Last day!!!

Whew… it’s been a quick summer term. A couple of things (this is also posted on Slack):

  1. If you haven’t uploaded your Artist’s Statement yet, please do so. I’m missing a couple (Lawrence, Peng).

2. Final Portfolios (revisions of the discourse community report AND the article, plus the Final Reflection — don’t forget that part!) are due end of day today. If you’re having problems of any kind, please let me know asap!  

3. Here’s a Padlet I put up at the end of every term. Kind of a graffiti wall. If you’d like to leave a message to future students, or to each other, or even to me (no profanity, please :grinning:), have at it! No grade involved here. Just a bit of fun. Here’s the link:

And finally… thank you for a wild ride. Those of you who hung in there and got it all done, congratulate yourselves. It isn’t easy taking a summer class, especially more than one, and especially especially if you’re also working and/or have other responsibilities. So good job.

Best of luck to all of you!

Heading for the finish line…

If this makes no sense… Google the story of the tortoise & the hare.

(this is a copy of what’s on Slack)

For everybody… Happy Friday. The Unit 3 projects are due at the end of today, and the Artist’s Statements are due tomorrow, Saturday, end of day.

And at that point… look at the Final Portfolio assignment (revisions of Unit 1 discourse community and Unit 2 article, plus the long final reflection) and let me know if you have questions. The one I usually get is whether to put them all in a single document/pdf/etc. You can — that would be a little easier for me — but you don’t have to: simply create a new folder inside the Final Portfolio folder (using that big + New button on the left), put your name as the title, and then open that new folder, and upload each thing into that folder.

Again, as always, let me know if you have questions.

Remember that the Final Portfolio is due at the end of the day, Monday, August 9. NO WIGGLE ROOM ON THAT!

Happy final week!

I did just say that, didn’t I? Final week!!!

Yes, Final Portfolios (revisions and final reflection) are due next Monday, August 9, by the end of the day. No wiggle room since the grades are due on August 11.

Meanwhile… here are your tasks for this week.

  • Decide on your Unit 3 project. Remember: this is something only YOU can talk about. Decide who your audience is, and what genre (photo essay, podcast, etc) works best for that audience and why. If you’re still trying to figure it out, be sure to look at the Schedule page for the video lectures and examples.
  • Post your idea on the Padlet. I want to make sure you haven’t gone off in some direction that won’t work.
  • Either upload your project or provide a link to find it in the Google Drive folder for Unit 3 Projects. You can upload mp3 and mp4 files, by the way, as well as the usual pdf and Word docs. If you’re using Canva, you can download whatever you make as a pdf unless you’ve added audio, in which case, you can just make a new Google Doc and put the link on there.
  • The project is due end of day Friday.
  • The second part of Unit 3 is the Artist’s Statement, which I talked about on the Assignment page. I’m also adding guidelines for it here (although they’re also at the bottom of the Schedule page. It’s really just the story of what you did for your project, how you did it, and how you feel about it.
  • Upload the Artist’s Statement to the Google Drive folder labeled Unit 3 – Artists Statement by the end of the day Saturday.

Then you’ll be ready to put your Final Portfolio together. It consists of revisions to the Discourse Community Report and the Article, plus a new piece: The Final Reflection. Explanations are on the Final Portfolio page.

If you’d like to talk about revisions of anything with me, I’m in Zoom Monday 8/2 at 6:00 and Tuesday 8/3 at noon. But I’m also open to individual appointments pretty much any time this week. So let me know.

Good luck! Text me if you need anything.

For everybody concerning Unit 2 grades:

I have the grades posted in the GradeBook. The Participation Grades column has been updated to reflect Unit 2 work. A reminder that the column marked Unit 2 is for the draft of the article and is subject to change once you get the Final Revisions done and submitted as part of the Final Portfolio on August 9. I think I’m caught up on leaving Comments on the first drafts, but if I’ve missed someone, please let me know.

We’re on to Unit 3!

