Tuesday, November 15, 2005

You might be in Keene if...you're voting for Best of Blog!

This week's Best of Blog voting features one overwhelming winner and two Honorable Mentions:


Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Fresh off the web: this week's Best of Blogs

Once again, we have a run-away first place winner in this week's Best of Blogs competition...and one follow-up Honorable Mention.


Magazine articles...and Criteria-Based Feedback

Today I asked each of you to bring in a copy of an article from the type of magazine you could envision publishing the popular version of your research essay. Today in small groups, I want you to spend some time looking at these articles, reading them not so much for content but for the way in which they are written. Toward that end, I'd like you to take a moment to skim all the articles your group brought in: rather than reading these articles closely, I want to skim for the main point or idea (thesis) you think the article is trying to communicate along with the reasons why (argument) you should agree with this point.

After these various articles have made their way around your group, allowing everyone a chance to skim them, spend some time looking at each one in more detail, asking and answering among your groupmates the following Criteria-Based questions from today's reading in Writing With Power (pp. 252 - 254):

What is the quality of the content of the writing in this article: the ideas, the perceptions, the point of view?
  • Is the article's basic idea or insight a good one, and is it supported by evidence and examples?
  • Is the piece fitted to its audience? Has the writer understood their needs and point of view?
How well is the writing organized?
  • Is there a beginning? Does it start off in a way that allows youto get comfortably started?
  • Is there a middle? A body, some girth or solidity, some sense of meat and potatoes, sufficiency? Or does it turn around and say goodbye almost as soon as it has said hello?
  • Is there an ending? Does it give you a sense of closure or completion?
How effective is the language?
  • Are the sentences clear and readable?
  • Is it succinct enough for the purpose and audience?
Are there mistakes or inappropriate choices in usage?
  • Are there mistakes in grammar, usages, spelling or typing?
  • Is it neat and easy to read on the page?

Once you have spent about five minutes critiquing each of the magazine articles your group brought in, I want you to (as a group) sort them into two piles. In one pile, place the articles you think effectively communicated their point (thesis) and backed this point up with reasons and evidence (argument). In the other pile, place the articles which didn't fit this criterion, either because they were confusing, poorly organized, ill-supported, or had other flaws.

When you're done sorting, we'll talk as a large group about your findings.

Aged to perfection (aka last week's Best of Blogs)

Since I didn't get a chance to post last Tuesday's "Best of Blogs" in class, here are the results a week late. Drumroll, please...

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Peer critique of intro & conclusion paragraphs

For class today, you should have posted to Blackboard a revised version of your research intro & conclusion; these paragraphs should be written in either a formal "journal" style or a more popular "magazine" style.

In groups of 3 or 4, read your groupmates' revised into & conclusion paragraphs and write a response to their Discussion Board post which answers the following questions:
  • How well does the intro paragraph "contextualize the background" by establishing common ground between writer and reader? In what ways could the intro do a better job of drawing in a reader by giving necessary background information?
  • How well does the intro paragraph state the problem or question that the writer's research addresses? In what ways could the intro be revised to introduce the research problem or question more clearly?
  • How well does the intro paragraph sum up the writer's response or "answer" to the research problem/question? What research claim does the intro state, and how could the intro be revised to state this claim more clearly?
  • How well does the conclusion re-state the essay's research claim (the response or "answer" to the stated problem or question)? How could the conclusion be revised to sum up this claim more clearly?
  • How well does the conclusion raise a new significance or application of this research claim: in other words, how well does the conclusion move "above and above" the introduction? How could the conclusion be revised to offer something better, more significant, or more practical than the general claim made at the beginning of the essay?
  • How well does the conclusion of the essay echo or even complement the introduction? How could the conclusion be revised to "tie up" the essay in a more artful way?
Feel free to add whatever feedback you have on your groupmates' intro and conclusion paragraphs. If this were your essay, how would you begin and end it?

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Long-overdue best o' blogs...

Here are the long-overdue results of the Best of Blogs voting from October 18th (!!!)


What does it take to be "the best"?

You've spent the past several months keeping a weekly (or more!) blog...and you've spent the past several months reading, commenting on, and voting for your classmates' blogs. Looking back at past "Best of Blogs"--and thinking back on the entries you've written that you feel are "your best"--what do you feel it takes to be a "good" (or even "the best") blog entry?

Today, after you've done the usual Tuesday blog-read & "Best of Blogs" voting, I want you to spend a moment skimming back through your own & others' blogs, then post a comment here giving the THREE specific qualities that make a good blog post. In listing these three qualities, I want you to be as specific as possible: what exactly makes a post "interesting" or "funny" or "something I can relate to"?