Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Grading Student Blogs

Note to my Ethics of Food students:

During Monday's ENG103, I talked a little bit about how your overall performance on your blogs will figure in the "low stakes writing" part of the course grade (30%). The grade for "low stakes writing" includes all of the grades for weekly responses and informal presentations, but it also includes an evaluation of the quality and interest of your blogging activity as a whole. Having an active, creative blog will positively impact this portion of your grade; having an inactive blog will negatively impact the grade. One of you has emailed to ask me for some clarifiction on what counts as an active, creative blog, and I thought the answer should be posted here.

What I mean is that you should work to make your blog active by posting informally about topics related to the class on your own, instead of just posting assignments. For example, look at my Ethics of Food blog: I post at least three times per week, and there are posts on a variety of subjects related to what we're talking about in the cluster. Some of my posts (about 40%) are course materials: assignments, feedback, etc. Most of the posts (about 60%) are related to our cluster topic, but are not course materials: links to news items, videos, images, small pieces of informal writing on the fast food industry or industrial agriculture. Some of my blog entries are short and very informal: for example, the posts on "The Invincible Happy Meal" or today's post on George Lopez. Others are longer and more developed, but they're still just me "thinking out loud."

Keeping an active blog should be about the same for you. Post a few times every week. For each formal assignment you write (40%), do a few informal posts (60%). Your blog doesn't have to look like mine or read like mine, but it should demonstrate some engagement with the cluster topics. Use the blog as a tool to bring your course-work into your everyday life.

For example, you might post informally about a food-related experience: a meal you ate, something you noticed on a trip to the grocery store, a job you had, a crazy adventure you had trying to fulfill a food craving late at night, etc. Or you might draw a picture of your lunch once a week for the rest of the semester and post the drawings. Or you might post a Youtube video that you think relates to the class and say a little about it. ("Here's a great George Lopez routine on immigrant labor in the fast food industry...") Or you might investigate the food options you find in your neighborhood or at school.

This should be an easy way to raise your grade, and it should be fun. Note that not everything has to be writing, because I'm not grading these posts individually. If you're an "okay" writer but a good artist, you can use your art to make an exciting blog. The point is, you should try to make your blog more than a place where you deposit homework. Instead, it should be something I and your classmates want to check in with.

I know someone is going to ask exactly how the blogs will be graded. You'll find a description of how the grades will be assigned here.

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