It's Diablogical!
A Collaborative Diablog on Feminist Pedagogy
A Few Ways I’ve Used Course Blogs This Semester

(so far)

Now that we’re not necessarily working on an article for publication here on Diablogical! I thought it might be interesting to do a quick reflection on how course blogging has been going so far in the semester. I’m officially (at MSUM) in the sixth week of classes and have fallen into the easy comfort of the teaching schedule. It’s the first time I’ve taught two in-person classes (previously I had taught one online and one offline course together) and I’m finally feeling as though I’m getting the hang of it. Of my two courses – the first through Women’s Studies which is on Chicana/o Gender and Sexuality Studies. It is a modified version of a course that I taught at the University of Minnesota in 2008. It is amazing to teach a course that I’ve already taught before, there is really only half as much prep – although like SLP I often re-read texts again but I’m not so stressed because I’ve already read it at least once before so if I can’t get to it because I’m busy with other prep then I’m not going to not be able to teach – and I have a better idea of how I want the course to go throughout the semester. The other course I am teaching is called “America’s Mosaic” and it is the introductory course to the American Multicultural Studies Department curriculum. I am only blogging in my Chicana Gender and Sexuality course however because I inherited AMCS 100 later in the summer and I just adapted it minimally from another professor’s syllabus. I will be teaching two sections of AMCS 100 next semester and I hope to use a course blog in that class (maybe a shared one for both sections) and I hope to use Diablogical as a space where I can throw around some ideas on how I might facilitate this process.

So, after sharing that brief background I wanted to use this space to archive some thoughts on my one course blog activities and assignments as a means to document my experiences so far with my current course blog. I know I mentioned in my last post that our discussions on “It’s Diablogical” have really helped me think through various assignments and the purposes of course blogging but I wanted to provide some more specific examples of what I mean by this here.

  1. Much like SLP has mentioned in our chapter article and in her own thoughts on the power and value of course blogging – I used my course blog as a space for a mini-lecture that I did one day last week for our in class session. You can view the entry here. I did this for a couple of reasons – first, we were reading an article from Frontiers called, “Borderlands critical Subjectivity in Recent Chicana Art” by Judith L. Huacuja in which there were several black and white images embedded within the text. As Chicana art is something I often bring into my class, I used the blog as a space to highlight a few pieces for discussion and enable my students to see the images in color (away from AND in class). As we were also talking about the manifestations of borderlands theory following a day on Anzald├║a’s Borderlands/La Frontera, I also wanted to embed a clip of a Chicana artist/activist expose from youtube because I planned on screening it for the class and having a discussion. I also interwove some discussion questions within the post itself to prompt me to ask them what they thought about the pieces and how they related to our readings for the week. My students also have to make two comments in addition to the required comments on others’ posts. I like to give them multiple opportunities to engage with material away from their actual assignments on the blog to encourage them to check back to the blog periodically rather than sporadically. While this hasn’t yet paid off with any additional comments at least I know I’m giving them plenty of options to engage.
  2. Another different assignment that I am trying this semester is one where I ask my students to do movie reviews after screening particular films in class. Oftentimes my pedagogical imperatives lie with asking my students to be able to synthesize material from the course and these entries seem to be a perfect opportunity for them to do this type of work. See this link for a complete description of the blog assignments I am asking my students to engage with throughout the semester. They have previously reviewed “Real Women Have Curves” which we viewed on the first week of class – I did this to show them how easy it is to post to the blog as well as to gauge their critical thinking skills before we began reading any of the assignments for class (and I was very impressed by their thoughtful responses). Here is a link to the movie review questions/prompts I posed to them to get them to think about the film and some other issues generally before we delved into the material. I am very excited because my students will be doing the next one this week after we finish screening the awesome movie – Quincea├▒era.
  3. Lastly, one of the student workers in the office who is a philosophy major often asks me questions about feminism and feminist theory. He is working on a debate on the many victims of prostitution for a philosophy class and asked me if I knew of any literature on prostitution that he could use to as part of his research for his debate. I immediately thought back to my senior seminar blog and one of my previous students who did a project on decriminalizing prostituted women (and in my memory her paper referenced a lot of work that used this similar argument of the victim prostitute). So, I sent him a link to her intro paragraph and list of sources that she used for that paper to help him out. his is especially important since I, as a pro-sex feminist, am not quite as familiar with the anti-sex work position but this resource seemed like a good place to start!

Well, that is all of my reflections for now. I just wanted to document these ways that course blogging have been working for me lately and the many ways that I am trying to build on my blogging expertise to build a sense of community in my class and among the WS majors (in my class and beyond). I can’t wait to hear about any new things you’ve been doing with blogs lately! This is even more important now that we’re not seeing each other weekly (sad!).

1 Comment to “A Few Ways I’ve Used Course Blogs This Semester”

  1. SLP says:

    Awesome! Thanks for the reflection. It’s great to read how you are using it. I hope to offer up my own post soon (and more thoughtful comments on yours). For now, check out my blog entry on my fem ped class. I reflect on a few ways I have used twitter so far.