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December 17, 2007

Final grades posted

Final grades have been posted on WebVista. I intend to submit them formally on Wednesday. Let me know if you have any questions or see any problems between now and then. If you'd like to set up a time to pick up your portfolio (there's only a score on them, no comments) please let me know.

December 10, 2007

Please check grades

I've uploaded your most current grades to WebVista. Please check now to see if there's any inaccuracies. Attendance can be hard to verify at this point, but if there's any assignment errors, let me know ASAP.

December 4, 2007

Group presentation schedules

My apologies for not posting this earlier. Remember to have read each group's position paper (unless its your group's topic) and post questions prior to class time.

Wednesday:
Section 17-Chocolate and breast feeding/formula
Section 24-Breast feeding/formula and fast food/obesity

Friday:
Section 17-Drinking age and vegetarian/meat
Sectoin 24-Drinking age

November 16, 2007

P.S.

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.

November 9, 2007

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.

October 24, 2007

Office hours Thursday

Due to a family medical appointment, I have to cancel office hours tomorrow. Let me know if you were planning on stopping by. Sorry to abbreviate those so much this week--I don't see any problems for the foreseeable future.

October 17, 2007

Thursday office hours

Due to a couple of meetings that have come up, I need to shorten office hours tomorrow (Thursday). They will end at 1:15 rather than 2. Please let me know if you were planning to come in during that time and we can set up another appointment.

Also on research

Feel free to do some online research to get context for the place/group you're studying. We'll talk more about research starting next week, but for now, be sure to use sources you feel are trustworthy. Anybody can have a webpage--why do you trust this one?

Citing interviews

Just a note to remind you that you need to cite interviews or other outside sources used in your upcoming draft. For interviews, the format would be as follows.

Smith, Joe. Personal Interview. 17 Oct. 2007.

As long as it's clear in your paper that the fact/quote came from this person, you don't need to cite. If not, then just use their last name--(Smith). If you didn't get permission to use their name, and they're not an "official" at the place, just a private person, then you might also consider using a pseudonym--a made up name that protects their real name.

October 12, 2007

Conference reminders for Oct. 15

By way of a reminder, I'll be posting upcoming conference times on the course blog. Remember to come prepared to talk about the current assignment--what you've seen or plan to look for in your observations. Let me know ASAP if you need to reschedule--a missed conference counts as a late assignment:

Monday, October 15
11:30-Ci K.
11:45-Ashley S.

October 11, 2007

Grades posted on WebVista

I've now posted grades on WebVista for the first part of the course--including all assignments to this point, except for the one extra credit assignment, which I'll add soon. Let me know if you see any errors, especially attendance, since that's tricky to fix as time goes on. Just click on the "My Grades" button on the left hand tool-bar--it has an "A" on it.

Conferences for Friday, Oct. 12

By way of a reminder, I'll be posting upcoming conference times on the course blog. Remember to come prepared to talk about the current assignment--what you've seen or plan to look for in your observations. Let me know ASAP if you need to reschedule--a missed conference counts as a late assignment:

Friday, October 12
9:10-Shaniseia D.
9:25-Rachel F.
9:35-Allison K.
9:50-Sarah G.
10:00-Kelli L.
10:15-Alyssa L.
10:25-Jeff B.
10:40-Melanie V.
10:50-Jane E.

October 4, 2007

Conferences for Friday, October 5th

By way of a reminder, I'll be posting upcoming conference times on the course blog. Remember to come prepared to talk about the current assignment--what you've seen or plan to look for in your observations. Let me know ASAP if you need to reschedule--a missed conference counts as a late assignment:

Friday, October 5
9:10-Emily T.
9:25-Molly L.
9:35-Theresa A.
9:50-Collin J.
10:00-Dan M.
10:15-Dan J.
10:25-Jessica D.
10:40-Kyle M.
10:50-Dehang Z.

1:00-Margaret H.
1:25-Tyler K.

September 28, 2007

A couple of examples

I've been talking with several of you in office hours about how to develop your analysis in these papers. So I thought I'd try to post a couple of examples from drafts of good ways to do that. Here's a sample from a piece on "In My Mother's Kitchen" that I think does a good job of it. This writer pulls details together from several different points in the narrative to make a larger point about what Eng learns through this experience. She's not just summarizing, but actively making connections between different parts of the text:

Food has yet another purpose within Eng’s article: it serves as an occasion when there is none other to be found. When she was younger, breakfast was an entire meal, set out in order to prepare everyone for another day at work or school. Eng’s mother always said, “You could never concentrate in class…if your stomach wasn’t full� (316). Dinner was a reason for the family to collect at the end of the day and talk, in order to bond and keep the familial connection strong. As the kids got older and made friends, they hung out in the cafeteria or dining hall of their schools, chatting with friends and socializing, eating their lunches while sharing stories and laughter and making memories. Even before everyone is out of school, Eng’s mother brings them all together for sporadic dinners, reuniting everyone at the same table they grew up at. There was almost never an occasion; Eng’s mother “needed no special occasion� (317) in order to gather everyone at her table. By the end of the article Eng has realized that food can be its own occasion, and she sets about honoring that fact by trying to learn how to cook like her mother, which turns out to be an occasion in and of itself. There again is the clash of modernization v. tradition, and there is where the idea of a mixture of Chinese and American is born.

