May 13, 2008

Your podcasts on iTunes.

If you want to see yourself on iTunes (if you have it on your computer), search the music store for "Pass the Peace." You should see our program as the first under the "Podcast" heading on the results page. Just click on that and you'll see your files. You're famous!

Hope you all have a good summer.

Grades posted

I've posted final grades on WebVista. Please let me know ASAP if you see any errors. I plan to submit those to the university on Wednesday afternoon.

May 9, 2008

Course wrap up

Just to repeat, your final audio projects are due Monday by noon. There's two places where those need to get posted:

1) Audio goes on the project blog. Instructions on that here:

2) The script (with citations) and your project reflection are submitted as attachments on WebVista through the "On the Air" link. More information on the project reflection can be found here:

In addition, those reflections can be places to explain any technical difficulties you encountered while creating this project--explaining how your project is weaker than you'd like it to be.

In addition to that final project, you have the option of completing the extra credit option for the final course reflection. That can also be submitted as an attachment on WebVista and is described in this post:

All work must be submitted by that noon deadline--I will not accept late work after that point. I hope to post grades on WebVista by the end of the day Wednesday (possibly sooner) and will turn in grades to the U sometime late Thursday.

Let me know if you have any questions about all this as we wrap up.

May 7, 2008


If you have a microphone, please bring it to Thursday's class to hand back. We can talk in class if you feel you need it beyond that time. I will not post your final grade if you still have a microphone checked out.

May 6, 2008

Confirming final schedule changes

I'm writing to put down on paper the schedule changes we discussed in class today.

1) The final draft of your last project is now due by noon next Monday, May 12th. There are NO late assignments for this assignment--if it's not in by that point, you will not receive credit. You will post the MP3 on the course blog (see my previous post on this) and turn in the script and reflection to WebVista as attachments.

2) If you would like some extra credit, I'm offering a revised version of the final course reflection. You can pick ONE course objective you feel you've either improved on or done well this semester and argue for that, using the criteria talked about on that assignment. You'll receive up to 10 points extra credit for doing so. Turn that in by Monday noon as well on WebVista.

On Thursday, we'll talk about how the course went, finish up revision groups, go over the final reflection extra credit, and you'll have time to work as needed. Feel free to bring food if you'd like.

Please let me know if you have questions about this change.

May 2, 2008

Last week!!!

Second drafts of your commentary are due next Tuesday. If you'd like to assure feedback from me, however, you need to post by Monday at noon. I'll try to get those back as soon as I can, certainly no later than Tuesday afternoon and probably before. I can't guarantee feedback on drafts posted after that point. Remember to post both the text of your script (the Word document) and an MP3 of your project.

**IMPORTANT: Bring headphones to class on Tuesday so you can revise in class!!!**

In class on Tuesday, we'll do that revision and you'll have a chance to fill out course evaluations. We'll also talk briefly about the project reflection, which should be turned in with the final draft. It should be 1-2 pages long and answer the following questions:

1) How did you try to make this project interesting and appealing for your audience?
2) How did you try to make your argument relevant and convincing for your audience?
3) Why did you include the audio background you did? What does it add to your project?

As I grade this project, 80 points will go to the piece itself, based on your argument, appeal, evidence, and style/conciseness. 20 points will go to the reflection, based on how well you explain the decisions you made.

The final project is due on Thursday. You'll post that on a project blog, which I'll also mention on Tuesday. Just bring the MP3 to class with you. I'll also ask for a printed copy of your script and project reflection. We'll spend most of that time debriefing the course and talking about the final course reflection, due Monday of finals week.

We're almost done!!

April 30, 2008

One other draft note

One last thing: Just as with your second paper, these aren't commercials for the issue you're focusing on. That is to sya, be careful of being too black and white about things. You can admit weaknesses even in points of view/actions you support, just so long as you feel the balance of evidence supports what you say. Think particularly about how some ideas which sound good in practice might become more complicated in reality. I'll also talk about this a little more tomorrow in class.

