101 Assignments

Project I: Rhetorical Analysis (3 Pages) 15%
Students analyze a single public document from their class list (or a document approved by their instructor). For many students, this document will be a written article.  For some students, it will be a website or artwork. This essay will analyze the rhetorical choices the author (or authoring agency) is making in the source, identifying author, audience, purpose, argument, and perspective. The student will ask why the author(s) chose the specific words and images in the source, what information they make, through arrangement, most visible in the text, what emotional appeals they make on their audience, etc. Students will support a theme or thesis about the text’s choices with details from the text itself. As part of this assignment, students will complete an analysis chart that helps them identify and interpret authorship, audience, purpose, argument, and perspective.

Project II: Strong Response to Reading (3 Pages) 15%
Students will read, summarize, and analyze several readings in the first half of the semester.  These readings, originally published in newspapers, magazines, trade publications, and other vetted media outlets, will allow the students to explore the many complex sub-topics of the course theme. This project asks students to step out of the classroom and experience the course topic first-hand. Students will gain experience during the semester and use this experience to respond to a specific reading or to the general course theme. Students will compare their experience, observations, and knowledge to the arguments and in a specific reading. For example, students in a course themed on the body-mind connection may participate in a yoga in the park session and then compare their experience to a reading discussing the psychological benefits of yoga or discussing the elitist aspects of US yoga practice. Students in a course themed on the environment may participate in a stream clean-up project and then use that experience to respond to an article about bag taxes or the Clean Water Act. Students in a class themed on art and ethics may visit an exhibit at a Smithsonian museum of a controversial artist they read about in class. Students use their experience to agree or disagree with the main points of the articles or they may use their first-hand experience to add to the discussion in the readings. Some EN 101 classes will have a service-learning component related to the class theme that will be a part of this assignment.

Project III: Source Essay (3 Pages) 10%
EN 101 classes focus on a large topic in the D.C. metro area, like immigration or the arts or the environment. Students will choose to investigate a more narrow topic within the larger course focus. Each student will write a source analysis essay for 3-5 sources they locate on their topic. These sources should be chosen for how they help the student understand the topic and the problems associated with the topic. For example, if a student chose the future of public transportation, a student could compile government research on the carbon footprint of hybrid buses, business trade press essays analyzing manufacturing costs of hybrid buses, and popular science articles detailing advances in hybrid technology. A Source Analysis Essay accurately describes the context of a source’s publication (who published it, the purpose of this publishing venue and the biases or slants that might be connected to this purpose, and the audience of this publication), the conversations in which the source is engaged, the author(s) and purpose of the source, and its stylistic and genre conventions. The Source Essay will be graded on how well the students describes the rhetorical context of the source, how substantial the sources are (in length and perspective for a feature article or in breadth or depth of research for a government report); how reliable they are (published by a disinterested, relatively unbiased publisher; vetted in some way; recent); and how closely they relate to the same narrow topic. There will be two library sessions in support of this project. The first will focus on finding and evaluating internet sources and the second on using the general library databases to find articles and commentaries in newspapers and magazines.

Project IV: Public Project (4 pages) and reflection on public writing engagement (1-2 pages) 15%
Students draw on their source analysis essay to create a public document, such as a NY Times forum essay or letter to the editor or a blog or a digital movie or a PSA (based on a written script), that is aimed at a particular audience and that delineates the main problem(s) or issues of their topic. These public documents will support a thesis though this thesis most likely will not take a definitive position or offer a solution.

Presentations 10%
Because oral communication is an important skill and will be the capstone of students’ EN 102 experience, one of the four major projects will accompany an individual or group presentation. Students might present their best Project III research sources in groups, providing an overview of the most relevant sources of information about a topic or problem. Students might present in small groups on a small field research project connected to their research topic. They might present a rhetorical analysis of their Project IV paper, explaining the rhetorical choices they made in the project to appeal to their chosen audience. They might re-purpose their final paper, revising it for a presentation to a different, new audience possibly in a different genre.

Midterm exam (rhetorical analysis of a single source) 10% and final exam (strong Response) 10%

Class activities, assignments, and attendance  10%