Literary Analysis via Student Blogs

My classes have started blogging this year, and we are loving it. We participate in a blog exchange of AP Lit classes nationwide and read other student blogs monthly and comment on them. This has been such a great experience for us because my students’ writing is being read by someone other than me, they are considering thoughts of other students who live in different parts of the nation and have different perspectives, and students are learning how to navigate the blogosphere.

Students choose a different poem each month based on what we’re studying. In September students wrote on a Clint Smith poem, last month they chose a Romantic poem, and next week they will write about a poem that relates to a theme they are tracing in Frankenstein. I typically teach a mini-lesson or series of mini-lessons on poetry format, poetic devices, or time periods depending on what our focus is for the month before we begin our analyzing and writing. Other teachers have students following a modern poet all year and highlighting a different poem each month. The possibilities are endless.

The writing that most of our students are doing is based on Ms. Effie’s Literary Response Journal Assignment. I like this format because it allows students to choose the direction of their analysis yet still requires in-depth thought. Choice meets substance. This format can easily be adapted for prose or non-fiction analysis as well.

You MUST include the following in every poetry blog:

  • The poem’s title in quotation marks
  • The author’s name
  • A quotation from the poem — integrated with your own sentence, properly punctuated, and commented upon as necessary to show why you cited that particular line.
  • Specific references to the poem
  • Careful thought

After you’ve included the five MUSTs above, you may choose at least three of these MAYBEs to guide your response:

  • a general statement of the poem’s content
  • an analysis of the speaker/persona
  • a discussion of the title’s significance
  • a detailed response to a specific line or lines
  • an examination of poetic techniques used, such as rhyme, rhythm, simile, metaphor, personification, allusion…
  • a close analysis of the poet’s diction, perhaps noting specific word choices, or connotation and denotation
  • a paraphrase of the poem
  • an explanation of where the poem’s shift occurs, or shifts if there are multiple
  • a discussion of the writer’s life and its relevance to the poem
  • a statement relating the poem to your experience or ideas
  • an explanation of problems you had in understanding the poem
  • an analysis of the structure of the poem          
  • your opinion of the poem, good or bad, supported by specific references from the poem

Here are the instructions I give my students for commenting on another student’s blog:

Commenting:

Today you will be commenting on two student blogs from __________. When commenting I would like for you to do these things:
Read the entire blog thoughtfully
Praise the writer on an insight that you find particularly interesting or causes you to think differently (be specific)
Add at least one comment to extend the thoughts of the writer
Praise the writer on something you noticed about their writing style or voice that is good (be specific)

Even if your class is not a part of a blog exchange with other classes, students can benefit from commenting on a fellow classmate’s blog or start your own exchange.

While there are far more impressive class blogs out there, here’s a peek at mine: Susan Barber’s Class Blog. My goal is not to have a fantastic classroom blog with our daily or weekly lessons but rather a landing page where my student blogs can easily be found. Student blogs are on the left.

For more on blogging, check out 3 Reasons Why Your Students Will Love Blogging. And since I’m new to the student blogging, I would love to know your blogging suggestions.

 

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