ED 655 Final: Project Based Lesson Plan

Unit 2- Framing Inquiry

INTRODUCTION

This course is English 213x: Academic Writing about the Sciences, which is a second year composition course designed to follow English 111X: Introduction to Academic Writing. This course continues the focus on rhetorical strategies that is covered in English 111x, but also places an emphasis on inquiry. This inquiry is approached using the specific topic of “Food and Social Justice.” The course will be hosted on Canvas, with some work to also be completed using Macmillan Launchpad and Google Docs, which will be synced with the Canvas site.

This is a writing intensive course in which students are expected to learn how to read critically and respond to a variety of documents, and to produce formal essays in response to topics from the course. All of the assigned readings will have to do with the course topic. The course is fifteen weeks in length. Unit 2 will be the second in a five unit course, and will last four weeks. It will come immediately after Unit 1, which will consist of a general course introduction, and immediately before Unit 2, which will focus on historical research.

Ideally students will become familiar with the basic course structure and expectations during Unit 1. When we transition to Unit 2 we will begin seriously considering both our course topic, “Food and Social Justice,” and the concept of inquiry. This unit will help to lay the groundwork for the units that will follow.

COURSE TEXTS

Bauer, H. (2017). Food Matters: A Bedford Spotlight Reader. Boston, MA: Bedford St. Martins.

Greene, S., & Lidinsky, A. (2015). From Inquiry to Academic Writing, 3rd ed. Boston, MA: Bedford St. Martins.

Handouts

Linked sources from internet

UNIT GOALS

  1. Introduce topic of “Food and Social Justice”

-students will be introduced to the concept through assigned readings

-students will connect the ideas from the readings to their personal experiences

-students will identify areas of personal interest

2) Introduce assignment specific course expectations

-students will learn how to read critically/ how to “interact” with a text

-students will learn how to actively participate in discussion

-students will learn how to provide constructive feedback to peers

-students will learn how to interpret peer feedback

-students will learn how to write reflective rather than summative assignments

3) Introduce the concept of the “research conversation”

-students will define the term

-students will begin to identify and analyze rhetorical strategies used by authors

-students will learn to write critical responses that respond to rather than summarize readings

4) Develop an initial research question

-students will select a topic/topics of interest

-students will begin to independently gather information about their topic and use it to produce a visual representation of the problem (an infographic)

-students will review their findings

-students will draft an initial research question

-students will produce a formal document (Essay #1) in which they attempt to define the problem

5) Reinforce English language skills

-students will review MLA

-students will review basic grammar concerns

-students will review common writing errors

UNIT OVERVIEW

Unit 1: Course Introduction

-One week

-Goal is to provide an overview of course policies and procedures

Unit 2: Framing Inquiry

-Four weeks

-Goal is to introduce course topic (Food and Social Justice) and to introduce the concept of inquiry within a rhetorical framework

Unit 3: Historical Research

-Three weeks

-Goal is to provide historical context for course topic and research interests

Unit 4: Qualitative Research

-Three weeks

-Goal is to help students make personal connections between literature/readings and personal experiences/community

Unit 5: Research Using Secondary Sources

-Four weeks

-Goal is to synthesize the semester long research project and to craft arguments reinforced by academic research

ASSIGNMENTS

Reading

Description:  Students will read both chapters from our inquiry text and non-fiction essays or news articles that are associated with our course topic, “Food and Social Justice.” These readings will cover a variety of topics. Pre-instructional questions will be posted in the lesson prior to the assignment of readings.

Frequency: Weekly

Location: Course texts, online sources

Purpose: The readings about inquiry will introduce or reinforce course skills. The thematic readings will expose students to ideas/topics affiliated with the course topic,  “Food and Social Justice,” and will act as catalysts for class discussion.

Justification: The inquiry readings will be sequenced in such a way that they will build on each other. The pre-instructional questions will help to guide student focus. The topic-based readings are intended to introduce students to the broad scope of the topic as a way to help guide development of their personal inquiry.

Grade Value: None

Grading criteria: Readings will not be graded. However, if students do not read, it will be apparent in the quality of their discussion posts and formal writings.  

Rubric: There is no rubric for this assignment.

Feedback: There will be no direct feedback for this assignment.  

Video/Audio

Description:  Students will watch videos or listen to podcasts that are associated with the course topics. Some video/audio will explain more complicated rhetorical/inquiry concepts. Other video/audio will expand on ideas covered readings associated with the course topic.  

Frequency: Weekly. What is assigned will depend on the availability of media.

