Searching for help with assessing student blogs took a long time. I first found Aaron's summary on Dekita of Jill Walker's list of what works and what does not.
In only one class at the moment am I using blogs. I'm having students write in their own blogs about news articles they find on the web. It has taken 2-3 months for students to get used to blogging and searching on the Internet, using their Bloglines aggregators to keep track of what their classmates are writing, etc. So I have not paid much attention to the actual content of what they have been writing.
The class is about reading news items in English. It is not a writing class, and anyway I am not prepared to spend the hours trying to decipher and correcting their English. Students write in Japanese.
It is clear from reading just a random sample of students' blogs that they do not have a clear idea of what to write. I ask them only for their summary of the news item and any comments they may have, such as why they chose this item, what they feel its import is.
Can you guess what they write? "I found this news article. It was interesting," and variations.
Erm, I feel I should do something about this. What?
Giving students specific instructions has been working for me recently, both in terms of having students do sufficient work of a satisfactory standard, and in terms of cutting down on prep and post-prep time. So what kind of instructions should I give them?
I thought I recalled seeing something that might be suitable on Will Richardson's blog, but, while I found some interesting things (who could not?), I didn't find what I was looking for.
On Will's blog, I found a link to Konrad Glogowski's Blog of Proximal Development, which was one of the first to be in my aggregator, but which I stopped following a while back. In his post Making Assessment Personally Relevant I found two graphics that Konrad has used with this students to evaluate and help them self-evaluate their blogging work. I found both very useful: the Individual Progress Report and the self-assessment sheet.
Thanks, Konrad, for making these available. His post also gave me the idea of having students work on a long-term project, rather than looking anew for fresh news items each week.
I might also make a template for students to use when writing: probably a simple lsit of questions. This might also allow them to write (simpel) responses in English: they would just be answering the questions.