Archive | Uncategorized RSS feed for this section

Our Last Day Playlist

7 Dec

Just in case you wanted to download all of the fabulous tunes that sparked your creative juices today:

Gavin Degraw — I Don’t Want to Be

Vanilla Ice — Ice Ice Baby

Blink182 — Going Away to College

The Rolling Stones — Paint in Black

Taylor Swift — Ours

LMFAO — Party Rock Anthem

Dance Gavin Dance — Strawberry Swisher Pt. 2

Team America Theme Song

Adele — Rolling in the Deep

Kid Cudi — Pursuit of Happiness

Erykah Badu — Didn’t Cha Know

Linkin Park — Numb

Culture Beat — Mr. Vain


The Polishing Process

17 Nov

Editing and Proofreading Tips

As you work towards your final drafts, editing is an important step. Once you have completed the revision process, it’s time to go back through your paper and make sure you have achieved sentence clarity. Here are some solid tips for proofreading and editing:

*Read your paper aloud. Listen for places where things sound wrong and places where you stumble over words. These are usually indicators that something is not quite right with the wording.

*Ask a friend to read it aloud while you read along. A really good friend might even help you proofread.

*Read your paper from the last sentence to the first sentence, looking carefully at the words that you read. Are they spelled right?

*Give yourself at least a day to put the draft aside. If you try to proofread immediately after writing it, you are almost guaranteed to miss errors because your brain automatically fills in what you were thinking instead of what’s on the page.

*Hit Control+F, and then type “their” in the find box. Look at every use of “their,” and make sure you are using the correct version of this homophone. Then, go back and repeat for “there” and “they’re,” as well as “you’re” and “your.” Let’s add “its,” “it’s,” “to,” and “too” while we’re at it.

  • Their = ownership “Their ball is in the street.”
  • There = location “The ball is over there” or existence “There is a ball.”
  • They’re = they are “They’re playing ball.”
  • You’re = you are “You’re really tall.”
  • Your = ownership “Your height is above average.”
  • It’s = it is “It’s a beautiful day”
  • Its = ownership “Its kittens were black.”
  • To = a directive “Give the ball to the cat.”
  • Too = also “I want a kitten too!” or excess “It’s too cute!”

*Make sure that every time  you use “I,” you have capitalized it. I cannot tell you how many times I have seen “i” in your projects, posts, freewrites, tweets, and emails.

*Definitely is spelled d-e-f-i-n-i-t-e-l-y NOT d-e-f-i-a-n-t-l-y. Defiantly means disobediently, not certainly.

Some Additional Grammar Tips

These are some common errors that I see in many of your papers. If you have more questions, there are great resources online, such as GrammarGirl and the Purdue OWL, that can help you figure out your specific issues.

*Introductory clauses: Whenever you have an introductory clause or phrase, you need to use a comma.

  • When doing homework, my computer caught on fire.
  • Once upon a time, there was a frog.
  • In 1999, there were a lot of parties.
  • Because I was sick, I could not go to school.

*Semi-colons link two COMPLETE sentences that share very similar ideas or a list where it’s necessary to separate commas. They are a stylistic tool, not a necessity. Limit yourself to one semi-coloned sentence per page (if you feel a need to use them at all).

  • I love my mom’s chocolate chip cookies; they are made with love.
  • I have friends from Atlantic City, New Jersey; Athens, Greece; White Plains, New York; Las Vegas, Nevada; Miami, Florida; and Los Angeles, California.

*Which vs. That: There is a difference between “that” and “which.” I recommend that you listen to this podcast from GrammarGirl. It will help clarify the difference.

*Common fragment starters: If your sentence begins with “for example,” “because,” or “which,” make sure it’s actually a complete sentence. “For example, Casper the Friendly Ghost” isn’t a sentence; it’s a fragment or a dependent clause. However, “For example, Casper the Friendly Ghost is a cartoon where the supernatural comes into play” would be considered a complete, independent clause. Casper the Friendly Ghost is the agent. In order for this to be a sentence, that agent has to complete an action. In this case, it’s a simple one. The shows exists, signified by the word “is.”

*Dependent clauses that define or describe something: There are many types of dependent clauses, but one common type of dependent clause that I’d like to point out in particular is dependent clauses that are used to describe something. For example, in “My mom, who is a rockstar baker, likes to enter pie contests,” you must use commas to hook in the extra information. You might also write something such as “The candy apple is hard, which is because it was placed in the refrigerator.”

*Active vs. Passive Voice: Try to use the active voice when possible. For example, “The cat was washed by my mother” is passive, something acts on the object. “My mother washed the cat” is active, something performs an action. You should also avoid using too many helping verbs. It is typically better to say “I learned that cats are fluffy” rather than “I had learned that cats are fluffy,” unless you are purposefully trying to create a sense of distance.



GrammarGirl’s Quick and Dirty Tips

The Purdue OWL

Guide to Grammar and Writing

Workshop # 6 — Sideshadowing

16 Nov

Earlier in the semester, we gave sideshadowing a try. It’s a great way to get significant feedback, and so, we will be doing it again.

