Guidelines for Discussion Board Writing

"The art of writing on the discussion board is to keep the conversation going."


The discussion board can be considered the visible heart of our class, but discussion board writing may be new to you. What makes good discussion board writing? How should you operate in that space?

Here are some general guidelines -- guidelines that may be modified in some instances from assignment to assignment but can serve as a point of reference for most of your work on the discussion board.

Play the Game

Think of discussion board activity as a game of non-competitive racquetball or tennis in which the goal is not to win but to exercise both yourself and others by keeping the ball (ideas) in play as long as possible. Good discussions offer the excitement of "the chase." In order to keep the volley going, consider using one of the following response starters:
1. I like the way you….
2. I agree with you…..
3. I wonder why…..
4. Do you think….
5. I appreciate how you…
6. I thought…
7. It is interesting the way you . . .
8. What made you think . . .

Think Before you write

Remember that this site is a board site, and everything written is visible to teachers, students, parents and the BOE. There will be zero tolerance for any inappropriate, hurtful, or mean-spirited posts. Do not make fun of someone else's thoughts or opinions -- respecting your classmates helps ensure everyone can maximize the benefits of a discussion board. Any abuse of the board will be reported to the proper administrators and/or law enforcement. Any disciplinary actions by these bodies will be in addition to making you ineligible for participating in discussions on the board. This will lead to a zero for each assignment designated to the board.

"Talk"

But discussion boards are not usually the place for formal writing. You usually need not worry about polishing your posts. Do not overly concern yourself with editing. Your purpose is to be interesting, stimulating, informative, and clear -- not grammatically perfect. Be informal and fresh. Write as you would talk.

Assume the Best

Assume that everybody has done his or her homework. Don't "waste" your time and others' in posts recording or summarizing material everybody knows. As Michael Douglas/Gordon Gekko says in Oliver Stone's Wall Street: "Tell me something that I don't know." Do not simply summarize.

Add, Don't Repeat

Normally read what others in your class or assigned group have said before you post. Do not write in isolation. Be aware of what's already been said and try to add a new dimension, or a different slant, or another perspective. Not only read what others have written before you post, but try to weave the work of others into your own. Mention the names and ideas of others. Bounce off others. Quote others. Show that you are part of a community.

Address and Sign

Let me repeat what I just said. The virtual world of the discussion board can be cold. Addressing and signing your posts will help humanize it, will help make this space feel like a community. Tell others how to call you (full first name, nickname, Mr., etc.) by signing your posts. Address your responses to others using the name they signed. Talking directly "to" somebody will also help the quality of the conversation.
Unsigned entries will not receive credit.

Due dates/times
All entries will be due by 8 AM on the due date.

General Grading Guidelines 14 points (Subject to change for certain assignments.)
Primary grade:
9-10 points for an insightful, well thought out answer, statement or observation.
7-8 points for an answer that is relevant to the topic
5-6 points for an attempt to complete the assignment
0 for no attempt to complete the assignment

Secondary Grade:
3-4 points for insightful, well thought out reference to (or response to,) a post from another person.
1-2 points for a relevant reference to another post
0 points for not referencing or responding to another post from another person.


Adapted from: http://www.lehigh.edu/~indiscus/doc_guidelines.html 8/31/2010