Writing Your First Blog

Everything we do in class is geared towards giving you ideas to develop in your weekly blog posts.  Every blog post is geared towards helping you write the major course assignment in each class, which is designed to assess the Student Learning Outcomes in the course.  In English 101, the final assignment to SHOW Jen your learning/understanding/comprehension is your final portfolio (particularly the capstone assignment of Essay #2).  In English 102, this assignment is your final research paper.

For more details, please refer the appropriate syllabus designed specifically for your course.

The Prompt for Blog #1: Explore, in writing, anything we covered in class over the week or anything that Jen assigned as reading.

Purpose(s): To build CONNECTION between your current identity and the material we cover in class.  To build CONNECTION between yourself and your peers.  To build connection between you and Jen (the instructor.)  To practice INVENTION (going from “not-knowing” to or having “no idea”) to having an idea.  To practice writing to DISCOVER (rather than writing to SHOW learning, as you would in a formal essay.)  To deepen your understanding of/response to core concepts covered in class.  To ask questions (and possibly pose responses.)  To relate personal experiences that connect with the ideas/concepts/skills.  To teach your peers through your own learning and process of discovery through writing.

Process: Please use your in-class freewrites, your notes and Jen’s notes (see the schedule) to remind yourself/refresh your memory.

Potential Ideas: Blog entry #1 could be a letter of introduction to Jen and your peers.  Blog #1 might just be one or all of your freewrites written in class typed out (and possibly expanded.)  Blog #1 could involve you taking key quotes from Ballenger (citing them correctly, of course!) and then writing in response to them.  Blog #1 could expand and discuss what you discussed in small groups.  Blog #1 may include pictures and/or links to other websites.

Tone/Style: This blog may be as formal as you like . . . OR it may be a complete freewrite with no checking for grammar and/or spelling.  Your blogs are YOURS– so they may be crafted and revised as many times as you have the energy and passion for, or they may be written off the cuff at the last minute.

One Caution: There is a great deal of freedom in this assignment for a variety of pedagogical purposes (see “Purposes” above.)  Part of INVENTION (the first stage of the writing and reading processes) is to get messy– to contradict yourself– to ask questions– to go off on seemingly unrelated tangents (because there is a deeper connection there your unconscious can see but your conscious mind cannot.)  it is like trying to do very complex math– you must show your work.  You must write the “wrong” thing.  You must MAKE MISTAKES.

That said, too often students use the blogs strictly as a journal about off-topic areas of their lives outside of class that are NOT related back to the concepts we are reading/writing/discussing . . .  and then find that the blog entries are not useful to them (and then complain publicly on Rate My Professor).  If you participate mindfully in the opening freewrites, take notes in class, participate actively in class and READ THE READINGS, the blog entries are a chance to jump off on those writing and readings and really RESPOND– make connections– feel connected.

Ideas for 101: Your experience the first day of class.  Just describing your perceptions of this first week is valid and will be useful.  Write about specifics from Sir Ken Robinson’s Ted Talk that you either agreed or disagreed with and/or specific experiences from your educational history that relate.  You might start to explore reactions to Paul Tough’s essay on Success and Failure.  Just use the 800 words to start brainstorming stories/narratives for Essay #1.  Revisit any of the freewrites we have done in class and expand on them.

Ideas for 102: Your experience of the first day of class.  How did you feel?  What do you remember?  Malcolm Gladwell’s Ted Talk and how it relates to research, the nature of research, the research paper, the work we will be doing in class, etc. Howard Moskovitch and his notion of “perfect Pepsi’s” and his debunking of the Platonic ideal.  Make an analogy between the (false mustard) hierarchy and Ballenger’s metaphor of “Where’s Waldo?”  Research as boundless– the research process as asking questions (rather than proving answers).  Your impressions of Ballenger’s “Theories of Intelligence” as his example of “The Creative Research Paper”  What you are excited about when you think about blogging.  What you are nervous about.  Questions about the syllabus. Questions about English 102 in general.  What you are excited about in terms of the class/syllabus.  What you are nervous about or have questions about in terms of the class/syllabus.  A letter of introduction to your peers and to your instructor.  Expand on your first day freewrite: WHY English 102?  Why is this class so important? (see Jen’s prompt from that day). What topics are you thinking about writing about?  What questions have you always wanted to answer?  Do Exercise 1.1: Building an Interest Inventory (In Ballenger).

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6 thoughts on “Writing Your First Blog

  1. My experience of my first day of English 102 class: I felt challenged and I know it is not going to be easy. English writing is hard for me as I have done legal writing for the past 30 years. Believe me, they are different kind of writing… and also the “blogging” … I am not a person that spends much time in front of a computer exchanging ideas with whoever is connected to the net, but I will do it for this class … only and in a limited basis.
    I remember everything that happened in our first class.. except …my password for wordpress.com ! imagine that … but I am not surprised.
    I liked the Ted Talk and in regard Gladwell and I agree with the thought about the “answer” to a specific “question”: there will be as many answers as participants there are … we all think different and have different perspectives and points of view. It will always be “answers” as “pepsis”. So Ted Talk takes me to “research”.
    What does “research” mean? = Investigation. We need and use investigation in every stage of our lives and in everything we do: home, work and school. At home we research about our health, nutrition, exercise, sports, banking, etc. At work we research according on what we do, in my case: legal research for our clients and of course for my own knowledge, I loved learning about legal cases that come up every day. At school we research to learn about topics we want to learn and are curious about. Research gives us knowledge. If we do our research correctly it will give us valuable input in what we want to learn about or create or write about. To be accurate in a topic that we talk, comment or write about we need to do valuable and smart research, not “wiki”, go beyond that, you want to expand your knowledge through a valuable source if not don’t waste your time. Nowadays it is very easy to do research in the net, but I still love going back to the old fashioned library and search page by page what I am interested in.

