Professor Belli | Fall 2022 | City Tech

Blogging Workshop

As part of our “take stock of where we’ve been & where we’re going” work this week, let’s take some time to revisit blogging as a genre, its expectations, and your work so far this semester.

*A friendly reminder that blogging consists of both posting and commenting, and I collectively refer to this as “OpenLab Composing” on the Syllabus and in the course.

Below you’ll find some clarification on some common issues I’m seeing with blogging, along with more general information about my expectations for blogging in our course. And, of course, the OpenLab Team’s OpenLab for Students is a wonderful resource to help you with all-things-OpenLab!

Posting vs. Commenting
Sometimes you need to make your own post (which only members of this course on the OpenLab can do), and sometimes you will simply need to comment on one of my posts (e.g., a Class Discussion or a Writing Workshop) or one of your classmates’ posts. The Schedule page is always clear about what you need to do (look for the capitalized bold instructions: if it states you should “write a post,” then make your own post; f it states you should “comment,” then you comment on the relevant post).

Of course, you can (& should) comment on anything whenever you feel drawn to do so … I love the way that you’re all interacting with one another (and me!) – that’s great! Keep up the wonderful conversations 🙂

Each time you make a post of your own, you need to “categorize” it before publishing it. This organizes the content so that others can find it more easily. I always indicate what category you should choose next to the assignment on the Schedule page, so make sure to look there. You simply uncheck “uncategorized” and then check off the right category (or categories) — don’t choose anything else.

In addition to organizing the course site, categories also ensure you get credit for your work. I will only be looking in the assigned category for your post, so if it’s not there, you’re not getting credit. Think of it this way: if you did an essay, printed it out, but handed it to the wrong professor (in the wrong classroom), what would happen? You did the work, but you wouldn’t be getting it to the right person and the right place, so you unfortunately wouldn’t get credit for your work. Same concept.

*Friendly reminder: NEVER check “Stick to the top of the blog” (in top right column under “Post Format”). This makes your post stay at the top of the blog, and as a result other important posts may be missed by others (I only really use this myself for the Weekly Announcement posts — that’s why they stay at the top). If upon reviewing your blogs you find you had checked this, please uncheck it.

Content Summary (don’t use!)
Don’t type your blog post into the “Content Summary” box at the bottom of the post editor. This will make the formatting weird and in a grey box. This option is if you wanted to provide a “summary” or overview of your longer blog post, for quick reading. We may play around with this later in the semester, but for now, you shouldn’t be using it.

Blogging Expectations & Guidelines

We are using City Tech’s OpenLab (built on the blogging software WordPress) for our course site. On the course site you can find everything you need this semester. However, this is not just a place where you will come to find information and read what I or others have already written. Instead, you are expected to consistently and actively participate in creating content on the site by blogging: posting reflections and analyses of texts, discussing ideas with me and your classmates, reading and commenting on what others have posted, and linking to/reflecting on interesting and relevant material you have found through everyday experience as well as outside research. Below are detailed guidelines for OpenLab Composing (blogging) for the course, which is a significant portion of the low-stakes / informal writing component (30% of your overall course grade).

Blog Audicence
But who is really reading our blogs?? Well, I am 🙂 But you should be too!

A friendly reminder that you are expected to read all blog posts/comments on our site (including those made by me and by your classmates), ideally before each class begins. This is a part of the required reading for the course. So yeah, you have to do it because it’s required, but it’s also an awesome way to learn from / with one another.

Blog Formality & Mechanics
Blogging has a particular form and genre‚ conventions/characteristics unique to it (just like any other mode of writing), and we will continue to discuss this style more as the semester progresses. For now, keep in mind that your entries are informal writing assignments (you can–and should!–use “I”) and you do not need to be revise them as meticulously as your formal essays or projects. However, you must still edit/proofread them for coherence/meaning as well as obvious spelling/grammar mistakes. And, always categorize your posts so everyone can find them easily (and so that I can give you credit for your work).

