In today's "What We've Learned" video, Heather Sellers (@heather_sellers), author of Practice of Creative Writing , discusses the unique structure of an online course, equating creating an intentional online course to structuring a short story or a poem.
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In today's "What We've Learned" video, Quentin Miller, author of Compact Bedford Introduction to Literature and Literature to Go, reflects on taking advantage of the opportunities presented by technology to broaden the types of assignment and engagement available to students.
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Today's "What We've Learned" video features Quentin Miller, author of Compact Bedford Introduction to Literature and Literature to Go, on being conscious of the type of requests instructors make of students in online learning, and the resilience shown both instructors and students.
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So Lawrence Ferlinghetti, the Beat world's true renaissance man—best-selling poet, publishing entrepreneur, and literary impresario supreme—is gone, having shown the world that you can sail the drunken boat without destroying yourself on the journey and have a whale of a good time besides. And while posterity seems to prefer the poet maudits—the Rimbauds and Kerouacs and Morrisons—who crash upon the shoals of Romantic excess, I can't help but think that it is the Ferlinghettis who have really mastered the game of life—not to mention the Gary Snyders, who are still around to show the way.
But what has any of this to do with popular cultural semiotics? Actually, quite a lot, because it was Ferlinghetti, along with Allen Ginsberg, Roy Lichtenstein, Andy Warhol, Bob Dylan, and a good many others from the world of mid-twentieth-century art whose names I don't have room for here, who led the way in the deconstruction of the traditional boundary between high and popular culture that is so easily taken for granted today. Before there were poetry slams, there was Ginsberg, dragging poetry out of the seminar rooms and turning it into performance art. Before there were graphic novels, there were Lichtenstein's cartoon canvases and Warhol's Pop posters; and when Dylan plugged it in, rock met poetic rhyme, even as the Beatles were importing string quartets into teenaged love tracks. So when we consider how Stan Lee's comic books have come to attain the cultural stature once commanded by high lit (how Lee must have enjoyed seeing his Black Panther become a kind of Prince Harry to Killmonger's Hotspur!), it is to artists like Ferlinghetti that we must turn to understand how it all happened.
There is a flip side to this history the mid-twentieth-century art rebels did not intend, however, for they wanted to open up high culture, not abolish it, to extend its boundaries, not erase it. But when the line between the fine arts and the commercial ones got blurred, it was commerce that eventually won out. Driven by the capitalist imperative to entertain, artistic creativity today is dominated by those productions that can command the largest audiences. With high art driven back into the museums (where it subsists on a kind of life support provided by a dwindling number of rich patrons and private foundations), there effectively is no high culture/pop culture divide any more. What we have now is an all-encompassing entertainment culture driven by the mandates of the market.
As I say, this isn't what Lawrence Ferlinghetti envisioned when his Coney Island of the Mind became that rarest of poetic fauna: a full-fledged best-seller. But as another poet who once brought "high" culture and "low" together has put it, “The best laid schemes o' Mice an' Men, Gang aft agley."
