Unit 2: Public Writing/Research Project

Public Writing/Research Project

During the rest of the semester, you will be working on a Public Writing/Research Project. You will choose a specific site to explore and research, using both primary and secondary resources. You will be observing, describing, taking field notes, doing research, analyzing, finding facts, reading critically, challenging information, evaluating sources, making connections, synthesizing, presenting information, giving colleagues feedback, writing for an audience, asking questions, fact checking, making your ideas public, and engaging others in the conversation.

Here are some parameters. The project will be

Collaborative: You’ll be working in groups or pairs to choose a site.
Place-based: Each group will choose a specific place to research and investigate. You’ll be visiting the place and analyzing the space.
Investigative:You must include some primary research: visiting the place, interviewing people connected to it, taking field notes, etc. You’ll be writing about the place, using observation and description, specific details, etc. You’ll be doing some secondary research on the issue connected to the place, collaborating on an annotated bibliography, presenting sources to the class, asking your peers to help evaluate the sources, and leading a class or twitter discussion about your topic.
Connected to larger issues: The place needs to have some connection to a larger issues which will be part of the conversation we’re having about environmental issues. You need to identify an issue that is research-able and timely.
Public: Four elements of the project have to have an audience beyond the classroom.

Here are some possible topics.

One of our goals will be get people outside of our class involved in the conversation — or rather, to add to an already existing conversation that’s probably far more complicated than we realize. You don’t have to have all the answers or the solutions (it’s highly unlikely that you will) but be ready to present some of your research in a creative way, ask some thought-provoking questions, and enter into an intelligent conversation with people we’ve never met.

Here is what the project will look like:
1) Project Checklist: You each need to fill one of these out. This will be the initial planning document for your group. Each person needs to be assigned an area of research. At this time, you can come up with a tentative plan for the four public elements of the project. You will need to take into account the essential ingredients of the Public Writing Research Project.
2) A Collaborative Field Notes Google Doc: You and your group members will gather field notes, photographs, and video clips from your visit to the place. This document will be a “behind-the-scenes” and informal document, a place to gather and organize data. It can serve as a virtual meeting place outside of class.
3) Individual Research Documents: You will each write up your secondary research. These are documents that you will be sharing with each other and the teacher. Think of them as journal articles or research papers written for other experts in your field. Yes, you must cite your sources: use embedded links in the google doc so that you can check each other's sources. You will eventually print this out to put in your folder so that you can get credit for the individual work you did for the project.
4) Public elements: You need to make your research public. This part of the project, which will take place during the last five weeks of the semester is collaborative. Each group will release one element every Wednesday by linking to it on twitter.
5) Annotated Bibliography: Put your sources into a google doc. Be sure to explain why each source is credible. Then put a link to the Annotated Bibliography somewhere on your website.
6) At the end of the semester, you will each hand in a portfolio that will include the project checklist, the individual research document, your annotated bibliography, and a self-assessment memo.

You can be creative as you want with these elements so long as you follow these parameters:
1) Include some substantive text in each element.
2) Include something visual.
3) Make each element public.
4) Analyze your audience and figure out how to cater to that audience.
5) Observe, describe, and write in specific details.
6) Sift through research and figure out what’s important.
7) Analyze something complex and describe the patterns that you see.
8) Connect your topic to some larger, over-arching theme.

 You will need a place to gather and archive your elements. For most groups, that will be a website.