Blog Purpose
Blogging prepares you for the work of this course (especially the more formal assignments), but it also is an opportunity to reflect on your everyday experiences, current news/events, and personal thoughts/emotions that are related to our course content and to your progress as writers, researchers, and critical thinkers this semester.  You are not restricted to just blogging when you are assigned to do so … you should blog about things you are interested in and you feel would be of interest to others in the class. Additionally, if you want to strengthen your writing skills or increase your English language proficiency, you’re in luck: simply writing on a regular basis will aid you tremendously in reaching these goals. I encourage you to blog often!

Sometimes you will be blogging an individual reflection or reading response (similar to a journal entry), sometimes you will be posting a writing assignment (such as a proposal or draft of essay), and other times you will participate in an on-going conversation with others in the class (a prompt will either be provided by me or another student).  You may be expected to kick off a discussion on our blog, and then others will be expected to respond to you by commenting on your post. The material you post on our course blog will become part of our course content: I will discuss excerpts from student blogs (both to facilitate writing workshops and to use as a jumping-off point for the week’s reading or discussions).  In addition, everyone in the course will be reading your writing, so you should spend as much effort as possible composing your writing there. Please note that our OpenLab course site is public, so anything you post (whether a post or comment) is visible to anyone on the Web. Think about the type of content you would feel comfortable with your parents, employers, other professors, and friends seeing as representative of your work, and then post accordingly. Don’t be intimidated to put your writing out there, but be intentional.

Blog Titles
Make sure to title each blog with a concise, relevant title that clearly reflects the content of your contribution. Blogs posts will automatically provide your name and the date/time you post, and they will have the category attached to them, so there is no need to put this information in the subject line. A reader should be able to quickly glance at your blog title and have a good sense about what it contains (much like the title of an essay or a book chapter). No one wants to read 20 posts all entitled “How to Reader Like a Writer” or “Education Narrative” — be specific and creative with your titles (think of them like a “hook” that entices your readers to keep on reading the rest of your post!).

Blog Content
Unless otherwise noted or provided with a specific prompt or discussion question/s, your assigned blogs are a response to the course texts (remember, a “text” can be a short story, film, newspaper article, novel, website, advertisement, TV show, video game, song, draft of your own/a classmate’s writing, etc.). Reading response blogs should be grounded in the text(s) they are responding to: include concrete details and quotations (with correct citation, in MLA format) from these texts.

*Don’t become dependent on secondary sources to understand the texts we are reading, however. Unless specifically stated otherwise, I am primarily interested in your close reading of the texts. I want to see you work through the assigned texts, not simply report back what someone else has already written about them. When we get to the research component of our course (which we will be doing soon, with Unit 2!), this will of course change, but we’ll discuss that change when it comes.

If you feel stuck and don’t know what to write, consider one of the following approaches:

  • Find a quote, passage, or idea from one of the texts (or multiple texts) that particularly grabs your attention, is provocative, raises questions, or confuses you (however, make sure to try to grapple with the issues, not just state, “I don’t know what this means!”). Provide the excerpt (properly cited, with quotation marks and page number in parentheses) and then build your blog around engaging this excerpt.
  • If we have a number of readings for the day, you don’t need to blog on each one individually (no need to create four separate blogs!) or to simply list a few lines about each one in isolation. Instead you might try to synthesize the readings, or to focus on only one or two of them, making thematic connections among various texts.
  • Additionally, you can relate the text(s) to an outside source (another text). In this case, you should link to the material, if possible using the “link” button in the post editor (if you are unsure what an editing button does, just hover your cursor over it and then it will provide text that explains the function). Make sure to provide citation for the text (including images or videos!) and to clearly explain how/why it is related to/significant for an understanding of the assigned material. This outside information is acceptable (and often even encouraged), but you should always make sure to ground your responses in the texts that we are reading for the class, providing quotations and analysis of them as the foundation for this additional discussion.
  • Finally, even though we interact online frequently, you may not always get to discuss everything you want, or perhaps you have a new thought on something after the fact. Therefore, you can continue this line of inquiry in your blog. Don’t merely repeat what has already been discussed … make sure to flesh the ideas out in some way and build on them. Feel free to ask questions that you think should be taken up during a future class discussion.
  • And of course, you should post whenever you want: if you see a relevant on the subway – snap a photo of it, post, and blog! If you saw a TV show that made you think about some of the concepts/themes related that we’ve been discussing in the course, blog away! If you believe something in another one of your classes at City Tech, or your major, or your job, or your dreams or hopes or fears, or relates in some way (even tangentially) to what we have been discussing and you want to share with us, blog blog blog 🙂