Happy Friday to everyone. If you’re still working on your Article, please get it uploaded to the Drive as soon as you can.

And… Unit 3 is one people really do enjoy. You have a good week to do this, so you might want to experiment with creating a podcast (which is so easy! Look at the things on the Schedule page about Audacity as well as the New York Times information.) or even a video essay.

Be sure to post your idea (topic and genre/how you’re going to do it ) on the Padlet wall, so we can give each other feedback and help.

Text me on Slack if you need anything (anybody tired of me saying that yet?).

Quick note about deadlines and things…

(from the Slack post)

If you’ve been doing revisions of things and want me to take a look, you need to let me know that you posted something new. Otherwise, I don’t know that it’s there! Wish I were a mind-reader — that would be a useful tool for an instructor :laughing: — but I’m not. So let me know if you’ve taken another pass at the Discourse Community Report or the Article. I generally don’t look at revisions if they’re posted after the last date of that Unit (so for the DC Report, I stopped actively looking on July 20), and, as you know, you can’t make up homework after the end of the Unit. So…

…the end of Unit 2 (the Article) is this Thursday End of Day. Homework (Perusall, OpenLab post, Padlet) doesn’t count after that, nor will I look at Article Draft revisions after that unless you specifically ask me.

Ok? If you have questions, ask me.


I’m a little late with my Monday post today. But there’s nothing really NEW new — Article drafts are due tomorrow end of day, after which I’ll be leaving Comments (and if anybody has comments, too, even if it’s just a yay!, that would be great).

Wednesday, more or less, we start on Unit 3, which I think you’ll enjoy because it’s not what you will recognize as a “traditional” academic assignment. The lectures are all posted in the Unit 3 Schedule section, so if you have questions, let me know.

If you’ve fallen behind, take heart — there’s time to get the Article done AND get Unit 3 created (notice I didn’t say “written”). Just keep me posted as to how it’s going, and we’ll work with it.

I’ll be in the Zoom room on Tuesday from noon to 1 pm, so drop in if you need to run things by me or have questions. Otherwise, text me on Slack.

Word of caution about the articles: Some of you may have seen my Padlet responses to a couple of folks, the bottom line of which was to narrow the topic/focus. I get agitated about that because things that are too broad are boring! So get specific, don’t give us the same old same old article about climate-change-Covid-response-put-any-topic-that’s-been-written-about-too-much. Make it your own, give us your spin, focus on one particular audience (something you’ll really have to do in Unit 3, so it’s good practice).

I’m looking forward to reading the articles! I always learn so so much.

Going into the weekend (7/23)

First, thanks for catching up on the Discourse Community Reports. I won’t be looking at revisions right now — save those for the Final Portfolio! But if you have a specific question, do let me know.

I’ve been leaving Comments on the Padlet about people’s article topics. There are some really interesting one, so take a look not only at your own but at other people’s. The biggest thing to remember is who your audience is. Even if you’re writing for The NY Times or Medium, they have a certain tone and way of writing that is specifically aimed at their audiences. So be sure to look at an article from your chosen publication — just the way you looked at the ones on Padlet — to see how they structure and write them. And if you haven’t posted, do so asap so I can give you my Comments.

Some great discussions on Perusall! President Obama really struck a chord with a lot of people. I hope the analyses you’ve done of the three short articles gives you some help. I know figuring out nut grafs is hard; as I think I said somewhere, my son-in-law is a freelance dance critic, and he told me once that he hates nut grafs because they’re so hard to do! Thanks to Natalie who posted this slide about nut grafs:

So take heart: the point of openings is to have an engaging beginning, a paragraph that tells us what we’re supposed to be looking at/for, and some initial research to back up that idea.

And don’t forget about the ending — it’s the last thing people read, and it’s what they’ll take away from your article even if they don’t remember all of the specifics. Suggestions: finish your personal story that you started at the beginning, give tips and/or advice, leave us with a great quote, create a call to action… or a combination of these ideas.