"Lawrence Ferlinghetti" by Christopher.Michel is licensed under CC BY 2.0
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Today’s guest blogger is Kim Haimes-Korn, a Professor of English and Digital Writing at Kennesaw State University. Kim’s teaching philosophy encourages dynamic learning and critical digital literacies and focuses on students’ powers to create their own knowledge through language and various “acts of composition.” She likes to have fun every day, return to nature when things get too crazy, and think deeply about way too many things. She loves teaching. It has helped her understand the value of amazing relationships and boundless creativity. You can reach Kim at email@example.com or visit her website: Acts of Composition Overview Ralph Waldo Emerson in his famous essay, Nature (1836), talks about becoming a “transparent eyeball,” a philosophic metaphor that he describes as a state of being that can only be achieved in nature. It gives him peace and allows him to see beyond the structures that define him and see things in new ways. He says "I become a transparent eyeball. I am nothing, I see all." Emerson believes that in order to truly appreciate nature, one must go beyond merely looking at it and instead feel it and engage with it as both a sensory and intellectual experience. The transparent eyeball is “absorbent rather than reflective” and therefore a path to symbolic meaning and unexpected connections. I send students outside, to a place of their own choosing and ask them to spend time in nature and practice the intellectual exercise of moving between the micro and the macro. 1 - The Micro 2 - The Macro Steps to the Assignment Have students read and respond to Emerson’s Nature essay. It is important that students have a strong understanding of his philosophy and the metaphor of the transparent eyeball. Ask students to post 3 thought-provoking questions and 1 passage from the text. Ask students to post the passages from the reading onto a collaborative Google document to guide discussion. Engage in full class discussions about the passages and questions and ask students to explain and interpret particular passages for a deep understanding of the text. Next, I ask students to go physically into nature and see what they can learn when they focus on it. Encourage students to focus on both sensory and intellectual experiences of nature. They can find a place in nature--a tree, a park, their back yard, a field, somewhere on campus, etc. and choose a place that is relatively free of distraction. I ask them to spend at least 15 minutes writing (no need to type this assignment) and try to record what they see, hear, notice, think. I want them to shift their attention back and forth from micro to macro and engage their “transparent eyeball.” I urge them to exercise the cognitive practices of moving back and forth between the whole picture and the parts--from the forest to the trees to the trunk to the bark to the ant to the blade of grass. It is important that they write freely and pay attention (and record) what they are seeing, feeling and thinking. Let them know it is OK to let their minds and writing wander wherever the experience takes them. Have them record the waves of their thoughts and the ways new thoughts emerge the longer they sit there. Using their phone cameras, have students take 10 total images – 5 micro and 5 macro. Choose one from each category (micro and macro) and post them to an individual slide to contribute to a collaborative Google slideshow. Have students include their names, location they visited and a significant passage from their experience transcript. Show or post the slideshow and have students share with the class. Reflections on the Activity Students experience a range of feelings and ideas from this assignment. They are often surprised at their reactions and ideas that surface during their time in nature. The concept of the transparent eyeball and the intellectual act of moving between the micro and the macro acts as a new lens and emphasizes the value of this kind of meditative experience. Here are some of the responses and ideas generated through the assignment: “I am noticing I am having a hard time separating the humans from the environment during this exercise. Probably due to the human geography/GIS course I am taking, probably due to the kids who are currently here playing on the other side of the park. Either way, humans ultimately are part of the environment, arguably even more now than when Emerson wrote his essay.” Brody “How many others, like me, have let society overpower their sense of adventure and discovery?” Sydney “It’s just wonderful how the world falls together to create little pockets of peace, and how those pockets are different for everyone.” Kelsey “Nature is cool like that; it can give you what you need without you knowing exactly what that means. Nature is freeing. It's a place where when everything in the world doesn't make sense, nature is there to slow you down and zoom out- help you look at the bigger picture.” Hannah “Just by concentrating on nature, I can block out everything that I haven't been able to get out of my head for days. . . This experience has brought a significant surge of happiness.” Litzy The assignment is both experiential and multimodal and reminds us of the importance and connectedness with nature. Students are usually motivated to incorporate these ideas into their daily lives and find a deeper sense of gratitude and awareness of their surroundings.
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This blog series is written by Julia Domenicucci, an editor at Macmillan Learning, in conjunction with Mignon Fogarty, better known as Grammar Girl.
If you’re teaching a literature or fiction course, use one of the ideas below to add Grammar Girl podcasts to your classwork!
Podcasts are well-established, but their popularity seems to increase every day—and for good reason! They are engaging and creative, and they cover every topic imaginable. They are also great for the classroom: you can use them to maintain student engagement, accommodate different learning styles, and introduce multimodality.
LaunchPad and Achieve products include collections of assignable, ad-free Grammar Girl podcasts, which you can use to support your lessons. You can assign one (or all!) of these suggested podcasts for students to listen to before class. Each podcast also comes with a complete transcript, which is perfect for students who aren’t audio learners or otherwise prefer to read the content. To learn more about digital products and purchasing options, please visit Macmillan's English catalog or speak with your sales representative.
If you are using LaunchPad, refer to the unit “Grammar Girl Podcasts” for instructions on assigning podcasts. You can also find the same information on the support page " Assign Grammar Girl Podcasts ."
