RCL II Blogging

For the Spring semester of Rhetoric and Civic Life, you will maintain two regular blog categories: the Passion Blog and the Civic Issues Blog. A third category, RCL, will occasionally be used to post drafts for commentary and review. The due dates for blogs are more complicated this semester, so you will need to check the RCL II 2014 Course Schedule regularly. We will spend most of our Friday blogging classes reading and responding to one another’s blog posts. Indeed, thoughtful commenting on others’ blogs will be a significant component of your final blog grade.

Blogging details at a glance:

  • Three blog categories to maintain: Passion (400-500 words per week); Civic Issues (700 words as assigned on the calendar); and RCL (as assigned on course schedule).
  • Official blogging runs for a 10-week period.
  • Blogs are due by 8am Fridays. I will not count them after this time. Back dating/timing of blogs is considered a violation of academic integrity.
  • 50% of each blog grade is participation; the other 50% is reserved for the quality of completed blog entries and commenting. You cannot receive a full 50% for quality if you only completed 25% of your blogs.
    • Regarding completion:
      Was it submitted by the deadline?
      Where there is an expectation for sources, was that expectation met?
    • Regarding Quality:
      Did you achieve the expected word count?
      Is the content substantive?
      Is it written in a way that engages its intended audience?
      Is it well-written, visually appealing, and free from mistakes?


Passion Blogs

Much like last semester, choose a topic and write in a unique, engaging way.  The goal with this blog is to develop your own expertise and voice about a particular subject in a way that would entice the readership of a wide or particular audience.


Civic Issue Blogs

This semester, you will keep a Civic Issues blog. Each blog will focus on an issue within one of five main categories. Click on each category listed below to view questions that will help you select your focus.

The blog will focus on the selected issue for the entire semester. Features of successful Civic Issues Blogs are:

~submitted in a timely fashion on the assigned week;

~will be around 700 words and will incorporate and link to at least two sources;

~will offer a thoughtful presentation and analysis of the topic. The writer should be “intervening” in a debate rather than “sounding off” on a topic;

~will engage its readers will crisp prose, sensible organization, and opportunities for the reader to engage in dialog;

~will represent in its entirety a focused investigation and analysis of a topic

~will makes civility a crucial goal in its style in an attempt to bring readers to the table for a productive interaction.

For some places to turn for research-based, longer-form pieces as examples and for information, review Cultural-Commentary-Sources.

The questions in each category here are meant to be generative—that is, students are welcome to articulate a civic issue within one of these five categories that they do not see reflected in the questions. It’s also the case that some of the questions below might overlap, so you shouldn’t feel too constrained by that. For example, if you choose to blog about civic discourse in the U.S., you may end up blogging frequently about party politics. Some issues (e.g., hate speech) could fit within multiple categories (along with free speech in politics, or under Education as campus hate speech). In that case, you will want to choose the broader category that best captures their emphasis and interests.

As you choose a category and issue, you might think about what sparked your interest last semester. Are you interested in exploring issues related to your TED Talk or Paradigm shift paper? Did something you read in an RCL post or saw in a History of a Public Controversy video spark a conversation that you’d like to continue? You might also consider your own interests. What blogs do you follow? What news stories catch your eye? What issues are you curious to know more about? The issue you choose need not be something you’re an expert on; instead, think of this blog as a time to explore this issue and build understanding and opinions through informal research and conversations with peers.

As indicated on your syllabus, you will be required to post on your Civic Issues blog about once a month.  On the weeks you do not blog, you will be expected to write robust responses to your blog group’s CI blog entries. Each Civic Issue Blog entry should be around 700 words and should incorporate at least two sources (which you should link to, if possible). Please use the broad category and the specific issue within that category as tags. (E.g.  environment, water OR education, state funding).  Responses should be about 300-400 words in length and incorporate at least one source (which you should link to, if possible).  Original posts are due by 5pm on Wednesdays.  If someone on the team neglects to post their blog on their designated day, other team members should seek out blogs by other members of the class to comment on.  Similarly, if no one in your group has a post due for a given week, you should seek out a blog in another group to comment upon. Responses are due NO LATER THAN 8AM ON FRIDAYS.  Late work will not be counted.

Failure to post a Civic Issue blog will result in an automatic 25 point deduction from the final blog grade.  Failure to post a comment will result in an automatic 15 point deduction from the final blog grade.