Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Great Blogs; Sloppy Essays--what to do???

In the middle of Spring Break I am pondering what to do about a set of very disappointing papers--in an Honors class no less! And after group led discussions of topics for two full classes... After reading Jeremey's post about giving more class time to supervised writing I am wondering if I can combine that with something like what Justin writes about and have them peer critique each other's theses and initial drafts of next essays using a rubric I adapted from 102 for my Novel course. I don't have a lab so this would have to happen on their own time but I think if I pair them (class is small--16 students) and give them precise instructions, it might be helpful...and I definitely need an intervention strategy because they are going to be very disappointed in their grades...suggestions welcome :)


  1. I just posted on a similar result in my ENG 101 class, though this was for an in-class essay, not an essay written at home.

  2. Was it the quality of the arguments, or was it the actual writing (style, organization, use of sources, grammar) what was "sloppy"?

    I am asking bc. I have found that 2/3 of my Shakespeare students cannot write an essay to save their lives--it's as if they never passed ENG101.

  3. I guess a discussion of "discourse communities" would be in order. On the blog we do A and write for B. On a formal essay we do X and write for Y. Explain to them that this is rather like talking to your friends versus talking to your mom, priest, potential boss, whoever makes you "talk nicely and clearly".

    On that note we may want to develop a "blog to essay" handout, video or some such.

  4. I second Jason's suggestion about explicitly discussing discourse communities. One strategy I've used in the past to get at this point has been to ask students to rewrite a particular piece for an entirely different audience than they originally intended (same content, different rhetorical appeal).

    My dissertation advisor once used a similar exercise when he asked me to describe my project in terms that could be understood by a) my grandmother, b) undergraduate students, and c) a community of scholars in my field. I found the exercise really useful for thinking about what I wanted to say and how to say it.