If you are using Achieve, you can find information on assigning Grammar Girl in Achieve on the support page " Add Grammar Girl and shared English content to your course ." If your English Achieve product is copyright year 2021 or later, you are able to use a folder of suggested Grammar Girl podcasts in your course; please see “ Using Suggested Grammar Girl Podcasts in Achieve for English Products ” for more information.
Using Grammar Girl Podcasts with Literature
Assignment: Assign students the following two podcasts and ask everyone to listen to them before class.
Using Flashbacks in Fiction (9:06)
Using Present Tense When Writing about the Past (7:10)
In class, evaluate some of the literature you’ve read using these podcasts. Consider placing students into groups and assigning each group one book read in the course; alternately, student groups can select the title they would like to evaluate, or each student in the class can individually evaluate one selection. After the time allotted to discussion and/or note taking, discuss the findings as a class.
Students might consider questions such as: What tenses are used in this work? Does the author use more than one tense? Why might this tense or these tenses have been chosen; how are they used in the work? Does this work and its use of tenses align or differ with what we learned in the Grammar Girl podcasts? How would a different tense impact this piece of literature?
Using Grammar Girl Podcasts to Write Fiction
Choose one or more of the following exercises for your fiction writing class.
Assignment A - Figures of Speech: Assign students the following podcast, or listen to it as a class. Then, ask each student to choose 1-3 paragraphs from their most recent fiction piece & rewrite it using at least two of the figures of speech mentioned in the podcast.
Five Uncommon Figures of Speech to Spice Up Your Writing (8:04)
An alternate version of this assignment would be to ask students to include one example of each figure of speech (five total).
In pairs or small groups, ask students to review the revisions. What figures of speech worked? Which did not? Why?
Assignment B - Slang: Assign students the following podcast, or listen to it as a class. Then, ask each student to evaluate their most recent fiction piece for use of slang.
Writing with Slang (4:51)
In pairs or small groups, ask students to discuss their findings. In their own work, did they use slang? If so, how was it used? If not, where might it be used? If not, is there a reason it shouldn’t be used? For a fantastical work, is there space in the world-specific slang, or, if the author attempted this, how could it be improved?
Assignment C- Redundant Language: Assign students the following podcast, or listen to it as a class. Then, ask each student to evaluate their most recent fiction piece for redundant language.
When Is It OK to Be Redundant? (6:40)
Ask each student to write a short paragraph evaluating their use of redundant language. Do they have any instances of redundancy? Does it work, or should it be edited out of the piece?
As a bonus assignment, ask students to take one paragraph and purposefully add in redundant language, then evaluate its effectiveness.
More Grammar Girl Activities
If you are looking for other activities, be sure to check out the other Grammar Girl posts, especially:
Using Grammar Girl Podcasts to Reflect on Writing & Accomplishments
Using Grammar Girl Podcasts in an Online Classroom
Grammar Girl & Ideas for Teaching Online
Using Grammar Girl Podcasts for Fun, Low-Stakes Activities
Using Grammar Girl Podcasts to Improve Student Writing
Using Grammar Girl Podcasts to Discuss Pronouns
Credit: Pixabay Image 984236 by Free-Photos, used under a Pixaby License
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In my last post, I wrote about a gen ed course I teach that introduces students to literatures of the 21st century. My overarching argument in the course is that the 21st century started on September 11th, 2001, at the moment the news broke that planes had hit the Twin Towers and the Pentagon. What happens to story-telling after this moment, when one version of the world (a world where the United States was inviolable, the globe’s uncontested superpower) crumbled before the eyes of a dumbfounded nation? I make this argument in broad strokes so that we can test and complicate this idea over the course of the semester. The syllabus is comprised of documentaries, novels, a streamable series, and a graphic novel, all chosen on the basis of quality and formal innovation. About halfway through the course, we were finishing up Ruth Ozecki’s A Tale for the Time Being, which has an ending that many readers find infuriating. I must confess that this is one of the reasons I enjoy teaching Ozecki’s genre-bending “auto-fiction” so much: it lays bare how strong the idea is that a story has a beginning, middle, and end. One of the central characters in Ozecki’s novel is Ruth, a writer who lives with her husband on a remote island in British Columbia. While walking on the beach, Ruth finds a lunchbox that contains a diary and a set of handwritten letters. Ruth, who is