Sunday, December 19, 2004

An Idea for Doing

The research paper is a fundamental of the English curriculum and one of the most static, dull, lifeless pieces of writing students create. The goal is to help students find, manage, and synthesize information; a noble end which collapses from disinterest spawned copy-pasting just to get the assignment done. The idea of blogs as meta-thought tools may be a way to breathe some life into the effort of students, to help them make their own meanings.

Richardson's comments (see previous post) sound like what I want my students to do with the information they encounter. To that end, I am thinking of ways to incorporate blogs into the process of any research-based writings. I have students talk to one another about what they are doing, but I am most interested to see what happens when students read one another's blogs. What will the act of blogging--both the original post and the commentary--do to shape understandings of researched material?

Currently, I want to try the following with blogs as a research tool:

  1. Prewriting: thoughts on the topic before any focused research takes place.
  2. Research: thoughts on the sources found.
  3. Postwriting: thoughts on the process of research, blogging, and writing.

At each step, student posts would be open to both teacher and peer review. To encourage collaboration, students could be in small groups, with each group reading and commenting upon the blogs of its members. RSS would be a vital component, allowing group members and the teacher to stay current on recent bloggings. Each student would also subscribe to the teacher's blog where updates on the assignment and potential resources would be available.

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