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November 30, 2007

Week 13 update

Next week we'll continue work on this debate assignment. On Monday, we'll talk a little about this upcoming course portfolio, but you'll have the rest of the time to work on your group's reaction paper. You basically have until the end of the day Monday to post those--we might say by 9 Tuesday morning is a firmer deadline. To post those, simply have someone from your group reply to the position paper you're reacting to and post your reaction paper as an attachment.

On Wednesday and Friday, we'll have our actual debates. The list of group orders are listed below. Before class, you are responsible for reading all the position papers for that days' groups (unless you're a member of one, in which case, you've already read and responded to them). Before class time, your job is to come up with a question based on each position paper you read (that is, one for each side of the debate). Under the "Debate stuff" folder, there's a "Debate Discussion Topics" folder. Create a post for each topic listing your two questions before class time--it counts the same as any reading discussion.

For each debate, the groups will have about 5 minutes a piece to ask questions of the opposing side--this is your chance to grill your classmates. The remaining time (10-15 minutes) will be open discussion, where the class can ask questions of either team based on their papers. The goal here is to push one another a bit--finding places where the arguments need more support or better reasoning.

Lastly, remember that all group members are responsible for writing an individual reflection after the debate--due at the next class time. Instructions for that are found on the assignment, but this shouldn't take up much of your time.

Let me know if you have questions about any of this--I know it's a little confusing.

November 20, 2007

No office hours Wed.

I will not be in for office hours Wednesday. Happy Thanksgiving!

November 16, 2007


I didn't get a chance to look at groups 1-3 today--had to run to the doctor's office this morning, which was unexpected. Those people will get credit but no comments. So please rely on peer feedback and email me if you have any specific questions about your drafts.

Week 11 notes

Sorry to cancel class today, as I know several of you wanted the chance to chat with me. If you have specific questions, send me an email and I'll do what I can. I'm a single dad through tomorrow night.

In terms of the drafts I looked at, several still had some significant organizational problems in following the assignment. Most summarized sources fairly well, and had specific sections about each source. A few still had a more argumentative organization, combining several sources in each paragraph, which is not what I'm looking for. More commonly, though, people didn't introduce sources very well--stating early on contextual information like the author (including qualifications/background), title, place published, or overall purpose/format. And/or people don't do much to compare/contrast the perspectives or information these articles contain. Both of those are important parts of this project. Look back at the two samples I posted last week for more information on what I'm looking for with this.

Next Monday your final drafts are due. For those, you'll need the following:

Bring to class (preferably in a folder):

  • Printed copy of your final draft

  • Example of feedback you gave to someone

  • Printed copies of sources you used (the pages you cited from at the very least)

Post online:

  • Electronic copy of your final draft in the appropriate TurnItIn.com spot in "Research Project Stuff"--you can also do this in class if you're not sure what to do. Just be sure to bring the file with you

We'll talk about this project and get started on the debate project during that class time. No class on Wednesday. Happy Thanksgiving (almost)!

November 9, 2007

Week 10 update

Next week we continue work on these research projects. On Monday, we'll be working on citation, revisiting style, and doing some brainstorming for your final project (a lot for one class!). Please bring copies of your sources to class so we can do some workshopping on citation in particular.

On Wednesday and Friday, we'll dig into your second drafts. The draft itself is due Wednesday, in the same place as your first draft. We'll talk about paraphrasing and plagiarism during that class time, using the TurnItIn service. Don't worry about doing anything with TurnItIn before class-that's something I'll help you with. Revision groups are on Friday again.

Please don't forget that if you haven't already conferenced with me about this paper, it is your responsibility to do so by the end of next week. Conferences during the revision group time count for this. I've got conferences set up for my other class next week during office hours, so if you're planning on stopping by, send me an email to make sure someone else won't already be here.

Only twelve more class times to go!

Draft notes

As promised, I'm posting a couple of examples of papers I think approached this assignment well. Neither are perfect, but I think they get the general idea. Here's the first:

On the other hand, Indur M. Goklany, the author of “Saving Habitat and Conserving Biodiversity on a Crowded Planet,� a journal article in BioScience, argues that technological advances, like the implementation of genetically modified crops, actually help the environment. Using genetically modified crops prevents further deforestation, irrigation, and fertilizer runoff, and allows the same farmland to feed more and more people. In addition, habitats are not being displaced by new farmland. According to Goklany, “If technology had been ‘frozen’ in 1961, then merely to feed the world’s 1993 population at the inadequate levels of 1961, it would have been necessary to increase agricultural lands by at least 80% over 1961 levels� (941). Therefore, with new technology, farmers have been able to increase yield and prevent creating new farmland. This scholarly source is very credible, coming from a respected journal, and it contains a good amount of scientific data to clarify and support its positions. The viewpoint of the author is that GM crops and other new technology can actually be beneficial to the environment. There is much disagreement between this source and the first source, written by Vandana Shiva. Shiva may have argued that this land, with intensive industrial cultivation, may become unsustainable, and therefore not beneficial to the environment at all.