struggling with writing her autobiography, starts spending more and more time with the diary, which she discovers was written by an adolescent girl who had been raised in Silicon Valley and then returned to Tokyo after her father lost his job in the tech industry. How did the diary get from Tokyo to the shores of Western Canada? And what has become of the diary’s author, Nao (pronounced “now”)? As the novel processes, both Nao and Ruth become more and more focused on the fate of Nao’s great uncle Haruki, who was a kamikaze pilot at the end of WWII. What did he do on his one and only mission? How did it end? Did he crash into a battleship belonging to the Allies or did his take his plane to the bottom of the ocean? Both Ruth and Nao are driven by this deep, seemingly unsatisfiable desire to know what happened. The overwhelming majority of my students are not “readers,” as the term was understood when I entered graduate school . . . 35 years ago! This is not to say that they don’t read, scroll, skim, game, and multi-task for pleasure, but only that few of them are given to leisure time reading of extended works of fiction. But, when Ozecki concocts a way for Ruth to communicate to Nao what her research has revealed about Harucki, literally causing the words at the end of Nao’s diary to disappear and then reappear, revised to reflect Ruth’s understanding, the students as a whole suddenly discover that they have firmly held beliefs about what a writer can and cannot do late in a story. Has Ozecki “cheated”? Is her novel not a novel at all, but an ersatz introduction to Zen Buddhism? Is the ending a meta-commentary on endings that hovers above the ephemeral story that has preceded it? This raucous discussion was still metaphorically ringing in our ears when we got the email ending in-class meetings a week before Spring Break. The students disappeared and COVID took center stage. We’d been studying the challenge of constructing endings in uncertain times when our course, as we knew it, disappeared into thin air. If this were a fictional story, the parallels would be too obvious to be believed and the ending itself disappointing (and, even, dumb). What I’m at pains to teach my students, though, is that the future is always unknown. Narrative is one way to calm the anxiety produced by that reality. But narrative can also be used to explore that reality. Similarly, essays that have beginnings, middles, and ends can provide the calming illusion that we live in a world where clarity of argument is what carries the day and that deep truths arrive without qualifications or complications. When the mold for conventional instruction broke, none of us had a map for how to proceed or previous experience to build on. We had to make it up as we went along. And that, I believe, it one of the reasons that the writing projects I received at the end of the semester were unprecedented for me—and for the students. I’ll discuss other reasons/forces that contributed to the final projects I received in my next post, but this reason strikes me as the most important one: we were all responding to the same unexpected event. No one—regardless of education or class or fame or any other variable or vector—was immune from the effects of the event. If this has sparked anything for you, comment below. Happy to say more, clarify, qualify. To be continued.
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Today’s guest blogger is Kim Haimes-Korn, a Professor of English and Digital Writing at Kennesaw State University. Kim’s teaching philosophy encourages dynamic learning and critical digital literacies and focuses on students’ powers to create their own knowledge through language and various “acts of composition.” She likes to have fun every day, return to nature when things get too crazy, and think deeply about way too many things. She loves teaching. It has helped her understand the value of amazing relationships and boundless creativity. You can reach Kim at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit her website: Acts of Composition.
This assignment provides a fresh approach to a traditional, academic assignment: The Critical Analysis. For this assignment, students are to apply a critical lens by connecting a theme/concept that we have covered in the class to the course readings and to their own lives. Students choose and define the theory/ideas and their important characteristics, discuss relevant passages from our course texts, and finish with their own interpretation and individual relevance.
I took this type of critical response (with length requirements and defined criteria) and extended it to include the multimodal component of the Meme Theme in which students create an original meme – a visual representation-- to expand the ideas from their critical responses.
The St. Martin’s Handbook - Ch. 7: Reading Critically; Ch. 18: Communicating in Other Media
The Everyday Writer (also available with Exercises) - Ch. 7h: Critical Reading; Ch. 20: Communicating in Other Media
EasyWriter (also available with Exercises)
Know your Meme – Internet Meme Database – A Database of meme examples, origins and iterations.