Blogging Deadlines
Like all other work in this course, follow the deadlines for assignments as listed on the Schedule. As a general rule, I don’t accept late work. It’s important to keep up with the posts and comments, so that you can fully participate in class discussions, workshops, and assignments.

Blog Grading
I will be reading/assessing your blogs regularly, and as it says on the Syllabus, if you do the work completely, thoughtfully, professionally, and on time, you will be receiving credit for your work.

Please note, however, that simply skimming a reading and jotting down a few words about it does not mean that you have satisfactorily fulfilled a blog post. Similarly, only using spelling/grammar check on your computer does not count as revision/proofreading. You will be graded on the quality of your engagement with the material and the effectiveness of your presentation of your ideas. Missing blogs and incredibly short, general, and/or sloppy blogs will be given no (or very little) credit and will negatively affect your overall course grade. Also, note that all blogs are time-stamped automatically and late blogs will receive no credit. Blogs that are not properly categorized with the appropriate content category will receive no credit.

You can review the Blogging Grading Rubric below for more detail about how your OpenLab compositions are evaluated.

Sometimes I may leave feedback to you, either publicly or private (if it is private, I will leave a “private comment” on your post, which will be visible only to you and me — this means that the other students in the course cannot see them, and neither can the broader public). Periodically, I will designate certain blogs that are particularly strong/successful as a “Professor’s Pick” (one of the “Featured Posts”). Throughout the semester, students may also be asked (required) to nominate a blog each week for a “People’s Choice Post.” It is an honor to have your writing chosen for a Professor’s Pick or People’s Choice Post (though you shouldn’t feel badly if yours isn’t chosen … everyone can’t always be featured!), and you can use these excellent blogs as models for your own work.

Our Writing Workshops, peer review, self-reflection, and my feedback provide an ongoing assessment of your writing, but I am always more than happy to discuss your writing in more detail with you. You are welcome to visit my Office Hours at any point during the semester to get more detailed individualized feedback on your blogging and to discuss strategies for improvement

Blogging Grading Rubric

Blog Post GradeGrade Criteria
ExcellentThe post meets or exceeds the required minimum length (as stated for each assignment), is submitted on time, categorized correctly, and follows all guidelines/expectations (for blogging in general, and for that particular post, if there were additional instructions/prompts provided). The post displays a clear/competent understanding of the text(s), but moves beyond mere summary to critical engagement/dialogue with the text(s) in the context of the overall themes of the course. It extends class/online discussions with its excellent analysis, and offers compelling, insightful, and developed claims and evidence.The post is structured logically/coherently, with multiple paragraphs, each with one main idea (fully developed) and topic sentences that reflect that focus. While multiple ideas/points may be discussed, there is a unifying theme/argument to the post: a sense of how all the various points fit together. The post is virtually error free, at the sentence-level, having been carefully proofread/edited. Texts/ideas are cited completely/correctly in MLA style.
SatisfactoryThe blog post is the required length and on-topic, but offers too much summary and too little analysis. It has some good points and potential, but it does not push these ideas further to show why/how they are significant in the context of their overall response, and the overall themes of the course. The blog post is structured relatively well, but has some ideas jumbled together, sentence-level errors, and/or incorrect (or missing) citations that interfere with its clarity/persuasiveness.
Borderline / UnsatisfactoryThe blog post is submitted on time but is underdeveloped, either because it does not meet the minimum length requirement and/or does not critically/completely engage with the text(s)/assignment. It presents a great deal of summary of the texts ideas and/or the professor/classmates’ ideas (either in class or on the blog), and/or only responds tangentially/superficially/generally. It is not structured effectively, with many ideas jumbled together, no clear argument/topic sentences, incorrect/ineffective use of evidence/summary/paraphrase/citation. There are many sentence-level errors.
Not passing / no creditThe blog post was either not submitted, submitted after the deadline, very short (just a few sentences), irrelevant/off-topic, and/or doesn’t follow the assignment instructions.

