Unit 1: The Literacy Narrative:
Key Terms: Literacy, Metacognition
What kind of a writer were you before you got to this class? And, more importantly, what kind of a writer would you like to become? Are you aware of the different strategies that you can use to make you a better writer? This Unit will show you ways that you can adapt and grow, first by utilizing the skills you already have in place, and then, by naming new ones. Change the way you think about writing, and you will change the way you think, period.
At the end of this Unit, students will see the act of writing as a powerful tool for personal growth and change; they will learn to hear different registers, tones, and tenors of writers — including those who do not employ Standard Written English; and, they will find the courage to apply what their newfound awareness to future assignments, both in English 1121 and their other classes.
Unit 2: Rhetoric, Genre, Discourse
Key Terms: Rhetoric, Rhetorical Situation, Genre, Discourse Community
Students will be introduced to the key vocabulary of rhetorical analysis, and will become familiar with concepts that are part of the rhetorical situation, such as exigence, audience, constraints, and text. Low stakes assignments get students to analyze the rhetorical features of a text. Building from text, students can begin to look at genre, and from there, to discourse communities. Beyond this, the next step is to begin to notice the multiplicity of genre conventions and their relationship with various and sometimes overlapping discourse communities, and to understand the social, dynamic, and ephemeral nature of genres and their communities.
Students become more aware, not only of how discourse functions within the particular community out of which a particular artifact arose, but of the powers and limitations of language as it travels within and through various discourse communities.
The final product for this assignment may take one of many different forms: an analytic paper, a creative assignment, an Op-Ed or popular article, a report, a letter, a review, a website, or a multimedia project, but in all cases, students should emerge with a deeper understanding of the ways in which discourse communities define a rhetorical situation by uniting an audience, establishing a shared language, and promoting a common interest or goal.
Unit 3: Inquiry Based Argumentative Project
This assignment asks students to continue looking outside their school lives and tackle an urgent current social problem, or something that is particularly important to them and/or a specific discourse community, possibly the one they researched in assignment 2. The goal is to create an argumentative essay that 1) begins with focused research questions about a specific problem or issue, 2) asks students to conduct primary and secondary research to identify stakeholders analyze different perspectives, 3) incorporates brainstorming about possible solutions or the repercussions of inaction, and 4) ends with a draft of a position paper. This can be either an individual or collaborative assignment, and might be used for Assignment 4 and translated into different media targeting a specific audience affected by the problem.
Unit 4: Repurposed Multimodal Project
This assignment asks students to re-think, or re-envision, one of the assignments they have written previously in the semester, presenting it in a totally new genre, perhaps changing modes modes: for example, a revision that goes from a written essay to an audio podcast, website or video essay. This assignment builds on the generic, rhetorical and audience awareness that students have worked on all semester long, asking them to consider what discourse community they are trying to reach and, not only what diction, but also what mode of delivery would be best for delivering that message.
This “translation” is key to transfer, one of the core learning outcomes of this course. If students can take a message and transform it for different audiences and media, then they are well on their way to being able to transfer writing skills across fields, disciplines and discourse communities.
Unit 5: Final Portfolio Assignment
The final portfolio assignment asks students accomplish three tasks. 1) It asks students to revise either all of their work or selected work over the course of the semester (determined by the instructor). In so doing, it asks students to offer prefatory remarks concerning each piece that describes the process and the evolution of the project over the course of the semester. 2) In addition to the revision and reflections of the individual pieces, students also write a narrative that explains their evolution as a reader and writer over the course of the semester. This narrative asks students to return to the first assignment they wrote for the class (the literacy narrative) and compare how their thoughts about writing and their practices about writing have evolved over the course of the semester. It is important to recognize that students should not simply state that their writing has changed over the course of the semester, but they should be able to specifically describe with sufficient detail particular moments in their assignments and in the semester where they could substantiate how their own growth was taking place. 3) Lastly, the assignment should also ask students to consider how this course has prepared them for transfer—that is, for writing in other contexts. This component raises the issue of how they anticipate the work that they have done over the course of the semester has prepared them to compose in environments and in genres to which they have not yet been exposed. It is helpful to provide students with particular writing scenarios such as writing a lab report for another class, writing copy for a company’s website, or some other scenario/s and ask students to describe the steps they would take towards figuring out how to go about learning how to accomplish these writing tasks.