Draft notes

I've now returned all drafts that were turned in on time for the final project. I should get to the couple of late assignments by the end of the day. In general, these were rougher than I was expecting. Probably the biggest problem I saw across drafts was a lack of really reliable evidence for the points you all were making. In many pieces, there was a lot of personal opinion or very limited examples. Opinion isn't necessarily bad, but if it's only opinion, you need to have personal authority to back up what you've said. That is, you have to know what you're talking about. When I designed this assignment, I imagined you'd draw on the evidence you used for your second or third papers. These pieces don't need to be highly factual, but offer some facts or stories from those sources here or there to support your opinion. If you've chosen a new topic, then that will probably mean additional research for you. But even newspaper editorials usually rely on some evidence to support what they're saying.

Along these lines, you all will need to introduce yourself early on in these pieces--state your name and whatever background you think is relevant. Otherwise, this will just be a disembodied voice speaking, which doesn't really work.

Citation was pretty rough in these drafts, so that's something to work on as well. We'll talk about wordiness on Thursday.

Lastly, remember that these are audio pieces--meant to be heard. If you haven't already been doing so, speak your piece aloud so that you have a chance to hear what it sounds like. Is it interesting? Something someone would want to listen to for a few minutes? If not, how could you use humor, emotionally engaging examples, or other such devices to make it more so?

April 24, 2008

Saving audio as an MP3 in Audacity

Today we had a chance to experiment a bit with Audactiy, a free audio editing program. I've put a link to a download page for that program in the Essay 4 folder--it's free and probably the best option of its kind. If you're on a Mac, Garage Band is a better program, I've been told, but it does cost a little money, I think.

When you've created your audio piece, you'll need to save it as an MP3 in order to share it. Instructions for how to do that are posted below.

Important note for Mac users using Garage Band: I believe the default file format for Garage Band is m4a--an Apple only format. You have to use iTunes to convert it to mp3--you can try to google instructions for how to do that. Since mp3s are more universal, that's the format I prefer.

Saving as an MP3 in Audacity
Once you've got your draft in more or less the state you want it, choose "Export as MP3" under the file menu. Audacity needs an additional file (a LAME encoder, in tech speak) to do this, and will ask for that file once you type in a file name to save under. Here's a link to where you can download that LAME file. Once you've downloaded it, double click on the folder, and then again on the next folder that comes up. You should see a file called "lame_enc.dll" Move that file somewhere on the computer you're using (such as in the Documents folder). When Audacity asks you to find that file, simply browse to where you saved it. Then export your file.

April 16, 2008

Got headphones?

We'll be starting to work with audio in class beginning a week from tomorrow, April 24th. To that end, you'll need to bring headphones to class with you so that we aren't deafened by the many computers. Let me know if this poses a hardship--Target has them for $10 and under if you don't currently have any.

April 9, 2008

Thursday conferences

These will be held in 276 Appleby Hall. Come with questions about your paper. A missed conference counts as a late assignment.

Important disclaimer: My son woke up with a fever today, and there's a chance I might need to help take care of him for part of the day tomorrow, which would mean rescheduling/cancelling a few things. For now, I'm planning on everything going according to schedule. But I'll send out an email as soon as I know if things change--no latter than tomorrow morning at 8.

Thursday, April 10:
10:10 John F.
10:20 Abdulla A.
10:35 Arsenio W.
12:00 Natalie C.
12:15 Grant G.

April 8, 2008

Clarifying the assignment

[Note: I wrote this post for my other two sections, who are a little ahead of you. But my guess is it may be relevant for our class as well. Sorry for the length!]

Based on what I saw in the drafts this week, it seems clear we need to do some more work clarifying the expectations for this assignment. There were some positive things: for the most part, for instance, I was happy with the sources people were using. I think the research aspect of this assignment is coming along well. Unfortunately, though, many of these drafts were mostly informative summaries of tinformation on the topic, not a more critically minded literature review.

Broadly speaking, the difference between those two is that summaries simply state the information in your source. In a literature review, you're comparing sources, categorizing them, and thinking critically about their strengths and weaknesses. You give a lot more attention to the sources themselves, talking about them explicitly. Let me outline a few places where that came out.

