Blog Love: Blogging (And Microblogging) Communities as Writing Classroom Companions

Blog Love: Blogging (And Microblogging) Communities as Writing Classroom Companions

Clarissa J. Walker (University of Rhode Island, USA)
Copyright: © 2017 |Pages: 18
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-0562-4.ch002
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Abstract

Despite claims of a decades-long history of multimodal instructional activities, Composition Studies scholars are still slow to embrace many web-based, social media technology tools to help realize traditional goals of the college writing classroom. Microblogging (Twitter) and blogging (WordPress) activities are effective technology companions that support collaborative learning, critical research, and analytical writing models. This chapter suggests online reading comprehension and critical literacy models as guides for microblogging and blogging lesson design. Finally, instructor commentary and student samples from two assignments, (a) blogging communities and (b) using Twitter to critically analyze a text, are offered to illustrate the aforementioned application.
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Technology allows us to live out theoretical perspectives; but sometimes technology appropriates those theoretical positions, amplifies and transforms them. It is not always theory to embodiment. It is sometimes embodiment to theory. – Cynthia Selfe

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Introduction

Although there is a more companionable embrace of technology in the composition classroom, blogs and microblogs, such as Twitter, are too infrequently employed as viable tools for helping writing students reach long-discussed course goals. The merits of collaborative learning, writing that contributes to the proverbial “Burkean parlor,” and discovering the usefulness of outside knowledge in writing classroom creations are often delineated as important instructional components (Lunsford, Ede, Moss, Papper, Walters & Brody, 2012; Bruffee, 1984). Still, there are few in Composition Studies who turn to technology companions such as blogging and microblogging as a means to that end.

In this chapter, I submit that student blogging (Wordpress.com) and microblogging (Twitter) facilitate several of the historical aims and still emerging traditions of the composition classroom. Emphasized is the application of a pedagogical lineage respectful of a sociocultural lens, collaborative learning and rhetorical situation instruction. Most importantly, I demonstrate how online and offline reading comprehension models of literacy scholars offer guidelines for engaging blogging technologies in ways that strengthen student research writing, evaluation and strategic reading abilities. In this chapter, I will discuss Composition Studies and reading comprehension scholarship that inform sought after critical evaluation practices in the writing classroom; profile two in-class activities using Twitter and community blogs; and, offer teacherly observations and student examples that illustrate how they use social media for textual analysis and collaboration. By sharing student creations, descriptions of writing activities and commentary, I hope to encourage others who may be tentative about experimenting with technology tools; this chapter joins a body of work that widens the scope of composition instructional practices and makes the incorporation of multimodality, albeit deictic, more normative.

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