Using Groups to Allow for Journaling and Blogging

Community Contributor

After meaning to get to this for a couple of years, I've finally put together video instructions on how to set up Canvas to allow for graded journals or blogs.

When I was teaching composition, I knew that engaging with writing as a consistent practice was one of the best ways to improve writing. But I also knew from experience that unless I allowed time in every class meeting for journaling, certain students were likely to wait and try to create all of their entries in a single session, in order to meet the assignment requirements. So, I stopped assigning journals, because it didn't seem like students were understanding the value of the process.

When I started using Canvas in 2012, I decided to experiment with journaling again. I hit on this idea to use groups of one person and to create group discussion board assignments each week for the required journaling. The idea here is that this is private writing between the student and the instructor. I've also set up the journal topics as intentional think-work meant to scaffold up to the larger essay assignments.

I have since seen this strategy discussed in other places, so there's nothing really amazing or unique about this approach. But here's the how-to video (as well as some why-to) that I shared with the faculty at my college. I hope this is useful for some of you.