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Class Reading Activities (CRAs)

This semester we’ll engage in a consistent practice of engagement, analysis, research, and discussion related to our reading. For each text, we’ll divide into brainstormers, researchers/open web, researchers/academic, analysts, curators, and in-class speakers.

Here are those job descriptions:

  • Brainstormers (write these as Discord messages in the #cra_brainstorm channel):

    Under the appropriate thread on the Discord channel #cra_brainstorm, sign up to be a brainstormer for a particular week. Your brainstorm posts on Discord should be responses that you have to the text. Write three different observations about the reading (1-3 sentences each) by the due date of the activity. Build quick, insightful observations that analysts might find useful. Thoughtful replies to other brainstormers’ posts can count as posts. Do not summarize the reading; do not pose questions about the reading. Avoid including reflections on personal life/experiences in brainstorming posts, as those directions will be not be helpful for others when completing the analysis task. Brainstorm posts should be insightful, probing, and/or connective to other contexts (like recent news); they should also serve as possible thesis statements for those in the analysis group. Be aware of the brainstorm comments that have been posted before yours and do not include redundant observations.

    Remember: brainstormers’ work consists of three separate Discord posts, 1-3 sentences each relevant to our reading assignment.

  • Researchers, open web AND academic (write these as Discord messages in the cra_researchopen or cra_researchacademic channels):

    Under the appropriate thread on Discord, sign up to be a researcher for a particular week. After you’ve completed the class reading, choose something concrete in the text (a person, term, historical event, or cultural practice) and research it. Find one source on the web that helps you better understand your term/topic; choose one that you find particularly useful, interesting, insightful, and/or controversial. Do not use a Wikipedia or encyclopedia article as a source for this activity. If your source includes opinion (like an op-ed column or blog post), it should be from a person who has expertise or unique experience in that field. Read the entire source. Your post will compose of an MLA citation and your annotation of the source (100-150 words). Compose an MLA-style bibliographic entry for the source (you can find help here), and include a link to the article. After that, provide an annotation for the article — a 100-150 word paragraph that does three things: 1) summarizes the article, 2) includes a useful quote from the article with context, and 3) explains the relevance of the source to our class reading. Open web researchers should choose a source with strong ethos that originates from a journalist, a non-profit researcher, or a verifiable expert on the subject. Academic researchers should choose only academic sources (written by an scholar, published in peer reviewed academic media like an academic journal, includes a bibliography, and is at least 7 pages long). It better to search for academic sources on the library’s research databases than through an open search of the web.

    Remember: a research post should begin with a correctly formatted MLA citation (including a link) and should be followed by a 100-150 annotation of the source.

  • Analysts (write these as Discord messages in the cra_analysis channel):

    Under the appropriate thread on Discord, sign up to be an analyst for a particular week. Upload or link to a 300 word analytical response to the reading and the discussion within the brainstormer and researcher channels. It should focus on a specific aspect of the reading, and identify that aspect quickly and efficiently (within the first sentence — do not spend time with a lengthy introduction). Analysis work should refer to and cite the work of at least one brainstormer and quote from the source of at least one researcher (do not quote from a researcher’s annotation of their source). Name those peers when you are referencing their work. Your analysis document should have a heading, a title, and consist of two or three paragraphs. It should have an academic and concrete tone. Choose a title that clearly identifies what you are analyzing; avoid a title like “Analysis on/of ________”.

    Remember: analysis posts should be 300 words, should begin with a concrete thesis statement or idea that focuses on one aspect of the reading, should reference the work of at least one brainstormer and one researcher, and should include a title that clearly refers to the thesis. Analysis posts need to be uploaded to or linked from Discord; do not write your analysis post as a 300-word Discord message.

  • Curators (write these as Discord messages in the cra_curate channel):

    Under the appropriate thread on Discord, sign up to be a curator for a particular week. After you’ve read all of the CRA posts including the analysis submissions, comment on the overall direction of the work of the class in a 100-150 word post of your own. What did we pay attention to? What did we ignore? What’s interesting about all of this to you? Highlight the contributions of 2-4 class members and use their @username when referring to them. Curation posts should be written as Discord messages, not uploads or links to outside documents.

