Writing Studio 1: Writing and Learning in the Community
When we experience something we act upon it, we do something with it; then we suffer or undergo the consequences. We do something to the thing and then it does something to us in return: such is the peculiar combination. The connection of these two phases of experience measures the fruitfulness or value of the experience.
-John Dewey “Experience and Thinking” (139).
Catalog description: Writing 105 develops students’ abilities to use writing for learning, thinking, and critical reading of complex texts. The classroom provides workshop discussions and practice in basic elements of the writing process.
Instructor description: The purpose of Writing 105 (Writing Studio 1) is to introduce students to literacy practices within the university and the community and to engage in and reflect upon these practices. WRT 105 provides students with a variety of occasions to use writing as a means to learn and to communicate. This is the first course in a required sequence that also includes WRT 205 (Writing Studio 2), which is usually taken during the second semester of your sophomore year.
We call WRT 105 a studio because we want to highlight its similarity to hands-on, craft oriented, workshop-based courses like painting, sculpture, architecture, dance, and creative writing. In a studio course, students gather to learn and practice under the direction of teachers who are experts in their crafts. Participation and collaboration between the teacher and students and among groups of students is encouraged and supported.
Like any writing course, our focus will be on the interrelationship between reading and writing with significant attention given to helping you compose organized, focused, concise, and rhetorically effective college writing that is adapted to fit the audience and context in which you are writing. I find, however, that students write best when they are deeply invested in the subject matter Therefore, we will be enacting a concept called service learning. Service learning is a form of active “hands-on” learning where college students engage in community service as part of their course work. In addition to doing the community service, students write, think, and talk about their service experiences, connecting them to larger course topics and assignments. The chief aim of service learning is to connect real-world experience (working & interacting at your service site) with learning in the academic setting. Service learning when paired with writing provides you with a rich opportunity to organize, analyze, and reflect on your experiences. Learning to analyze and put your experience into context, testing your assumptions against those of others (including researchers, public advocates, and other specialists) is an important skill to have in any field of study.
The Center for Public and Community Service will assist you in setting up your community service work. A representative from the Center will visit our class during the second week of the semester and will give you a list of over fifty non-profit agencies and programs where you may choose to serve. Some of the sites may directly connect with your professional or personal interests while some will simply provide opportunities for new exploration. You’ll be asked to complete 20 hours of community service over the course of the semester, and the course meeting schedule and assignments have been modified to make room for this extra-classroom commitment and learning opportunity.
As we approach our reading, writing, and service assignments for the semester, we will be inquiring into the connections and interactions between three topics of study: literacy (learning to read, write, and interact in a way appropriate to a specific context/setting), citizenship, and community membership. Below are some questions that we will take up in our reading and writing assignments and class discussions.
What constitutes membership and belonging to a community?
What communities do you belong to? How do they shape the way you see the world, how you see and represent “others”?
What are the rights and obligations that accompany community membership?
What is citizenship?
What are the rights and responsibilities of citizens?
How are college students citizens?
How does community service/service learning allow or not allow students to engage in acts of citizenship?
Language practices in communities
What does it mean to acquire academic literacy? How does one acquire it? What are the processes one undergoes to become a literate person?
What are your social dialects, your ways of speaking and interacting with different groups in varied settings?
Do you have “special languages” or “codes” that govern your behavior in particular communities?
How do you employ “code-switching” to fit in with different communities?
At your service site, how do people (staff, volunteers, clients) speak to one another?
Represent one another? Are there specialized “codes” (professional jargon, slang,
gestures) that signal insider or outsider status?
The university as a community
How is Syracuse University a community? How does the university interact with the larger community?
How does Syracuse University, namely its students, interact with other communities outside the boundaries of the university?
What sort of relationship should university students have with the communities outside the university?
What are university students responsibilities to the larger communities outside the academic setting?
Please purchase the following required texts. All are available at the Orange and SUB.
Gilyard, Keith, Nance Hahn, and Faith Plvan. The Odyssey Project: Readings for Writiniz 105.
Kendall hunt Publishing Company, 1997.
Hacker, Diana. A Pocket Style Manual. Bedford Books of St. Martin’s, 1997.
Class reading packet, available at Campus Copies.
A spiral bound notebook or legal pad for in-class writings.
A spiral bound notebook for your service learning log.
Approximately $ 10.00 for xeroxing expenses.
pocket folder for your portfolios.
valid SU email account.
Here is a brief summary of the types of writing we will produce over the course of the semester.
