Introduction: How to Put Together English 101
English 101 is not a class one
usually wants to sign up for.
It is typically a GUR that satisfies the writing requirement here at Western Washington University. This was the case for me. I went into this class not super excited and ready for a boring quarter of essay writing. My friends had told me that this class was hard and boring and that I wouldn’t get very much out of it. I had heard the rumors of an end of quarter project that loomed over your head and made many a student go sleepless nights trying to complete the day before (an impossible task). I however have been very satisfied with this course. I am glad that I have taken it. I feel that there are many moves that I can apply to my other writing and I learned a new way to write essays- something I had been looking for before. I am excited to show you how I’ve learned these new things, and hopefully how you can use them as well.
This is an instruction manual to the rest of my portfolio. It will tell you what I have gleaned from this class and how I both apply what I have learned. By reading this you will get a sense of how this puzzle is put together and it should make for an easier process of understanding where I am going and how I got there.
Step 1: Separation
The first step to this class is
to see where you are coming from.
When I walked into this class I knew that I was a previous Advanced Placement Student and that I enjoy writing. I knew that I needed help with my flow in my writing and in putting my thoughts into a paper cohesively. I also needed to find out how to get my thoughts to stick together. These thoughts brought about my ideas for my intentions in this class.
I had three things I wanted help with and were going to be my focus for improvement. I think I did improve. I don't think I mastered them but I definitely made some strides.
Those intentions were main things I wanted to focus on while writing my essays. They were also the things that developed along with my ideas. In the next few steps I will talk about the skills I used to help me achieve my intentions and write my presentation essay.
So what is step one to English 101? It is identifying where you are in your writing skills and what you want to improve on as your essay evolves.
Step 2: First Placement
The first few days of class is a
whirlwind. It's hard to understand what is happening and to know where you are going. I felt a little bit lost in terms of what was going on. We started by reading this poem that talked about an elephant. This elephant was surrounded by three blind men and they are all seeing different points of the elephant. They are blind so they are making their own assumptions as to what they see. It was really hard for me to understand this poem at all. All I could wonder was why we were being shown a poem that told us nobody is right but nobody is wrong either. Little did I know that this poem was the frame for our class.
When making a puzzle framing is one of the first things you do. You take all the edge pieces and put them together to create an outline of the puzzle. That was the idea with this poem. Framing is also the context of what is happening, it is the background to the story. It is how the situation started. Sometimes a warrant can be used as a frame for claims for evidence.
In context of this class the poem is the frame because the ideas of the class centered on this poem. This class was all about how there are different viewpoints and it was about learning to see those viewpoints and communicate them in an essay.
In the context of my essay I use framing by explaining media and images and their uses throughout history. My frame has evolved over the course of my essays. It began in my first essay with my frame being stranger with a camera. It then evolved in the second essay to be media's interaction. Frames develop as ideas develop. They change and become something new.
So Step 2 of English 101 is to frame the subject. Give some context and put together the large picture so it can be filled in later on.
Step 3: Middle Pieces- Large Picture
So now that you have framed
English 101 what do you need to do next?
In class we moved on from the blind men and the elephant and we got down and dirty with the material. We got into the nitty-gritty. First we covered Elizabeth Daley and we explored the media. We learned that media is becoming the language that people talk with. We also watched the film stranger with a camera. These are the things that the essays are based on. By studying these sources we learned about the big parts of putting together a puzzle. The pieces that easily put together the large picture. These moves are called critical inquiry questions and coming to terms. Without these two moves it is difficult to write an essay.
So what is a critical inquiry question and how do you come to terms?
A critical inquiry question is a question that leads you to more questions. It is similar to a thesis statement in that it will help guide you essay on its path. The question is open ended and not a yes or no. It should have more than one answer and it should develop as your essay does. My critical inquiry questions were difficult for me to come up with. I have always had trouble with theses but critical inquiry questions were even harder for me because there was more than one in paper. As they developed they got more focused- that is not my strong suit. I feel I have a grasp on the concept though and can utilize this tool to some extent.
