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Workshop # 4 — Working with Research

9 Nov

At this point, you should have completed 3 research journals, which means you should have a nice pool of resources from which you may draw information. I want you to pick the most interesting or useful one to work with for this workshop.

From the piece you have chosen, I want you to chose the best line or idea (quote or paraphrase) and write it down.

Now, we’ll follow the basic steps for using outside information in a paper:

Introduce: Where did your quote/paraphrased idea come from? Who said it? A doctor? A lawyer? A love expert? A magazine editor? Your bff? And in what context? What is the conversation surrounding this idea?

Quote/Paraphrase: I think this is self-explanatory. Don’t forget to use proper MLA citations! Even if it’s a letter, you can always edit them out of your real copy, but for class purposes, I will need to know that you know how to do them.

Interpret: What does this quote/paraphrased idea mean to you?

Analyze and Connect the Dots: What does this quote mean to your argument or inquiry? What does it add to your discussion? Why is it important? Why does it matter?


Now for the next part, you will find one additional source for a research journal. This source must be found in the library databases.


When you’re finished, you should begin to incorporate these sources into your next draft (which is due tomorrow).


Workshop # 3: Modest Proposal

3 Nov

from -- This is what happens when you don't pay attention to what you read.


For today, you read Jonathan Swift’s “A Modest Proposal” followed by a current day “Modest Proposal.” Now, it’s your turn to try your hand at satire. Thinking about the strategies Swift uses, create your own “modest proposal” for a resolution to your issue.

Post these to your blogs.


Swift’s “A Modest Proposal”:

Daniel L.’s “A Modest Proposal”:

The Soundtrack to Your Project

27 Oct

We listened to some artists today that use their music as a form of activism. Now, I challenge you to do the same. You have two options:

  1. Create a 6+ song soundtrack to your topic. Write an explanation for your decisions. Why did you choose each song? Why did you put them in the order that you have put them in?
  2. Find a song that already exists and rewrite the lyrics to match your topic You don’t have to keep any of the original lyrics. You may also choose an instrumental song. The idea is to have a rhythm to work with and to think about tone. Do you want a happy song? A sad song? An angry song? A slow song? A fast song? Which best conveys your message?

The It’s-Who-You-Know Workshop

20 Oct

At the beginning of the semester, I had every one make a Twitter account. In the beginning, you were simply using them to ask discussion questions and make commentary on your readings, but Twitter has a bigger purpose than just telling the world what you’re doing. Twitter is a great way to build a constant feed of information on the subject you are interested in. For class purposes, this translates into easy-to-find research.

What I would like everyone to do is come up with some key words to define your projects (bullying, taxes, ecofriendly, etc.). Then you should use those key words to search through Twitter’s follows. Your goal is to find FIVE tweeters to follow, who tweet about your subject area. Don’t just pick the first five people who come up, or you may be disappointed with the results. Take your time and read through some of their tweets, look at how often they participate. Are they sharing links to resources? Are they an expert in the field or just another interested party?

After you find those five people, I would like you to pick your top three. Mention them in a tweet using @theirname and include our #np555 hashtag. In this tweet, you should pose a question for the tweeter that you feel she or he would be able to answer. Hopefully, you will receive a response that will help you with your project.




Some after-thoughts:

  • Use hashtags to help you find people and information.
  • Search the followers and the following sections of organizations and other tweeters that interest you. For example, you will most likely find animal rights activists following PETA.
  • Have a good mix of big organizations and individuals for the best results. Individuals are most likely to interact with you, but big organizations produce research and other networking capabilities.
  • Tweet with your classmates if you can help them/are interested in their topic/have something to share.

Workshop # 3: Speed Dating

11 Oct

Today, we will be doing the academic version of speed dating. This is how it will work.

The class will be split in half.

The first six students will sit, while the other half switches “dates” every FIVE minutes.

In the five short minutes, you should work with your partner to do some of the following:

  • figure out what you need help with and point it out to your partner
  • figure out what they’re really good at/can help you with and make them do it (for example, maybe you aren’t so great with commas, but your partner is super at using them, or maybe you can’t figure out what you’re trying to prove, but your partner is great at making claims from research questions.)
  • have them identify problems/leave comments
After the first six have gone through their rotations, you will switch positions. Those who had their essays looked at already will become the reviewers.
We have one hour to get through everyone’s papers. 12×5 = 60 minutes. Don’t dilly-dally. Use your brief time well.

Workshop # 2: Sideshadowing

29 Sep

Yesterday, you told the world about your work. Today, you will be sharing that work with one another to help improve your draft.


In the margins of your project, using the comment function (or on a separate document/piece of paper, if necessary), begin to select sections of your project that you want feedback on. Ask questions. Point out things that you are not sure about. Then, find a partner to read your paper and sideshadow comments.


As a partner, you should carefully read your classmate’s paper, responding to their sideshadow questions. Think about the Nancy Sommer’s pieces. What makes good feedback? As you answer the writer’s questions, you may also want to pose some of your own.

Looking at the criteria for good writing that we developed earlier in the semester, begin to list attributes that makes this paper “good” writing.

Chose one or two major improvements that could help take this project to the next level (forget grammar for now).


Open ended questions are the most valuable questions you can ask. Yes/no questions don’t provide my room for thought or analysis, the two major components of college writing and scholarship.

Somewhere I Belong Workshop # 1: The Tell-Me-About-Your-Work Blog Post

28 Sep

For any professional, whether he/she may be a writer or not, it is important to be able to tell others about her/his work. That is what this workshop requires you to do.

In a short blog post, tell your audience what you are working on. You should try to answer as many of these questions as possible in your post, though not necessarily in this order:

  • What are you writing about?/What is your research question?
  • What are you hoping to learn?
  • How have you been trying to write/learn/think about this topic?/What types of research have you had to perform?
  • What do you still need to learn more about?

After you’ve told your audience about your project, I would like you to tap into that resource– the audience, that is. Ask your audience a question (or questions). Are you worried about style? Do  you want help finding resources? Are you looking for a good question to include in your interview? Reach out. You just might get a response that could give you the boost you need.

Finally, if you want outside help, one good way to find that is to tweet it out. Don’t be afraid to share your blogs on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, etc. It doesn’t have to stay confined to this classroom. If you don’t have that many followers, and you want to share with an outside audience, you can always include a link, mention @compositionblog in your tweet, and I can send it forward into the Twitterverse (I have about 470 followers).