Seven Tips For Creating Great Classroom Blogs

One thing we know from the research of Stanford Professor Emerita Andrea Lunsford is that students write better when there is a real audience for their writing, not just a prof for whom they are writing for grade.  Most classes I teach (or coteach) have a “public contribution to knowledge” requirement. The easiest way to fulfill that is by writing a blog on which only allows comments and posting by registered users, thus assuring a remarkable degree of safety from trolls or misuse. For every class, I create a HASTAC Group for the class and have every student register.  They can sign in with a pseudonym if they wish. 

Here are some tips I wrote up for students in “Mediating Race” and I make public here for anyone to adapt.


Here are a few tips for future “recap” posts so that your blog is seen by and useful to the most people beyond our class.

  1.  Please indicate that your blog should be in our “Mediating Race” group.  There’s a dropdown box to check near the end of the process.   (if you do not check the box, your blog shows up as a blog but, if you go to our Group, it is not there and won’t be unless you check the right box).
  2. You have to choose whether you want it public to everyone or just to our group.  If you are comfortable with it, everyone should check public.  But you may want it only available to our group and you will have that option. HASTAC is big on choice and privacy.
  3. Each blog recap should also include the actual assignment, with links.  It’s important for you—anyone googling can see what you have done (you can put this blog on your CV too, by the way), the thoughtfulness of the readings you chose and how you deployed them.  They are part of your portfolio.  Plus, with the full readings and viewings, with links, anyone who comes to your post (most will find it by Googling, not by coming to our Group), can learn not only what you did but you prepared the class in advance, what you had us watch in class, and how you organized all that into a class. Profs need to know all the steps and in order to feel confident enough to switch from a top-down to an “inventory” or “participatory” method.  You did it beautifully and we want to spread the beauty.
  4. Feel free to include visuals, including the index cards.  You can take a photo and add images to the blog
  5. Follow Christina’s advice and write your blog in a word document and cut and paste it in—so if something goes wrong as you are posting the blog, you have a back up copy.
  6. Think about a catchy title if you want a lot of hits.  People love the “What You Need to Know” formula.  “What You Need To Know To Include Hip Hop in a General Education Course”  something like that. 
  7. Here’s what our Group looks like now.  We’ll be populating it all term:  


Again, if you need any help with images, Group settings or anything, Christina Katopodis (our FI Fellow and Assisting Instructor)  is a pro.  Here’s some examples of her recaps using images, video, and so forth.   So far, our posts are ranging from 35 to over 500+ views.  During the class Christina conducts, make sure to ask her about blogs and social media.  She’s researched the topic.