Those were the words of my colleague and unofficial mentor Kathy Patterson upon reading the third set of blog assignment entries from my first-year Advertising students.
“Do you realize what you have managed to accomplish with this assignment?” Kathy said in a recent email.“You have found an entertaining way for students to reach the pedagogical summit: connecting what they are learning in class, what they are independently researching online, and their own thoughts. Connection!! It’s a small miracle!”
Indeed it is. So you can understand why I’m feeling pretty good about my teaching these days. Something has just got to break to bring me down off this high.
But let’s stay with the positive here. As I’ve described previously, Advertising students in my first-year Writing for Marketing Class have been assigned to write a 10-week blog reflecting on what they’re learning in their classes—and in the outside world—about advertising and marketing.
The assignment is meant to help them build their personal brand, practice their writing under the critical eye of a professional editor (that’s me), begin working with social media as a marketing tool (they’re marketing themselves), and learn the art of reflection as a tool to help absorb and retain knowledge.
Students must stick to a basic checklist that encourages them to craft their blogs to a certain standard and guidelines. They are marked through a rubric, a marking scheme that requires them to use social media, attention-getting headlines, and relevant images as well as adhere to some business-writing formatting rules. They must also respond to feedback each week by addressing the previous weeks’ writing challenges—or they lose marks.
Admittedly, not everyone has embraced the assignment and some students will fail it or do poorly. But most have at least warmed to it or have embraced it passionately—and the numbers are growing.
I post the best blogs of the week on Twitter, on my own Facebook page, on the School of Business Facebook page (you can follow links to those 19 blogs from there), and in this blog.
In Week 1, only three blogs were good enough to show the world. In Week 2, there were six or so. In Week 3, there were about a dozen.
Last week, I posted 19 entries and probably should have posted more. I hope that next week I’ll be posting five more and that at the end of the 10-week assignment I’ll be posting all of them (teachers can dream, right?). Ultimately, I hope that students will continue their blogs throughout their time here at St. Lawrence College—and not just when assigned to do so by professors.
Whatever does happen, I am feeling pretty good right now. Indeed, this exercise has achieved what all educators hope to achieve in their classes: students are learning and having fun doing it.