How to write a blog post
First: Don't compose your post in your browser! Write it in a word processor, save it to your computer, and then copy and paste it into your browser. If you compose text in your browser, the Internet might devour it like a yummy snack, you'll never see it again, you'll be frustrated, and you'll deserve it for not following the directions above.
What to read:
- For general biology or biotech, your source should be about 1 page long--the length of an average newspaper article.
- For AP Biology, you should read at least 6 full pages worth of material--preferably one in-depth article instead of several short ones.
- Alternative sources: radio pieces (like NPR All Things Considered or Radiolab), television programs (e.g. Nova), experiences you had (summer programs or museum visits, etc.)
- These are minimum guidelines; feel free to review a whole book!
What your post should include: (note: If your post does not meet these standards, it will not be published.)
- It must be related to the course you're taking, and preferably to the current topic.
- Complete sentences, good grammar, and accurate spelling! Remember, the whole world can read this--how do you want others to see you and your school? Spell check only takes a few seconds to run. Your blog post may be online, but it is still a writing assignment.
- For Internet sources:
- A link to the original article(s) that you're writing about, if available online;
- Answer the following questions. You don't need to include the answers in your post--just use the questions to evaluate the credibility of your source.
- Who wrote it?
- Is it written in good English?
- Is the author qualified to write about this? How do you know?
- Does the author cite sources and/or give evidence?
- Who runs the website? (Don't just give the address of the site—this doesn't tell you who runs it!)
- Does the article have a date?
- Are images relevant?
- Note: if you can't answer one of the questions, or if the answer is "no", then you need to find a different article.
- For non-Internet sources:
- A full citation (MLA style) for any works you refer to that aren't available online
- Images (if appropriate)--use the "Insert/Edit Image" button to upload your image--don't link to images from other sites! (See below for details.)
- A brief review of your article. Don't just summarize it--insert yourself and your voice! Your post needs to convince me that you have turned on your brain and critically engaged with the material--what does it mean for you and your world? As long as you show this, there is no minimum length or other format requirement. If you're not sure what to write, here are a few ideas to help you get started: (these are also good for comments)
- What are the implications for society (good and bad)?
- What potential obstacles exist for this idea?
- Are there any drawbacks (practical or ethical)?
- Would you want this for yourself or a loved one?
- How does this connect to what you've learned in class?
- How should this knowledge guide the decisions we make as a society?
- Does this change an idea you've held before? How?
- How might this improve our understanding of other areas of biology?
- Do you agree or disagree with the conclusions made by the author(s)? Why?
- Do you agree or disagree with one of the posts made by your classmates? (Keep it respectful!)
- What interested you about the scientists' methodologies or conclusions?
- What questions do you still have after reading the article? (this is probably the best prompt)
- If you're commenting on another student's post, answering questions they raise is a good idea.
- For other suggestions, try these guidelines from another class' biology blog.
How to find articles:
- Magazines and newspapers:
- The school library
- Google News (search for "biology" or for a specific topic you're interested in, e.g. "genetics")
- Wikipedia (but DON'T cite a Wikipedia article; instead, read the references at the bottom, and cite them!)
- The "Articles" folder under AP Biology (Mr. LB uploads articles here that he thinks are interesting; these are especially appropriate for AP Bio)
General rules for posts and comments:
- Don't use your last name or the names or contact information of any other students. It's important to protect your privacy online--what's written now can be online forever, cached or archived by other sites, even if you decide to take it down later.
- Don't link to images that are hosted on other sites; instead, download it to your computer, and then upload it to the ISMscience.org server (instructions below)
Advanced posting techniques:
- You can add images to your posts:
You can embed YouTube, online mp3s, etc. in your posts. In the editor, click on the "HTML" button; then, follow the instructions on the site you're taking the media from to embed code.
- First, save the image file onto your own computer. (For images from the Web, right-click on it, and click "Save image as...")
- Click "Insert/Edit Image" on the bottom row of the toolbar above the "Message" text box.
- Click on "Find or upload an image...", then on "Upload a file", and then on the "Choose file" button to browse for your file, and finally on "Upload this file".
- One last step! The original picture may not be a good size for the web page; it probably shouldn't be more than about 500 x 500 (give or take a little). If it's too big, click on your image, and then on the "Insert/edit image" button. Now, click on the "Appearance" tab and adjust the size of your picture to make it fit better. You can also add alternate text (the words you see when you hold the mouse pointer over an image). This is important so that visually impaired users can still understand your post. It can help explain your picture.