Breaking Boundaries of Textual Space
Before I returned to academia for my M.F.A., I worked in communications and public relations for two and a half years. Through this experience, it became exceedingly clear to me that the skills learned in the writing classroom need to be translated into “real-world” writing. I am an advocate for encouraging and assisting students in publishing their own work, because I believe this instills a sense of confidence and accomplishment even in the most inexperienced students. My hope is to help produce informed and capable global citizens. To me, this principal is at the core of feminism. These students have already begun to make a difference in their communities. They are socially aware. I am so proud of their ambition and passion. In the classroom, I strive to foster a type of character culture, because I believe that learning and writing flourish in safe, open environments. I want to be a teacher who creates a space that inspires individual creative writing and learning. I also think we should all feel responsible for offering students the necessary tools they will need to survive and succeed in the American academy and beyond.
*Disclaimer: I did not come up with this assignment. I stole it. It most likely came from some combination of my pedagogy classes, colleagues, and mentors.
The Assignment: Take one of the formal papers you’ve written this semester and turn it into something completely different! In this process you will take apart your writing and reassemble it in a new form. I want you to revise to the point that your revised text is so different from the original that you may think it is near failing. I am encouraging you to push the composing envelope. Systematically stretch your writing to the limit!
Then, you will write a story of what you learned during this revision process. This should be in a narrative essay that will accompany your final presentation to the class of your radical revision project. I believe this assignment teaches writing as a writer experiences it.
You must reach an audience OUTSIDE of this classroom. Consider the following when approaching this assignment: Audience, Meaning, Clarity, Style & Form, Development & Depth, Purpose, Organization, and Context.
Please, take a look at how these incredible students are impacting their communities!
Carolyn Aroche-Jimenez: Letter to Fairfax County School Board
For my radical revision, I continued addressing my researched argument paper topic on cyberbullying amongst adolescents. I chose to write a letter to Mrs. Sandra Evans, the Mason district member of the Fairfax County School Board to plead for more programs educating students about bullying. Transitioning from my researched argument paper into this radical revision letter, my audience changed from experts to administrators. This meant I had to be mindful of my language and continue to use an academic and professional tone in addressing Mrs. Evans. I offered my opinions as a recent high school graduate and young adult about ways the school board could enact programs that would appeal to these students. I hope my letter causes discussion amongst the members of the school board so that they consider my suggestions and keep them in mind for future generations.
I began my semester in English by writing a paper about being brave and seeking help when I needed it. The turning point of my paper was when I realized that I could not handle abuse by myself. Hope was my driving force to move past my struggles that I described in my paper and I wanted to share my hope with others. I took the basis of my paper and changed it to be an invitation to my friends on Facebook to join me in spreading hope to others. I wanted to reach out to my friends without making them feel pressured into doing something they did not want to do. A Facebook invitation to spread hope through something as small as a kind gesture and changing a status in support seemed to be the best way to reach my friends.
My name is Harry Dowsett and I wrote a paper on a personal belief that I wanted to share with a larger audience than my classroom. I wrote about being thrust outside of my comfort zone and all of the positive effects it had on myself as an individual and how it completely changed my life. I revised this paper to be a series of one on one therapy sessions with middle school-aged children that I tutor. We spoke about the anxieties and pressures they felt as adolescents and how to cope in a healthy and responsible manner. We also drew a series of artistic “vision boards” that depicted what each student wants to accomplish by the time they graduate from high school (in five years). We put these drawings in a time capsule that will be opened when the students graduate high school. The goal is that they will accomplish all of the expectations they thought up for themselves and discover how much hidden potential they really have inside, no matter how small they may feel their voices are.
My project was a comic strip about the impact on someone’s life on receiving a high school diploma and not receiving one. The comic strip was based on my research paper about how high schools need to create programs for students that are in the brink of dropping out of school. The comic strip is intended for high school students so I asked my old teacher if I could email them the comic strip and if they could post the comic strip in their classrooms. All agreed to post the comic strip in their classrooms. The intentions for my comic strip were to inform high school students the importance of continuing on with school, graduating and receiving higher education.