Coming to terms is accepting what you are reading. It also means doing a deep reading of the material. Coming to terms does not mean that you have to agree with what it is saying. It is however saying that you hear the opposing argument and you can see ways in which it can support or help to spur your point of view.
Step 3 of English 101 is learning to incorporate the big pictures into the frame. Coming to terms and critical inquiry questions will help to see how the topic fits within your frame.
Step 4: Middle Placement- Small Picture
So I learned the large topics. I
understood what it was I learned and I knew how the topics go together. I had come to terms with what we were talking about and I had created the critical inquiry question that would start my path in my essays. Those were all the large part of the puzzle. Now I have the small details to fit in. These are called the authoritative 'I', claims, warrants, evidence and text to text. All of these tools help to support the main idea. They help to get the main point across and support your argument.
The authoritative 'I' is the connection that you have with your text. There are 4 sub-categories. They are the socio-cultural, anecdotal, scholarly, and rhetorical. These four categories all have to do with how you insert your experiences into your argument. Socio-cultural is your upbringing. It is your economic status; your ethnicity. Anecdotal are the little stories you tell. They are experiences you've had in activities you participate in. The scholarly I is from being in school. It is from classes you take. Rhetorical I is least understood for me. I am currently unsure of what it is and how to incorporate it into my essay. In my own essays I have used the anecdotal I where I tell stories about what I have experienced. I use stories from my experience ice skating or from a dance I have gone to.
Claims, warrants, and evidence are three categories that go together. Claims are the conclusions that you make about what you have read. They are not opinions but rather can be supported by evidence from the text. A good analogy for claims are that they are the hypotheses that you make similar to ones you make in science. Warrants are the reason why you think what you think. Warrants provides justification for your claims. Warrants prevent the readers from thinking you are assuming something. Evidence is the facts about the claims you are making. It relates to what you are saying and qualifies, sharpens, and refines what you claim. Through the process of writing my
Text-to-text is similar to remixing. It is getting your two texts to talk to each other. It makes your ideas stronger in that sense because you can get ideas supported. This move can also be under the category of evidence if used correctly. I enjoy using text-to-text. I enjoy pulling quotes out of text and this move allows me to do that even more. I like having Daley and Pratt communicate their ideas together.
Step 4 in the puzzle that is English 101 is to get the tiny pictures to fit together by getting ideas to talk.
Step 5: Random Pieces
Let's review the steps we have
taken so far:
1. We separated out our intentions for English 101 and figured out where we were coming from
2. We framed English 101
3. We did the large picture with CIQ's and by coming to terms with the text
4. We placed the small pictures using claims, warrants, evidence, authoritative 'I', and text-to-text techniques
Now we can see most the picture of this essay and where it is going. All that's left is to fill in the tiny holes. It requires a little minor changes and touching up and then the essay looks like a beautiful puzzle nicely put together. The moves required to accomplish this are countering and extending, citation packages, zoom and pan, and exploding paragraphs.
Countering and Extending are tools used to help develop ideas that may be obscure. Countering is the rebuttal and can best be utilized by asking the question "no...But...” Extending on the other hand is elaborating on what has been said. It can be best utilized by asking the question "yes...and...” Oftentimes this tool and extending were used during my process of peer editing. These tools helped me to see the places where my argument was lacking or where I left holes that needed to be filled.
A citation package is like a nice little cushion for any quotes you pull out. It introduces the sources the first time that you use it. It then explains the quote in your own words and then you connect that to your main point. This is my favorite technique. I feel it thoroughly helps me with the transfer of my ideas from texts to my claims.
Zoom and pan are similar to the tools you would use on google earth to scroll closer and farther. Zoom allows you to see a smaller portion of the picture. This tool allows you to focus on one little scene at a time and to analyze it apart from the whole picture. I enjoy using zoom an introductory tool because it will pull in the reader typically. Pan is pulling back to look at the whole picture. When used in conjunction with zoom it connects the smaller pieces to the larger pieces or to the frame of the essay. I tend to have trouble using my pan. I like to make my pictures too big and view the whole universe instead of just the world.