And finally….

a bit of encouragement… Hang In There This Weekend! I know it’s a lot to do, but keep at it. The things I’m seeing are all really good.

Week of 7/19-7/25

Welcome to the second full week. This week you’re finishing up the first draft of the Discourse Community Reports and starting on your Unit 2 Articles. The video lectures for Unit 2 are done, so have at it!

About the Obama video and the prompt… Just leave your story/reply in the Comments section of the Annotations. That way we can all share (use the @ to reply to somebody specific).

AND I just realized I forgot to leave the prompts for Analyzing Informative Articles at the end of each article. I just fixed it. Sorry!!! If you’ve already done the prompt, you don’t have to do it where my Assignment Alert is; just as long as it’s done, I’m fine!

I’ve started leaving unit grades in the Grade Book for the Discourse Community Reports that I know are complete (and posting the Participation grade for the Unit at the same time). I’ll keep adding to it as the completed drafts of your Reports come in. Let me know if you’re having issues.

A couple of comments about grades:

  1. The Assignment grade for each unit’s draft is temporary and subject to being changed once the Final Revisions come in as part of the Final Portfolio. So if you just want to get the draft posted and wait for my comments before doing more revisions, feel free — it won’t affect your final grade at all since this unit grade may well change at the end. The grade is out of 10.
  2. I’m going to assume that whatever is posted by midnight Monday 7/19 is your draft of the Unit, so that’s what I’ll be grading on. If you miss a section and get a less-than-wonderful Unit grade, don’t panic. As I just said, this is a temporary grade and can/will change once the Final Revisions are done. So even if you’re not completely done, just move on to Unit 2 and catch up by the end of the course — so you don’t fall behind!
  3. The Participation grade is in a column all its own marked Participation. It’s a running score, meaning that with each Unit, I update it and leave you comments about why you got the grade you did. Hint: if you did a really really good job on something like the Perusall annotations (which several of you did), I’ll actually use that to improve a less-than-perfect Participation score for another unit. The grade is either out of 2 or 3 depending on the Unit (it’s in the Syllabus).

(I’ll put this on Slack in the #general channel.)

Leaving Comments

One thing I neglected to talk about is leaving Comments for each other. Summer is kind of bad for that since we don’t have a lot of time. But I would like everybody to read the DePeter piece in Perusall. The two Activities aren’t something you have to do, but they’re a much more interesting way to think about responding to people’s work. In the film/tv biz, which is brutal at best about giving notes, our general rule of thumb was “start with something nice… before you tear the script and the writer’s ego to shreds.”

No tearing to shreds here, of course.

But it you would like to read about these DCs, feel free. I’m going to re-name them with the name of the DC as well as the author, so it will be easier to see if there’s one you’re interested in. And trust me, there are some really interesting ones! (This is going on Slack.)

Going into the Weekend…

First of all, nice work on the first section(s) of the Discourse Community Report. Remember that the entire draft isn’t due until Monday, July 19, so don’t panic if you haven’t finished it yet. All that’s due today (Friday, July 16) are the Intro and Language sections. Take a deep breath!

Second (and this is what I just put on Slack), I’ll be posting the video lectures for next week (Unit 2) today and tomorrow (with luck, they’ll all be up today depending on YouTube). I know people have already been reading the Perusall things (and watching President Obama), but once you read the Unit Assignment and watch the video (there’s a series of them because this is something you’ve probably never done before… duh…), you’ll probably want to re-visit them. So give me a few more hours, rest, take another deep breath… and we’ll all turn into freelance writers very soon.

A little addition (or two)…

I’ve been talking to some people via Zoom, and I decided to repeat myself about writing the Report. I do that… And at the risk of being too simplistic about this, here are a couple of things:

First, the Report shouldn’t just be a bunch of bullet points where you answer my questions. It should look like your regular, college-friendly essay. Indented paragraphs, written like a “story” in complete sentences, etc etc etc…

Second, if you’ve been away from writing essays for a while and need a refresher about paragraphing, here’s a presentation done by our First Year Writing Director, Dr. Carrie Hall, all about how to put together good paragraphs.