The assignment was to transform a essay we wrote for English class into another form. I decided to create a series of paintings on the subject of discrimination. From personal experiences and stories from friends, I noticed a similar theme with every account. We all felt alone in our struggle. I wanted the paintings to help those effected by discrimination and to raise awareness of the issue.
Do-Heui Kim: World Recipes Online Cookbook
My audience for this project was the immigrants. Not only just immigrants, but also those who are planning to move to other countries, and also for those who already moved to other countries but did not yet get adapted to the new foods. I made a cookbook because I felt like it could help people to get easily adapted to foods from different countries, and thought that food was the most important thing that people need to get adapted to. Also I made it online so that people from any countries could easily get accessed to it. In addition for people who has not yet moved they could try to make those foods. So that when the time comes and they move to another country, they are ready to eat the foods from that country.
This project was about raising awareness to the benefits of volunteer work. According to scientific research, acts of altruism like volunteering and helping others can significantly improve your own health and overall well-being. It lowers the effects of stress and I believe we can use this as a means of treating depression. I wanted to reach out to students on campus about this because I know many college students suffer from stress, and acute amounts of anxiety can lead to depression.
Courtney Orvig: Short Story
I used my researched argument on effects of schooling and alternative programs on juvenile delinquency to write a short story for my radical revision. I wrote a story about two very different friends, who met when they were young but live two completely different lives. One friend, Chris, grew up in Ocean City, with an absent father and a mother who is hardly ever around. Chris never had opportunities in high school to participate in extracurricular activities, and when he got into trouble during high school he had no alternative program to guide him in the right direction. The other friend, Simon, grew up in Virginia, stayed extremely busy in high school, with sports and extracurricular activities, and ended up very successful. I showed the parallel between the two friends’ lives and how different they turned out in the long run because of the opportunities offered by their schools and environments. I submitted my short story to an online literary magazine called Girlspeak, from the young authors guide on newpages.com.
Kathryn Plata: Video on Transnational Families
For my radical revision project, I sought to raise awareness about transnational families by translating the thoughts and sentiments from my research paper into a short two-minute informational video clip. The video clip defines what a transnational family is and provides examples of the struggles that many transnational families face. Although short, this video clip is the first step in initiating a change in the way transnational families are treated by showing my Facebook community what struggles these families endure. These families are all around us and may even be employed by us. Even more importantly, we, as people of core countries are potential components of the problem. Though we may not realize, we may consciously or subconsciously look down on these overseas workers, which is what my video seeks to accomplish.
John Thomma: Letter to Senator Mark Warner
My project took the same direction that I took in my research paper. My intention with both Essay 2 and Essay 3 (the Radical Revision) was to propose and argue for an extension for the standard maternity/paternity leave time in America. By changing my essay into a letter to a senator, my audience was narrowed down greatly, and I was able to more effectively make my argument to someone who is actually in a position to do something about it.
The main reason I choose to do poetry, like I stated in my presentation & power-point, is that poetry has a connection to my creative writing class, a class I eventually loved, and Rae, a person I love. Those two are also my inspiration for my belief. Also poetry, to me at least, is a creative manner in which I can express my belief creatively in a not so complicated manner or process. Plus it’s quite made making a power-point quite easy because I could put anything that connects to my radical revision. One last possible reason why I chose poetry would be that I was part of my high-school poetry club and though I am not that much of a writer like before I still admire and like writing poetry when I can or so; this radical revision assignment provided me with an opportunity.
Brian Wright: Education in Augusta PowerPoint
My project was brought about by my desire to see education taken more seriously in the area I live in. By creating a brochure detailing the differences in employment and earnings of a college graduate and a high school graduate I hope to persuade parents to take an active interest in their children’s educations. These brochures will be displayed in 5 schools around Augusta County, Virginia, pending decision by the school board. (Update: the school board passed Brian’s proposal!)
