Who am I writing to?

To be honest, I was pretty far into creating my E-Portfolio until I could pin down who I was actually writing to, or maybe who I was writing for. I knew my focus would not be employers, because I am going into a business field and this portfolio showcases more of my creative, personal writing. I thought about simply writing to who I knew would be reading my E-Portfolio- the people who have to, right? So maybe I could write just to Shelley and my other reader. However, as this year comes to a close and I spend much of my time helping dozens of underclassmen with professional development, essay editing, mock interviews and other tasks, I realized that mentorship is a passion of mine and I can incorporate this into my E-Portfolio. I want my work to ultimately help others, so I decided to focus my E-Portfolio construction on current, prospective and future minors. I want my audience to get a holistic glimpse into my undergraduate writing journey, or as I frame it, curriculum. I want to share with them the value of taking a wide variety of writing-based classes, getting comfortable with diverse genres and taking risks when necessary. Lastly, I want to simply provide ideas on how to incorporate and bring together different passions through writing. For me, this was business communications and education. For others, it may be something completely different, but I want to show them that they can do that through the capstone project. If you are reading this, I invite you to look at my E-Portfolio to see if this theme rings true. If you are a current or prospective minor, I hope my capstone project and E-Portfolio can help you in some way- whether it is deciding what courses to take or learning from someone else who has been in your shoes before- the good and the bad!

Making Another Writer’s Decisions

In class a month or so ago, we focused on helping each other with project ideas based on interests, passions and areas of expertise. It was interesting to work with Cameron on this, as our interests are very different- his in medicine, climbing and mental health, mine in business communication, immersion journalism and public relations.

I discussed project ideas with Cameron and thought we had a really helpful conversation. A couple ideas Cameron gave me stemmed from some of his past projects and the shared interests we discussed. He did a podcast on his family ties and we talked about the possibility of me doing something similar. My entire extended family lives in the same small hometown and one idea we had would be to get perspectives from everyone in the family, young and old, and try to tell a collective story about either the place or the people. Another idea Cameron helped me formulate was to try something in fiction. This is an area neither of us have explored but we thought about taking the challenge and discussed where we might start—whether with poetry, a short story etc. I am interested in immersion journalism after taking English 425 last semester and another idea that came out of our conversation would be to pursue an investigative immersion journalism piece about Detroit or something on campus. I am going to be doing strategy consulting after graduation and business writing will be ever-present in my career, so I want to pursue something different with this project and Cameron concurred, encouraging me to look outside my field.

 

My conversation with Cameron encouraged me to think outside the box in terms of mediums for my project. I tend to stick with what I am comfortable with and have strayed away from new media in a lot of recent projects. However, Cameron did a podcast project for the Gateway and shared with me how challenging but beneficial it was for him to try to tell a story in a medium that was outside his original comfort zone. I hope to push myself to do the same with this project.

Freewriting- My Capstone Project

For my capstone project, I hope to develop a comprehensive curriculum for an elective course to be taught within the BBA curriculum at the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business. As part of the project, I have elicited the help of a Business Communications (BCOM) professor I have worked with in the past to advise me. This professor will also ultimately be teaching the course if it is approved, so we will be working closely together in development.

 

One thing I have to keep in mind in terms of audience focus are the politics behind academics at the school and the variety of stakeholders that will be involved, including administrators, faculty in the BCOM department, and professors that teach other similar classes. Another department that I will have to consult is the Communications department through the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts to ensure there is not significant overlap between the class I am developing and any Communications classes. There may even be components of curricula in these classes that I can draw on for the BCOM elective. Directly, my audience will be the professor I am working with as the teacher and the committee I pitch the elective to for approval (this will probably be the BCOM department and/or undergraduate dean). Indirectly, my audience will be the students that take the class.

 

The focus of the class will be public relations and business crisis communication for all undergraduates. I am currently working on defining public relations further and refining the scope of what the class will include.

 

A few ideas I have for deliverables and multimodal components I want to include in the project:

  • Comprehensive course syllabus with model dates and guidelines
    • I could list assignments/deliverables in the following format: assignment, explanation, goals, procedure, deliverable, grading etc.)
  • Multimodal course resources for students
    • Website or mock CTools or Canvas
    • Video
    • Infographic
  • Model simulations professors can use as part of the class for students (action-based learning)
    • Press releases
    • “Crisis communication challenge” etc.
  • Examples of complete assignments or simulations

 

I am still figuring out how I will build these resources and also how I will put them all together and house them, whether it is through a website or mock CTools or Canvas site or a written document or some combination of the two. Another crazier idea but something that might be interesting to pursue would be a mock lesson with students that I record on video and provide as a resource for both professors and students as a form of pitch for the class.

 

One thing I need to keep in mind as I engage further with this project is the importance of meeting with professors, both my advisor and possibly Minor in Writing professors, about how to develop curricula, create syllabi and engage students through a variety of assignments and types of work as this is something I am interested in, but have no experience in. It may be helpful to also talk to a professor or student in the School of Education as well.

 

My Writing Communities

As I reflect on the different ways and mediums in which I write, I have realized that I belong to several diverse writing communities that have influenced me as a writer.
One writing community I belong to is the professional business writing community. As a BBA student entering the corporate world after graduation, I have spent the past several years working to perfect my business writing, including resumes, cover letters, memos, and it may sound trivial, but great emails. Paying close attention to my business writing style and the content I write, such as being extremely direct in asking for help or putting myself out there, has proved very beneficial in my past internships and in the process I went through to secure my full-time job. In this writing community I am careful about my personal brand, diligent, not-very-creative and attentive to detail.
Another writing community I belong to is one created through my English 425 class last semester that focused on immersion journalism. The class had less than 20 students and was my first exposure to this form of writing, which I grew to love. My focus in the class was to learn as much from my peers as I could while striving to become a better writer and challenge myself with different material and styles. I found that my peers, many of whom were aspiring journalists or well on their way in the field, helped me grow. I realized that a career in journalism is really interesting and intriguing to me and writing has since become a more important part of my life. In this community, I was a careful observer, critic, engaged listener and hard worker. I was more creative, less comfortable and willing to (even if maybe reluctantly) take risks with my writing. I put myself out there both as a person and as a writer. More than anything, in this course, I learned from my peers’ writing. I became interested long-form journalism and now read several publications and try to find essays whenever I can. I have followed my peers from class that are Michigan Daily reporters and kept up with their work. I really appreciated this engaged, supportive community as I explored I genre with which I was initially uncomfortable and unfamiliar.

Am I Really Done?

Hi all,

First of all, thank you for your positive, interesting and engaging posts about your E-Portfolios. Over the course of the day, I have been constantly refreshing the blog looking for a little peer motivation, and you have more than delivered. I have been working intently on my E-Portfolio for the past few weeks. As I’ve said many times, I’m technologically challenged, so it has been very time consuming. However, being able to showcase my hard work through new media in exactly the way I want it displayed has been very rewarding. Despite hitting the scary “Publish” button and posting my E-Portfolio link to CTools, I don’t feel like I’m really done. I think if I pull up my E-Portfolio in a few days, I will have things to change and add and I hope I can keep improving it.
I am happy to say that I am now halfway through college…but I don’t know where the time has gone. I improved so much as a writer in this course and I want to thank Shelley and all of you guys for that. You have consistently inspired me through your work and blog posts, so thank you all. I have never had to create something so organic for myself and really sit down for hours on end making something exactly how I wanted it like I did for the E-Portfolio. Here’s the link!

http://molltomp.wix.com/mollytompkins#!home/mainPage

Detroiters Speak Series

I am so glad I decided to take RCIDIV 350 this semester (take this class if you get a chance!!) and engage in the Detroiters Speak series. After volunteering weekly in Detroit for the past few semesters through the Detroit Partnership, I had a keen interest in the city and have been waiting for a class that would expose me to the city further. This class was a perfect fit, and I was very thankful for the opportunity to travel to the city every other Thursday this semester and learn from some amazing Detroiters.

This class gave me a window into the Detroit community that I could not have gotten any other way. While diverse in race, background, occupation and personality, the speakers all had one thing in common, their love for the city of Detroit and passion for the city’s future. Betty DeRamus shared a unique and particularly intriguing perspective as a former Detroit Free Press journalist. Hearing her tell the story of many Detroiters she encountered, as well as her own story, was inspiring. She was incredibly spirited, well-spoken and an amazing storyteller. Her passion for the city and its people was contagious.

I especially enjoyed the class held at the Puerto Rican Club in downtown Detroit. I had never been exposed to Puerto Rican culture before visiting the club and learned a lot about the history of that particular community and how they gained a sense of belonging in Detroit. I really appreciated the viewpoints of those who had grown up in the city and had witnessed it change throughout history. The Club was a very vibrant and welcoming atmosphere (we got to eat Puerto Rican food, hear live music and dance!) and I felt fully immersed in Puerto Rican culture during our visit.

I really valued having readings before each speaker session so I could learn background information as well as the context of the topic we would be hearing about. I thought that prepared me well to ask questions and listen intently to the speakers as they told their stories. I particularly appreciated this for the Detroit City Council session, as learning about the new district configuration was key to understanding the perspectives of the different panelists.