Round # 1

Carefully review your draft, leaving questions for an outside reader. You should consider the clarity of your argument, the weight of your examples, the effectiveness of your research, and the formal and conventional aspects (grammar, sentence clarity, MLA formatting, etc.). Post this draft to the Writing as Activism Sideshadowing Discussion Board.

Assigned partners should open each other’s documents, read, and comment on each other’s papers. As you read your partner’s paper, take the time to thoughtfully answer their questions, but also, pose your own. If you aren’t sure that something is working, ask your partner about it. We don’t know what we don’t know. Sometimes, we need another perspective to help see things that we didn’t see before.

When you are done, you should save the document and post your commented draft as a reply to your partner’s.


Round # 2

Review your partner’s comments and questions. Respond to them in the comment box. Ask more questions. Post new saved document as a reply.


Round # 3

Select another partner. You should read each other’s newly sideshadowed drafts. Respond to the questions posed initially, ask your own questions, comment (agree/disagree/ask questions) on the first reader’s observations. Save the document. Post as another reply to the original.


Round # 4

Review the newly commented draft.

In your freewrite journals, write a game plan. Some thing you should consider are:

  • What’s working well so far?
  • What do you need to work on?
  • What are the steps you will take to address these issues?
  • If your project isn’t paper-based (letter, editorial, etc.), then how will you translate it from the essay form that you have now to the final project?

Wokrshop # 5 — PSAs

10 Nov

Public service announcements. You’ve heard them before– on the radio, on the television, on Facebook ads. They are a great way to help advocate causes ranging from education reform to disease research to humanitarian philanthropies. These are some examples:

“This is your brain on drugs”

The Trevor Project — It Gets Better Campaign

Art is Education

UK texting and driving PSA

In class today, you will be scripting your own 1 minute PSA, which will be either in video or audio form. For homework tonight, you will record your PSA and post it to your blog.

Here’s a tutorial video on how to upload videos to WordPress: (It’s a similar strategy for audio).

Updated Writing as Activism Unit Calendar

2 Nov

The Calendar of Due Dates

Thursday, October 20 — Proposals

Wednesday, October 26 — Research Journals # 1 & 2

Thursday, October 27 — Music Read & Tweet

Wednesday, November 2 — 1st Draft posted to Blackboard Discussion Board

Thursday, November 3 — “A Modest Proposal” Read & Tweet

Wednesday, November 9 — Resarch Journal # 3; Reading TBA

Thursday, November 10 — 2nd Draft

Wednesday, November 16 — Create, record, & upload a 1 minute PSA (public service announcement) about your issue (Think “this is your brain on drugs” ad) It may be a video recording or an audio-only recording. It should be posted on your blog.

Thursday, November 17 — Reading TBA

NO CLASS Wednesday, November 23 and Thursday, November 24– HAPPY THANKSGIVING :)

Wednesday, November 30 — Final Drafts & Presentations


Thursday, December 1 — Portfolio workshop & End of the semester activities

Wednesday, December 7 — Final Class Meeting — Portfolio workshop & End of the year party (bring food, music, etc.)

Workshop: RAFTOR & The Highlights

2 Nov

On Thursday, you create a soundtrack to your project. Go through your soundtrack and make a list of the themes/concepts/ideas about your issue that you were trying to highlight through your song choices and album organization.

RAFTOR is an acronym for the basic components of the rhetorical situation. Thinking about these concepts often helps to make for a stronger text.








Give your paper to a partner to read. Partners should:

1. Identify what they believed the highlights were.

2. Try to identify the RAFTOR components.

3. Give ideas for expansion. What do you want to know more about in your partners paper?

4. Pick one other tip for improvement.


Switch papers back. See whether you came up with the same highlights and RAFTOR components. If you did, then great, you’re on the right track! If you didn’t, was there miscommunication that needs to be addessed in later drafts, or was it simply that they saw more in your paper than you did?


Rhetorical Analysis– or how do people talk about stuff?

26 Oct

Step one: Find an article that supports your stance on the topic that you have chosen for your Writing as Activism project. Write the correct MLA style citation for it.

Step two: Find an article that challenges your stance. Write the correct MLA style citation for it.

Step three: Here’s where it gets serious…. Without passing judgment on the content of the article, explain how the article that challenges your stance creates an argument.

  • What types of language do they use?
  • What is the tone of the piece?
  • What form do they choose?
  • Does the piece make use of any of the elements of Aristotle’s three categories of rhetoric?
  • Is the argument or pieces of the argument effective (regardless of whether you agree with the opinion)? Why, or why not?

Step four: Looking at both articles, think about how they talk about the issue. What are the similarities between the two arguments? What does it say about how people articulate their thoughts on this particular issue in a public space?

Step five: Again, looking at both articles, compile a wordbank of key terms. What is the jargon of this issue? What are the common themes/interests/sources?


This may not be the only time in your life that you will be asked to do a rhetorical analysis, and while practicing here will help you and give you some insight into the ways that people construct arguments, it isn’t always easy to do.

Here is a great resource for thinking about rhetorical analysis:

This source speaks more about Aristotle’s three modes of persuasion:

This source speaks about logical fallacies or faulty evidence/arguments: