Unit 2 Project

Good Trouble 

(1800 words or more)

In “A Talk to Teachers” (1963),  Baldwin writes that “the purpose of education, finally, is to create in a person the ability to look at the world for himself, to make his own decisions, to say to himself this is black or this is white, to decide for himself whether there is a God in heaven or not.  To ask questions of the universe, and then learn to live with those questions, is the way he achieves his own identity” (1). And in his speeches and editorial, Congressman John Lewis urges us to find our own “good trouble.” In a commencement speech he delivered in Atlanta in 2020, he declared, “You must find a way to get in the way. You must find a way to get in trouble, good trouble, necessary trouble. Use what you have … to help make our country and make our world a better place, where no one will be left out or left behind. … It is your time.”

Unit 2 asks you to put together a Reflective Annotated Bibliography on your own “good trouble,” on a topic about which you are passionate. Choose a current issue—local, national, or international– one that you wish to find out more about, and one that you will write about for our final writing project, Unit 3. You may focus on a local New York issue, or one of national or international significance. Broad topics to tackle (that would need to be narrowed down to your particular interest): distance learning, pandemic realities, essential workers, K-12 education, CUNY, gentrification in a particular neighborhood, bike lanes, affordable housing, the state of the subway, monuments, LGBTQ spaces, the parks system, the presidential election, current social movements e.g. Black Lives Matter.  You will be choosing a topic, evaluating and responding to the sources that already exist on this topic, and adding your own voice to the conversation.

As you know, a bibliography is a list of sources that one consults in a research process. A Reflective Annotated Bibliography (RAB) includes more information about each source: a summary of its main ideas, selected representative quotations; context about its publication venue and intended audience; assessment of source credibility; your response to it and how it might be useful for your project.  Once you decide on a topic to investigate, you will want to compile a list of 4 sources in a variety of print and non-print genres: newspaper and journal articles, interviews, documentaries, songs, poems, government reports, etc.

RAB Components:

  • Introduction (300 words)
    • Introduce your topic and why it interests you, what you wish to find out more about
  • Alphabetical list of 4 sources, each with a bibliographic entry (300 words each)
    • Summary of source content
    • 2-3 key quotes (include citation info) that are representative of major ideas (these do not count toward the word count total)
    • Rhetorical analysis of the source (author’s writing style, genre, purpose/ intended audience, and credibility)
    • Your reflection on the source, including your opinion on the content (here you distinguish your own ideas from those of the author/artist) and why you chose to include it
  • Conclusion (300 words)
    • Reflect on the sources you have identified and brought together, and explain how your own thinking or approach to the topic has expanded or changed
    • Address why this new knowledge is important
    • Identify a potential audience for your ideas and consider which genre would be most appropriate to express them

To clarify, your finished product will contain the following:

  • Intro
  • Source Entry 1 (a non-fiction document)
  • Source Entry 2 (a non-print source)
  • Source Entry 3 (you choose genre)
  • Source Entry 4 (you choose genre)
  • Conclusion

Assignment Steps:

  1. Determine your research topic, based on something about which you are passionate and wish to learn more
  2. Review your topic with professor, for approval
  3. Begin researching your topic. From the many sources you find, narrow it down to the four most interesting and worthwhile. Be sure you have a mix of genres with which to work
  4. Read and annotate these sources to flesh out your bibliography entries
  5. Write the introduction and conclusion
  6. Revise and proofread

Evaluation Criteria Checklist

  • Reflection should be readable, informative, and thorough and give a clear sense of both the author’s ideas and your own
  • Sources should be varied in content
  • Sources should be varied in genre
  • Formatting should be clear, with attention to visual organization
  • Citations should follow MLA format
  • Clear sentence structure, grammar, and punctuation


How do I write an entry?

Part 1:

The first part of your entry will be the “bibliographic entry.” This entry gives the publication information, author, date, title and so forth. Websites like www.easybib.com can help you format your entries. The Purdue University OWL (Online Writing Lab) provides a helpful guide to bibliographic form.  Here is one example:  

Fitzgerald, Jill. “Research on Revision in Writing” Review of Educational Research. 57.4 (Winter 1987): 481-506. 

Part 2: 

In the second part of your entry, you will write a summary. This will be useful to you later, because it will give you the rundown of what you’ve read (just in case you forgot.) 

It should convey what the author states in the article and not your opinions. Here is a good time to write what you think the main point is, but also what you think the most important points are (these two things aren’t always the same.) It’s also a good time to make note of what data, facts and evidence the author uses to support their claims, and how they use this evidence to arrive at their conclusions. This will be a paragraph long. 

Part 3:

In the third part of your entry, you will write a reflection. This part is perhaps the most important part, so don’t skimp here!  This is where you respond to the text you’ve read.  Avoid simply agreeing or disagreeing with the author; explain your full reaction. You can quote particular sentences to which you are responding. What questions do you have? What don’t you understand? What other information do you need to look up to better understand this article? If you could say something to this author, what would you say? What does this document tell you about your research question? 

Also consider rhetorical factors here like the genre and the author’s credentials. How do you feel the author’s writing style, awareness of audience and purpose (reason for writing), and choice of genre affect the meaning and credibility of the document? 

Part three will  be 1-2 paragraphs. 

Part 4:

Quotables. This last part doesn’t count toward your word count, but it will help you in Unit 3.  Here, you will make note of at least one direct quote from the author made that you feel really exemplifies the document’s claims or interpretations. You might want to choose a sentence that you really agree or disagree with that you want to refer back to later in your Unit 3 project. You don’t need to repeat something you’ve quoted earlier– this is just a place to take note of quotations you feel you may want to use later. 

Remember to cite all quotes with the page number (if applicable). 

Conclusion ( at least 400 words):

  • You will summarize what you found in your research
  • You will tell readers what surprised you, or how your understanding of your question deepened or changed.
  • You will explain why what you learned is important
  • You will explain who you think needs to know about it and why (Be specific!  The answer can not be “everyone.”  That is too big of an audience.  Narrow it down to who needs to hear about it first!)