There’s a bonus to her presentation! The last few slides are about how to do a Reverse Outline, which is a revision tool I not only teach but use myself. If you’ve got really long paragraphs, or you think the whole thing is a little disorganized (it probably is if you think that!), or if, in my Comments, I suggest you need organization help and specifically mention using a Reverse Outline… this is the place to find it.

Remember: only the Introduction is due Tuesday July 13 by the end of the day. I’ll start leaving Comments as soon as people start uploading things.

New addition on Tuesday 7/13: When you upload your Report, make sure it’s a .doc or .pdf file instead of a .pages file because I can’t open it if it is. You can also copy your report, open a new Google Doc (do the New+ button, then New Doc), and paste it there. Thanks!

(This is going on the Slack #general channel, too.)

It’s our first full week.

Not that last week wasn’t full, because it certainly was!

I know quite a few of you are reading ahead (I can see it on Perusall), but this is the week to focus on your Discourse Community Report. Honestly. The closer you can come to getting things uploaded into the correct folder in the Google Drive (Discourse Community Reports), the more quickly I can get back my comments so you’ll know what you have to do for the revisions at the end.

Remember: the “grade” for each Unit consists of a grade for the draft (which can and often does change once revisions are submitted with the Final Portfolio) and which counts for 10 points, plus the participation grade (3 points) for things like doing the annotations in Perusall (and doing them thoughtfully — no problem about that with you all!) and posting your DC and artifact on Padlet. The participation points get grouped together at the end of the course, and once we’re out of a unit, you can’t go back and “make them up.”

At any rate, what I said in the “Going into the weekend…” message about posting your Report still holds true so I won’t repeat myself.

Reminder of an optional Zoom meet-up Monday at 6:00 pm and Tuesday at noon.

And, as always, text me on Slack if you need anything. (This announcement is also going on Slack in the #general channel.)

Going into the weekend…

I think everyone’s here! Missing an intro or two still, and a few people not yet on Slack (here’s the invitation again:, but it’s all good and I’m excited!

Some great conversations going on over on Perusall (as I commented on Slack). You’re making me think and laugh and even do a little teaching! By the way, I’m putting my rhetorical situation circle just below these comments for you to take a look at — the concept came up in one of the annotations and it’s a useful tool for analyzing any communication situation. I’m also enjoying reading about superstitions btw; share away! And don’t forget to do the second part of the Examples assignment; it can be easy to overlook, but just keep on scrolling at the bottom of “Fuku.”

The Padlet is already full of interesting stuff about our own discourse communities. Sneakers and BBQ and social organizations. These reports are going to be really interesting to read. Don’t forget to add yours this weekend. Be sure to comment on other people’s (you’ll have to add your name to the comment) — that’s half the fun of doing a Padlet!

About the report itself, one thing I wanted to point out is that I’ve asked you to upload it in chunks (part 1 due Tuesday July 13, part 2 due Friday July 16). That’s just to make it easier and give you some interim deadlines/benchmarks. The entire report (part 3) isn’t due until July 19, so there’s some wiggle room if you run into trouble finding someone to interview (or whatever…) for the first part. The third part is the simplest because it’s you thinking about having done the report and what you’ve learned, etc. So just keep all of that in mind.

Don’t forget there are some handouts at the bottom of the Unit 1 Schedule page that are all about how to write good interview questions and how to actually do a successful interview.

There are optional Zoom meetings on Monday at 6:00 pm and Tuesday at noon. And if anyone wants to talk to me one-on-one, just let me know and we’ll set it up.

Have a great weekend… and text me on Slack if you have questions or concerns. (This whole announcement is also going on Slack.)

Welcome to the class!

Let’s get started! Below you’ll find a bunch of stuff, including what to do for the first day (mostly the things I talked about in the email I sent). Quick side comment: If you’re not on Slack yet, do join — I just posted an explanation of rhetorical situation in the #general channel (7/7 at 2pm).