The first paragraph of your essay introduces your topic. In many cases, that introduction focused only on your topic--saying that the paper would provide more information on an important issue. Here's an example from a first paragraph:

Malnutrition is especially significant for children whom require a high calorie diet as a key building block to growth and development. Underweight is attributed to 53 percent of deaths in children (Onis 2600). There are children literally wasting away in some countries while children are grossly overweight in others. The international community and non-governmental organizations are working to end malnutrition with new ways to address the issue.

Note that here the focus is on malnutrition as an issue and what governments are doing. There's nothing about the actual research into this subject--whether it's focusing on agricultural, economic, or political factors for malnutrition, for example. That first paragraph sets the tone for your paper, and you need to think early on about describing how you see these sources fitting together. That doesn't mean that you couldn't say that many articles focus on the need for government action, but it needs to be the articles themselves that you ultimately focus on, not the larger issue.

#2 Critical thinking
Remember that when I'm talking about argument and critical reading with this assignment, I have two things in mind. First, I'm expecting you will look for connections between sources--places where they agree or differ, where they take a different perspective on an issue. You need to be explicit about those--don't just use the information from the source, but talk about them. "Source x approaches this issue by focusing on... In contrast, source y pays more attention to..."

Second, I'm also looking for you to think critically about these sources themselves, just as you did with your first paper. What strengths do you see in these studies, particularly in what they contribute to our understanding of the subject? What's left out of them, especially in comparison to other similar pieces? What important questions do they raise, but leave unanswered?

I'll give you another example:

Exercising through pregnancy is not only allowed, but typically encouraged by doctors. The type of exercise preformed may have to be modified to fit the woman’s body and the safety of the baby. 30 minutes three to four times a week is recommended and there is a large array of activities safe and affective during the nine months of pregnancy (Perinatal Care). Walking, swimming, stationary biking, prenatal aerobics classes are all good choices for expecting mothers (Healthy Pregnancy, Healthy Baby). Exercises to avoid while pregnant are fairly aggressive sports. Skiing, rock climbing, horseback riding would all classify as dangers to the mother and baby (Healthy Pregnancy, Healthy Baby). Also it is important to pay attention to body temperature while exercising. If the core temperature is too high, it can be detrimental to the baby. Stay hydrated and take breaks whenever necessary.

Here there's lots of information about the subject at hand. But it's all reported in a very factual, objective way. The sources themselves aren't talked about explicitly--how they approach the subject, the evidence they draw upon, how their perspectives are similar or different. Or even what's left out. It's just "information" here, without comment. Certainly, you'll have to do some summary in this paper, but I want to see your own voice there as well.

#3-Using more than one source for each topic
Obviously, in this piece, you're dealing with some fairly dense scholarly work. It can be hard to simply understand that, let alone create a critical response. Making sure you have multiple sources addressing an issue can really help with this. Especially with scholarly sources, there needs to be a reason for a new study/article/book on the subject. It's looking at the issue in some new way. So reading multiple studies/articles on a subject can help you see where there's room for different perspectives on a topic.

For some of you, this means narrowing your topic a bit. For example, someone might look at the role of peer groups in eating disorders, looking at children, adolescents, and middle age. But only one study on each. There's probably several studies available for each of those groups, though, and looking at more than one gives you a richer, multidimensional view of where the research is at on that subject. So narrowing down a bit, maybe leaving out a group but including multiple studies on others, might be a good solution.

One main goal for this assignment is for you to not just accept the results of a study, even a highly scientific one, without question. Just because a study says something, doesn't make it so. Don't just present what these sources say as fact--think about them. What do they leave out? What questions do they raise but not answer? How do they agree or disagree with one another? That's the kind of thinking I'm really looking for here.

I apologize for the long post here, but I feel it's important since we don't have class again before our next draft. Let me know if you have any questions about what I posted here.

April 7, 2008

Office hours this week

I won't be holding office hours on Tuesday and Thursday this week due to ongoing conferences. If you would like to talk, send me an email and we can try to set up a time.

