Blog Assignment and Prompts

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Blog Posts

Students will compose 5 blog posts over the course of the semester (with a 6th optional for extra credit.) Each blog prompt is provided on the blog and on the syllabus and is designed to build off of class discussion and the course readings. Blog posts are expected to demonstrate depth of consideration and a new, original stance on these existing discussions.

Students are encouraged to be creative with the modes and media; students should plan to embed images, links, Tweets, videos or other multimedia content. Student should also use the video blog (vlog) format for at least one of these posts. Students will create a video discussing that post’s content rather than writing it down. Videos can be uploaded to YouTube then embedded into the WordPress blog (see this post on how to embed a YouTube video). Just as they did in the Common First Week video, students should plan to script and plan their vlog content.

Blog posts will usually be 300-500 words; vlog posts should be between 3 and 4 minutes long. In drafting a blog or vlog post, students should aim to answer the prompt by adding their own individual insights or original observations to the existing conversation. Blog posts should reflect good visual design, conform to online format norms, and use the affordances of a website to augment the written elements of the post.

Students are encouraged to incorporate sources, including the textbook and class readings, but should appropriately cite those sources in MLA format and develop an argument beyond what those external sources say. By the end of the semester, these blog posts will act as building blocks towards a larger argument about becoming an adult in 21st century America, while helping you to formulate, work through, test, and refine your own thoughts on the course topic.

Each blog post MUST contain the following elements in order to be accepted for credit; missing any of these elements will result in an automatic “R” grade for the assignment.

  1. An original and descriptive title (NOT Blog Post 1 or Sarah’s Post)
  2. Two category designations; one that notes which blog post you are working on (Blog Post 2) and one that notes the section of your course (B2, C2, J5).
  3. At least two descriptive tags that describe the content of your post. This might include topic headings, primary texts discussed, keywords, or searchable terms.
  4. At least one multimodal element: this might include hyperlinks, images, embedded videos, infographics, sound recordings or other elements. Vlog posts are by nature multimodal, but your vlog posts may include annotations, slides, text headings or other elements.

Blog Discussion Posts

Each student will also be responsible for responding to 2 classmate’s posts, usually within 48 hours of the blog deadline. Students should plan to browse widely through posts by classmates before choosing which posts to respond to.

Both discussion posts should be 150-200 words (so 300-400 words total) and should add something substantive to the conversation. You are welcome to agree or disagree with the original post, but regardless of stance, your response should be well-supported, carefully argued, respectful and original.

You are welcome to respond to a post that someone has already commented on and to engage with the previous commenters; however, all responses should be respectful, focused on content, and well-supported. Students are encouraged to respond to authors from their own sections but may feel free to read and engage with authors from other sections if they so desire.

Blog Post Prompts

Post 1: When will you become an adult?

For the first blog post, students will begin to formulate a definition of one of the key terms for our course: adult/grown-up, coming of age, or Millennial. All three of these terms center around the moment when a child or young adult becomes an adult. Students should view this post as an opportunity to begin fleshing out their thoughts for the Formal Definition paper and will have the opportunity to read other definitions and give and receive feedback with their peers. Students are welcome to write from a first person perspective (“I will”) or to take a more distanced third person perspective (“Americans in general grow up when”). Students should be sure to support any claims or assertions with sources and should plan to expand on those claims and connect them to the course theme. 

Post 2: Annotated Bibliography for Definition Paper

For the second blog post, students will write annotated bibliographies for 3 external sources they are planning to use for their definition paper. We will discuss annotated bibliographies and college-level research extensively in class, so students will use this blog as an opportunity to begin developing their arguments. All bibliographic entries should be in MLA format using the new 8th edition standards (See Purdue OWL for more). Each annotation should be approximately 200 words and include a short summary of the text, an analysis of the quality of the source as well as its usefulness to the student’s argument, and synthesis that connects the source to the student’s argument, other sources or rhetorical role in the student’s upcoming definition paper. (If you choose to use vlog format for this post, you will need to be sure to include a written/textual version of your bibliography citations somewhere in the video.) It is likely that the most common multimodal elements for this post will be hyperlinks to the external sources, which would be sufficient to satisfy that requirement. However, you  may also include important or relevant multimodal elements from the sources themselves (photographs, charts, graphs) or paratextual elements (book covers, magazine photo spreads that accompanied the article). 

Responses to this post may include additional resources that the student might consider, additional points of synthesis between sources the student has annotated and sources we have looked at in class, questions that might help flesh out the student’s analysis of his or her sources, or general responses to the student’s approach to the definition assignment.

Post 3: Fact Check of Editorial

For the third post, students will choose an article or editorial written about millennials (ideally one not discussed in class) that will be the basis for their editorial response assignment (ideally adding a link to that article early in the post). Students will use this blog to fact check the article they plan to respond to; the student identify the claims, assertions, implications, or generalizations that the original author makes, then determine whether that claim is properly supported with evidence. If there is no direct evidence in the article to support a claim, students will aim to identify a source for that claim (if possible). Students are also encouraged to rate the accuracy of a claim in the spirit of political fact checkers (i.e. true, partly true, misleading, false) or to note when the original author is making unsubstantiated generalizations or assumptions. The goal of this post is to deconstruct the article that students will be responding to and to begin assembling content (ammunition) for your editorial response assignment.

Responses to this post may address the content of the original article, responding to additional claims made in that article that the student’s post does not address, or reactions to the student’s fact check and analysis.

Post 4: Group Video Response

Students will use this fourth blog post to discuss the process of creating a film with a team. This post will be largely reflective and students may use it to discuss a wide variety of ideas. Students may choose to treat this as an artist statement, discussing what they hope the group video project will accomplish, the message the team is trying to get across and their own expereince with the milestone or coming of age rite of passage under discussion in the film.

OR, students can reflect on the skills they are using or developing for the project, the concerns or worries they have over working in somewhat unfamiliar modes, the dynamics of group work at this point in the semester, or the ways in which writing, filming, editing, or producing this film has helped them to become better communicators.

Post 5: Visual Analysis of Picture Book Page

Students will use this fifth blog to engage with visual analysis of a picture book of their choice. Students will choose 1-2 pages from a picture book and will analyze the layout, design, interaction between text and image, rhetorical decisions, and other visual aspects of the chosen images. The goal of this post will be to help students begin to learn to deconstruct the complexities and interwoven elements of picture books in preparation for creating their own. Each blog post must include an image of the picture book pages under discussion to be considered complete.

 Extra Credit Post 6: Students will attend one of the Project One viewings or watch one of the films on their own (The Martian, Lemonade, Fast Cheap and Out of Control), then write a blog post noting how those films reflect some of the major themes of our class discussions, such as resilience, independence, significant “adulting” milestones, or conforming to social roles as a part of growing up.   Your post should use specific examples from the film of your choice and may draw in additional sources or citations. Your post should have a well-supported argument. This extra credit assignment may EITHER take the place of a previous blog post grade (you may decide which post) OR can add 10 points to your participation grade. You will be asked to choose one of these options during the final work of class.