Writing is thinking on paper

“Writing is thinking on paper.” –William Zinsser

Discussion boards (or DBs) are a chance for you to confer with your colleagues outside of class time. You will be assigned 3 DB posts in each genre, often concentrated around the beginning of our discussion of the genre. How to access the discussion board: 1. Login to Brightspace (brightspace.ccc.edu) 2. Enter our course site, and click “content” in the top menu bar. 3. In the “table of contents” menu at left, click “discussion boards”. 4. Each DB assignment will have its own forum. Find the name of the main discussion board thread you want to post under and click on it to open that discussion board assignment. Review the directions there. 5. To make your own post inside the assignment thread, click “start a new thread” (below directions). Give your post a subject line that includes your name. Then enter your response into the text box. When you are finished, click “post”. 6. To reply to someone else’s thread, click on their subject line to open their thread. Under their content, click “reply” to answer their post. Writing your discussion board post:  First, read the text! You may wish to read more than once, first as you usually would and the second time as a writer, looking for clues as to how the story works.  Refer to the list of “things to consider” included in this handout (next page) as you choose one interesting feature of the writing to focus on in your post. In addition to those ideas, you are welcome to explore any other features of the writing that you notice. o Our goal is to think about how and why the writing works. Why might the writer have made the choices that s/he makes here? What purpose might this choice serve in the story? Look for evidence in the writing to back up your claims, and include at least one direct reference to the reading in your post. o You don’t have to have all the answers; I’m just asking for your insight as a reader. Any opinion you can justify with evidence from the text is valid.  Make direct reference to the reading at least once. o This means either using a quote which illustrates your point or including a paraphrase-style reference, in your own words, to a specific part of the reading. o Any use of quoted material must be in “quotation marks”. o Don’t forget to give credit to the author of the quote! When mentioning authors, use their full names or last names only. (If you’re responding to “Three Pokes of a Thistle”, for example, you can attribute your quote to Naomi Shihab Nye or Nye, but don’t call her just “Naomi”). Ritt/241 Examples of things to consider:  The author’s voice/tone (as evident in the piece)  The choice to use a stylistic device (e.g. use of segments, fantastical elements, descriptive passages, etc—stick with something you’re comfortable observing here)  Sentence rhythms or punctuation choices  Word choice/ use of dialect or dialogue  Use of imagery or descriptive details  What details are included vs. excluded (does what was left out reveal something to you?)  Ways in which the author is showing emotions or events rather than telling you explicitly  How the beginning and/or ending is constructed (and why it works)  References to other stories/writers/cultural knowledge/common themes  If you are familiar with the author, you may consider how it compares to the author’s other works (please DO NOT do extensive research for this assignment, though you may find it useful to google the author and learn more about them).  Have another idea? Go for it! Just make sure you’re focusing on how the writing works.  For all of the above: 1) Find at least one example in the text; 2) Consider how the author’s choice here impacts your experience of the piece. Things to avoid:  Plot summary: Don’t just tell us what happened—think about why the author might’ve made those choices, and what that tells us about the author and/or the larger story. We all read the same thing, so there’s no need to recount every plot detail.  Extensive personal reactions: Whether you liked a piece or not, every author has something to teach us! If you liked (or didn’t like) a piece, why? Why do you think the author might have made these choices, and why do they work (or not) for you?  Lots of research: You should reflect on the writing yourself and offer your own writerly opinions on what works and what doesn’t. Like all our written work, DB posts must be written in your own words, excerpt for any direct textual references.  Excessive quoting: Your response should be mostly your reflections, supported by a short-ish quote or few quotes; at a minimum, 75% of the response should be your own thoughts. How to receive full credit (out of 5 possible points per post):  Post your own thoughts in 200+ words: +3 points o Focus on one element of the writing and include 1+ references to the text. o Please include the word count in your post. Posts that are shorter than assigned or do not include the word count will lose points (1-3 points, at instructor’s discretion). [PRO TIP: Type your response in Word first, which will give you an automatic word count, and copy-paste your work into the DB].  