Unit 2 and 3

Overview for all Units – “You know I really need to know/(Who are you? Who, who, who, who?)” – Pete Townshend

Units 2 and 3 are presented together because Unit 2 will basically provide the information that you need for Unit 3. Unit 3 will be a “remix” of Unit 2. A “remix” in music is a “variant of the original recording”. We know what they sound like: think about popular artists today who take an old song and repurpose it in some way. Sometimes the lyrics are retained, sometimes the beats are retained, but there is always a moment of listener recognition, a moment of “I heard this before, but not in this way.” So, with Unit 3, you will be choosing to present your information in a new genre.

Throughout these two Units, we will continue reading and discussing topics related to Units 2 and 3. A few of these readings will serve as technical support, while some of these readings will provide models of what you might do. Some technical readings we will use are:

Donna Kain and Elizabeth Wardle: “Activity Theory: An Introduction for the Writing Classroom”

Laura Carroll: “Backpacks vs. Briefcases”

Anne Lamott: “Shitty First Drafts”

Sandra Giles: “Reflective Writing and the Revision Process: What Were You Thinking?”

Unit 2 – Genre Investigation and Analysis

“Find what you love and let it kill you” – Charles Bukowski

If Unit 1 was about exploring the “you” that exists in an academic venue, Unit 2 will be about exploring the other side of you, the you that exists when you are not working, out of school, or have that elusive time know as free time! You must develop a question about a specific topic that interests you. What make you tick as a person? If you tell me taking photos related to New York City transit, I’m curious, but I don’t really know what that means. Explain it to me by finding four sources of different genres that give me a full-blown picture of that hobby or interest. I want you to go in-depth here. For lack of a better explanation, imagine that I’ve landed from Mars and I don’t have any frame of reference for what you’re presenting. You will have to:

  • Develop a specific question about a hobby or personal interest you have. DUE:
  • Research, gather information on and analyze four sources that are at least three different genres. This will become the annotated bibliography for your sources. DUE:
  • Read and annotate your sources with your question in mind. Make note of how the issue is discussed or presented in each source. Develop your argument about how effective each source was in presenting its message and purpose to its audience. Write a report about what the source says, but also how and why it says it. DUE:
  • Please bring a copy to class on:
  • Final draft: DUE:


  • Are the ideas clear and is there a central focus to your argument?
  • Is there evidence of in-depth research here?
  • Are there three different kinds of genres?
  • Are the ideas organized in a way that makes sense to both of us?
  • Is your language appropriate to the audience? Was there a clear consideration of audience?
  • Is there a Works Cited Page?

Learning Objectives:

  • Read and listen critically and analytically in a variety of genres and rhetorical situations.
  • Use research as a process of inquiry and engagement with multiple perspectives.
  • Demonstrate the social and ethical consequences of writing.

Unit 3 – Writing in a New Genre

“Sometimes a remix is good because it reaches a whole new generation.” – A. R. Rahman

In Unit 3, you will be using your research from Unit 2 to compose a document/artifact in a new genre. You might want to write a newspaper article or a children’s book, compose a short story or create a video essay. There will be no new research done. Since I wrote a report about New York City Transit photography in Unit 2, can I create a photo essay about New York City Transit photography in Unit 3? The possibilities are endless, but you need to consider your audience and the best way to communicate with them. This will help guide your genre. You also want to consider the purpose of your final product. What do you want the audience to walk away from the experience of your piece with? Your final product can contain pictures or sound, but it must contain at least 1500 words as well. You will have to:

  • Create a proposal that explains what you want to say, how you want to say it, and who you want to say it to. There will be more specific details about this proposal later, but this is the gist. DUE:
  • Find two to three examples of a model text. You can use one of the texts you used in the Unit 2, but find at least two more and explain how all of these texts meet the needs of your final project. Not every text has to mentor every aspect of your final project. Please explain what aspects of the text do. Please turn in another annotated bibliography. DUE:
  • Write a rough draft. Use your mentor texts to guide the structure of your final assignment. Your project must have about 1500 words in it. Please bring a copy to class. DUE:
  • Final draft. DUE:


  • Did your final project follow the rules of the genre that you picked?
  • Did you make decisions about language and design of the project based on your audience?
  • Was there clear effort and organization on a global, but also sentence level?
  • Did you communicate a clear message that people can learn from?

Learning Objectives:

  • Read and listen critically and analytically in a variety of genres and rhetorical situations.
  • Compose in 21st Century Environments.

2 thoughts on “Unit 2 and 3

  1. Jessica Penner

    First off, I love the quotes you provide. I’m always a fan of a good epigraph that shows the backbone of anything, whether it’s academic or a more literary venue.

    I also think you have a very clear communication style. You boil things down and avoid going off topic; I feel that when this is actually put into place online (as we know it’s going to be), you’ll have places to put links and add comments like, “Oh, and for a refresher on X, go here.”

    My main critique is something I struggle with explaining to my own students: the four examples and then the following research of those examples.

    I think I know what you’re asking the students to do: ask a question about a topic, find four examples, then find sources about the question/examples. Am I right?

    But I feel it’s not really laid out clearly for the student yet. I think–especially if this going to be an online class–you’ll have to have specific examples. You started one, about the photography, so I think you could maybe take that a step or two further: Find a photographer of NYC, do some quick research, list some sources, etc.

    Another issue (which I also have) is how do you start with a question to get them to search for examples? I’d suggest (and would love to hear any ideas from you because I struggle with this) to again, show an example of how to come up with the question that is answerable and not overly broad.

    I feel the U3 is fine–although (and this isn’t something for you to fix on your present lesson plan, it’s more about the curriculum or my misunderstanding of it, perhaps) it is a lot like U3 for 1121, and my concern for the future is that it might be too easy to just grab what a student did for 1101 and use it for 1121.

    Anyway, those are my main thoughts. Overall, really nice!


  2. Carrie Hall

    Julia, what I really love about this is that you build on unit one– and also show how the student emerges from their own self-reflection into a citizen of the world, as it were. I love stuff like this, and honestly, this is one of the goals of 1101.

    Just a few minor suggestions I have from doing a similar project. I would suggest, when you have students try to find a good question, that you use the KW/L+ rubric. This doesn’t have to be in the assignment sheet proper, but I think it will be very useful to get them to narrow in on a more specific, interesting question. Okay, so I’m interested in photos of graffiti. Great. What do I K-Know about it (write for 10 mins)? Now, what more do I W- Want to know about graffiti? (write for 10). Then, have them do about 10 mins of internet research on the “want to know” question. They write for 10 mins on what they’ve L-learned from that research and write 2-3 questions that they + Still want to know. This gets us to much deeper, more interesting research questions. It’s a high school rubric, but I’ve honestly found it works wonders, especially if I use it a few times in the semester.

    I do also think that you will need to outline for students more explicitly, especially in an online course, what it means to “analyze” a source. You know me, I’m not into formulae, but you may need a bit of a template here, since students have never done anything like this. Jessica does a good job of this in her assignment and so does Ruth Garcia. You may also consider including an intro in which students write what they think they’re going to find and a conclusion in which they write what they actually found.

    Unit 3 looks good. I might strongly suggest just asking students what they learned in Unit 2, who needs to know about it, and what genre would be best for delivering that message. That can really help them choose audience and genre.

    Nice work!

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