Electronic Commonplace Book (Blog)

At least ten times throughout the semester, as noted on the syllabus, record your thoughts and observations on the readings in your blog, which will be open to your classmates, your instructor, and if you are willing, the entire universe.  Each blog should be about 350-500 words long—the equivalent of one-two typed, single-spaced page.

Blogs should be completed BEFORE coming to class.  Use your blog to help you:

  • think more deeply and in more detail about the readings, lectures and reports
  • prepare for class discussion , or reflect on it afterwards
  • link readings’ themes to previous readings
  • gather notable, interesting or problematic quotes and passages
  • share outside sources or thoughts with the class
  • articulate any questions or problems you are having with the assignment
  • brainstorm and plan your final paper
  • gain practice developing your opinions and ideas
  • develop confidence in your authorial “voice”

They should also demonstrate that you’ve actually read the assignments that day!

The best blogs link to other sites on the web, or to other blogs (such as your classmates, or other “history of the book” blogs) but this is not required.  You also need to read at least three of your classmates’ blogs each week and respond with a short paragraph or so responding to their views.  Try to vary to whom you respond each week.

(Update: more advice on blogging for students)


Blogs are graded on a 10 point scale.  You will be evaluated on the level of creative and critical thinking you demonstrate as well as your prose style and correctness.  Scores will be available in the Blackboard Gradebook. (10 blogs @ 1opts  ea. =100 pts.)

There are actually eleven blog assignments listed in the syllabus.  You can choose to have your lowest grade dropped, skip one, or get extra credit.

You also get points for responding to your classmates blogs: 2 points per response x 3 per week x 10 weeks= 60 points.

Thus the complete blogging assignment earns you 160 points towards your final course grade.

How to Set up a Blog

1. Go to http://www.blogger.com

2. Click on the large, orange arrow about half way down the screen that says “Create Your Blog Now”

3. If you do not already have a Google account, you will need to create one. This takes just a few pieces of information. You will have to enter an email address, create a password (choose something you will remember), display name (please make it recognizable to me), type in the word identification that identifies you as a live person making the request, and accept the terms of agreement. Click continue.

4. Choose a name for your blog.

5. Choose the url for your blog.  It will look like http://<yourname here>.blogspot.com

6. Choose a template. There are a number of designs you can scroll down and choose from.  Keep readers in mind when you do this–cool colors and gizmos don’t always make the best reading exeperience.

7. You have the option to start posting. Choose that option, even though you may not be ready to post.

8. When you are on the editing page, notice that there are tabs across the top. Choose SETTINGS.

9. Now there is a secondary menu with other choices underneath. Choose PERMISSIONS.

10. You can have your blog open to anyone, OR you can choose to limit invitees to our class members.  If you choose the latter, under BLOG READERS choose “Only people I choose” and cut and paste the email addresses for our class (I sent the email list by email).  If you choose to keep it open, just send me an email with a link to it.  I will share that with the class.

Don’t forget! Bookmark your site and record your password somewhere where you will remember it (I know that seems obvious…but experience tells me it isn’t!).  Contact me if you have questions about how to set up or use your blog.  I am happy to help you after class or during office hours.


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