Review Blog Assignment

  • Blog Assignment Begins at: 2/23 Mon.
  • Blog Assignment Ends at: 5/11 Mon.

Executive Summary

Blogging has been a part of the Internet culture for more than a decade and is now a familiar part of our media experience. Blogs are a technology more than a genre of writing as many kinds of writing can be done on blogs from personal diaries to academic research. As part of our composition class, this assignment asks you to maintain a review blog. In turn, we will learn and discuss not only “blogging” as a particular form of writing, but also “reviewing” as a special genre of writing.

We are all familiar with reviews. We read reviews of products or books on Amazon, restaurants on Yelp, films on Rotten Tomatoes, and cars on Carwatch. We might also read reviews of professional reviewers in newspapers or magazines. Reviews not only offer a good opportunity to share one’s point of view with the public but also can function as a valuable public service: we rely upon reviews all the time. Though many people write reviews, writing a good review can be difficult. Reviews require judgment, but that judgment must be unbiased and informed. For example, if you dislike science fiction movies and you allow that bias to affect your judgment, then your review of a science fiction movie will not be effective or valuable. In this sense, this assignment will give you practice in writing effective and helpful reviews. You can review on any items such as films, TV shows, foods, restaurants, places, books, products, and so forth. After you set up your role as an evaluator of certain item, however, you should consistently keep your review target throughout the process of writing a review post. Your topic will be important to customize your blog theme and design.

The Process of Blog Assignment

  1. Creating Your Personal Blog: you can freely choose a blogging platform (WordPress, Tumblr, etc.). But since our class blog is located in WordPress, it will be easy for everybody to advertise their personal blogs and access to classmates’ review blogs. If you start blogging, think carefully about your intended audience, your purpose of blogging, your hope to achieve through the practice of blogging, and the genre in which you are writing.
  2. Reading and Discussion: the course readings and class discussions will introduce you to review essays as a specific writing genre and give you some insight into the evaluation criteria that you will use for your review. For example, we will be looking at a book review, film critique, and food review. You can take up one of these positions, but you can also freely choose your own review item.
  3. Developing a Habit: you will be expected to blog on a regular basis. Don’t expect that you can wait and do all your posts right before the end of the assignment. You will write a minimum of 5 posts, each at least 300 words long. You will need to post a minimum of once every two weeks (15 days) during the semester. You are also required to comment on one of your peers’ blogs at least 3 times. Your comment should be substantive (i.e. more than “good post”). In the long run, blogging is a good way to develop a regular writing practice that will support your more formal writing (i.e. writing for courses).
  4. Posting Your Reviews: though you have probably read many reviews, read some more and pay close attention to the rhetorical structures. What are the conventions of review writing? How are reviews introduced? How are they concluded? What kinds of evidence are considered important? What makes a review interesting or valuable to you? After considering all these factors, write a review of certain item using your own notes.
  5. Composing Digitally: one important part of this assignment is learning to compose in digital medium. Although you won’t be asked to create your own images or videos, you are required to embed relevant media you find on the web or link to other websites. You can simply include one image in your blog entry, but ideally you would do more than that (multiple links, a video and a link, etc.). Linking to your classmates’ blog posts is a great idea. It’s a way to use blogs to have a conversation with others who share your interests.
  6. Designing Your Space: you can delete your personal blog at the end of the semester or you can continue to use it for whatever purpose you choose. Depending on the career you wish to pursue, having a web presence can be a valuable asset. It’s a way for you to network with others in your profession and to share your work with the world. As such, you should think carefully about the design of your blog. For example, WordPress has hundreds of free themes that you can easily customize in terms of its overall design. You can also easily include various elements in your sidebar. Customizing your theme (rather than going with the default one) is an important first step in showing your readers that you care about your blog.

Requirements

  • Post 5 times (at least once every two weeks) with a minimum of 300 words per post and 1500 words total.
  • Include at least one image, video, or external link in each blog post.
  • Customize your blog’s design.
  • Comment on any classmate’s blogs at least three times.

Evaluation Criteria

You will be evaluated by the following criteria, roughly in order of decreasing importance:

  • Regular, weekly posting
  • Review a specific object using a clear evaluative framework
  • Ability to address a general audience
  • Engagement with the style and form of the review
  • Effective use of images and videos
  • Linking with other website and engaging with that material
  • Customizing your site to reflect your interests
  • Responding to commenters
  • Spelling, grammar, other stylistic concerns.
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