?Reader responses: two-page typed responses on questions related to the assigned course readings.
Service Learning Log: a response/analytic account of your service learning experiences. From the log, you’ll form and glean ideas for your portfolios.
In-class reaction papers: quick informal response paragraphs composed in-class.
?Drafts: your first typed semi-formal attempt at a portfolio assignment. You will bring typed copies to class to share with your writing group.
?Portfolios: a collection of prewriting, drafts, your final work, and a reflective memo The portfolio should showcase your “process” leading up to the finished copy of your formal essay.
?Reader responses: 15% (you may drop your lowest grade OR skip one response)
Service Learning Log: 15%
Project Portfolio #1: 15%
Project Portfolio #2: 20%
Project Portfolio #3: 20%
Group Presentations: 5% (You & three or four other classmates will sign up to offer a presentation on course readings and/or your service assignments).
Class Participation: 10%
Please note that class participation constitutes active participation in discussions, in-class writing, group collaboration, and writing groups. This is not an attendance grade.
Grading Criteria : I assess the whole of your writing by analyzing the interaction of the components that make up your portfolio:
Process: how you arrived at the final piece.
Conception: your engagement with the intellectual issues posed by the assignment.
Strategy & Style: your ways of managing, organizing, presenting and expressing your ideas.
Technical Control: your mastery of written conventions.
Engagement with the class material, with me, and with your peers is essential in a studio course Although it may seem unnecessary to state attendance rules, I find that doing so helps students understand what I expect:
Writing group days are required, not optional.
Late work is not accepted. I make two exceptions: 1) if you are too ill to attend class and have made arrangements with me; 2) if you have a family emergency. In this case, the work must be handed in the following class period or at a prearranged time.
You have two sick days during the semester. Additional absences affect your final grade for the course. Being late on a regular basis also affects your final grade.
Students with learning disabilities should let me know so I can provide the appropriate academic support
Unit One: Exploring Selfhood, Exploring Community: The Service
OR refers to the Odyssey Reader
CR refers to the Course Reader
Week One: Community Voices: Writing the Self in Relation to the Community
September 1: Introduction of Course Syllabus and Class Members. Short in-class reaction paper: What is a community? What communities do you belong to?
September 3: Read Gilyard’s “Semivoices” and Rodriguez’s “Aria” in the OR
Reader Response #1: How does the concept of community function in Gilyard and Rodriguez’s stories of their childhoods? How do their communities shape their voices? How do the communities you come from shape your voice(s) and your view of the world?
Week Two: Interpreting Selfhood in Relation to Community
September 8: CPCS Staff Visit. Read Interpretive Filter Cartoon and “Everyday Use” by Alice Walker in the CR Reader Response #2: Describe the interpretive filter through which Dee (Wangero) views her community/home culture? How does her view differ from that of her sister and mother? How does the concept of an interpretive filter help you understand the significance of this story?
September 10: Class discussion of choosing your service site. Continue discussion of class definitions of community and interpretive filters.
Week Three: Reading Outward from Self to Community
September 15: Read Coles and two student perspectives on service learning in the CR. Reader Response #3: Consider the arguments for service learning provided in today’s readings. As you read them, think about and respond to the following questions: What is community service? What is service learning, and how do the two concepts converge and diverge? Which views on service do you find most compelling in the readings and why?, Why should you perform community service? What will you learn from the service and the people you are working with? What will the community gain from your service? What are some of the drawbacks of service learning?
September 17: Read Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery” in the CR In-class reaction paper: How does the concept of a community function in Jackson’s short story? Compare her concept of community to the definitions of community we discussed in class. What is her purpose in telling a story about a community-based ritual? What conclusions do you draw from the story?
Week Four: Modeling the Response Process:
September 22: Second CPCS visit. Community service assignments given. Project #1 distributed and discussed. Prewriting exercise.
September 24: Modeling Writing Groups. Read Dziok in the OR. Reader Response # 5: Write a one to two page letter to the author telling him your response to his essay. What are the essays strengths and weaknesses? What advice for revision would you suggest? Contact your service site this week.
Week Five: Drafting Project Portfolio 91
September 29: Draft #1 due to Writing Groups. Bring four xeroxed copies of your draft.
October 1: Conferences with professor: no class. Continue contacting your service site & undergo your site orientation.
Week Six: Polishing Project Portfolio #1
October 6: Copyediting Workshop; Bring three clean copies of your draft. Bring Hacker’s A Pocket Style Manual.