Let’s Review, Reflect, & Revise!

After reading + annotating the above material, complete the below activities:

  1. Check/correct categories: Go back and review all of your posts. Make sure that they are categorized correctly (and that you haven’t checked the “Stick to the top of the blog” option). If they were not categorized correctly, please correct it now (and uncheck the “Stick to the top of the blog” if you have that checked) and then send me an email with a heads-up (and the link to all the posts in question), so I can go back and give you credit for your work.

    *Don’t forget to follow the emailing guidelines when you write me those emails!
  2. Revise your titles: if you have a generic title, come up with a stronger one and edit the title to this new one. Also include 1-2 sentences at the top of your post explaining what your old title was, what it is now, and your rationale for changing it (i.e., why is this new title better)?
  3. Comment here + Discuss: Comment below to indicate what you learned here, what you noticed when you reviewed your posts, and what you’re going to work on going forward with blogging (especially for this week’s post in response to Baldwin’s “A Talk to Teachers”). You can of course ask any questions you might too, about anything I’ve posted here.

*In order to make these fixes, simply click “edit” on your published posts, make the requested changes, and then click “Update.” (don’t change the content; and please note that, as an admin I can view all versions and revision history, so I can see what was published and when).

Thanks all! I hope this Writing Workshop was helpful! And everyone, make sure going forward with the new blogs (starting with this Friday’s post), you have awesome titles & correct categories. Looking forward to seeing you all step up your blogging games 🙂


  1. Jayleen Perez

    I’ve learned that we can blog anytime about anything that’s relevant to what we are talking about. I wasn’t sure if we were supposed to be blogging frequently without it being assigned but this brought more clarity. It’s also helpful to know we can write about different genres, not just articles or texts that we read. I think while blogging ill try better to cite from the text, like using more quotes.

    • Jill Belli

      Yes, definitely Jayleen! Thanks for sharing what you took away from this Workshop.

  2. Lizbeth

    Something I understood after reading this workshop is that blogging is another form of participating in this class. One thing I will keep in mind is that each time I make a post of my own, I need to “categorize” it before publishing it and use relevant titles that reflect my content. This organizes the content so that others can find it more easily. Blogging entries is informal writing, other forms of blogging are to post a reflection or analyses of a text, discuss ideas, read, and leave comments on other peoples post. Blogging gives us the opportunity to reflect on our everyday experiences, personal thoughts, and it’s another form to get to know each other since this class in online. I also didn’t know we could blog about other stuff that we are interested in, I will definitely keep this in mind for the future. 

    • Jill Belli

      Lizbeth, love that you highlighted how blogging is a key form of class participation!

    • Brianna Brand

      agree with you lizbeth,it does take some adjusting to

  3. Jasper

    After reviewing the article above and revising the titles of my previous blogs, I noticed that my titles could use some work to better draw in the reader. Going forward I will make sure to create a better title for my blog posts.

  4. Brent Regis

    Its good to know that there is way to get any random thoughts down in order to have peers give input on them. I’m glad that it is also informal as well since that makes it easier to just get the words down and out to your peers without much of the fuss.

    • Jill Belli

      Brent, definitely a good way to get feedback from others on your writing. But you definitely don’t want to just “get any random thoughts down” (like just write the first thing that comes to your head, without revision) … you do want to do some crafting and revising of your post before you make it public, so that you can present yourself well and also get the best possible feedback from others.

  5. Mozeer_U

    After reading the post above I have learned everybody on this site can view what I wrote and my thoughts and opinions and this hasn’t really changed anything because I blog to share my thoughts with everybody not just my classmates. I also noticed that some of my past posts were mis categorized and I have recently fixed it. I want to work on making more interesting names for my posts and not just write a generic title. I would also like to add that if we are blogging about an article, what kind of title would we put?

    • Jill Belli

      Mozeer, good question — see my additional comment about titles below.

