Project 3, Blog Posts & Final Web-Based Portfolios

Background

This research-based writing course invites you to investigate questions about the history of education, as well as experiment with creative ways of sharing your findings with readers. In Project 1, our shared inquiry focused on the history of educational desegregation in Virginia, and you shared this research with readers in a traditional academic essay. Then, for Project 2, we turned to questions about history, segregation, and education as explored in Margot Lee Shetterly’s book, Hidden Figures. Each of you conducted research on a specific “hidden figure” of your own choosing, while also considering ways you might model your research-based writing after Shetterly’s popular book. Now, as look ahead to the end of the semester, your final assignment builds on this prior work by asking you to (1) conduct additional primary and secondary research in order to substantially revise one of your earlier essays, (2) try out new ways of sharing your research through blog writing, and (3) develop a portfolio showcasing what you have learned as a writer in the course.

  1. Assignment for Project 3 [pdf]

Your assignment for Project 3 is to develop a researched argument that involves a substantial revision of your earlier work in Project 1 and/or 2. Part IV of The Craft of Research offers some useful advice on revising your argument, including by attending to its organization, your incorporation of sources and visuals, the introduction and conclusion, and questions of style. But keep in mind, as we will discuss in class, that a substantial revision involves more than surface-level changes; it involves reworking your initial ideas and developing new ideas through additional writing and research. For Project 3, this reworking and development of ideas should include engagement with at least one new primary source and one new secondary source. Also, your revised essay needs to consist of a minimum of 50% new writing; all revised text needs to be highlighted (you may use the highlight function in Word).

  1. Assignment for Blog Posts

Here your assignment involves creating a website. Initially, you will use the website to publish a series of blog posts in which you share your research findings with readers while you are developing Project 3. While you are free to post to your blog as often as you like, the minimum requirement is to create an “About” page for your site and make two additional posts (for a total of three posts, each 250-500 words). While your blog may rely on the same primary and/or secondary sources that you use in Project 3, the writing needs to be different, because the goal is to experiment with finding new ways to make your topic and research engaging for a broader readership beyond the class. We will talk in class about ways to develop this readership, and there will also be assignments to read and comment on each other’s blogs.

  1. Contents for Final Web-Based Portfolio

At the end of the semester, you will use your website to publish your final web-based portfolio. This portfolio will showcase what you have learned through the course about writing, research, and revision. The portfolio will demonstrate your progress toward accomplishing the four goals of our course and, through publication via your website, make your best work available to a wider audience.

The final portfolio published to your website should include the following materials:

  • Project 3.
  • A series of three blog posts, one of which may be the “About” page for your website.

A complete final portfolio will also include the following, uploaded to Blackboard:

  • Project 3, with all new material highlighted.
  • A reflective cover letter addressed to me and considering these questions (be sure to support your claims about what you have learned with specific examples from your writing):
    • First focusing on your substantial revision, reread your earlier project and then the revision, highlighting everything you have changed or added. How would you characterize your changes and additions? What might be their effects, on your project and on your readers?
    • Now looking over your blog and the overall design of your website, how did you experiment with creative ways of sharing your research findings with readers? What did you do differently in your writing for the blog? How does your website incorporate visuals and other design features?
    • Finally, considering your portfolio as a whole, how do you understand your writing to have progressed this semester? What challenges have you faced? What have you learned to do in your writing and research? How have you accomplished the four course goals? Where do you still want to improve further? What will you take away from this class and use in future writing?
  • What else do you want to tell me about your revision, blog, web-based portfolio, or experiences in the class?
  • A note regarding your website title and author. I will link to your individual website from our course website. So I ask you to provide a catchy title to interest readers in its content; also let me know whether you prefer I use your full name, first name only, or “anonymous.”

Additional Considerations

  • Once published, your websites will be public, and anyone with Internet access may read them. That said, you do have the option of creating an anonymous site. You may create a url and username that avoid revealing your actual and/or full name to a wider audience beyond the class. This is your choice, but one I recommend thinking about in advance of registering with a site or publishing your first post.
  • An easy way to create your website and blog is through http://wordpress.com/, as will be demonstrated in class. But you are also free to use other software or publishing platforms.
  • Whichever software or platform you select, be sure to experiment with what it enables in terms of design. Keep in mind that a portion of your final grade will be based on the overall design of your web-based portfolio.
  • While there are deadlines along the way, you have the option of revising and redesigning your website and blog posts throughout the remainder of the semester. I suggest taking full advantage of this opportunity to improve your work.
  • Your portfolio will be evaluated at the end of the term. As with Project 1 and 2, if the portfolio meets the minimum requirements for a passing grade, it will be evaluated according to how well you accomplish the four course goals articulated on the syllabus.

Deadlines

Deadlines for the blog posts and comments will be posted to BlackBoard. The final web-based portfolio is due Wednesday, 4/26/17, by 3:45 p.m.

Your final portfolio must be submitted on time, and complete in keeping with the above requirements, in order for you to pass the class. No late or incomplete portfolios will be accepted. No exceptions.