Location: Online sources

Purpose: The video/audio will be used to reinforce and expand on topics covered by assigned reading. Some may also introduce more complex ideas affiliated with what is being covered in the course.

Justification: In addition to supporting the lesson and reading, the video/audio may appeal to a wider variety of learners. Students may also find the video/audio more engaging that reading alone. The video/audio will not merely repeat what is covered by the reading, it will expand on it or introduce more complex concepts.

Grade Value: None

Grading criteria: The video/audio will not be graded. However, if students do not watch/listen, it will be apparent in the quality of their discussion posts and formal writings.  

Rubric: There is no rubric for this assignment.

Feedback: There will be no direct feedback for this assignment.  

Discussion

Description:  After completing readings and video/audio assignments, students will post a response to a specific prompt. Students will also be expected to respond to the responses of their classmates. The prompts will be scaffolded in such a way that they build on each other through the unit, progressively asking that students employ higher level thinking/learning skills.

Frequency: Weekly.

Location: Canvas site

Purpose: The discussion is a way to reinforce lessons by asking students to think more critically about what they have read/seen/heard. This assignment is also designed to encourage interaction between students (and with the instructor).

Justification: Discussion will help students to go beyond the basics of the lesson to higher level thinking. In this assignment students will be asked to analyze what they have read/seen/heard, and to evaluate and respond to the arguments made by their peers and instructor. Discussion is also an important low-stakes way to build community.

Grade Value: 10 points per post

Grading criteria: Students will be graded based on the length and quality of their posts, and by how well they have responded to the posts of their peers. Quality is measured by well students critically respond to the prompt as opposed to summarizing information from the lessons or ideas posted by peers.  

Rubric:

5 4 3 2 1
Assignment Requirements:

Student shows critical engagement with assigned texts, and avoids mere summary of texts of the arguments made by peers. Student full answers all questions posted in prompt.

Meets most of the described standard. Student provides justification for arguments, but may not fully answer prompt.   Meets some of the described standard. Student provides some justification for arguments, but does not go into detail. Meets little of the described standard. Student agrees with peers but does not justify argument. Meets none of the described standard. It is clear that the student has not completed the assigned readings. Student may only summarize.  
Community Engagement:

Student responds critically to the posts of at least five peers. Responses are well crafted.

Meets most of the described standard.

Responds to 4-5 peers.

Meets some of the described standard.

Responds to 2-3 peers.

Meets little of the described standard. Responds to 1-2 peers. Meets none of the described standard. Responds to no posts made by peers.

Feedback: Students will receive feedback from instructor in the form of replies to their posts and grades. Individual comments will also be made on grading notes.

Quizzes

Description:  Using Macmillan Launchpad, which will be synced with the Canvas site, students will review short grammar and rhetoric lessons and complete quizzes. The quiz duration will depend on how well the student has mastered the lesson. The questions will change depending on student answers.

Frequency: Three times in the unit.

Location: Macmillan Launchpad through the Canvas site

Purpose: Review of basic grammatical rhetorical concepts, namely those that are often used incorrectly by students. This is also a quick way for students to independently test their skills.

Justification: It is essential that students master lower-level writing skills before they can master more complex concepts in their writing. This is a necessary, but low-stakes assignment. It is not overly time-intensive. Students can complete the quizzes independently and will receive instant feedback from the Launchpad system. If their answers are incorrect, they can go back and review the lessons as much as they want. Students will be able to take the quizzes until they have received full credit.

Grade Value: 15 points per quiz

Grading criteria: The Launchpad system will grade the quizzes according to correctness of answers.   

Rubric: There is no rubric for this assignment.

Feedback: Students will receive immediate feedback from the Launchpad system.  The grades will go directly into Canvas.

Workshop

Description:  Workshop is peer review that is conducted using Google Drive. Each student in the class will submit a formal document (one of the major essays) one time during the semester. They will then receive feedback from their peers and instructor.

Frequency: Two workshops for this unit. One for a partial draft, one for a full draft. Number of submissions by students will depend on the number of students in the class. It is likely there will be four submissions to be evaluated.  

Location: Google Drive through the Canvas site

Purpose: Peer review is an important part of the writing process.

Justification: Workshop serves a few different functions. First, it give students feedback on their work, from both their peers and instructor. Second, it provides an example that can be followed by others in the class. Other students can see what comments have been made on a document and apply those lessons to their own writing. Finally, it is another way to help foster community.

Grade Value: 15 points for submitting a document

Grading criteria: This is a pass/fail assignment. However, students must submit the full amount required to receive credit.

Rubric: There is no rubric for this assignment.

Feedback: Students will receive feedback from both their peers and their instructor within two days of submitting the document for review.

Writing Center

Description: A tutorial with the UAF Writing Center is required for each of the four major assignments. After the tutorial, students must submit a Writing Center form in order to receive credit. On the form the student must explain what they asked the tutor to review, what the tutor suggested, and what changes they plan to make to the document. The Writing Center visit counts for 15% of the final grade for each essay.

Frequency: One visit per major assignment, four for the entire semester.

Location: UAF Writing Center in person or over the phone.

Purpose: The Writing Center is another resource for students that can help them to develop their writing skills.

Justification: This class is focused on the writing process rather than just the final product. A visit to the Writing Center is another way (in addition to Workshop) for students to get feedback on their documents before submitting their final drafts.  

Grade Value: 15% of each essay grade

Grading criteria: This is a pass/fail assignment. However, students must submit the fully completed form to receive credit.

Rubric: There is no rubric for this assignment.

Feedback: Students will receive feedback from the Writing Center tutor at the time of the visit. The instructor can be contacted if the student has specific questions.

Infographic

Description: One of the main goals of Unit 2 is for students to identify their research interests and to develop a research question they will explore for the rest of the semester. The Infographic offers students the opportunity to create a personal information map. It can be created using free online programs.

Frequency: One for Unit 2.

Location: Online software

Purpose: The Infographic is an information map that will show the major concepts in a topic and the relationships between them.

Justification: By creating their own information maps (Infographic) students will reflect critically on their topics. Information maps facilitate deeper processing of information and aid information retention.  

Grade Value: 25 points

Grading criteria: The Infographic will be scored according to how well it meets the required parameters for the assignment.

Rubric:

5 4 3 2 1
Message:

The topic and messages of the infographic are clear and easily understood. They are clearly associated with the research question.

The main part of the message is clear, although there are some things that don’t quite fit. The message is not totally clear. Other elements may distract from it. The message is very difficult to understand. There is no message.
Content:

Details (including labels) support the main idea without distracting with clutter.

The content is mostly fine. There are a few places where the content strays from the message. The content is okay, but not especially well done. Unnecessary information is included. The content has little to do with the message of the document. The content makes no sense.
Graphics

The graphics used represent information appropriately. Color, shape, size, and arrangement of graphics

contribute meaning to the overall message.

The graphics are good, but could be improved. They may be slightly out of placed. The graphics are functional but not exciting. Their placement may be questionable. The graphics are hardly appropriate, if at all. They are poorly placed. The graphics are inappropriate and badly placed.
Document Design

The design/layout is neat, clear, and visually appealing. The color scheme, font size and format, and placement of graphics are pleasing to the eye.

The document design has some pleasing elements, but some things could be improved. The document design is okay, but not especially well done. It may lack creativity. The document is not well designed. The design is not pleasing to the eye and does not serve the needs of the document. The document design is confusing or makes the document difficult to read or understand.
Mechanics

The document adheres to the standard rules of English grammar. All references are properly cited using footnotes at the bottom of the document.

There are a few errors with mechanics, but they are not very noticeable. There are enough errors that they are noticeable, the document is still readable. There are frequent errors. The document is difficult to read. The document cannot be read because of the number of errors.

Feedback: Students will receive feedback from their instructor within a few days of submitting the assignment.

Essay #1: Developing a Research Question

Description: This is the first formal writing assignment for the semester. In this essay students will describe their topic of interest, relate that topic to their communities, and develop a hypothesis about the topic. The essay will be informed by the initial research conducted this unit. Students may also consider information shared in class discussions.  The essay will be divided into four main sections. Students will:

Section 1- Definition: Begin by defining their topic and by providing background information about it on a national or global scale. Then provide information about the topic on a local level.

Section 2- Community:  In what ways is the topic particular to their community? Does their community have any special challenges? Are any members of their community more affected by this problem than others? Why? What groups/ organizations in your community are attempting to address you topic? What work are they doing? Do you think their ideas are successful? Why or why not?

Section 3- Hypothesis: Develop a hypothesis about their topic. When doing this they should consider several questions: What are the root causes or the problem? What social issues influence the problem? What are some ideas  do they have for addressing it?

Section 4- Research Plan: Where will their research go from here? What do they not know about your topic? How will they gather that information? Consider also what they do not know about the history of their topic.

Length: minimum 1000 words

Format: MLA

Special Considerations: Pay special attention to the design of the document. It should be clearly and concisely written, and should be easy to navigate. Consider using headers and subheaders.

Frequency: Once, due at the end of Unit 2.

Location: None

Purpose: This assignment is designed as a way for students to synthesize their research and ideas.

Justification: This assignment will offer students the opportunity to reflect on their chosen topics and the work they have done during the unit. It will also help to lay the groundwork for the next unit, which will focus on historical research.

Grade Value: 50 points

Grading criteria: Students will be graded based on how well they have met the parameters of the assignment.

Rubric:

10 8 6 4 2
Definition:

The problem is identified, well described, and clearly defined.

The problem is described and some definition is given. The problem is described but not clearly defined. The problem is briefly, but not adequately described. No definition is given. Little to no description. No definition.
Community

The connection to the community is clearly explained and addresses all of the questions in the prompt.  

The connection to community is explained and some of the questions from the prompt are addressed. The connection to community is mentioned, but not fully explained. Some, but not most of the questions are addressed. The community is mentioned, but the connection is not explained. Little to no mention is made of community.
Hypothesis: Author has provided a well developed a hypothesis about their topic. All of the questions from the prompt are considered. Author has provided a hypothesis, but it could be more developed. All of the questions are considered.. Author has provided a hypothesis, but it could be more developed. Some of the questions are not considered. Hypothesis is poorly thought out. Multiple questions are not considered. No hypothesis is provided.
Research Plan: The research plan is well thought out, and the author has considered the scope of the entire semester. . All of the questions from the prompt are considered. Research plan is strong, but the author has not thoroughly considered the scope of the entire semester. All or most of the questions from the prompt are considered. Research plan needs more development. The author has not thoroughly considered the scope of the entire semester. Some of the questions from the prompt are considered. Research plan is poorly thought out. The author has not thoroughly considered the scope of the entire semester. Most of the questions from the prompt are considered. Research plan is practically non-existent. Almost none of the questions from the prompt are considered.
Mechanics

The document adheres to the standard rules of English grammar. All references are properly cited using footnotes at the bottom of the document.

There are a few errors with mechanics, but they are not very noticeable. There are enough errors that they are noticeable, the document is still readable. There are frequent errors. The document is difficult to read. The document cannot be read because of the number of errors.

Feedback:Students will receive feedback from their instructor within a few days of submitting the assignment. Students will have the opportunity to revise it.

ASSIGNMENT SCHEDULE

Unit 1

Week 1-  Reading/Watching

    Article: Sweet and salty, meaty and mega-sized: Introducing the Western diet”

    Video: How Food Shapes Our Cities

  Writing

  Discussion Post

Unit 2

Week 2- Reading/Watching

    Textbook: “Inquiry, Research, and Writing in English”

          Article: “Urban Farms Build Resilience in Singapore’s Food System”

                                 “Urban Farming is Booming, But What Does it Really Yield”

    Video: A Guerrilla Gardener is South Central L.A.

 Writing

 Discussion Post

 Launchpad Quiz

Week 3- Reading/Watching

    Textbook: “Entering a Research Conversation”

          Article: “Why Students Hate School Lunches”

                                 “Childhood Obesity Rates are Still Rising”

    Video: What’s Wrong With School Lunches

 Writing

 Discussion Post

 Workshop

 Launchpad Quiz

Week 4- Reading/Watching

  Textbook: “Developing A Research Question and Locating Sources”

          Article: “An Animal’s Place”

    Video: What’s Wrong With What We Eat

  Writing

  Discussion Post

  Workshop

  Launchpad Quiz

Week 5: Reading/Watching

  Article: The future of food: insects, GM rice and edible packaging on the rise”  

     “Future of Food”

   Video: Why Not Eat Insects?

  Writing

  Discussion Post

  Infographic

  Essay #1

DISCUSSION PROMPTS

Unit 1

Week 1- What does “Food and Social Justice” mean to you? Start by defining the term “social justice.” Then consider how that term might apply to food. Finally, include a list of at least five topics you think fall into that category. Justify your selections with at least one sentence of explanation per item.

Unit 2

Week 2- Describe your community. What does “Food and Social Justice” look like in your community? Research and read an article about one of the topics from your list. Write a review about the article and link the article on the discussion page. What do you think of the ideas expressed in the article? Do you agree or disagree? Why? How do the ideas expressed reflect conditions within your community?

Week 3- Research and read another article about one of the topics from your list. You may select the same topic or a different one. Write a review about the article and link the article on the discussion page. What do you think of the ideas expressed in the article? Do you agree or disagree? Why? How do the ideas expressed reflect conditions within your community? How is this article in conversation with other articles you have read? (Either one you have written about or one you read that was posted by another student.)

