cobweb

Website Assignment Sheet

Adapted from Lampinen.

Objectives

  • Write informative/explanatory texts to examine and convey complex ideas, concepts, and information clearly and accurately through the effective selection, organization, and analysis of content.
  • Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.
  • Write routinely over shorter time frames (a single sitting or a day or two) for a range of tasks and purposes
  • Use blogging as a way to express ideas, analyze texts, and develop your writing skills

Instructions

  • Post every Wednesday by 3:30pm.
  • See types of posts listed below for ideas.
  • Your post = your work.
  • First you will brainstorm multiple ideas for website contributions.
  • You will then write your first website post here in class. Your goal is to finish by Friday. If you don’t, you have until 8:00am on Monday to do so.
  • Moving forward, you will contribute weekly posts about a variety of topics. You will have a great deal of freedom with your choice of topics. Write about something you enjoy!

Submission of Work

  • For each post, submit work to the Editors in Chief

Due Dates

  • Posts are due every  Wednesday by 3:30pm. You may post at any time, but that’s the weekly cutoff.

Types of Posts (use a variety):

Passion blog

  • Write about something you are passionate about. Find something that you love or hate and share your passion with your readers.
  • Instead of simply gushing about (or bashing) your topic, your goal is to share your knowledge about the subject and perhaps persuade us to feel the same way.

Outside text response

  • Respond to a text of your choice. Texts can be books, TV shows, films, blog posts, news articles, news broadcasts, videos, tweets, hashtags, or more.
  • By “respond to a text,” I mean that you should discuss something you’ve seen or read outside of class and share your response to it. The text could be something that made you think, confused you, made you happy, made you mad, interested you, or more.
  • Remember to provide a well-embedded link to your source text ( near the beginning of your post so your reader will have context early on).

Interdisciplinary post

  • Write a post about something you’re learning in any of your classes. You can discuss concepts, articles, media, labs, etc. Writing is a thinking process, so blogging about a concept from a class can help solidify your thinking about it.
  • There will be some things from this class that will need to be written about

Current events post

  • Write a post about a current events topic. Explain the event and/or share your thoughts about it.

Vlog or Podcast

  • Perhaps you want to present your ideas orally instead of in writing. Well, you can do that!  You may have seen examples from Flashley
  • If you select this option, you must embed your podcast/video in your regular blog (you can’t just embed a hyperlink to the video).

Collabo-blog

  • Co-write a post with one, two, or three of your friends. Three people per post is the max, unless you get it approved by me first. Color code who wrote what, just so we can get a sense for how well you collaborated.

Wordless blog

  • “Write” your post using only multimedia content  (photographs, gifs, vines, memes, etc.).
  • Images and videos must be embedded so the reader can see them all upon scrolling. All images must be original.

How-to

Free choice

  • Write whatever you’d like, as long as it’s school appropriate.

Logistics

Length

  • Approximately 500-800 words long (with the exception of wordless posts, obviously). This is a general guideline; some posts may be longer or shorter.
  • Posts should be two paragraphs minimum. You may deviate from paragraph structure to take a compositional risk (lists, poems, etc.).
  • Remember that typical blogs have short paragraphs because reading on the screen causes more eye fatigue than does reading on the page.

Format

  • single space paragraphs
  • double space between paragraphs (to indicate a break in paragraphs and to give your reader’s eye a rest)
  • do not indent paragraphs

Tone/voice

  • You should write your posts in your own style. This might mean being witty clever, or it could mean being serious and straightforward. There is no one way to do this, as long as you remember to be school appropriate. This above all: to thine own self be true (you’ll get that reference in a few years).
  • Yes, you may use first person pronouns if you’d like.
  • Your voice may change from post to post as you figure out what works best for you, and that is absolutely fine (even encouraged!).
  • You may express your opinions in your posts, but remember that any time you take a side for anything, you need support for your argument. If you just sound off about something you don’t like, it’s not arguing; it’s whining  🙂

Comments

  • Debate the idea, not the individual. Be respectful of others even if you disagree with their points.
  • Your comments should contribute to the discussion.

Academic Integrity and Blogging Etiquette

  • Your posts should be your own work, written by you. Simple as that.
  • If you refer to outside content (articles, images, videos, etc.), link back to the source. Use an embedded link rather than MLA citations.
  • Provide original images.

Side Notes

  • Your first couple of posts will probably take longer, especially when you are trying a new type of post. It’ll get easier as you go.
  • My expectation is that you will spend about 2 hours (2+ class periods) per post on this (faster as you get used to the style of writing). If it ends up being more, please let me know.

Assessment

Your Posts

  • Each blog post will count as behavior grade.
  • To earn full credit, do everything in this list:
    • Write posts in your own personal style/voice.
    • Be informative, persuasive, and/or reflective (depending on type of post) (in other words, I’m looking to see some abstract thought and insight, even if the topics are mundane).
    • Organize your ideas in the way that best makes sense for the purpose of the post (two paragraphs minimum, with allowances made for compositional risks).
    • Proofread for grammatical/typographical errors (compositional risks are an exception-see poetry by e.e.cummings).
    • Format posts according to the directions (compositional risks are an exception-see poetry by e.e.cummings).