From this class, I learned so much about a city very close to us in the best way possible- through its citizens, storytellers and leaders. I have gained a much greater appreciation for the history, culture, people and government of the city of Detroit and plan to stay very connected to the city in my future, as a University of Michigan student and beyond. Let me know if you have any questions about the class- I highly recommend it!

Rough-Cut of Remediation

Hi all,

I decided to do my rough-cut of my remediation project in the form of a blog post, because I am looking for peer feedback and I did not want to “launch” my project prematurely. For this project, I am taking my original author’s note of a book I wrote in high school on my hometown’s local city-owned ski area (if you’re interested, you can see my previous blog posts for more details) and creating an Instagram account. My audience for this project is youth in my area whom I hope to get involved in the movement to save Hickory Hills. I know that the 12-18 year old age group are heavy Instagram users, and I hope to use this medium to engage them. The scope of my project is as follows:

  • Use historical and current photos taken at or of Hickory Hills to generate increased public support and participation in efforts to save Hickory
  • Users will submit photos to be posted for certain categories, examples included below
  • Users will use hashtags to categorize the photos they post including: #hickoryhills #savehickory #preservehickory #skiathickory #welovehick etc.
  • Account will be connected to Preserve Hickory Facebook page and will therefore share photos on Facebook page as well
  • Account will host photo contests for users such as Best Jump or Best Hickory Smiles etc.
  • Example accounts to model collectively include successful non-profit accounts such as charitywater and To Write Love on Her Arms and ski resort accounts such as Vail as well as ski accounts such as US Ski Team

Example Feed

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Join the club and see great skiing pictures and have the chance to have yours posted! Follow us @preservehickory #gtskiclub #hickoryhills #preservehickory

 

 

 

 

 

 

HHHP 5

 

This photo was taken in 1955 at Hickory! Show us your best pic skiing at Hickory! Use #skiathickory with your photo and we will post our favorites!

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We need your help! Support our non-profit Preserve Hickory and speak out regarding Hickory’s future at the City Council meeting this Thursday night! #preservehickory #saveourhill

I would love to have any feedback or ideas! Thank you for all the help everyone’s given me so far.

Can’t Stop Thinking About Writing

Like all of us, I’ve been doing a lot of writing this semester. But beyond actual writing, we’ve been writing about writing, thinking about writing, brainstorming about writing, editing my writing, reading others’ writing, repurposing and remediating writing…you name it, if it has to do with writing, we’ve done it. When I think about the work we’ve done this semester, it seems overwhelming, but I think I have grown significantly as a writer over the past few months.

First of all, practice helps. I have never written so much for a class like I do for the Minor Gateway. The casual, collaborative and comfortable environment also helps. I write what I can, but I have good and bad days. When I look back at some of my précis, QuickFires or blog posts I am concerned about what state of mind I was in at 11:30 am on that Tuesday or Thursday, because it clearly wasn’t one of a writer. Or of myself as a writer.  But does that really matter? I think my newfound ability to sit down and write extensively about nothing much has come from the practice we’ve done in class.

So when I’m not writing for the Gateway class, I am working on argumentative papers for my English class. The classroom environment I am in on Mondays and Wednesdays is completely opposite of our Gateway class. It’s almost like I have to flip a switch, and I am much less comfortable with my own writing. No matter how hard I work for that class, I am not as happy as I am with my pieces for the Minor. Peer reviews in a stagnant class environment are dry and ineffective. The juxtaposition of these two classes has demonstrated to me how important it is to foster innovation, open-mindedness and collaboration in a work environment, especially one for something as intimate and sensitive as writing. Endless props go to Shelley for this.

My most recent writing debacle for my English class is a twelve-page research paper that fills a gap in current literature using primary research. Other than the typical high school research papers that seem to be required every year, I have never conducted my own primary research and written a paper like this. I’m writing about corporate social responsibility and consumer perception of companies based on their CSR initiatives, and I’m having trouble creating a survey that will elicit unbiased consumer perception responses. I’ve been told not to use a single transition word in my paper that starts with “A”… additionally, and, another, also etc. not allowed! Needless to say, it is harder than it sounds. The articles we have been reading in class on style for academic writing apply directly to my paper, and it has been interesting applying these strategies to my first true “academic” writing piece. I’m interested to see how you all think what we have learned in this class about writing has applied to your writing for specific fields or other classes. Have you been able to translate the creative and open environment fostered in the classroom to your own writing?

I know I’m still working on it.