October 8: Project Portfolio #1 due. Service Learning log and project #2 explained. Start your service.
Unit II. Experiencing and Observing Your Service Site: Writing About the Community
Week Seven: Participating and Observing at your Service Site
October 13: Read “Field Study as a State of Mind” by John Wagner and Student service journal in the CR.
Reader Response #6: Read the student service log entry in the course reader and write a response that examines her approach to writing a log entry. Use Wagner’s essay as a guide for evaluating her entry. What works in her entry? What doesn’t work and why?
October 15: Read Hursch in the CR and Gorovitz “Drawing the Line: Life, Death, and Ethical Choices in an American Hospital” in OR.
Reader Response #7: Describe and analyze Gorovitz’s approach to studying his site, using Hursch as a model for how one approaches an analysis of a site. What are you ideas for observing and recording your experiences at your service site?
Start your service learning log.
Week Eight: Writing about your Service Learning Site
October 20: Read Tappen and Spencer in the OR. Service log prompt for the week: Using Tappen and Spencer as a model for recording and writing up observations , write up an account of what happened at your site during your last visit or describe a significant event or interaction. What happened? What did you notice? Describe, then analyze what you saw/did.
October 22: Project #2 learning proposal due. Discussion of conducting interviews, recording observations, making use of journal entries. In-class, read “Nacerima” in the CR. Continue with your service and your service learning journal entries.
Week Nine: Drafting Project Two
October 27: No class. Conferences/Progress Reports on your service experiences. Bring your service log, research notes, and be prepared to discuss your learning proposal.
October 29: Class workshop on putting together, organizing the second project from your service log, interviews. Continue with your service and the service learning log entries.
Week Ten: Revising Project Two
November 3: Draft of Project 2 due to Writing Groups
November 5: Draft Conferences with professor. No class
Continue with your service and your service learning log entries.
Week Eleven: Polishing Project Two
November 10: Editing Workshop. Bring Hacker
November 12: Project Portfolio #2 due. Project #3 described.
Continue with your service and your service learning log entries.
Unit III. Enlarging the Frame: Researching, Reflecting, and Arguing about your Experiences in the Community
November 17: Read Rose “Our Schools and our Children” and Richard Wright “Black Boy” in the OR. Reader Response #8: Write a two to three page reader response to Rose’s analysis of problems he has observed in higher education and Wright’s analysis of his struggle to become literate. What is the nature of the problem/conflict identified by the writers? What causes it? How do the authors arrive at a way of dealing with the problem/conflict? How do they establish credibility as “analysts” of the problem/conflict?
November 19: Project #3 proposal due: Workshop on using the library/internet to research your topics.
Continue with your service and your service learning log entries.
Week Thirteen: Researching Project #3
November 24: Research Day/Conferences with professor.
November 26: THANKSGIVING!
>Continue with your service and your service learning log entries.
Week Fourteen: Arguing about Argument: Possible Models
December 1: Discussion of student essay models and citing and utilizing the work of flexperts.”
In-class reaction paper: Read the essay models provided in class and analyze how successfully the writers make use of primary and secondary research to support their claims. What works well in each model? What doesn’t’ and why? How would you rate these essays, overall?
December 3: Project #3 Drafts due to Writing Groups
Continue with your service and your service learning log entries.
Week Fifteen: Polishing Project #3
December 8: Editing Workshop for Project #3. Question/Answer session on the final project
December 10: Bring Hacker: Last day reflections, evaluations, class party. Last two service learning log entries: Go back and reread your first portfolio on your learning goals for your service and reread your service journal. Now write a final or next to-final entry about your overall view of your service experiences.
?How did you meet your learning goals for your service? Did you change/modify those goals and how?
?What did you learn about the community, about your site, about your own life?
?In what ways did you find your service experiences worthwhile?
?In what ways did you find it less than worthwhile?
?If you could change one thing about your service experience, what would you have changed and why?
?Do you think pairing community service with writing is a good match?
?Do you think you will serve again? Why?
Final entry: After hearing your classmates’ views about service learning and considering your own, write a response to the following question: Should the Syracuse University Writing Program offer a select number of service learning Writing 105 sections (we offered 4 sections this semester). If yes, why? What are the advantages? If no, why? Discuss the disadvantages.
December 11: Project #3 due by 5:00 p.m. in H.B. Crouse 207. HAVE A GREAT HOLIDAY BREAK. YOU EARNED IT!!!
