I just finished reading the first week's worth of entries in the news-blog assignment for my intro reporting class. This ongoing assignment's purpose is to get students -- many of whom might not be naturally inclined to do so -- to read and critically react to news reports.
It's not a heavy, time-consuming assignment. They are required only to post four blog entries a week, each with a link to a story and a brief --like 4 or 5 sentences short -- reflection on it in the context of what we're talking about in class at the time. For this first one, the blog instructions were to "Select stories from your regular reading of news Web sites and describe what qualities make them newsworthy." The assignment also requires posting a comment on a classmate's entry.
By and large, the entries were well-done, with good story selection and good reflection on what was chosen. A few missed the mark, but it was the first assignment after all.
One of the best parts of reading the responses to these assignments is that a few students each week manage to find really interesting stories that I've somehow missed. I think my favorite in that category this week was a Sept. 10 story in USA Today about weddings planned for Sept. 11. Of course, summer Saturdays are prime days for weddings, and this year Sept. 11 was on a Saturday. But the idea of matching a joyous anniversary with one that forever will be the anniversary of such a horrific event is something some embrace, while others shy away from it.
I'm already looking forward to seeing what the students come up with over the course of the coming week.