Posted in Announcements, Assignments, Resources

You know you’re done with Intro to PW when:

This week is about wrapping up loose ends and finishing projects.

Monday and Wednesday are studio days. I will be available to read drafts, comment on processes, answer questions, and help you clarify deliverables. I highly recommend you take advantage of this time to get feedback and work alongside your peers.

If you will not be in class, please send me an email letting me know why and how your work is progressing outside of class. Remember our discussion about rhetorical choices and email. Learn how to talk to professors, managers and colleagues about how you’re balancing multiple demands without communicating that too common “I have something more important to do” vibe. It’s an important skill and one worth cultivating. Important note: This isn’t about lying to professors, managers, etc. It’s about being clear, ethical, and rhetorically effective. Tough, but doable, and the hallmark of a good professional writer.

Friday is our last day of class. It is important that you are in class. We will do some brief discussion of what your projects are, what you’ve learned, and what’s next for you. You will complete your participation self-evaluations in class. I’ll bring treats. 

Your professional profiles and your final portfolio projects are due no later than Wednesday, May 3rd at 5PM. Electronic copies in your google drive folder and an email letting me know the work is complete is sufficient. If you would prefer to hand in hard copies, please email me to make an appointment.

All the required elements of each project are listed on the End of Semester Assignment Sheet (which I have updated to include the letter of transmittal for your professional profiles. Consult these guidelines for a letter of transmittal to help you complete this element of the assignment.

Final Grading reminders:

These two final projects represent a significant portion of your grade. They should represent the culmination of what you have learned this semester, and they should show your serious engagement with the assignments and with your own professional development. While there isn’t a rubric I think my expectations have been clear.

Your work should have a specific audience and a specific use case for final deliverables. You can return to my comments on your proposal drafts to clarify what my expectations are for your professional profiles. If you’re still not sure, we should talk during studio time or office hours this week.

For your final portfolio pieces: The work you’re doing here varies widely. I’m happy with the project you’ve chosen and know there will value for you in following through with them. Some of you have chosen projects where my feedback will be valuable in moving work forward if you need or want specific feedback from me on this work, please be clear about what you’re looking for in your reflections. 

Remember with your portfolio projects, there are two pieces: 

  1. The thing you are making
  2. Your reflection on the process, the rhetorical choices you made, and the professional writing skills you are drawing upon to complete the work. The reflection is as important to me as the thing you are making. Take it seriously. If you’re not sure what to include or how to approach the reflective work, let’s talk about it in studio this week.

When everything is handed in, you’re done. Please don’t forget to fill out your instructor evaluations for this class. They are important to me. 

Posted in Assignments, Uncategorized

Topsight Activity Systems Worksheets

A reminder that you are reading chapters 19 and 20 for class on Monday.

Spinuzzi has made PDF versions of the worksheets available on his website . Using these worksheets may be helpful.

You can also adapt this very bare bones (but editable) version of the activity-system-diagram.

These chapters show how to think through the Macro view of and organization by looking at culture, history and long term goals. Some of this information may come from your interviews, and, if you’re involved in an organization, your experience, artifacts and maybe observations. You may also need to incorporate some secondary research, looking at company websites, press releases, or research about the industries your companies or organizations are engaged in.

Activity systems are analytical tools. They are expected to help you think through the data you are acquiring about a company or a problem. The goal is to identify the parts of a system and consider the relationships between those parts– both in terms of the connections and the contradictions or difficulties.

As you are working on your research proposals, you should be thinking about how you will incorporate the activity system analysis into your research. Think about what questions it can help you answer.


Posted in Assignments, Creative Enagement

I Have No Creative Title to Offer

For this project I chose No. 23, “Book Report”

The challenge’s description is to call a friend and ask for a book recommendation. After receiving the title and a short summary, the goal is to create a cover for this book you’ve never read. So I called up one of my friends who is into obscure things and asked her what she’s currently reading. The book, Hyperspace, according to Alex is, “About parallel universes or something I dunno the guy is like a scientist or something”.

So initially I was thinking of things that I could do with this, but having no knowledge of any characters there wasn’t any kind of real subject that I felt should be featured on the cover, so I decided I would try and create something abstract with a spacey vibe, which is about what I imagine reading the actual book would feel like- minus any of the confusing scientific jargon that I’m sure it contains.

My method, I decided, would to be use a leftover board I had and use a technique that involves a sort of water-coloring using crayola markers and salt. So I started with a blank boardhyperspace-2 and thought that I would try and go with a playing-card opposite kind of thing to give it a parallel kind of feel. I didn’t want the sides to be too different because everyone knows parallel universes are infinite and most of them only have small changes, like our universe but if noodles were never invented.

After I gave it a wash, by adding water and trying to convince the ink to go where I wanted it, I added salt to create small “blooms” in the ink, which I hoped would look like baby galaxies. This resulted in a rather cloudy mess.hyperspace-3

Once the water dried it started to look more like I had imagined, thank god, and I thought about outlining some of the blooms but the challenge had a time limit of 60 minutes and I knew if I started I would never stop. Once everything was dried I added my title, which I felt should be kept simple and straightforward considering the scientific-ness of the book.