Imgflip – Meme Generator – An online meme generator
Steps to the Assignment:
Although this assignment can be modified for any themes and class concepts, I have included some themes from my American Literature class to demonstrate an extended example.
Part 1 Critical Analysis:
Student write a focused critical response in which they apply a theme from American Literature. Emphasize strong, interpretive reading and writing strategies that include: thoughtful interpretation; connections across texts; purposeful passages; and appropriate documentation and citation practices.
Choosing a Theme: For this particular course, students can choose from the following examples/possibilities for themes/concepts and 3 of the course reading selections that speak to the ideas, and at least one passage from each the selections:
Cultural Mirror Theory
The American Dream
Coming of Age
Part 2: The Meme Theme:
Students create an original meme in which they extend the theme/idea they worked with in Critical Response Question. They can use an online meme generator such as Imgflip or create their own through original images and any programs of their choosing. The meme must include a representative image and some text that speaks to their interpretation (or some aspect) of their chosen theme.
Meme Definition: I provide a simple definition of memes that work with both text and image to communicate an idea. Memes draw upon cultural assumptions and operate through unstated knowledge held by the audience. We share examples to understand the structure and rhetorical strategies of the genre. Students can just conduct image searches or consult Know your Meme for a database of examples, origins and iterations.
Some things to consider:
The objective of the memes is to have fun, but one should know where to draw the line. I remind students to create memes that are not derogatory towards any race, culture, gender, or community.
The image and the text that must have some sort of correlation. The image and text when seen together should imply something about the interpretation that is insightful.
The meme should focus on a theme and a cultural observation – not an author (although they can refer to particular selections to make their point).
Remind students that although they are using images (often viral images) that it is in their unique combination of text and image that makes it original for them. It is important to explain that this is an act of authoring and if they use an existing meme (without generating their own text and/or image) it is considered plagiarism. I want them to get creative.
Create a Google Slide: Each student designs a Google slide that includes their meme and their name. The meme is accompanied by a short description of its purpose and meaning, how it is drawing upon their chosen theme and the unstated assumptions that make it effective. They should discuss their understanding of the theme and how their ideas are manifested in their memes and texts they are referencing.
Share the Show: This is the fun part. At the beginning of class have each student submit their Meme Themes slide to a collaborative Google slide presentation and ask them to show and explain their memes to the class. This also works very well in a virtual classroom as it creates an interactive presentation in which students participate. Either delivery method works well and provides an overview of class concepts and can act as an engaging exit activity.
Reflections on the Activity: I was excited about how well this assignment worked and the ways that it took a traditional academic assignment and asked students to create a multimodal version and revise their ideas for a different audience – their classmates (rather than just the professor for evaluation). It brought new relevance to their ideas and pushed them to situate them in our current context. I created this multimodal extension during our first semester of the COVID crisis and found that some students found connections and themes that gave them insight to this unprecedented cultural shift. Since I used it at the end of the semester for our final day of class, it provided a reflective review of the class and a closure experience in which every student was able to have a voice and quickly show their work in an engaging format.
Click here to view some example meme slides!
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Teaching Introduction to Literature, and wondering how to get your students excited about poetry? Today, we're highlighting a podcast that might help: Poetry for All , a podcast hosted by Joanne Diaz and her colleague Abram Van Engen.
Perfect both for those who already love poetry, and those who are just beginning to explore the genre, the podcasts helps students get their bearings with a poem, giving them insight into working with and analyzing poetry. Joanne and Abram devote each 15-minute episode to reading a poem, discussing it, and then reading it again. Thus far, they have discussed poems by Seamus Heaney, Emily Dickinson, Phillis Wheatley, William Shakespeare, Claude McKay, and Jen Bervin.
Upcoming episodes will focus on poems by Anne Bradstreet, John Donne, Honorée Fannone Jeffers, and Toi Derricotte.
Joanne Diaz is a Professor of English at Illinois Wesleyan University, and one of the authors of Literature: A Portable Anthology, Reading and Writing about Literature, and 40 Short Stories: A Portable Anthology.
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The last three assignments in the Incubator series of assignments that I have designed for my technical writing courses are directly related to one another. Students write a Short Proposal for the White Paper and the Research Poster projects that they will complete during the second half of the term. In today’s post, I will share this proposal with you.