    • Hi Silvia,

      Now that I have formally assigned the first blog entry (and showed you how to post a blog entry in class), I’m assuming that you will develop this (if it is not yet fully 800 words) and post as Blog #1 on your blog?

      Please let me know if you have questions about this process. 🙂

      Peace,

      Jen

  2. BLOG # 1: from “ Pepsis ” to “ answers ” and “ research ”
    My experience of my first day of English 102 class was exactly how I thought it was going to be: I felt challenged and I know it is not going to be easy. English writing is hard for me as I have done legal writing for the past 30 years. Believe me, they are different kind of writing and the research is focused in a different way…
    I remember everything that happened in our first class.. except …my password for wordpress.com ! imagine that …I had to start the process all over again but I am glad as now I understand very well how the blog works and after our second class I feel confident it will go smoothly … big thanks to our great Instructor !
    I enjoyed the Ted Talk ( Malcolm Gladwell’s hairdo demonstrates how confident he feels about himself and that is great) I admire and agree with the idea that Howard Moskowitz shares with us about the “answer” to a specific “question”: there will be as many answers as participants there are … we all think different and have different perspectives and points of view. It will always be many “answers” as “Pepsis” there are. He also mentioned “ embrace diversity “ to pursue happiness .. well this world is so diverse we shouldn’t be surprised of the many answers we will receive. How boring will it be to have the same answer ? …Just like Leo Tolstoy said “All the diversity, all the charm and all the beauty of life are made up of light and shade”.
    And this takes me to my favorite topic: “research”.
    What does “research” mean? = re-search: to search again. Research is the investigation of a subject matter to be able to revise the facts, theories or applications to expand your knowledge of an issue you are inquiring about.
    We need and use investigation and research in every stage of our lives and in everything we do: home, work and school. At home we research about our health, nutrition, exercise, sports, banking, etc. At work we research and scrutinize according to what we do; in my case: legal research for our client’s cases and matters and their defense and of course for my own knowledge. At school we research to learn about topics we want to learn and are curious about. Research gives us knowledge. If we do our research correctly it will give us valuable input of what we want to learn, create or write about. To be accurate in a topic that we talk, comment or write about we need to do valuable and smart research, not “wiki”, go beyond that, you want to expand your knowledge through a valuable source if not don’t waste your time. Nowadays it is very easy to do research in the net, but I still love going back to the old fashioned library and search page by page what I am interested in.
    What does Bruce Ballenger, the author of The Curious Researcher tell us about research? In his Preface (xxiii) Ballenger explains the difference between creative writing and academic writing and how little in common both have. Creative writing comes from your personal opinions, responses and narratives any “personal writing assignment”. Academic writing on the other hand, is “most anything that involves research”.
    Ballenger insists in how the college research paper assignment should be both, research and personal thinking by re-searching, re-discovering what is out there but adding your personal views, thinking and experiences about it.
    In the Introduction “Rethinking the Research Paper” in page 2, Ballenger mentions on how students remember the research papers they wrote before. In the fourth paragraph, and this if my favorite, student Joe has the idea of what a research paper should be: “Write a research paper on a problem of the world + (plus) come up with your own solutions and discuss moral and ethical aspects of your solution. So this was not only to re-collect information that was out there, it is also to add your personal and valuable input on it.
    I think this is how a research paper should be. I do research, I love doing it and I also take that information and blend it with my own opinion and apply it to my need and to the reason why I started the research in the first place.
    In my opinion and experience on the research I do, we should find a theme/issue to research about what makes us wonder, that wakes up our curiosity to go beyond the newspaper, a casual conversation or a hearsay and find out more information, accurate information about it; this way we already have an idea and some thoughts and opinions about the theme we are researching about. Ballenger also talks about this in page 6 “Discovering your Purpose”. As I keep reading Ballenger’s book I realize that he explains it the same way I experience it in my research, looks like many years of legal research experience can teach you that !
    I will stop my blog here and keep reading Ballenger’s book. I am very happy that I coincide with such an experienced author… at least at the beginning as of how I start my research …
    Until next week !
    880 words

  3. Blog # 2: A little about me
    Hello class bloggers:

    I should of started with this blog… but never too late ! This is my 9th year in College, I have Law Studies and a Paralegal Degree and this is my last class for this Transfer Degree and then to Law School, for the second time.

    I have three sons: two graduated from Linfield College and one is a Marine Officer deployed to Japan until December of this year; my second son moved to Quito-Ecuador in South America and my youngest is a Junior at the Oregon Ducks. I am very proud of them and they are a blessing in my life since the first day of their lives.

    I work at a law firm with wonderful people and walk the halls of our Clark County Courthouse with our client’s cases and needs.

    If you read my first blog you will know by now that I am not good at english writing as I have done legal writing that according to my experience is very different and I am not good at english essays… I believe our Instructor will guide me the right way … and I could finally be proud of writing a successful english paper !

    See you in class !

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