FORMAL ASSIGNMENTS: PROJECT PORTFOLIOS AND THE SERVICE LEARNING LOG
Project Portfolio #1: Setting your Action Agenda and Learning Goals
September 29: Draft #I due to Writing Groups and Professor. Bring four xeroxed copies of your typed draft. October 1: Draft Conferences with Professor October 6: Copyediting workshop, bring 4 copies of your revised draft. October 8: Project Portfolio #1 Due (include all prewriting, drafts, pertinent reader responses, writing group comments/drafts)
In our reader responses, we have been exploring the concepts of community and community service and how we look at others through “interpretive filters.” We’ve read arguments for/against community service as an educational requirement and have tried to understand what community and tradition mean to us as individuals coming from different backgrounds. Now it’s time to put that writing to work to set a learning agenda for the semester’s work.
Prewriting and Research
Begin research on the specific organization you chose as well as the type of service they provide. Think of four or five questions you have regarding the site/service organization.
Once you have your questions, embark on finding out information about the activities, purpose (mission statement), funding, recipients, etc. of your service organization. You may find information in any of the following ways
1) call the organization, do a phone interview or during your volunteer “intake” interview find out what a volunteer does, ask or stop by for any brochures or info. they can send you by mail (realize this may take some time and patience–your agencies are full of dedicated people who are often overworked). 2) Do research on the Internet or in the library: does the organization have a website or are there books or articles written about this organization? Read up on the organization.
Step #2: From the information you collected in your research and the writing you’ve done for class so far, formulate four or five (minimum) goals you have for learning while doing your service. There is a wide range of possibilities for this, but be sure to include at least one writing goal. Turn your list into a mini-mission statement about your service. How do you intend to reach each goal?
The Project Writing Assignment
Over the past four weeks, you have been exploring and interrogating the concepts of community, community service, and mandatory community service requirements in education. We’ve also been looking at how individuals view others through interpretative filters and how concepts of language, tradition, and culture shape the communities we live in. What I want you to do now is to read over the responses/in-class writings you have done thus far and develop further insights from them. Your goal is to write an essay that explores community service and your place in it. It should show your knowledge of the work the service organization you chose does and the issues they face. At the same time, you should explore how you see yourself as useful to that service project and as a learner from that project. How do your goals for your service correlate with your goals for yourself as a college student?
I urge you to draw upon the insights of those we read during the first few weeks of class (feel free to quote them, paraphrase them, disagree with them). Feel free as well to draw upon your past experiences with community service to help your audience see how you might like to further your learning goals with this semester’s experience. Overall, you may want to think of this essay as an introduction of yourself and your position on service. In many ways, this paper involves you setting a learning agenda for yourself. This essay should be something you’d be willing to show the volunteer coordinator at your site or something you’d share with a prospective employer (sorry to those who think this is a crass reason for doing service).
As always, I am open to students (with my approval) proposing an alternative way of approaching this essay. Is there another “way in” to this assignment for you? Propose it to me, and we’ll see what we can work out.
Service Learning Log
The service learning journal/log is a place for you to keep track of and reflect on your service experiences. It is also a place for you to pursue questions and issues that relate to your service site. You’ll find as well that the journal will become the launch site for your final two projects for the course.
–Follow the guidelines for journaling in the handout “Reflection: Getting Learning Out of Serving”
–You can make a handwritten entry in a notebook (readable handwriting, please!) OR keep an electronic journal, which you can print out for the due-dates. Please, please backup your electronic journal on a disk.
–You’ll make a 500 word entry in your journal after every time you serve. Feel free to write more if you have more to say. Please date the journal entry. Your journals should include at least two of the three levels of reflection in each entry.
–Periodically, in class, I’ll ask you to read entries from your journal
–Journal due-dates. On these class days, your journal will be due. I’ll keep the journal for two-three days and will return it with a progress grade as well as suggestions about using the journal to create Projects #2 and #3.
Project Portfolio #2: Writing about your Service Site/Service Experiences
Draft due: Tuesday, November 2. Bring four xeroxed copies of your draft to class. Bringing a draft to the writing workshop is required, not optional. We’ll be reading and responding to the paper drafts that day. You’ll write response letters to your classmates once again.
Project #2 is a rather open-ended assignment. Your goal is to explore some aspect of your service site or to analyze a significant incident that has occurred in your service. We’ve gone over your paper proposals and discussed ways of approaching your paper topics. By now, you should have decided on an objective for your paper: what you want to communicate about your service site and your experiences there.