ALERT #1: For reasons known only to the internet gods, people are getting the wrong Perusall code. The correct one is BLAIN-X7978.

ALERT #2: There will be an optional class meeting on Tuesday July 6 at noon (Zoom link passcode 602802) to get started. My schedule is pretty clear, however, so if you can’t make it then and want to ask questions, just text me on Slack and we’ll set it up.

FOR NOW: Watch the video where I’ll talk about everything, join Slack if you haven’t already, do the two Introductory assignments by July 7 if you can, and then go to the top menu and go to Units & Schedules –> Unit 1 – Discourse Community Report to get into the real work of the course.

Glad you’re here!

Welcome to the class!

walkthrough video

Here is a link to the Course Resources page where you can find video tutorials for creating a post in OpenLab, for joining and using Perusall (the code is BLAIN-X7978), and for using Slack (here’s the invitation again).

FYI, I’m going to be putting all the lecture videos on Perusall so that you can ask questions right as I make my attempt to explain something. To find them, go to Library on Perusall, then click on the plus sign next to folder labeled Lectures and select the lecture you’re looking for. As you’re watching, click on the “Leave Comment” button on the top right of the screen to ask me questions, answer each other’s questions if you can, join everybody else’s complaining…. I’ll respond to things quickly. I do get notifications, but you can also alert me on Slack that you’ve left a question.

Two assignments to get us started:

ASSIGNMENT ONE: Go to Perusall and annotate the syllabus — say what you like, what confuses you, any suggestions you might have for making it better… whatever you want.

how do you annotate? Pretty simple. Once you’re on the Course Home page, click on Assignments (if it isn’t already open), then find the one you’ve been assigned — in this case, it says “Syllabus Critique.” Open it, and you’ll find the thing you need to read. To annotate, highlight a word or sentence. When you’ve finished highlighting, a conversation area will open on the right. Then have at it!

what makes a good annotation? Five things (although maybe not all at once!):

  1. Ask a question. Say what you understand as well as what you don’t: “I understand… but I don’t understand…” If possible, suggest answers to your question: “I don’t understand… but could it be that…?”
  2. Answer a question. If I’ve left a prompt at a certain spot, or if a classmate has asked a question and you know the answer, answer clearly and concisely. It doesn’t have to be formal — you’re a real person, after all! If somebody has already answered but you’re not sure about it or have something to add, go for it. If you know where the answer is somewhere else in the text, point that out OR even add a link to another helpful or interesting resource (like a YouTube video). And to be polite, feel free to use the other person’s name (click on the initials in the circle and you’ll see their whole name).
  3. Clarify. If you’re not sure or you’re struggling with a spot, find a different way of saying it… just to be sure you got it. Maybe summarize it.
  4. Connect. It’s always fun when something clicks because it connects with something else you know — another class, something that happened in your own life.
  5. Extend. Go beyond what’s in the text. Think out loud about what it’s saying. Add a link to something that you think would make the conversation even better!
  6. And be sure to reply to each other! The most fun thing that happens in Perusall is when a bunch of people start talking — formally and informally — about a spot in the reading. There was one wild thread about “Fuku” (which you’ll be reading) where half the class talked about myths and scary stuff from their own cultures. It was such fun!

ASSIGNMENT TWO: Create a post for OpenLab where you introduce yourself, tell us a bit about who you are, give us something we won’t know right away, and include an image… like this…

I put this here because it’s kind of how my brain feels at the moment.

To create a post, click on the circle with the + on the top of the site, then start writing. You’ll have to select a Category (check the gear and go to document to find the list) before you can publish. And then go see who your classmates are and say hi! [For more help on how to create a Post, go here for a video tutorial and help materials.]

I’ll post my own in the Blog tab on the main menu.

Now… your turn! Click on the circle with the plus sign up top, and type away.

Once you get both assignments done, go to the Units & Schedules tab on the main menu, and go to Unit 1 – Discourse Community Report.

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