When dealing with argumentative pieces, the focus might be more on how convincing the piece is. This next writer is talking about Singer and Mason's article about the meat industry. After summarizing the mistreatments chickens face during the production process, she writes the following:

Obviously these arguments appeal to people interested in preserving animal rights. But what about those who aren’t? It doesn’t take a genius to realize chickens feel pain or that they have enough intelligence to recognize other chickens (Singer 22). In fact, most people understand and accept that brutal, horrible things happen to animals in order to feed them even if they don’t know the gritty details. After all, how pleasant could a slaughterhouse be? Yet people still buy meat products in excess. Therefore, I do not think Peter Singer’s description of the treatment of chickens alone will ultimately fulfill his goal of boycotting the company. However, the inclusion of another problem posed by the meat industry may better convince readers.

Notice here that she's not just summarizing Singer and Mason's point, but thinking about how effective these arguments are or the assumptions that are behind their argument. Certainly, you can also talk about how effectively Eng or White talk about their families, but this kind of thinking is perhaps better suited to these argumentative pieces.

In any case, I hope this helps you all get a better sense of the kind of thinking I'm looking for in these papers. The ability to critically analyze pieces in this way is immensely valuable in college writing. You don't just have to understand pieces, you have to be able to contextualize them and critically reflect on the points they make.

September 26, 2007

FYI--draft comments

For a few different reasons, I'm guessing that I'll only be able to give comments to groups 4-6 in each class on the second draft. If you are in groups 1-3 and have specific questions, feel free to email me about them or stop by during my office hours tomorrow (12-2). I'll also give those folks priority for in-class conferences on Friday.

A friendly note from your instructor

Please include your name on all drafts you submit for this class. It can be a hassle to try to figure out who wrote a certain draft otherwise. It also serves your classmates well in this regard. Thanks!

September 24, 2007

Workaround for reading drafts

If you're having problems downloading classmates drafts, here's another way to do that. Click on the checkbox next to the posts you'd like to download in your revision group topic. Then click on "Create Printable View." Then click on "Save as File." and choose OK to also save attachments. The .zip file that downloads should be opened by Windows, and the drafts you want should be inside. That's probably the easiest way to get around the problems some of you have been having.

One other download issue

Something else for you all to try if you're having trouble clicking on the file attachments. Try saving those files on your hard drive and then changing the suffix from ".zip" to ".docx"--then try opening them in Word. I think that might solve the problem. The new format can be read as a compressed file.

Office 2007 conversion issues

Just another update for any of you who've had problems reading documents with the "docx" format--from Office 2007. For Mac users, there's no perfect solution, but this should work:

Here's the link

This will convert those files to RTF format, which you can read in Mac Office 2004 (or any other word processor)

For Office 2003 users on the PC, here's the updated link for the plugin to read those files:

Here's the link

Let me know if either of those don't work for you--particularly if you don't have a version of Office installed on your computer.

September 18, 2007

Office 2007 compatibility

If any of you have Office 2003 on your older computer, you may need to install additional software to read files from the newest version of Office (2007). This is the link to Microsoft's site where you can download that software.

Sample paper

I mentioned this in both classes, but there's a sample paper you guys can look at in the Resources section of WebVista. Here's a link. It may give you a better idea of what I'm looking for with this piece.

September 10, 2007

An extra credit opportunity

Two extra credit opportunities are listed in the syllabus: sharing your draft for whole class review and going to the Center for Writing for additional help. In addition to those, I'm going to make one more option available:

You can visit one of two "alternative" food systems close to campus. The University Farmer's Market is open on Wednesdays from 11-2 here on campus and runs through September. The North Country Co-op is close to campus as well, and also has a variety of local and/or organic food options. Spend some time at one of these two places Then write a 300-400 word reaction (about a page or more) to what you saw and turn it in to me. Focus on what was new or unique about this experience. How are they different than your local grocery or convenience store? What advantages or disadvantages did you notice? Talk to any people working at these locations to learn more about how food is produced and sold there. Basically, summarize what you learned from your experience. As long as you seem to have spent time thinking about your experience there (i.e., don't just list what you did, but also include your reactions to that experience), you will receive 10 points extra credit for this.

August 27, 2007

Welcome to the course!

This is the course blog for Writ1301 (University Writing), sections 17 and 24. Throughout the semester, I'll be posting news and reminders about this course on this blog page. If you'd like to sign up to have these posts sent to your email, just enter it in the box to the right. IMPORTANT:You'll have to validate your email address by responding to an email sent to that address before it will work. But it's a helpful way to stay up to date with what's coming up.