In a sentence or two, convey your objective for your paper. As you do this, think about your audience for the essay (remember we’re going to publish this essay in a class magazine that may be read by others, including faculty, students, administrators, and parents). What will these readers want to know you about your experiences? What about your experiences will interest them.
Now that you have that objective, think about the “evidence” you can use to draft your essay:
?Reread your service learning journal: Go back and read over your entries and highlight ideas, scenes, questions, observations that will spark your writing.
Observe: Continue to observe and take mental notes as you are doing your service. Your observations can be written up in your journals. You may want to also write a physical description of your site: where it’s located in the city, what it looks like, what the neighborhoods around it look like.
Interviews: Conduct interviews with site coordinators, other volunteers. Do not interview clients unless you clear this with the volunteer coordinator. Your goal at the service site is to provide service, so interviewing clients isn’t a customary practice unless you have obtained approval to conduct interviews. Of course, you can find out much about the clients at your site by simply interacting with them.
To conduct an interview, you need to have a stated objective. What do you want to find out? What questions will help you learn that information?
–Schedule an interview time. Don’t ask questions on the fly. A real interview requires “time” for your subject to think and reflect and respond to you.
–Come prepared with a list of five to six questions as well as some back-up questions that you can resort to if the other questions don’t work as well as you had hoped.
–It’s always a good idea to ask a few “warm-up” questions to loosen up the person, i.e. where are you from? How long have you worked here? These are questions that the interviewee doesn’t really have to think about much and can serve as ice-breakers.
–After you ask the warm-up questions, move on to the more substantive questions that relate to your interview objective.
–Take notes during the interview. If you have a tape-recorder, ask if you can tape-record the interview so you can play it back and transcribe your responses for your essay.
–Ask open-ended questions that will elicit full responses. Avoid questions that can be answered with a yes/no.
–Honor the interviewee’s requests for confidentiality. If an interviewee tells you something and asks you not to quote them on that matter, please honor that request.
Reviewing written materials: Look over the literature available at the site: brochures, pamphlets, manuals, web site information. You may want to ask the volunteer coordinator if your site has a mission statement that you could read. You may want to cite, paraphrase this material in your essay.
Once you have gathered enough information from your journals, observations, interviews and review of written materials, start your rough draft. You can always go back and rework your draft to add information from an interview or other information source.
Third Project Portfolio: Analyzing/Arguing about
You’ll recall that the third project is to write a researched analytical essay where you take up a social problem or issue that has come to your attention through your service experiences. Or, if you prefer, you can write about a social issue or problem that has come to your attention as a member of the Syracuse University community. Analyze the nature of the social problem or issue. What causes it? How does it work? How can this social problem be addressed? Does addressing the problem require a:
–change in economic structures
–change in our institutions: change in schooling, government, family structure
–change in patterns of thinking and behavior (attitudes, social mores, customs) and raised consciousness or awareness
–all of the above or “other”?
In your essay, you will “check” your “experience” of the problem against what others have said by consulting at least three credible outside “experts.” Your goal here is not to just “reproduce” your view, but to consult multiple perspectives and challenge your thinking. (6 pages)
You’ll be required to submit a paper proposal for the third portfolio. In your proposal create a preliminary “sketch” of your essay that addresses the questions in the assignment on the back page. Then using one of the on-line library databases and the Internet (see the hand-outs), locate two potential sources for your project. –Choose one source authored by an “expert”: a professional or a recognizable authority. –Choose one source that you think is “questionable” or lacking in credibility. Read the sources and make a print-out or xerox of the them. Bring them to class. Don’t forget to write down the full citation for the articles or essays (author, source, URL) at the top of the page. On the second page of your proposal, using the criteria below, explain why you think the sources you have chosen are credible/not credible. We’ll discuss your proposals and your sources in class and in individual conferences.
Take a hard look at what you are reading and who’s writing it. Always assess the following when you read/consult any source:
Author/Organization/Affiliation: Who is writing? Is the writer an expert? Layperson? Quack? What are his/her/their credentials?
Goal/Purpose: Why is the author writing? What is his/her stated or implied purpose? Is the argument a one-sided rant/polemic? A measured analysis or critique? An informative/explanatory piece?
Credibility: Is the author’s research, findings, and argument credible? Where do they draw their statistics, facts, and interpretation? Are these credible sources?
Documentation: Are any of the author’s sources documented? Documentation is a sign of credibility, a scholarly convention that signifies that the writer has done his/her homework. Granted, an editorial or a short position paper may not contain documentation, but serious scholarship does.
Professor: Eileen E. Schell
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