  6. Patty

    What I got from this was way to communicate with the viewers, it’s great because the topic could be about anything. Also understand how the blogger really feel. It’s like taking a step in to someone’s life and can even get a mutual connection from it.

  7. Indira

    Participate and write at all time it will help us to improve our writing skills. I read the whole workshop but what I noticed is that I am in disadvantage of all this work load, specially when I see the must of my classmates posting during the day and of course they will comply with all the work that the professor require. I am here at 11:35 almost falling asleep trying to catch up the work that was posted yesterday and due tomorrow, after a long day of work and a long night of class, getting to my house at 9p.m. and worry because I have to go to work in the morning with enough rest and try to finish this assignment in 2 hours with luck if at work is not busy. But I have to blog at all time? I learn that this course is design for full time students not for working people with family duties.

    • Jill Belli

      Definitely understand, Indira, that balancing coursework with job and family responsibilities can be a struggle. To clarify though, you do not “have to blog all the time.” You only are responsible for completing the blogging assignments that are listed on the Schedule (which usually are only a few hundred words per week).

      What this Workshop indicates is that, if you choose (and have the desire and time), you are welcome to blog beyond that. But it is certainly not mandatory, and if it causes you stress, you shouldn’t worry about that.

      • Indira

        Thank you, that is a release!! 🙂

  8. Jia Cheng Zhao

    I learned how to write blogs and the importance of them. I wasn’t sure before and struggled a little sometimes on how and what to write for these blogs. I actually had better title ideals in mind for some of these, however I thought that I should just go with the generic title to avoid confusion. Going forward, I think I’ll be more creative and open with my blogs.

    • Brianna Santiago

      Same and also we can use the texts to relate into what were talking about in passed disscusions and particating and how that helps and it also being 30% of our grade .

  9. Karen Hermita

    I feel like I should be more creative with my title, but at the same time, I like to be specific about what does not confuse readers. Categorizing is essential not to confuse readers. I remember when we were introducing ourselves, I had gotten an email as to what the students posted. I wanted to comment on what they posted, but I struggled to locate it.

    • Jill Belli

      Yes Karen! If everyone categorizes correctly, you can easily just choose that category from the dropdown menu on the right sidebar and read (and then comment on) those posts all at once. But if things are not categorized properly, you won’t see everything together.

  10. Jill Belli

    Thanks for all these thoughts everyone — keep them coming!

    I especially like the comments about what you learned about titles — and there are some REALLY amazing titles for today’s posts. Awesome job 🙂

    There are still a few new posts coming through though that are not using the requested title method. If in your new post (on “A Talk to Teachers”), you still just titled your post with that essay title (or Baldwin’s name), you will need to revise it now. As the Workshop above indicates, that is not a good use of a title, as it only presents redundant (and generic) information already presented in the metadata of your post. You want to think of a catchy, creative title that is relevant to the argument/claims/point you are making in your response. That means that no two titles should look the same, as everyone is writing from a different perspective (right now all the blog titles are almost exactly the same!).

  11. Brianna Brand

    After reading the Blog Workshop I realized the importance of deadlines which is something Iam working on myself. When I feel overwhelmed or drowning under a lot of pressure and work, I tend to slack off which isn’t good. It’s a current goal of mine as of now. Blogging consists of making a time management skill refined as well as full participation. Another major skill in blogging is formality. Making your correcting errors putting titles and categorizing is key.

    • Brianna Santiago

      I agree same here i didnt know that until now when I read which was helpful

  12. Brianna Santiago

    After reading above I learned how to really blog and its purpose ,for example blogging is a way of ingageing/ participating which helps because when you do so you feel like your more involve with the lesson than just listening.When you blog it helps you to not only get a better understanding but helps with explaining your thoughts/point of view.It really makes you understand on a deeper level ,also i know that when you blog you can use like the word”I” since its informal .When you blog your supposed to cateorize them which I never did had no clue till now which I’ll go back and edit and try to change it .

  13. briansook

    I thinks its every good to get feed back from your classmates I think it helps us out a lot it can help you improve in a lot and you can see there opinion

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