Making Blog Posts Readable

Only 16% of people read word for word when they are online, and another study found that the average person only comprehends about 60% of what they read (Jakob Nielsen, How Users Read on the Web). Rather than read word for word – web users ‘Scan’ pages for information – looking for key words, phrases and visual cues.
Tips and Techniques you can use for working with your scanning readers and not against them:

  • Lists – posts with bullet point lists in them get linked to much more than posts with similar topics written in essay style
  • Formatting – Use bold, CAPITALS, italics, underlining to emphasize points and/or organize ideas. Don’t go overboard, as you run the risk of frustrating your reader. Also consider changing font size, color and style to draw your readers’ eyes to your main points.
  • Headings and Sub Headings – Using headings midway through posts helps with post structure, but they also are great for drawing your readers’ eyes down the page and helping them find the parts of your article that will interest them most.
  • Pictures – clever use of pictures in your posts can grab attention, emphasize points and draw people down into your post. There’s nothing worse than long chunks of text on a page – break it up!
  • Borders/Block quotes – boxes around quotes and key points can get the attention of readers.
  • Space – don’t feel you have to fill up every inch of your screen – rather create spaces because they help readers not to feel overwhelmed and again tend to draw readers eyes to what is inside such space.
  • Short Paragraphs – Web users tend to get lost in large blocks of text – break it into smaller bites, and you’ll stick with it for longer.
  • Don’t Bury your Points – Make your main points as clear as you can. One technique to ensure this is to get your main point across in the first few sentences rather than burying it in your conclusion. You also might like to set your main point off with a one-sentence paragraph.

Source  http://www.problogger.net

11 Techniques for Opening Lines on Blogs

Do you want to discover how to make opening lines effective? How does one craft an opening line to a post that effectively engages readers and stimulates enough interest to get them to read your blog post?

1. Identify a Need

Identifying a reader’s need and solving it is a key to writing successful blog posts. You don’t have to solve the need or problem in the opening line, but an effective way to get readers to read deep into your post where you do solve it is to tell them that you will in the opening line.

2. Ask a Question With Only One Answer

This is a technique that copywriters have been using for a long time and it works. To do it, ask a question in the opening of your post which leaves your reader little room to answer anything but ‘yes’. I did it in line three of this post (‘Do you want to discover how to make opening lines effective’) but it could also effectively be used as the very opening to this post.
Asking this type of question does a couple of things. For starters you’re communicating what the post is about and the need that it will fulfill in the reader – but secondly (and more importantly) you’re drawing out a response in your reader and one which puts the need that your post will solve squarely in their mind. Anyone reading and answering ‘yes’ to my question above enters into this post having just said that they want to discover how to write engaging opening lines – this ‘buy in’ helps in the communication process that follows.
Asking ‘yes’ questions can actually be something you use more than once in a post. Ask a series of them scattered through your post and you can actually take your reader on a journey that leads them to your call to action.

3. Ask an Intriguing Question

Another type of question that is effective at getting readers interested in reading further into a post is one that leaves them hanging and wanting to know the answer.
‘What do Bill Gates and Martha Stewart have in common?’ – ‘Is the Nikon D700 the best Digital SLR Camera Ever Invented?’
All of these questions will appeal differently to different audiences – but all leave readers wondering what the answer will be and give them a reason to read on further into a post.

4. Say Something Unexpected

Attempt to do something a little different or surprising to grab readers’ attention by sharing something personal and at a first glance off topic.
Of course – the unexpected opening line should relate to your post’s topic on some level.

5. Tell a Story or Share an Analogy

Stories can be short (a one-liner like I did above) or longer (although you probably won’t want to go too long). They can be your own personal stories or stories of someone else. They can be true or even fiction.

6. Make a Claim or Promise

Sometimes a simple but bold claim is the most effective way to get people to read deeper into a post.
‘Today I will teach you how to give up smoking.’ – ‘In this post you’ll discover the secrets to taking the perfect portrait.’
These sorts of openings simply tell your reader what they’ll get if they read on. They are short, sharp, to the point and effective.

7. Make a Controversial Statement

There’s nothing like the hint of controversy to grab people’s attention and cause them to stop in their tracks and take note of what’s going on.
Strongly state your opinion on a company, product or even another person and you’ll find people will want to read on to see why you’ve said it and to let you know if they agree.

8. Paint a Picture

This is a technique used a few times in public speaking that can translate across into writing effective blog posts. The basics of it are to get your reader using their imagination to picture some kind of scenario.
This can be used in both positive and negative ways:

  • Positive – get them to imagine a scenario when they achieve some success or overcome some problem.
  • Negative – alternatively get them to picture the consequences of a problem left unsolved or a failure that they might fear.

9. Use Statistics

Using a statistic that packs a punch can effectively communicate a need and grab attention.
Example –Opening Line – “Only 1 out of every 100 Readers Comment on your Blog”

10. Start with a Quotation

This is one that can be quite effective – if you use the right quotation of course.
Using the words of someone other than yourself can bring authority and credibility to your post. It can also grab attention if you choose the right person.
There is one caveat with this one, though. Avoid clichés like “John F. Kennedy once said,” and “Merriam-Webster defines courage as…” *cue eye roll*
Source: a BTHS grad’s college professor (original source unknown, but any typos come from there and not Ms. Lamp) 🙂

Criterion Commentabulous! Commediocre Commenterrible
Timeliness of comments You comment on your peers’ blogs on a weekly basis (one freebie per marking period)(10pts) You do a couple of comment blasts per marking period to get caught up.(6pts) All of your comments are posted the week comments are due.(2 pts)
Number of comments One for each week of blogging in that MP (1 freebie allowed) (5 pts) Missing a couple (3 pts) Missing many (1 pt)
Quality of comments Your comments show that you read your peer’s post, and you make a valuable contribution to the discussion.(5 pts) Your comments show that you read the post and contribute somewhat to the discussion.(3 pts) Your comments are superficial and/or do not add to the discussion.(1 pt)
Tone of comments Your comments are respectful in nature. When you disagree with your peer’s argument, you present your opinion without being rude or inappropriate.(5 pts) Your comments are generally polite but could be taken as snarky or inappropriate.(3 pts) Your comments are rude and/or inappropriate.(1 pt)