Because I want them to focus their energy on the major report (the white paper), I ask for a short, memo-based proposal, rather than a longer document. The topic proposal assignment gives students very specific guidelines to follow so that the more in-depth coverage from the textbook does not lead them to do more than they need to. My underlying goal for the activity is two-fold: I want them to learn how to write a research proposal, but just as importantly, I want to spot-check their topics for the white paper and research poster before they get too far into the project.
As with previous assignments in this series, the proposal assignment below is an example that has some minor changes to remove specific information that is relevant only to the students in my classes. References to “Markel & Selber” in the assignment refer to chapters in the class textbook Technical Communication by Mike Markel and Stuart Selber.
Technical Writing Proposal Assignment
You will write a short proposal that presents the topic you will explore for your white paper and poster presentation. Your proposal should explain not only what the topic is but how it relates to your company (and therefore your career field and major) and the incubator goal of public outreach and education.
Today, you received the following memo, asking you to submit a proposal for a white paper and related poster presentation:
Ut Prosim Incubator
1872 Inventors Way, Blacksburg, Virginia 24060
To: All Incubator Companies
From: Traci Gardner, Ut Prosim Director
Subject: RFP: White Papers and Poster Presentations for December Publication
Date: October 1, 2018
Our Public Outreach Office is requesting proposals for white papers and research posters that will inform non-expert readers about a technical topic relevant to the work and mission of your company. These documents will share what we do and why we do it with the university, alumni, and local community. Your documents will also contribute directly to our goal of public outreach and education by adding to our growing library of documents that inform website readers about how science, technology, and engineering work.
As an objective white paper, accepted documents will either provide knowledge or information about a subject relevant to your company or provide solutions to a problem or challenge that relates to your company—or even a combination of both goals. These white papers will also be the basis of a presentation that will be part of the quarterly poster session we sponsor for the local community in December. As an extension, additional investors and clients also attend the session, so you have the potential to make critical connections for your business.
These white papers and poster presentations are due by November 26 [Portfolio 2 due date] and will be published in the December 2018 release on the Incubator website.
White Paper Expectations
Length: 25 pages or less.
Document Design: Polished, professional layout that relies on design strategies that increase the document’s readability. You are encouraged to use a non-traditional format that incorporates sidebars, columns, and other visually-interesting design strategies. Please do not include a cover page.
Graphics and Visual Elements: Include relevant graphical elements (e.g., photos, illustrations, graphs, tables). All graphical elements must be your company’s intellectual property, or you must provide complete documentation. Graphical elements that are not your own intellectual property must meet fair use guidelines.
Research Support: Information must be supported by fully-documented research, including relevant quotations. In addition to citing published research studies, you can take advantage of the campus community by tapping university experts on the topic you are discussing.
Documentation Format: APA citation style (or the appropriate style for your field, if desired—for instance, an electrical engineer can use IEEE).
Submission Format: *.doc, *docx, *.pdf, or Google Document link.
Additional criteria and examples will be provided once proposals are accepted.
Poster Presentation Expectations
Size: 48" X 36", presented in landscape orientation (horizontal).
Document Design: Polished, professional layout that relies on design strategies that increase the document’s readability. Must use appropriately-sized headings, text, and images.
Graphics and Visual Elements: Include as many relevant graphical elements (e.g., photos, illustrations, graphs, tables) as necessary to present your ideas. All graphical elements must be your company’s intellectual property, or you must provide complete documentation. Graphical elements that are not your own intellectual property must meet fair use guidelines.
Research Support: Information must be supported by fully-documented research, including short, relevant quotations. In addition to citing published research studies, you can take advantage of the campus community by tapping university experts on the topic you are discussing.
Documentation Format: APA citation style (or the appropriate style for your field, if desired—for instance, an electrical engineer can use IEEE).
Submission Format: *.ppt, *pptx, or Google Slides link.
Additional criteria and examples will be provided once proposals are accepted.
