Welcome to Session 4 and Blogging: Literary Quality CCI

14 09 2011

Vonnegut’s advice for writers seems especially relevant for bloggers:

1. Find a subject you care about.
2. Do not ramble, though.
3. Keep it simple. —
4. Have the guts to cut.
5. Sound like yourself.
6. Say what you mean to say.
7. Pity the readers.
Kurt Vonnegut as quoted in Science Fictionisms (1995), compiled by William Rotsler

This week will be your first real blogging for our Collaborative Critical Inquiries.  The inquiry is into the literary quality of young adult literature, and we’ve been working on it for about three weeks now — ever since you picked up your first Printz book.

By the time you write, your research should include the two “Pritntz books” that you’ve bookcast  — one from the Printz-recognized books of 2011 and the other from the Eva Perry’s 2012 Short List.  You’ll also have read Rot and Ruin, the winner of the 2011 Printz Award from the Eva Perry teens.  Plus, the most fun of all, you’ll view the Eva Perry teens and a few students from the Spring ECI 521 course participating in the Melinda Awards for Young Adult Literature.  To round things out, you’ll read Marc Aronson’s article, “Calling All Ye Printz and Printzesses”  and Claire Horne’s “Beautiful, Fresh, Distinguished: Teen Readers Take on the 2022 Printz Award.”  A little history, Aronson was on the ALA committee that created the Printz Award and Horne wrote her article as part of her Action Learning Project for ECI 521.

Blogging is an individualistic form of expression, so much so that I cringe when I think that I’m putting any parameters on it.  My goal is both to give you a real, authentic purpose and audience for writing as well as help you experience networked learning and what Alan Levine has called the “virtuous circle” of reading and thinking and blogging and tweeting and then reading inspired by other tweets and beginning the process again.  Burton describes the purpose of blogging:

Blogging isn’t learning how to analyze and publish ideas; it’s about acquiring digital literacy, and that literacy is profoundly media-rich and socially mediated — Gideon Burton, Sept. 27, 2010, Profhacker, Chronicles of Education

So let me elaborate on Vonnegut’s rules in the context of ECI 521 and Collaborative Critical Inquiries:

1. Find a subject you care about.  — Within the overall topic of the literary quality of young adult literature, make a connection that is inspired by your reading.  Respond in a way that includes thoughtful references to our readings/viewings.  Don’t contort to include all if they just don’t work, but make it clear that your thinking is well-grounded.  This is the contribution that you and only you can make to our inquiry.

2. Do not ramble, though.  — Make sure your writing is tight.  That doesn’t mean humorless or personality-cold. It simply means that it’s focused and there’s an economy of writing.

3. Keep it simple. — Remember that your goal is not to summarize what you’ve read but to extend, build on, add value that you create from this text interaction.

4. Have the guts to cut.  — As you learned with your mini-podcasts for VoiceThread and your bookcasts — you have to cut until it hurts to succeed in designing an elegant expression of your thinking.

5. Sound like yourself.  — Write in first person.  Let your voice be heard.  Humor is a good thing.  So is passion.

6. Say what you mean to say. — Write as if you mean it.  Confidence is compelling.

7. Pity the readers. — You want colleagues to read your blog and miles of scrolling text may scare them away.  Craft your piece well.  Beware of design and add images, embed videos, use headings, and negative space to draw your readers in.

Value-Added Commenting

The blog post is due by Friday, Sept. 16, by 11:59 pm.  Plan to comment on at least three colleagues’ blogs by class time.

Teacher and blogger Bill Ferriter suggests these tips for commenting on VoiceThreads but they work  to “add value” to blogs:

  1. Gather Facts:  Jot down things that are interesting and new to you 
  1. Make Connections:  Relate and compare things you are viewing and hearing to things that you already know. 
  1. Ask Questions:  What about the comments and presentation is confusing to you?  What don’t you understand?  How will you find the answer?  Remember that there will ALWAYS be questions in an active thinker’s mind! 
  1. Give Opinions:  Make judgments about what you are viewing and hearing.  Do you agree?  Do you disagree?  Like?  Dislike?  Do you support or oppose anything that you have heard or seen?  Why?

— Bill Ferriter, The Tempered Radical

Another I’d like to add would be:

5. Share a resource — Add a resource that might be helpful to the blogger.

Again, you’re welcome to comment on as many blogs as you’d like.  Just be sure you “add value” to at least three.

We’ll look forward to continuing the conversation in the Bookhenge . . .

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