Exploding paragraphs is a tool that gets you to explain your ideas. There is no longer anything abstract or vague. There are concrete examples. I don't really enjoy exploding paragraphs because they cause you to think harder about what you are saying. Then again it is important to use exploding paragraphs because otherwise your ideas are like limp noodles. They are hard for the reader to conceptualize.
By now all the puzzle has been put together. My essay looks neat and complete. I can turn it in and be evaluated on my work. I enjoyed immensely this process of writing and communicating my ideas. I have been looking for a new way to write essays and I look forward to using this system in my future classes.
Step 6: Take It Apart or Glue It Together?
By now all the puzzle has been put together. My essay looks neat and complete. I can turn it in and be evaluated on my work. I enjoyed immensely this process of writing and communicating my ideas. I have been looking for a new way to write essays and I look forward to using this system in my future. Take a step back; admire it; think about how you got here and where you are going.
There are three words I think effectively communicate what this class is about; connections, questions, tools. This class was all about the connections you could make from text to text and from text to life. We always had to ask ourselves how what we learning was connecting to the ideas of our essays and to materials that we looked at regarding the world such as the riots in Baltimore. This class involved a lot of questions about our views and ideas and the authors’ ideas and views. We even had to question the ideas and views of the viewer. This class also gave many tools that we can utilize to improve our writing. I hope to keep applying them as I learn in live and remain to be a visual strategy thinker.
I believe this class has taught me so much. This is evident in where I have gone from my intentions. I came in wanting to improve my flow from paragraph to paragraph. I believe I can effectively do that most of the time. I learned how to do that utilizing evidence and warrants. I learned that zoom can be a very helpful tool with this and asking questions of your ideas can also help you to move from one idea. Just know it is okay to ask questions of yourself in your writing.
Step 7: Gluing the Puzzle Together
How do I plan to utilize these
things I have learned in the future?
There are many uses for these items some of them are even for everyday use. First I have learned how to question I see. I've learned not to assume anything. When I am told a fact I can ask questions about it and what it means. I can relate it to bigger things I see in my life. I can use these thinking strategies for images. I have learned that first looks are not everything we see. For example there was the case of the photo in Baltimore of the man that looks like he is stealing a purse from a young photo. However by questioning the photo and doing research you can learn it was the opposite. Things should not be taken for granted or at face value. I also learned that even the movies we see are remixes of others. I enjoyed learning that and can utilize it to think of how I may have seen the images before and what the subversive images of the media could be.
I also learned a lot about communication. I learned that ideas can be communicated in ways other than languages. It is possible to reach other cultures through symbols and images. As a future educator this was very important to me. I need to remember that I can reach more students if I apply some of Pratt's ideas about how to communicate with others using more than language I can reach more students in my classroom. I can also apply Daley's ideas about media at the end of her speech. I should keep in mind that she says that to teach about the media you first need to understand about the media source and the way it was intended to communicate to the viewer.
I am excited to see how my knowledge is going to transfer into my future as an educator and as a communicator.
Step 8: Admiring Your Work
As a designer I have created my
project as a puzzle. This allows me to communicate to my audience the overall theme of English 101; connecting things to one another. Each piece of English 101 felt as if it were hard to decipher on its own but once it was placed in context with other materials it can be seen in the big picture of things. It is the same with puzzles. The small pieces don't make much sense by themselves, they might be pretty to look at but otherwise there is not much information to get from them. Once placed in the puzzle though it is easy to see the giant puzzle and the picture looks beautiful.
My abstract is on the outside of my essay because an abstract is about your essay which is similar to how a picture on the box of a puzzle summarizes what the puzzle is supposed to look like. Each page of my essay is glued onto separate pieces of the puzzle in order to reiterate the fact that puzzle pieces similar to pages of an essay are hard to understand by themselves because you can’t zoom out and see the big picture. My RP essay has taken the form as an instruction manual to demonstrate how instructions tell you what it takes to get the final product and how the final product can be used.
I hope that my audience can appreciate the use of puzzles in putting together English 101 and that they will understand how it is put together. That is, after all, what I really want to communicate to people.