Your proposal should be in memo format, be no more than four pages in length, and provide the following information to help us gauge the appropriateness of the topic for December publication:
Background (or Introduction) Give some background on your topic, your experiences with it to date, what you already know, etc. Then clearly state, “[We, OR your company name, OR similar] would like to produce a white paper and poster presentation on [your topic] for the following reasons: . . . .” In your statement, explain your motivations for sharing information about the topic with the public.
Areas to be Studied Provide more details on the proposed topic for your white paper and poster presentation so that the Public Outreach Office understands the approach you will take. Consider the following questions:
What are the key points you will explore or explain?
What are some questions you will ask and try to answer in this white paper and poster presentation?
How do the areas to be studied relate to your company’s mission?
What ethical and/or intercultural and global issues will you consider as you examine the topic you have chosen?
Methods of Research Explain how you will gather the information that you present in your white paper and poster presentation. Tell the Public Outreach Office your research strategy by outlining exactly how are you planning to gather information and find answers to your questions explored in the white paper and poster presentation.
Timetable Share a calendar that includes the target dates for various milestones that will lead to completion of your white paper and poster presentation. Be sure that your schedule allows you to finish by the white paper and poster presentation due date, November 26 [Portfolio 2 due date].
Qualifications Explain why you are qualified to do this research and outline the skills you have that will help you deal with this topic effectively.
Request for Approval Ask for approval; ask for guidance, articulate your biggest concerns at this point; ask for suggestions about next right steps; provide contact information.
October 8, 2018: Proposal submitted as a memo, addressed to me and to Manolito Reyna Bautista, Manager of the Public Outreach Office
November 26, 2018: Finished White Paper and Poster submitted [in Canvas, as part of Portfolio 2]
If you need any help with your proposal, please let me know or contact my assistant, Leslie Crow < email@example.com >.
Note: These details apply to all of the projects you include in your portfolio.
Your company’s address is [Your Company Name], Ut Prosim Incubator, 1872 Inventors Way, Suite #[you choose a number], Blacksburg, Virginia 24060. Your company’s phone number is 540-555-5555. You may create a fictional Internet domain for your company, and use that domain for a web page address and your email addresses. If you’d like, you may create other information (including a logo) for your company as appropriate. Be sure that you use the information that you create consistently across all of your projects.
The Project Assignment
Step 1: Decide on the focus for your white paper and poster presentation(which you will write as future projects). Your focus will be to inform non-expert readers about a technical topic that is related to your company (and therefore, related to your career field and major). Try to limit yourself to topics with which you have some expertise (or at least some experience) to simplify the research process. These example white papers may help you think of appropriate topics and/or approaches:
White Paper on Studying the Safety of the Childhood Immunization Schedule (CDC)
The Flint Water Crisis and Its Health Consequences (AccessScience)
Funding Trees for Health (The Nature Conservancy)
Microsoft Password Guidance (MSFT)
The Model of Good Health (ASME)
Step 2: Examine the information about proposals in Markel & Selber. The textbook provides complete details on how to write proposals. Follow the textbook as you work on your project. In particular, be sure that you do the following:
Follow the “GUIDELINES: Demonstrating Your Professionalism in a Proposal” (starting on page 430 of Markel & Selber) to ensure you adopt the appropriate tone.
Use the “ETHICS NOTE: WRITING HONEST PROPOSALS” (starting on page 430 of Markel & Selber) to make your proposal professionally acceptable.
Work through the “GUIDELINES: Introducing a Proposal” (starting on page 432 of Markel & Selber) to gather information for your proposal’s Background section.
Explore the information in the “Tech Tip: Why and How to Create a Gantt Chart” (starting on page 436 of Markel & Selber) to see an effective strategy for explaining your timetable.
Step 3: Write the proposals for your white paper and poster presentation. Compose your proposal, as requested in The Scenario above, with all the details you have gathered. Review the assessment guidelines below to ensure you have met all the requirements for the proposal. As you work, also keep the following points in mind:
Use plain language to make the ideas in your proposal are easy to find and read. Refer to the resources from Module 2 as needed.
Follow all relevant ethical guidelines as you work using the Writer’s Checklist at the end of Chapter 2 (on page 40 of Markel & Selber) .
Follow the suggestions for emphasizing important information, using the Writer’s Checklist for Chapter 9 (on page 211 of Markel & Selber) to check your work.