I’d Love to Meet Maria Cotera

I just listened to the podcast of Sweetland’s Writer to Writer session with Maria Cotera, and I want to sign up for one of her classes as soon as possible. Ms. Cotera grabbed my attention from the beginning; she made academia relatable. Her personal story and familial ties and her interest in storytelling in general was very intriguing to me.

As I’ve learned in this class, the expanse of the topic “Why I Write” is possibly much different than it sounds. Answers to this question, as I now know, are not simple and are far from universal. While this was not the exact topic of Ms. Cotera’s discussion, I found her own answer to this question came out through her stories.

Like all of us, Ms. Cotera was significantly influenced by how she grew up. Her mother, a Chicana feminist, told her daughter about the importance of finding a “room of your own” to write in, although it may be difficult for women of color in particular. Her mother’s “room,” as she remembers, was often McDonald’s. This resonated with me because it made me realize that it was the context of her situation coupled with what was within her that allowed her to succeed. For Ms. Cotera, it seems like her mother’s struggle and triumph as a writer are what inspired her to become one herself.

When Ms. Cotera shifted to talking about her own experience as a writer, she spoke about her desire to tell stories and specifically “giving a voice to the voiceless,” in this case women of color. She said, “…writing is a communicative art…for telling stories that haven’t been told.” As someone who is intrigued by the power of stories, both reading them and telling them myself, I was interested in this point. I wonder, however, how one really can give a voice to the voiceless. I would love to hear more from Ms. Cotera on the impact of this practice. How powerful can telling someone else’s story be? How do we know if or when we got it right, that we really did give that person a voice? Is it right to try to give a voice to the voiceless, or is there more potential impact in trying to help those find their own voice?

Ms. Cotera’s advice for student writers was also really helpful. At first, I was weary of blogging. I didn’t see how it would improve my writing and I was uncomfortable with the immediacy and vulnerability of online writing. Ms. Cotera reminded students at Writer to Writer that changes in technology have impacted the creative process significantly and allowed us to publish in a much more volatile and accepting medium. Blogging has forced me to write…often and without drafting. It has been good practice and the initial “500 words…how am I supposed to write 500 words on command and just click post?” freak out has subsided. As much as I never thought I’d say it, Ms. Cotera is right; it has been good practice. Her advice, as someone who believes in the impact of stories and has seen a full spectrum of student work, is encouraging and powerful. Hey, as crazy as it seems, maybe I will try blogging about Beyonce.

 

What’s an E-Portfolio?

Despite taking several technology-based classes in high school and college, I have always been technologically challenged (relatively speaking, for a 20-year old in our generation). Admittedly, when I first heard about the E-Portfolio portion of the Writing Minor, I was almost scared away on the spot. I could not imagine myself creating my own online medium on which to publish my interactive writing and multimedia. While I am very savvy with Power Point and using that specific form of technology to create effective ways to present to others, rarely am I presenting myself. I am nervous about publishing my writing online and doing it in a way I am comfortable with. I want my E-Portfolio to be something I am truly proud of and something I feel really represents me and my strengths as a writer.

I have looked at several of the other Writing Minor E-Porfolios for inspiration, and I have been consistently enthralled and impressed. Maybe it sounds creepy, but I feel like I know the people whose portfolios I have looked at, and I hope mine will be the same way. Now the challenge of creating myself on the Internet and stumbling over inevitable technical difficulties on my way there. I want my E-Portfolio to tell a story. I hope to have somewhat of a precis or introduction to every piece of writing I include in order to give my readers context and perspective and to provide reasoning for why each piece is special to me. When thinking about the guiding theme I aspire to, I think about stories. I want my porfolio to tell a series of stories about me and the experiences I have had through my writing. I hope this theme will be implicit in my portfolio through my writing style and the pieces I choose to include.

I hope my readers will have an interactive experience with my portfolio; one that is simple yet engaging and impactful. I want to be relatable and connect with those who read my writing. I hope to challenge myself to include pieces of writing in many different genres, including narrative and professional writing. I also plan to include sketch drafts and storyboards and other raw pieces of planning material that have assisted me in my writing process. While maybe not necessarily fully polished, these pieces of writing will give my readers a perspective of the type of thinker and learner I am.

Whether or not to include multimedia in my E-Portfolio is something I have been pondering. I am not really much of a soundtrack/video person, but I think if the media I chose to use really contributed something to my portfolio that I could not accomplish in any other form, it would be more than worthwhile. I think these details will come together as my work in the Minor progresses. As a non-techie, I want to keep it simple and effective with most of the focus staying on my writing. As daunting as it is, I am looking forward to getting started on the E-Portfolio process!