This blog will serve as a space for my Critical Thinking and Writing (CTW) students, who will be producing their own blogs to record their research experiences and share their writing. To the students:
Your mission, should you choose to accept it
Your blog will be your place to practice writing over the course of the next quarter. As Rebecca Blood explains, blogs are excellent writing and thinking practice:
Writing short is hard, and the daily practice of having to summarize or analyze an article with concision will make you a clearer writer and a better thinker. Even the practice of contextualizing an article with links to related (or tangential) material will exercise your creativity, encouraging you to make connections you might not have made otherwise. (61)
To get our blogs started, though, we are going to seed them with the posts from this final assignment sequence. This will give you a chance to practice with this new genre and get some feedback about your productions from your peers and professor before getting into the regular practice of blogging in the winter. As you begin, remember some key lessons from our course so far:
- Metacommentary: ask yourself what they need to know to understand your point and where they might get confused– use signal words, strong verbs, titles, and restatement to guide your reader through your posts.
- Planting a Naysayer: what might your audience be doubtful of? what might they misunderstand? Anticipate these moments and address them by conceding and/or refuting alternative viewpoints.
- Interesting ideas emerge from the intersection of sources with one another and with your own perspective and experiences. When you are synthesizing sources into your blog, remember to put your own argument in the driver’s seat, and include sources that help you. As Rebecca Blood suggests, “When you consider whether to add a link, first think carefully about whether it is interesting to you. If it really isn’t, leave it. If it is, ask yourself why you think it is interesting or important, and then do your best to convey that in your linktext” (70). Don’t expect readers to make the same interesting connections you did. Do it for them–that’s your job as blogger! Your thoughtful synthesis and analysis is what will get you readers.
- Organization: each blog post should have a coherent point to make, and it should be organized in a way that logically breaks up that point into smaller parts for the reader to follow. Though the formal expectations of topic sentences and paragraph length may have loosened their grasp in a blog, the expectation for clear and logical organization holds true for all writing. Uphold the Old-New Contract across sentences and paragraphs to keep your reader grounded, and use the metacommentary above to map your movements between ideas.
- Also think about design–use of space, call outs, hyperlinks, images, video to enhance your reader’s experience and provide emphasis.
The above are the features your peers and I will be looking for when we assess your blogs as well. Happy blogging!