Here’s the new Unit 2 for the rest of this unit:

We’re still talking about issues that matter to you… and how you change minds, educate people, have an impact on your community. But we’re going to approach it a little differently.

Keep your issue/slant.

  1. Pick three examples of people are “composing” texts about that issue/topic.
    • Social media, including YouTube
    • News media/articles, like CNN or Washington Post or New York Times
    • Anything else that’s NOT social media or news article (personal essay, song, comic, movie, poem, advertisements, graphic novel, political cartoon)
  2. Analyse them:
    • Know Your Publication questions.
    • Mentor Text analysis.
    • Reverse Outline.
  3. Do some research on your topic/issue, whatever you think will help you get your point across.
  4. Create a short piece/example of at least one of your three examples. For example, if you’re talking about teen depression, create an Instagram story for teens.
  5. Write an approximately 1000 word combination personal/research piece for a specific audience (use one of the Perusall mentor texts as a structural aide). For example, if you’re talking about teen depression, write a piece for the adults who read New York Magazine to tell them why they should be paying attention.

Here are the tools you’ll be using:

Know your publication:

  • What kinds of articles/ stories/ media (and ads and videos for that matter) are on that site or in that publication?  
  • What does that tell you about who they think their audience is? How do you draw that conclusion?
  • How long are the pieces usually? (pages, words, minutes)?
  • What is the tone, usually? (funny, serious, casual)
  • What kind of diction is usually used? (casual, formal, academic, etc.) 
  • How do they usually use evidence/ support (such as data, quotations, interviews, etc)?
  • What can you tell us about their visual presentation?  Is it all black and white text? Video with lots of graphics? 

Mentor Text analysis:

  • Main Point: what’s the main point of the piece? Does the author explicitly tell you what the main point is, and if so, where?
  • Details: List a couple of the most memorable moments and say why they were so memorable.
  • Language: Talk about the language in the piece (non-standard, standard written English, slang, poetic, straightforward, multilingual) and why it was appropriate for this piece.
  • Techniques: How did the author grab the audience’s attention? What techniques did they use to keep the audience going to the end?

Reverse Outline worksheet:

  • Divide the piece into logical sections: written pieces are in paragraphs, video is by scene or cut, and everything has a beginning-middle-end structure.
  • Then use the worksheet below to help you see the structure. You’ll use this structure as a guide to create your own examples.

Workflow and Schedule

3/11 – Begin analysis of three texts.

HW (due 3/18): Upload/work on your analyses using the Google Folder -> Unit -Your name

3/16 – Conducting research

HW: Analysis of three texts

3/18 – Checking in on your research and moving forward

HW: On OpenLab, post a short summary of at least one of your research sources: (1-2 sentence summary, how useful you think it will be). Title “Sources – your name” Category Sources.

3/23 – Writing the short piece

HW: short piece of one of your texts

3/25 – Share the short pieces, more specifics about the 1000 word piece

HW (due Apr 5 after Spring Break): draft of longer piece

What impact do you want to have on your community? What changes do you want to make in the world to benefit your community? What is a problem in the world you think needs to be fixed?

For Unit 2, your task is to research a current problem or issue in your chosen discourse community. The discourse community can be the one you wrote about in Unit 1, or a different one (such as a social group, a neighborhood, a particular group at City Tech, etc.). The problem/issue should be something that really matters to you and that you want to spend a significant time working on. (Remember if you switch discourse communities not to choose something too broad — not all of New York, for example, but maybe a particular neighborhood in the Bronx, or a group of gamers.)

As a class, we will work to help you research the problem thoroughly so that you have a good idea of what is at the heart of the issue– where the problem really stems from.  Only after you have done that research can you decide who might be able to impact change on that problem. This will be your audience.

  • Your main outcome for Unit 2 will be to write an article that will make an impact on an issue of importance to your discourse community. You will select an audience you think most needs to know about this issue. Then you will turn into a “freelance” writer: you’ll select the most effective target market/publication and most effective genre of article that you believe will impact that audience and encourage them to begin making changes toward solving this problem. Once you decide which publication would best suit your audience, you’ll write, as best you can, in the style of that publication.

It’s important to remember here that you are just looking for the beginnings of solutions– because my guess is that you’ll be picking difficult problems. If, for example, it was easy to come up with a solution to the problem of domestic violence, or racism in the education system, someone would’ve found that solution by now. This doesn’t mean we don’t keep looking with fresh eyes! But don’t try to oversimplify– it’s okay to just begin the conversation.

Grading Criteria

  1. Genre & Audience Awareness. Have you written in a genre that will effectively reach your intended audience? 
  • Appropriateness for the publication.  You will pick a specific publication that you feel will reach your audience (and not just the New York Times– but if you choose the NYT, a particular section!) Does your article seem like a good fit for that publication? Have you paid attention to your mentor article to find the features of this style of writing?
  • Completion of research. This is basically your annotated bibliography.  Did you dig deep in your research and find relevant and credible sources? Does your research reflect a thorough understanding of the problem you are trying to impact?
  • Use of research. So, you did the research.  How were you able to integrate it into your own article and argument?
  • Is it convincing? The goal was to convince your audience to begin making a particular change to benefit your community.  Does your article convince them to do so?
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