Reflect on the writing process for your first essay. Answer these questions:
- What did you do well in your essay?
- What are the strengths and weaknesses of your essay?
- Where did you struggle, if at all?
Intro to Report
Reports are as diverse as all the classes you will take. You can write a report on a lab experiment, conduct interviews and assemble into a report, and even research a topic and publish it for the benefit of everyone.
Reports are a genre that you may be familiar with but not know it. Reports are what we have done since elementary school. Reports are produced by government organizations, websites, companies, universities, and even individual students like yourselves. A report can answer a question, explore a topic, review what is already known about a subject, or report new knowledge, to name a few.
There are a few qualities that a report usually has:
- Presents information
- Uses reliable sources
- Aims for objectivity
- Information is clear and well structured
For this assignment, I want you to choose a topic that interests you and you want to learn more about. It can be related to your major, future or current career, something you are familiar with, or something you want to know more about.
You can research a problem that you want to know more about.
We will learn to research the library databases in order to find reliable sources of information.
Subgenres of Report
The report can be in any style or format that you think best suits it. If you choose to do a PowerPoint, that is your report. You do not need to write a separate report, the PowerPoint should have all the information on it. Here is a list of possible choices:
- Research Report –What it takes to be a teacher
- PowerPoint – Mexican-American Report
- Wikipedia style entry
- Featured Article in Newspaper
- Other, cleared by Professor
We have already learned two important concepts:
- Writing Process
The third concept is the metaphor of the conversation. What we are studying now, has a long history. People have been writing and researching everything you can think of.
For example, the conversation on how to speak well goes back a couple thousand years to Aristotle, Plato, and others that came before.
Everything you will write about from now on, needs to be based in a conversation. A scholarly one, a scientific one, a popular one. To know what has been said before, you need to read and research.
Entering the Conversation
The introduction to the textbook, page 1, explains that the book relies on templates to help us do the basic moves of writing. The templates are guides that when used, help us to structure and generate our own writing. We will talk a lot about approaches to writing and how to think about writing, as well as use the templates provided, to help us practice the principles of writing.
It is true, of course, that critical thinking and writing go deeper than any set of linguistic formulas, requiring that you question assumptions, develop strong claims, offer supporting reasons and evidence, consider opposing arguments, and so on. But these deeper habits of thought cannot be put into practice unless you have a language for expressing them in clear, organized ways. (TSIS)
State your own ideas as a response to others. You are just entering a conversation that has been going on for thousands of years. You are not expected to know everything, but you are expected to begin to understand what others have said before and how to find it.
To argue means more than just stating your own position. To argue you need to enter into a conversation with others views. Then you can try to convince others of your position or just to see your position as valid.
Burke’s “Unending Conversation” Metaphor
Kenneth Burke writes:
Imagine that you enter a parlor. You come late. When you arrive, others have long preceded you, and they are engaged in a heated discussion, a discussion too heated for them to pause and tell you exactly what it is about. In fact, the discussion had already begun long before any of them got there, so that no one present is qualified to retrace for you all the steps that had gone before. You listen for a while, until you decide that you have caught the tenor of the argument; then you put in your oar. Someone answers; you answer him; another comes to your defense; another aligns himself against you, to either the embarrassment or gratification of your opponent, depending upon the quality of your ally’s assistance. However, the discussion is interminable. The hour grows late, you must depart. And you do depart, with the discussion still vigorously in progress.
Conversation and Report
How is the conversation connected to a report?
Let us brainstorm some ideas. We first need to choose a topic to write about.
- Build from lists
- Mapping ideas
- Memory Prompts
- Search online for ideas
Come up with at least two ideas that you want to write about. They can be general now, they will become more focused as you begin the research.
Chp 5, “And Yet”
Distinguishing What You Say from What They Say
Chapter 5 (p. 68) introduces you to the term voice markers in order to help you distinguish the “I say” from the “They say.” This is a very important move since we are now including the “They say” in your writing. If you do not do this clearly, the reader will be confused as to your position and you may seem to contradict yourself.
The templates help you with specific ways of signaling who is saying what, and to embed the voice markers. Being able to distinguish your own view from the common view is a “sophisticated rhetorical move.”
Using “I” or “We”
The chapter also covers using the first person in academic writing, “I” or “we.” You have likely been told to not or never use the I in college writing. The book argues that well-supported arguments are grounded in persuasive reasons and evidence, not in the use of or nonuse of pronouns.
Take the topic you are thinking about researching for your report and write it at the top of a page. For the next five minutes I want you two write down everything you know about it. Do not edit as you write. Just keep writing and see where it takes you.
Just keep writing. If you thought runs out, skip a line and start a new thought. Keep writing. Figure out what you know and what you need to research.