Examples:

  • First week’s post: Create your first post with a short personal introduction, including any background or experience you may have with the course topic. Then, please share why you chose to take this course, and what your personal and learning goals are for this course.
  • Review (If using the ‘First week’s post’ from above): Now that we have reached this point (Midpoint, closing, etc) in our term, go back and review what you had initially stated as your personal and learning goals for this course. How close are you to achieving these goals? Have your goals changed since you’re learning more about the subject? Do you have any new goals to add as we finish and you leave this course?
  • Reflection: Reflect on the material that you learned in class this week. What was the most enjoyable, and what did you struggle with? Did you come across something that particularly stood out to you for good or bad, and why?
  • Follow Up Reflection:  Go back to week #, where you were asked to reflect on the material you learned that week. Quickly review the material and your initial reflection. Now that we have progressed further into the course, do you feel the same way? How has your knowledge of this material expanded as you’ve learned more in the course? What connections can you make from this material to what we learned this week and the overarching course objectives?
  • Response: Review a few blog post from your classmates for this week and provide comments relating to, or expanding on, what they have shared. Try to choose classmates’ blogs you haven’t visited before.
  • Portfolio: Once you receive your graded assignment, project, or presentation, review and make any needed corrections. Then, post or embed your work on your blog, with a short contextual introductory paragraph.
  • Connect: Examine the connections between the material learned this week and what we learned earlier. Include specific details as well as overarching themes.
  • Research & Connect: Find another example of what we have learned about this week on your own. Post a picture or link to what you have found, and then explain how it fits the theme or topic we studied. Is the piece you found a classic example or a bit of a stretch? How does it differ or how is it similar to what was shown in class? Does it shed any new light on what was studied?
  • Research: Demonstrate your digital literacy by finding 3 secondary sources and 3 primary sources about this week’s topic(s). (1st option: Assign each student to a different topic, then have them collated into a master list. 2nd option: Each student researches the same topic, then compare how many sources were duplicated in class and how the research was done (Google vs. Yahoo)) What makes this a good source? How did you find it?
  • Tell a Story: Now that you know a little more about the course topic and its nomenclature, share a story of how it has impacted your life up to this point. Did you have a good experience with this topic before? Do you enjoy the topic and make it a priority? How has it benefited you or a loved one? If you really have had no exposure to the topic up until this point, please write a story about an event related to the topic you would like to experience.
  • Learning by Teaching: If you were going to plan a simple 15-20 minute lesson on what you learned this week for a group of high school students, what would you share with them? What main points, concepts, ideas, and topics would you focus on? Why? How would you present the material? Include a summary statement and 1-2 examples you would share to illustrate your focus.
  • Word Journal: If you could summarize this week’s topic, the feelings or thoughts that it invoked, or its theme, into a single word, what would it be? Continue on to explain in 1-3 paragraphs why you choose this word.

Culmination Grading

Description: Please submit a link to your blog for grading. (Recommended that a PDF copy of the rubric be attached for students to view with full descriptions if the LMS rubric tool limits the fields) 

Rubric: (modify for your own use and grading scale)

Criteria

Exemplary

Acceptable

Unacceptable

Post Quality

Posts draws upon material with examples and demonstrates student’s substantive reflection and analysis

Posts accurately represent class material, but student does not add any real insight or reflection

Posts include irrelevant or inaccurate information

Content Frequency

All participation requirements met; each weekly prompt completed in its entirety

Infrequent repetition or absence of new content; only part of weekly prompt completed

Frequent use of repetitive material or missing all or part of weekly requirements

Content Progression

Student demonstrates an increased understanding of material; building connections from one post to the next

Student demonstrates understanding of material; some connections missed

No progression; limited student understand of material

Mechanics

Writing is well organized, easy to read; correctly edited with all materials correctly cited

Writing is organized; minimal spelling, grammar and citation mistakes

Unclear, unedited, and missing multiple citations

Aesthetics & Usability

The blog is easily navigated with fonts, graphics, colors, and multimedia that enhance understanding

1-2 broken links with clean fonts, graphics, colors and multimedia present

Navigation unclear with multiple broken links; fonts, graphics, colors and multimedia distract from understanding

 

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