Leen Badeeb: http://stressisuniversal.blogspot.com/
My stress blog will serve to inform the public of the universality of stress, how it affects everyone and anyone. The blog will also shed light on natural coping methods and remedies that may help individuals surpass stress, maintain a positive outlook, and keep a healthy lifestyle. The main purpose of this blog is to inform people about stress, suggest healthy coping mechanisms, and share interesting findings/articles about dealing with stress. The key thing to remember is that allowing stress to pile up and demonstrating avoidance will only serve to harm people. Therefore, one must deal with his/her problems as they come, one step at a time.
Michael Bowers: Letter to Senator Robert P. Casey Jr.
To radically revise my research paper, “How Legalizing Marijuana will Benefit the United States Economy,” I wrote a letter to my local senator. I included information about myself, information about my topic, and asked the senator to change his opinion about a bill that is currently going through Congress. In order to be short and precise, I narrowed my paper down into three main points that were about how much money could potentially be made in America and how it would be beneficial to help people find jobs. I also included information about the harms of marijuana compared to two legal drugs, alcohol and tobacco. I am expecting a response in the near future and thoroughly enjoyed writing the letter.
Wenyi Chen: http://honestyisthebestpolicy1.tumblr.com/
Through my English 101 course, I have created a tumblr to gather thoughts, ideas and opinions about honesty. Being honest is one of my strongest beliefs. I wonder what would others people opinions about honesty. At first, I transform my belief essay, honesty is the best policy into a blog and in the process, I not only share my own beliefs, but others’ as well. My main audience is college students, because I have already started asking my colleagues to post on my tumblr. I hope from there on, I can reach more college students to access to my tumblr.
Erin Doherty: Teens Struggling with Everyday Obstacles Blog
The blog targets a mostly teenage audience but is open to anyone who struggles with depression or everyday obstacles. It features a series of entries focused on various individuals I know with self-destructive behavior as a result of bullying or other serious issues. The stories are provided to give hope to teens who struggle with similar problems, however each one ends with a positive outcome. One post also has a list of phone numbers and websites for teens to contact for help. I have allowed the blog to be indexed to search engines so that it can be easily found and accessed through keywords that are associated with the blog’s content like “teen depression.” Readers are encouraged to submit their own stories through the “Submit” link and may also ask anonymous questions in the “Ask me anything” page. I want students to share their personal struggles because I believe this creates an emotional connection between the audience and the person sharing. It is important that readers learn the value of compassion and realize that bullying is not acceptable.
Robert Forbes: Political Cartoon
I created a political cartoon for my radical revision project. My research paper was written on affirmative action within college admission offices. Within my essay, I stressed the importance of the individual and the dissolution of the concept of minorities. In this way, admissions offices could create a more fair system of admission. My concept was that if we keep labeling groups of people as minorities, they will remain as minorities and a balance of equality will never be reached. I took this concept of the struggling individual within society and made a political cartoon from it. It depicts the individual struggling with society to obtain human dignity. Human dignity encompasses human equality and the basic human rights. Society is pulling the individual in the opposite direction with money as its goal.
Philip Heil: YouTube Video
My radical revision was made to appeal to a large audience. From my paper where it originated it was more focused towards the professor (the main audience) while the video reaches not only to them but also to my peers. It holds no real underlying condescending tones towards the group that I focused on nor did it sound too informal. Most importantly though, I back up my presentation with information, studies showing where my facts were from. Along those facts were also recommendations
for how to counteract the growing problem of weight gain. Between the facts, alternative ways to combat weight gain, and the tone of my presentation it is portrays the problem well.
“Factions Equal Folly: The Ineffectiveness of a Two-Party System” is an op-ed article written by George Mason University Music Composition major Kyle Imperatore. The article is intended to display the facts of American voting bias and how it might be eliminated to allow us to have a fairer, more representative election system than the one that exists today. There is a growing disparity between the beliefs of American voters and the policies of representatives that they elect. In writing this article, the author hopes to open the eyes of its readers and show them that there can be an alternative to the politics that we live with on a day-to-day basis, thanks to less partisan voting systems like the non-profit organization Americans Elect.