Final product:


My thoughts after this were mostly “Man book covers are stupid hard”. I never really thought about how hard it would be to create a single image to sum up an entire plotline. I guess, realistically, I got lucky that Alex was reading something like this, because I really cannot draw people to save my life. But at the same time, her description was ridiculously vague and left me wondering what the cover artist for Harry Potter was thinking when they had to compile all of that together.

Posted in Assignments, Resources

Memos: General Comments, Guidance and Resources

Some overall comments on your first memos:

  • Audience, context, and purpose are really important when you think about memo writing. It’s a flexible genre. Memos can be used for anything from routine internal communication to proposals and documentation. Think about why and to whom you are writing.
  • Writing good memos is about information design. Information design is concerned with both visual and content design.
    • Memos are designed to be read quickly, and key points should stand out. Think about visual hierarchy when you are writing.
    • Paragraphs should be about one thing at a time. Clear topic sentences, and transitions are important. Most of you would benefit by reverse outlining your memos. Can you identify a topic sentence in each paragraph. Are all the sentences that follow related to that topic? The Purdue OWL has some good resources on how to think about paragraph structure. Pay particular attention to the section titled “How do I know when to start a new paragraph?”
  • Make sure you are making transitions between paragraphs. Subheads can be used to aid transition, but your document should read effectively without them as well. We’ll spend more time on this in the coming weeks.
  • Concise and focused doesn’t mean “short.” Consistent comments on your memos were “tell me more” “give me an example” “explain how, why, or to what extent” or make this concrete and measurable: “how many, how much, how often.”
  • Start thinking about these memos as an opportunity to develop your personal branding. What do you look and sound like (on paper) as a professional writer?

Some general memo conventions to keep in mind:

  1. While memo headings may be double spaced, the body paragraphs of a memo are usually single spaced.
  2. Make sure subject headings are specific enough to serve as documentation. “Memo #1” is only useful to me, and maybe to other students who have read the same assignment, but wouldn’t be useful for archiving. “Summary of readings and progress in weeks 1-4 of 306” Explains clearly what the memo is for.
  3. Even short memos should include an introductory summary. Explain what the memo is for and what can be found in the body of a text. For the 2-page memos I’m asking you for, this should only take you a couple of sentences.


Posted in Assignments, Creative Enagement

Creative Engagement Assignment

This assignment has multiple objectives:

  • Think about and practice the design skills needed in professional writing
  • Consider the ways that writing is a visual and material practice
  • Create and reflect on the process of creating work
  • Develop a design vocabulary for talking about and evaluating writing and design practices by writing and speaking about your project.

Your Task: (100 points total)

  1. Choose a design challenge from Creative Workshop as a starting place.
  2. Make something.
  3. Do some research about design practices or tools the tools you used to make something.
  4. Reflect on your process, and write about it.
  5. Publish a blog post (At least 500 words) that explains what you did and what you learned
  6. Give a 10 minute in-class presentation about your project, and one of the design concepts you practiced or the tools you used. Create a material or digital take-away for your classmates. .

Please sign up for a presentation time

Further instructions and guidelines can be found on the assignment calendar.

I know you’re learning. I want these projects to be fun, and I want you to be adventurous and experiment. We’re not looking for perfection here, but serious engagement, attempts at quality production, and a commitment to teaching and learning together. The only way to do this assignment wrong is to not do it, or to do it half-heartedly.

If you have questions as you are working on these projects, you can ask them in the comments on this post, or using the comment feature of Google Docs on the assignment calendar.

Posted in Assignments, Discussion Questions

Reading Discussion Assignment and Calendar

As we move further into the class, it’s important to me that your thoughts, questions, and interpretations of the text drive our discussion, so starting in week four, your reading discussion posts will replace mine as we prepare for class discussion.

What this assignment requires of discussion leaders:

  1. Plan and read ahead. Discussion posts will be due AT LEAST 24 hours before the class in which the discussion will take place. So plan accordingly, and think about this when you’re scheduling your discussion times.
  2. Make connections between what you’re reading and what you see happening in the world, what you’re interested in professionally, or what you understand about the field.
  3. Come to class ready to talk about your reading and your questions. No one will ever be a discussion leader on their own but as discussion leaders you will guide the discussion. I’ll take notes, share points I think are significant, and participate in discussion.

Further instructions can be found on the discussion leader sign up sheet

What this assignment requires of everyone else:

  1. Do your reading.
  2. Read the discussion posts before class.
  3. Come prepared to engage with your classmates about the text and their questions.
  4. I will be highly conscious of participation and preparation during these discussions.
  5. Think about the golden rule here: do unto discussion leaders, as you would like them to do unto you when it’s your turn to lead.

Sign up to lead discussions

Use this sign up sheet to select two days to lead discussion. The readings for the next two weeks are clear, some of them I’m still selecting, so you will be choosing topics/areas of interest rather than specific readings.