Reply to at least two colleagues’ posts: +2 points o Use the “Praise-Question-Polish” formula for replies: Remark on something your colleague has said well, ask the author at least one question about his or her Ritt/241 response, and offer some constructive criticism (perhaps another way to think about the issue, an addition perspective as represented in another thread, a potential clarification on a question you or the author had in the response, etc). Focus on constructive criticism related to ideas or logic rather than on grammatical concerns. o Respond in a minimum of 3 complete sentences. Providing less feedback than assigned will cost you points (-1 point per missing or short/ineffective reply).  Edit your response. o Avoid “text-speak”, slang, etc, and be sure to edit your responses for clear sentences, accurate word choice, and sound grammar. Posts that appear unedited or contain a high frequency of grammatical errors will lose points (1-3 points, at instructor’s discretion).  Be polite to colleagues. o We will sometimes discuss divisive pieces or possibly personal topics. Our discussion board, much like our classroom, is an environment where every student should feel comfortable exploring his or her own thoughts while learning from the thoughts of others. Part of being a college-educated individual is learning to discuss a variety of topics with others of various opinions and backgrounds while keeping an open dialogue. o To keep our discussions productive, avoid using inappropriate or potentially offensive language in your posts. As you offer criticisms, strive to help your classmates think harder and wiser rather than belittling someone else’s efforts or experiences. o Anyone who is using the discussion board to make another member of the community uncomfortable will lose his or her own discussion board points for that assignment at the instructor’s discretion. If you find a particular post problematic, please discuss it with me ASAP.  Post on time! o Discussion boards, like other assignments, are not accepted late. o Ideally, your initial post should be made within 24 hours of the assignment in order to allow time for colleagues to read your work and post useful reply comments. Occasionally, extra credit may be offered to the first 3 posts. If not announced on Brightspace, no extra credit is available. Short versionFor full credit: 1) Choose one element that you find interesting/perplexing/useful/annoying; 2) Explain why and/or how the element works (or doesn’t work), in your opinion; 3) Make direct reference to and/or quote the text at least once as evidence. 4) Post your thoughts in 200+ words. 5) Reply to 2+ colleagues (“praise/question/polish”). Ritt/241 Example DB Posts A non-excellent DB post responding to a reading: (not full credit– Don’t do this!) Subject: None This reminds me of a garage sale I saw once. They had all kinds of thing for sale, but no one want to buy anything. I thought this story was confusing and I didn’t like it. Why would he put everything outside? I don’t get it. An excellent DB post responding to a reading: (full credit) Subject: Erica Student—response to “Why Don’t You Dance?” Word Count: 218 I have read this story several times and can’t seem to wrap my head around what Carver is trying to say with this short story. Why is this “yard sale” set up just as the furniture was placed inside the man’s house? I get the sense that his relationship went awry by the “his side, her side” line in the beginning. It made me think about how people often say, “You don’t know what goes on in a relationship behind closed doors.” Was this his way of letting people see inside? His attempt at breaking down that wall, making the failures in his life transparent? Maybe he felt as though the neighborhood was nosy and already knew all about what had happened, what had gone wrong between him and her, so why live within the confines of the four walls of his house? Why not let them see what they already believe to know? I’m frustrated by the way the story ended; I don’t like that there is so much I don’t understand. I don’t like that though the author did a good job of not “telling” us anything, he also didn’t “show” us much, either. I think that maybe by doing this, he was trying to show us how much we really don’t know about other people. Example of an excellent student reply to the second post (full credit for reply): “This is a great insight about the yard sale set up, Erica! I totally missed that, and I appreciate you explaining it so clearly. I am wondering why you feel frustrated by the ending if you feel like the technique makes sense. Do you just prefer more detail as a reader? Personally, I usually do too, but I think it works in this story.” Example of a non-excellent reply: (would not receive credit for reply) “Me too girl LOL!! I didnt read this one to be hoenst but; i think u explained everything well. I like your response.”