This writer does a good job of giving some context for the source, summarizing its most important points, and then reflecting on it. The best part of the second paragraph to me is the connection to a previous source. The credibility question can actually be addressed in the first part of the first paragraph, just by stating that this is a scientific study (and therefore scholarly) which is richly detailed.

Here's another example:

In the book “Energy Eating: The Vegetarian Way�, Lucy Moll stresses the idea of the “biological food craving�. She describes this biological food craving as, “a nutritional need for a certain type of food to balance brain chemicals� (88). She argues that these cravings are not only normal, but necessary to fulfill as well. It is the body’s way of voicing its needs. By denying the body these needs, it is being denied of the opportunity to function at peak ability. When the biological food cravings are fulfilled, “high spirits, calm nerves, energy, better concentration, clearer and quicker thinking, improved memory and heightened physical performance� may be experienced (88). This is because it is brain chemicals that are triggering the craving. More specifically, it is neurotransmitters that trigger the craving. The most common neurotransmitters that are associated with cravings are endorphins, serotonin, norepinephrine, dopamine and neuropeptide Y (88). When these transmitters are satisfied, they are able to release the good feelings listed previously. This also explains why women tend to get more cravings, especially chocolate, during certain times of their menstrual cycle. The fluctuating hormones and neurotransmitter cause the brain to trigger more cravings then at other times (100). While this all seemed great and wonderful, I found a lack in an explanation to why it is these transmitters that cause the food cravings as opposed to other ones. I also wondered if the only reason we crave food is because we want that pleasurable feeling. That lead me to thinking whether the underlying cause of food craving is the body’s actual way of craving the pleasure hormones, and food is an easy way to obtain them. While I found this book to be a helpful source in my research, I think it could have touched on some more in depth reasoning.

Here again, this writer introduces the source, summarizes it, and then gives some reflection. The "I" here isn't totally necessary--the writer could have just said that "Moll fails to explain why these transmitters..." rather than inserting herself. I'd also like to see a connection to the other sources used in this paper. But this gets the general idea down.

Hopefully this helps! Please don't hesitate to contact me if you're unsure of my expectations for this piece.

November 2, 2007

Monday's conference times

Sorry--forgot to post this earlier...

9:10-Allison K.
9:25-Rachel F.
9:35-Shanisea D.
9:50-Susan Y.
10:00-Emily T.
10:15-Kelly L.
10:25-Alyssa L.
10:40-Kevin W.
10:50-Jeff B.

1:00-Ci K.
1:15-Kyle M.
1:25-Sara M.
1:40-Michelle J.
1:50-Ashley S.
2:15-Janani L.
2:25-Michael B.

Week 9 update

Next week we continue work on this research project. No class on Monday, since conferences are ongoing. I'll post those times below in case anyone loses them. Be sure to be using this time for research!! You need time to encounter a few dead ends before that first draft on Wednesday. Also know that your job isn't just to find six sources here--you need to find six good sources that have some connection to one another--covering similar topics, for example. You may need to read twice that many before you really get a good group to focus on.

I've also had several people ask me about the format of this piece. Overall, your goal is not to make a single argumentative point here. Rather, you're talking about these sources--what they say about your subject and where they connect/disagree with one another. You're also evaluating these sources by explaining what you find most or least valuable about them in regards to your research question. That last point is probably the least important for this piece however. So your argument here isn't about your topic--it's about your sources. Your conclusion can state some implications of these sources--whether Splenda really is the best artificial sweetener, for example, and why--but that's not the main focus of your piece.

This piece fits in the broad genre of what's called a "literature review." Those are much more complicated than what you're writing, but here's a link to two examples of those:


You can see how these sources discuss a wide variety of sources on a single subject and try to find some connections to one another. The conclusions of those pieces say something about possibilities of future research and what we can know from what's already been done.

Your draft is due on Wednesday, and we'll revise a piece then as a whole class, continuing to work on style. Friday is revision groups. Let me know if you have any questions about your research or this assignment.