  • In-class participants

    Under the appropriate thread on Discord, sign up to be an in-class participant for a particular week. You do not need to participate in the online CRA components on Discord. Come to class prepared with several comments, questions, or observations on the readings. You are expected to contribute significantly to the in-class discussion of the text over the course of the week.

Stylistic guidelines for each task:

General academic writing principles: 

  • Avoid “you” and “your” unless quoting a source. 
  • Avoid general statements; make specific statements. 
  • Avoid using cliches and giving “life advice”. 
  • Spelling and technical writing proficiency is important. 
  • First mention of an author should be their first and last name (unless it’s a name/text we’re all using like “Morrison”). After first mention, use only the author’s last name. 
  • Avoid redundancies. 

Brainstormers: 

  • Each of the three observations should be its own post, not packaged together as three observations in one post. 
  • While the requirement for one brainstorm message is only 1-3 sentences, these statements should be nuanced and detailed enough for analysts to use. If one of your brainstorm messages is only 1 sentence, it should suggest a complicated enough idea that analysts will find it useful. 
  • Refer to the patterns and arguments of the text – not personal experience or general reflections of the world beyond the text unless citing specific history.  
  • Refer to specific sections of the text; quote from the text; use page numbers when applicable. If you aren’t quoting from the text, your observation probably is not focused enough.
  • Connecting with the work of a researcher is preferred but not required. 

Researchers: 

  • If you are using non-academic sources, be sure that they carry enough ethos to be cited in an academic project – from a reputable media outlet or from an interview with or a lecture by someone with verifiable expertise. 
  • If pulling from the KSU library database, don’t use the URL at the top of the page for the link. Find the “permalink” on the right side of the screen.

Analysts: 

  • External document should be uploaded or linked from Discord; 300 words is too much text to read from any one person in a platform like Discord.
  • Use either 2 or 3 paragraphs. Using no paragraphs does not allow your thought enough organization. Using more than 3 paragraphs is probably too much division. 
  • The title should be specific and the first sentence should read like a thesis statement. Avoid introductory language; we have all read the assignment.
  • Your analysis should focus on a very specific and small piece of the larger work: a scene, a paragraph, a couple of pages of the text – not the novel/essay as a whole. 
  • A piece of analysis should be organized and intentional; it should not read like a stream of consciousness reflection, but like an argument that has been carefully plotted out. 
  • Be sure to quote from the text. 
  • Define an idea that can be debated rather than proving an idea that simply and observably true in the text. 

Curators: 

  • It’s easy to pick out overarching patterns in the work of the class. Make sure that your post does more than that (for instance, analyze the “why” of that observation – why are we paying attention to that thing more?). 
  • It’s great to point out things that our work has missed to suggest further exploration. 
  • It’s valuable to reflect on how the work of the work of the class might be extended for the purposes of those composing presentations (or even your own group). 
  • Look for debates, or if there aren’t observable debates, suggest one by putting two ideas together and reflecting on them together. 
  • Read everything in the work of the class – all the brainstorm posts, all the research articles (skim them), and all the analysis pieces. 
  • Focus on a specific idea within your post rather than moving between comments in a way that is unrelated.

In-class Participants:

  • Be prepared with notes, quotes, page numbers.
  • Consider doing some amount of outside research on the issue you want to discuss.
  • I will structure some of the conversation around parts of the assignment that I feel are important, but I can adapt to any comment you make as long as it’s respectful and focused on understanding the text.
  • It’s ok to use questions, but avoid questions that are versions of “I just don’t understand why the author _____.” It’s more useful to change that into: “The author’s use of _____ is confusing. It could be mean x, but I’d like to hear other perspectives.”
  • Remember the three most important things that I want us to pay attention to in literature: patterns, arguments, and the contributions of scholars. You can’t go wrong with something built from one of those.

Published in engl2130 writ3150

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