Use the Writer’s Checklist for Chapter 11 (on page 288 of Markel & Selber) to ensure that your document takes advantage of design principles to make it reader-friendly .
Make a good impression with accuracy and correctness. Your document should be polished and professional.
Step 4: Check your draft against the Writer’s Checklist. Be sure that you include the required features for instructions. Review your project, using the Writer's Checklist for Chapter 16 (on page 439 of Markel & Selber) and the Assessment Criteria below.
Step 5: Review your draft for design and basic writing errors. Everything you write should use accurate/appropriate image editing, grammar, spelling, punctuation, mechanics, linking, and formatting. These are important basic writing skills that you should have developed in high school. Review your project, using the Writer’s Checklist at the end of Markel & Selber, Chapter 10 (on page 242 of Markel & Selber) .
You can also consult the information on “Sentence-Level Issues” in Markel & Selber, “Appendix, Part 😧 Guidelines for Multilingual Writers (ESL)” (on page 683 of Markel & Selber) . While the section is labeled for multilingual writers, it is useful for everyone. It includes explanations and examples for many common mistakes writers make.
Step 6: Submit your draft to your Writing Group in Canvas. Post a rough draft of your Proposal to your Writing Group in Canvas in the 10/04 Draft Feedback Discussion in Canvas. Additional instructions are in the Discussion. If you do not post your draft by noon on Sunday, October 7, your group may not have time to provide feedback.
Step 7: Provide feedback to your Writing Group in Canvas. Provide feedback to the members of your writing group in the 10/04 Draft Feedback Discussion in Canvas, by October 8 (end of the grace period). Use the information on the Writing Groups page to provide constructive feedback that will help your group members make concrete improvements to their drafts. You are not obligated to provide feedback for any drafts posted afternoon on Sunday, October 7.
Step 8: Revise your draft. Use the feedback that you receive from your group members to revise and improve your document. You can share your draft again with your Writing Group if you desire. As you revise, keep in mind the advice in the steps above, as well as the Assessment Criteria below.
Step 9: Include a polished version of your project in Project Portfolio 2, due November 26. Have your Proposal finished and ready for submission in your Project Portfolio 2, which is due Monday, November 26. The grace period for Project Portfolio 1 ends at 11:59PM on Thursday, November 29.
For All Technical Writing Projects
All technical writing projects should meet the following general criteria:
Makes a good first impression as a polished and professional document.
Meets the needs of the intended audience.
Demonstrates how to emphasize important information.
Uses layout and formatting that makes information easy for readers to find and read, and that follows the standards you have set for your company.
Is written in plain language, which communicates the ideas clearly.
Follows all relevant ethical guidelines.
Uses accurate/appropriate grammar, spelling, punctuation, mechanics, linking, and formatting.
Your project should meet the following criteria for effective proposals, based on the checklist at the end of Chapter 16 of Markel & Selber:
Meets the guidelines established in the request for proposals (see The Scenario, above).
Demonstrates professionalism and honesty.
Includes an introduction that indicates the following:
the problem or opportunity.
the purpose of the proposal.
the background of the problem or opportunity.
your sources of information.
the scope of the proposal.
the organization of the proposal.
the key terms that you will use in the proposal.
Provides a clear, specific plan for research and justifies that methodology.
Describes the qualifications and experience clearly outlining
relevant skills and past work.
relevant equipment, facilities, and experience.
Includes full documentation for all ideas, words, and visuals that the work of others (see Part B, “Documenting Your Sources,” in Markel & Selber).
This assignment has gone relatively well. The most frequent issue has been confusion about memo format. Students either didn't follow the instructions and used other formats, or they did not follow the format accurately. The most serious issue that has come up has been a failure to provide enough details and the development of the proposal. I wonder if the emphasis on a “short” proposal has misled some to think that general and underdeveloped ideas were adequate. When I use this activity again, I will work to address both of these issues.
My next post will share the instructions for the white paper, which is the next project students worked on. Be sure to come back to read more about that activity, and in the meantime, if you have any feedback to share, please leave a comment below.
Photo credit: Typing content by Search Engine People Blog on Flickr, used under a CC-BY 2.0 license.
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