Monday, July 20, 2015

Menominee Indian Tribe: Creating Genres with Social Purpose

One of the most important aspects of writing is understanding that every writing situation can be approached in multiple ways.  This week, we'll be looking at how the Menominee Indian Tribe in Wisconsin uses online genres such as websites, YouTube, and Facebook in order to spread awareness of tribal customs and improve the financial security of the tribe as a whole.

We'll be using these examples to help understand different approaches we can take in our Project 2 genre examples.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Status Reports: Brainstorming with Your Classmates

In a status report, you'll briefly tell your classmates about your work.  What topic are you focusing on?  What are a couple surprising things you've found?

One of the most important parts of your status report isn't the topic itself, but your progress in the writing.  Talk about what you've done to make time for your research.  Describe how you chose your sources.  Ask questions - find out what your classmates think about your topic.  If you're torn between different ideas, mention those.  If there's something about your project you just can't figure out, ask your classmates for ideas.  This is the perfect place for brainstorming.

Project Workshops: Feedback for Writing Research

As writers, we can only truly succeed if we are able to revise our writing to meet the needs and expectations of our readers.  The workshop provides three important experiences to help you do this better:

  1. Reading the work by your peers will help you better understand how different works of writing connect with audiences (such as yourself.)
  2. Providing Feedback for your classmates helps you better articulate the writing process.
  3. Receiving Feedback from your peers will provide new perspectives to help you revise your current project.

Outline Types: Bubble Maps, Roman Hierarchies, and Freewriting

Depending on what I'm writing, I use three different types of outlines to help me brainstorm ideas:

  • Bubble Maps: these are the least formal, but I find them the most helpful for working out new ideas.  I typically write these using pencil on paper.  I like them because it's easy to add in new stuff and then draw lines linking back to other ideas.
  • Roman Hierarchies: these are more formal, and I rarely use them.  If I do this approach, I'll use a computer because it allows me to move sections around and add in new lines where needed.
  • Freewriting: These are longest "outlines," and they often look like drafts.  But they aren't drafts - you don't need to include full quotes and citations.  Instead, I'll often put something like (CITATION) or (AUTHOR _____) to mark places where I know I want to put a quote later.  If I don't remember something offhand, I just use underscores ____ or hashtags ###### to remind me to fill in those gaps later.

Outline Fundamentals

One of the most important parts of writing involves planning.  After you've begun your reading and taken notes on your sources, you need to come up with a "plan of action" for how to start your writing.

For my purposes, there are only three basic things I look for in your outlines:
  1. The broad topics and secondary topics are easy to see.
  2. Each broad topic either has secondary topics or a connection statement.
  3. You've noted which quote cards are related to each of your broad topics.
Just note that every writer follows different outlining practices - I myself use different types of outlines depending on the type of writing I'm doing.  So for this course, I don't require any specific style of outline - instead, I present three different outline approaches that I tend to use, and you can pick any of these choices.  Or you can use a different approach entirely - that's perfectly all right.  I encourage you to follow an approach that's comfortable for you.

Friday, July 3, 2015

Trial By Fury: CHAT and Amanda Knox

In Douglas Preston's Trial By Fury, we see an example that's very close to the types of writing research I'm expecting you to do for your projects.  Although Preston doesn't directly reference Cultural-Historical Activity Theory, his work shows the interplay between social media genres such as websites and Wikipedia and the social factors surrounding the writing.  For our discussion, we want to look at the relationships he's found the ways in which he's organized these into a coherent narrative.

Research Quotes: Organizing Information

One of the keys to good research is collecting large quantities of information, and then organizing that information into a coherent narrative that others can understand.
  1. Direct quotes have quotation marks, indirect quotes (paraphrasing) won't.
  2. Each quote must have the author's last name listed (following MLA in-text citation)
  3. I encourage you to give a line or two of your personal thoughts about the quote, but this is not required.  (Something like "I like this quote because..." or "This indicates that..."
  4. For each quote, include 1-3 keywords (think hashtags).  Something like "genre convention...." or "CHAT term..."

Quick Note: If this feels like busy work, you’re doing it wrong. Seriously. Write down the weirdest / most interesting quotes you find. Don’t worry about how they’ll fit. That’s what the outline is for.