Sung-Jun Lee: competitiveorchill.blogspot.com
I did my radical revision on my paper which was about my opinions on competitive lives and how trying to do things just for the sake of winning would bring less enjoyment. The taste of victory is not worth the effort so the process should be more valued. I made an interactive blog asking people to comment on it after sharing my beliefs and experiences. I thought that the blog would help people reconsider their values. I want people to reconsider if winning was really what they wanted. It is human nature to be competitive, but would it not take away enjoyment? I believe that by commenting on my blog, the people who wrote them would really think through their priorities. I also want people to look at other comments so they can look at what the views of other people are so they can reflect and compare views. My audience is anyone who is a user of blogs and wants to share or create a view on enjoyment received from winning.
Alissa Mirsky: Anti-Bullying Poster
My radical revision was transforming my research paper into a collage. I had to change my target audience from professors to college students. I did this by making my poster interesting and colorful and relating to a topic college students go through. I also displayed the meaning behind my collage after collecting sentences from random students around campus. I wanted to explain that even though everyone has different colorful stories behind why they were bullied, they all still share the same experience and trauma. I also added an anonymous hotline students can call to talk to students and help them through their bullying problems.
For my radical revision essay, I transformed a 3-page essay into a children’s book. The purpose of my original “This I Believe” essay was to describe one of my strongest beliefs: Achieving personal goals is always possible if you work hard enough. I believe that the audience that would best benefit from this advice would be young children, so I was inspired to compose a children’s book to communicate this idea with a younger audience. My children’s book tells the story of a young robot who has a goal to earn the lead role in the school play. Although his parents doubt his abilities, he works very hard towards this goal, and ultimately achieves it. I hope that my children’s book will inspire children to work hard towards their personal goals, regardless of those who doubt them.
Joshua Norris: End Puppy Mills
I changed my Research Essay into a Facebook group to inform people on the cruelty of puppy mills. I felt that a Facebook group was the best decision because in my research paper I explain how one of the best ways to make a difference is to inform the public. Since most of our society uses Facebook, it seemed right to make a Facebook group to inform our society about this problem of puppy mills. I also added in links to the ASPCA website so if there were anyone that see’s the group that wants to get a new dog, they can hopefully adopt from the ASPCA instead of getting one from a store. My hopes with this group are just that whoever goes to the groups page will learn something about puppy mills and be motivated to do something so that one day these mill dogs will be safe.
Dylan Thomas Pulliam: Prescription Medication Project
For the radical revision I created a website to represent the information in my paper and give users a more interactive experience. I used forums, pictures, and posted my paper to help add content. The forum provides a place for people to discuss current threads and create their own threads. In this way people can focus on which part of the issue is most relevant to them. For the pictures I posted an image of myself to add personality to the website. I also used a couple pictures that helped emphasize the topic. Beyond this I posted my paper so that people could see what inspired the website. Overall I hope that people will see the website and share their thoughts and ideas.
Sophia Williams– Jeopardy
Today in America many people acquire a large portion of their knowledge through the media, which consist of magazines, billboards, books and social networking. There is no limitation to the kind of messages being sent through nowadays media, and it has become a powerful source of information and ideologies for our generation. We tend to believe most of what we read and view in the media and have gained a line of trust for our many reporters including the most unreliable sources. Based on this I have taken my “This I Believe” essay, which spoke of the inequality amongst genders, one instance was in the workplace where women are offered lower wages etc., and mimicked a Jeopardy Game show. The game show was designed to prove that the contestants have acquired the answers that they have provided for the questions that they were asked through the media. This reveals to me that the message the media sends to the public influences our daily lives in so many ways; and the stereotypes that are placed on women’s capabilities in the workplace and media influence on self-worth are just a few of them and a small part of a larger picture.