This fall a few colleagues and fellow bloggers have decided to network our introductory composition classes (at least four classes). The idea is to structure our course around blogging, having our students write often for "real" audiences, on a specialized topic of interest to them. The idea is to increase the quantity of writing and to expose them to each other's writing. The classes will divide into 15-20 topics with 3-5 members each. Topics will be voted on by students, we will provide them with a list of suggestions. Each student will be expected to produce three posts per week.
I worked with three other teachers last fall on a similar format--in which students from multiple classes posted on the purpose of education. We're presenting on this topic at Computers and Writing (we're meeting to work on our presentation tomorrow). We had success last semester with creating forum roles (launch posts, query posts, extension posts, etc)--and we might try something similar in the Fall. Essentially, I want students to understand the logic of a post--either a pointed pointing at an online object, an informed opinion built around a claim (you should look at "x" because) and evidence, or a query/exhibition, where an idea is worked out in public (like, say, this post).
Besides the blog load, we have a couple of project possibilities in mind. I am really tied to a Wikipedia reliability check--having students fact check a wikipedia entry that has something to do with their blog subject. I'd also like to see some kind of internet/cultural "map" of their subject area. We'll probably do a paper as a guide introducing their subject. And I think I'd like to see a podcast/documentary film for a final project.
I'll post more details as they develop, but I'm also interested in ideas, and cool blogs. We're going to spend the first few weeks reading sample posts. Here's some ideas I have so far (possible sites in parentheses).
- Video Games (Gamasutra, Joystick 101, Penny-Arcade, Slash.dot Games)
- Sports (Baseball Toaster)
- Web design (see my blog roll)
- Music (Pitchfork, Last)
- Movies (DailyFilmDose)
- T.V. (no idea--but can't be a single show, I don't think you'd get enough out of it--it could, however, be a genre of shows)
- Fashion (no idea)
- Politics (is this a bad idea?)
- Cooking / Restaurants (do freshman eat enough to do these?)
- Major (I know that I've learned as much about rhet/comp from reading blogs as I have from reading articles!)
If any of you have suggestions for good, topic-oriented blogs for anything above (or if you'd like to propose your own topic), hit up the comments! Here's what I know: I want to make sure students are exposed to "quality" blogs, ones perhaps they are as of yet unfamilar with.