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December 7, 2007

Week 14 (and last) update

Next week we finish up everything. On Monday, you'll have most of the class time to work on your portfolios. We'll do a little workshopping at the end of that class time. I'll also announce the winners of each debate during that time.

Wednesday is our last class. We'll talk about how this course has gone. I'm also inviting you all to bring snacks/food of your choice to share. We may have a 1/2 hour or so to watch a food related film--if there's one you'd like to nominate, bring it to class.

Portfolios are due Friday by 4 PM (though I will accept them whenever you're done). I'll be in my office Thursday from 10 (or earlier) until 2 and again for most of the day on Friday. If I'm not around during business hours, you can leave portfolios in 150 Wesbrook, the First Year Writing office next door to my office.

I hope you felt this course was worth your time and gave you a variety of experiences with both research and writing. I appreciated your work and always learn from the information and ideas you write about.

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 16, 2007

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!

November 2, 2007

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:

http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=aph&AN=22492544&site=ehost-live
http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=aph&AN=22492541&site=ehost-live

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.

October 26, 2007

Week 8 update

Next week we'll keep working at your research projects. On Monday, we're meeting in the lobby of Wilson Library. If you get there more than five minutes late, we'll end up down in the basement periodicals section, so you can look for me there. You'll primarily be exploring the place on your own, doing a kind of nerdy scavenger hunt.

On Wednesday, you've got a piece to read--"I'll Take Chop Suey" (disregard the student paper listed on the syllabus). We'll use that to talk a bit more about research and scholarly writing. We'll also have some more time to talk about research methods in class.

No class Friday--you'll be signing up for another round of conferences on Wednesday. That means I'll have people coming around for my office hours for the next week or two, so try to contact me beforehand if you're thinking of coming in without an appointment, just to make sure I'm not already scheduled for someone else.

Also, next Thursday, I'm moving office hours up two hours because of another commitment--to 10-12 in the morning. But again, it will be conferences for most of that time, so let me know if you're planning on coming in.

Thanksgiving is almost on the horizon!!

October 12, 2007

Week 6 update

Next week we continue work on your observation projects. Remember to bring notes from your second observation to class with you on Monday. We'll talk some about the structure of your final project that day. On Wednesday, we'll talk about another piece that's a model for your essay--"Fulton St. Fish Market." Both it and "A Time to Gather" provide two different approaches to structuring and developing your piece. On both Monday and Wednesday you'll have 20-25 minutes to write in class, so come prepared to use that time.

On Friday, the first (and only) draft of your paper is due. We'll go over a draft as a whole class and begin talking about formal writing style.

Have a good weekend...

October 5, 2007

Week 5 update

Next week we'll be digging into this observation project. On Monday, you should come to class with notes from your first observation. They should be in the double-entry format, as we talked about in class last week. If that format doesn't work for you, know that I won't be requiring it for the 2nd observation. You have a piece to read, "Polaroids," and we'll be talking about how to reflect on that observation.

On Wednesday, we'll begin talking about what this paper will look like. You'll have two pieces to read, "Something Very Special" and "A Time to Gather." I also anticipate having your projects graded and ready to pass back by this point.

Let me know if you have any more questions on what's coming up...

September 21, 2007

Week 3 Update

Next week will be a revision week for us. On Monday, you should plan on bringing comments for your revision group members to class. You'll talk in a group and have time to write/revise in class. So plan to bring materials you need to do that as well. On Wednesday, your second draft is due--just post again in your revision group's discussion topic. Friday is revision groups again.

Overall, the first drafts I've seen looked to be in good shape. I'll post some more detailed thoughts on that next Monday. The biggest problems came from too much summarizing and not enough of your own thoughts on the pieces you've read. The goal here is to think critically about these pieces--making connections and asking questions. Stay away from just summarizing what the pieces said.

I've emailed back comments to people in groups 1-3 in each class. I'll try to get some general feedback to people in the other groups by next Monday if I can. Groups 4-6 will get detailed feedback next week.

As I noted in class, I won't be on email most of the weekend, but I can try to answer questions next Monday in class. I may be able to check in over the course of the weekend in case someone has an emergency.

September 14, 2007

Week 2 update

Next week we will shift gears from reading to writing. On Monday, we'll try to revisit the purpose of this assignment and you'll have some time to brainstorm and write in class. We'll also talk about citing, which is another significant part of using sources in academic writing. You don't have anything due for this time.

On Wednesday, your first draft is due. You'll be turning this in online--we'll talk about how that will work on Monday. In class, we'll talk about peer revision, you'll have time to revise, and we'll begin talking about formal style in academic writing.

No class on Friday this week--enjoy the day off! Peer revision groups will meet the following Monday, which will be a big revision week!

September 7, 2007

Week 1 update

Hopefully you all have survived your first week of school unscathed!

Next week we'll continue on with readings for our first essay unit. Monday we'll read "Unhappy Meals"--a piece about nutrition and health. On Wednesday it's "Why the Fries Taste Good" from a book called Fast Food Nation. It's about the rise of processed and corporate food production, as well as the role food science and flavoring plays in those foods. Friday is "The Hidden Cost of Cheap Chicken"--a rather harrowing look at chicken production which raises animal rights issues for us to talk about. I think you'll find them all interesting in their own way. Remember that I expect you to post on each before class time in that Reading Discussions topic.

Also next week, we'll talk about incorporating outside sources. On Monday, we'll address quoting and paraphrasing, and on Wednesday it's citing. You'll have some time to begin working on your paper on Friday, so come prepared to do that--bring some kind of flash drive or other way to transport files if you type.

Please let me know if you're having problems accessing some part of this as we get going. They'll be some bumps in the road as we learn how this will work, so please don't be shy in asking questions!