April 3, 2008

A note about your topic for this paper

I haven't mentioned this in class, but need to. Your final assignment this semester is an audio commentary, similar to a newspaper editorial. The most natural subject for that piece will be whatever you researched in your literature review. So as you're finalizing a topic, keep in mind that this is something you'll be writing a more argumentative piece about in your last assignment.

March 28, 2008

No office hours next week

I will not be holding office hours next week due to conferences. Let me know if you feel you need to meet outside of class time and we can set something up.

March 7, 2008

Conference p.s.

Remember that Monday's conferences will be in 276 Appleby, not my office. A missed conference counts as a late assignment.

March 5, 2008

Conference schedule-Thursday

Here's a list of conferences I have scheduled for tomorrow. Remember that class is cancelled so you can do research and I can conference with you. If you weren't in Tuesday's class, contact me ASAP about setting up another conference time. They're worth up to 10 points, and a missed conference counts as a late assignment. Come prepared to talk about your research. We meet in room 276 Appleby--Amy Lee's name will be on the door.

Thursday, March 6

11:00--Abdullahi A.
11:15--Bounkheanna C.
11:25--Natalie C.

12:05--Mike B.
12:15--Tamika C.
1:00--Danicka B.

March 3, 2008

Bring research plans tomorrow

If you all can print off your research plans before class tomorrow, that will be helpful. We'll be talking about them in class. Also, those of you who got those plans submitted online before today's noon deadline should now have feedback on them. I also plan to have grades updated online before the end of the day. See you tomorrow...

February 28, 2008

Notes from today's class

Many people weren't at class today (you all are using the revised schedule, right?), so I wanted to post a couple of important notes for next week. I also handed out the short research plan assignment, which is now also posted in the Course Materials section of WebVista. The link to turn that in is now on the WebVista homepage as well.

First, there's two readings on the schedule for next Tuesday. One, "Polaroids" we've already read. I've decided we can read the other one in class--it's a sample paper for this assignment. So no reading needed for that class--just show up.

Second, it sounds like the North High students have decided to just focus on Nicollet Mall for their observations. I'm not crazy about that, since it limits the amount of collaboration we'll have available. But it is what it is. With that in mind, there's not a deeply compelling reason why all groups need to do their observations at the same time--the point of it was to do that with the North students. So after discussing that with people in class today, we voted to cancel that Wednesday observation time.

That means that you are now responsible for setting up a time to do observation and interviewing at space you've chosen to look at. We'll have conferences starting next Thursday to talk about your observations, so it's important that you start those soon--I'll expect you to have done a significant amount of research by that conference time.

One other note not covered in clas: if you were really interested in a particular site but didn't get put in that group, I'm willing to listen to requests to shift sites, with the exception of Central Library, which has already got plenty of attention. If you'd like to switch, send me an email by the end of the weekend (Sunday night) explaining why you'd prefer the new site. This could be a site we've already listed, or somewhere else you'd find interesting. No changes will be allowed after Sunday, however, since you need to start your research after that point.

February 19, 2008

More on tomorrow

Just a reminder that we're meeting in 120 Burton Hall from 3-5 tomorrow. Here's a map:

We'll be talking about our shared observation with North High Students. For the last 30-60 minutes, we'll be showing them around campus, so be thinking about spots you might want to show them to get a taste of life at college. Coffman, for example, or maybe even a nearby dorm (anyone in Sanford?).

February 1, 2008

Microsoft Office info

If any of you have Office 2003 on your PC, 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.

If you'd like to just upgrade, you can do that cheaply through the U. Go to the following address: From there, you can order Office 2007 for PC and either download it for free or pay less than $10 to get the DVD version (I'd recommend the latter in case your computer ever crashes or you get a new one).

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). According to their website, the U will also have Office 2008 for Mac available in about 10 days with similar terms to the PC software.

January 17, 2008

Welcome to 1301

This is the course blog for Writing 1301, sections 17 and 23, taught in Spring 2008 by Jerry Shannon. I'll be posting updates on the course here at least once a week. You can also sign up for email updates to this blog by using a service called FeedBurner. Just enter your email address in the box to the left, type in the verification word, and then check your email account for a confirmation message that you have to click.