Week 4- Read and review an article that was posted by one of your classmates. What do you think of the ideas expressed in the article? Do you agree or disagree? Why? How do the ideas expressed reflect conditions within your community? How is this article in conversation with other articles you have read? (Note: This article must be different from the one mentioned in Week 3).

Week 5- Reflect on the research you have conducted in the last couple of weeks. Based on what you have read and on the comments from your classmates, how do you define “food and social justice”? How does this term apply to your community? What issues are of major concern? What groups are affected by it?  Are there any projects or organizations who are attempting to address it? Based on your research, what ideas do you have for addressing any of the issues?

JUSTIFICATION

Context and situational factors

The students enrolled in this class are generally freshman or sophomores in college, although there are occasionally high school students also enrolled. The class is capacity is twenty-five students. The instruction is delivered entirely online, primarily using Canvas. Some work will also be done using Macmillan Lauchpad and Google Drive synced up with the course site. In addition to two assigned texts, the students will also use free resources on online.

The students enrolled in this class will have either completed or tested out of English 111x: Introduction to Academic Writing. In that class they should have been exposed to different rhetorical strategies, essay styles, and the basics of MLA. However, because UAF has no set curriculum for composition classes, the amount covered in any given class may vary according to the whim of the instructor. This is likewise true with methods of instruction.

The purpose of English 213x: Academic Writing about the Sciences, is to introduce students to the concept of writing as inquiry. This course is designed to build on the groundwork of English 111x and to provide more directed training into how to analyze science writing and to write about it. There is also an emphasis placed on conducting research. Instructors of English 213x are allowed to select special topics that will guide their path of inquiry. The special topic for this course is “Food and Social Justice.”

Throughout the semester students in this class will read essays related to the course topic. They will also select their own semester-long research projects that are affiliated with the topic. Each of the major assignments for the semester are designed to give students a fully rounded understand of their chosen research topic. The project will begin with general research and then progress to historical, primary, and academic secondary sources.

Methods

In keeping with the Cognitivist School of Learning, the course is divided into five distinct, but connected units so that the information may be presented in pieces that are small enough to facilitate the learning process. The information is likewise grouped into meaningful sequences so as to capitalize on the limited powers of short term memory. Students will be provided with information maps in the lessons, and will be asked to create their own throughout the semester in the form of infographics. The act of creating an infographic will require a deeper level of critical reflection that is normally engaged through reading alone.

This course is designed with a focus on community building. During the semester students will be asked to not only contribute to the online community of our online class cohort, but to also consider their research topic from the perspective of their physical home communities. It is hoped that this model will help students to bridge the gap between school and the “real world,” and that it will also help to make the coursework seem more relevant. Helping students to make these types of connections will allow them to contextualize their learning and will help to facilitate deeper processing.

Students will also be provided with conceptual models for each major assignment. These models will come in the form of sample essays and peer-reviewed (workshopped) work submitted by classmates. Information will likewise be presented in different modes so as to appeal to a wider variety of learners. For example, each week of the unit will have a specific sub-topic of the course focus. Since the course is focusing specifically on “Food and Social Justice,” appropriate topics might include things like urban gardens or GMOs. In addition to being assigned readings about those topics, students will also be assigned videos or podcasts. By presenting different, but connected information in multiple formats, student learning will be more profound as a result of more encoding.

This course design likewise draws upon the Constructivist School of Learning. Although students will be completing four separate larger essays, each of these assignments is connected. In addition, students will be asked to design their assignments in line with their individual research interests. This will give students some control of their learning process and with the focus on community, should also help to make the assignments more meaningful.

The course is also designed to promote interaction between students and between student and instructor. This interaction will take place through the discussion board, through workshop, and through regular individual phone conferences with the instructor. This interaction is essential because it will help students to feel a sense of presence and community in the online environment of the class.

CONCLUSION

This course, like every course, is in some ways an experiment. Theories can certainly inform the design and implementation of the course, but ultimately there are many factors at play. Instructors have little to no control over outside events that influence student learning. This especially true with online classes. Online classes likewise seem to suffer from greater rates of student failure because the online classroom is simply less compelling that than the demands of “real” life or face-to-face classes. As all instructors of required core classes know, this can be an uphill battle, especially since many students are disinclined to truly engage with subjects of required classes.

It is hoped, however, that through solid course design and the engaging presentation of materials, that more students will be compelled to stick with their courses. The statistics of online retention can also be greatly improved if students feel a sense of community and connection with the subject being studied. This is decidedly more complicated in an online environment, but if instructors will keep experimenting with new technologies and modes of instruction, they may one day find a magic formula. Hopefully all of this work with be worth it in the end.

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