Saturday, February 28, 2009

On writing persuasively...

My Academic Bio students will be researching a food issue and writing a blog post about it. I have not blogged much with them as it is mired in "schooliness" and is more like homework vs. true writing as Clay Burrell would say. I do not want to beat the writing out of them but know that they may not write at all without an assignment, so here goes.

They will watch a really cool you tube video on organic produce and the farm wars (hat tip to Chris Lehmann for tweeting this.) The video and my "assignment" can be found here on the wiki.

How to make this more meaningful to students vs. a simple research. Perhaps this should be a persuasive article that has students finding information for and against. How much experience does a student have in writing persuasively and what do I need to tell them? I know if they really want something, they can pour on the persuasion, but what about a "schooly" piece like this?

Brian Clark's blog post about Aristotle's Top 3 tips for Effective Blogging may be a place to start.
  • Begin with the end in mind. You need to know where you are going before you can effectively choose the right path there. Any writing is really telling a story. You need to know the big picture of what it is before actually writing. Identify what the clear point is.
  • Persuasion is an art. Identify the fundamentally most compelling element of the topic. In order to communicate the element effectively, you must connect with the raw emotions of the audience (this could be passion, fear, or even anger.) You need to strike a nerve in them not in you. Make it very personal. How do we do this: Identify what is compelling, connect at that emotional level, then back it up with logic.
  • Learn to tell a persuasive story.
  1. Create an opening. Make a shocking statement, quote a fact, or create a scenario.
  2. Connect to emotions by feeling the readers pain or connecting with those passions.
  3. Show a solution and how they should act on it. What can be done?
On un-schooly blogging, how do you get students to want to blog about related class topics? Should they be required to post to the blog once per unit about a topic of importance to them? Connect to class topics? Unlike an English class, where writing can be about anything as writing continually improves writing, what is the purpose of blogging in a biology classroom?

No comments:

Post a Comment