Monthly Archives: September 2013

Writing Activity 2.3

As a member of a huge Chaldean family, a group of friends (college and high school), a church youth group, and a whole bunch of communities I identify with, I have learned to adapt to specific styles of speech, connotation and when/where to say something.  When I am with family, I do not use the same language as I do when I am with friends.  With family, sometimes we speak Chaldean, or sometimes my family will speak Arabic to push my buttons ( I don’t understand Arabic all that well).  We do not use vulgar or inappropriate language with one another, but rather use many terms of endearment as it is a big part of the culture.  When I am with friends, all of our conversations are in English, and our language is free flowing.  We minimize inappropriate language, and as lame as it sounds, use acronyms often times (i.e. lol, awk, btw, etc.).  When conversing with members of my youth group, many religious terms are used, and conversation is innocent.  Body language, especially facial expression, plays a key role in all conversations of the several discourse communities I partake in.   With the use of body language I am able to assess a situation clearly, and know how to approach a person.  The way one communicates with another makes all the difference in the world.  

Reading Response 5

Writing Activity 2.1

Genres I read:

Letters of recommendation

Chemistry textbook

Back of cereal boxes

Newspapers (Farmington Observer, Chaldean News, Detroit Free Press)

Magazines (Seventeen, Glamour)

Sales papers

Real estate updates (agent postcards)

Syllabi for classes

WebMD posts

Instagram/Facebook posts

     The three genres I would like to focus on are Instagram/Facebook posts, syllabi for my classes, and my chemistry textbook.  I read all three of these genres on a daily basis, obtaining different information from each source.  While I read Facebook posts, I am usually waiting somewhere trying to kill time, or procrastinating homework.  I quickly glance at people’s posts and have a quick reaction different posts—some I will “like” and others I will say to myself, “Why am I friends with this person?” However, while I am reading my syllabi, I am focused and my main goal is to complete the assignment given and know how I should prepare myself for the next class period.  As I read my chemistry textbook I am “in the zone” and maintain my focus only on chemistry and chemistry related thoughts.  It is dry reading, so I try to apply it to life and understand why I will later benefit from this specific reading.  I also take notes while I read my chemistry textbook, and force myself to thoroughly understand (not memorize) material I know I will need for an exam. 


Writing Activity 2.2

     I have written several genres in my lifetime, some including blog/Facebook posts, flyers to advertise school club organizations, and position papers for Model United Nations.  I have read written examples of all the genres listed above, and have been able to use these materials to build on my own work.  I would get a general idea of what was expected from these genres, and take it to the next step.  I never wanted to settle for some sort of mediocre piece that I threw together in 20 minutes (although Facebook posts are short and quick, I would try to put some thought into it, thinking who will be reading it, and how I would react to the post in the future).  If I wasn’t given the opportunity to pre-read any of these genres, I would analyze the name of the genre I was writing, and compile a bunch of thoughts and word s I believe would best suit the particular genre.  I ask my peers and teachers for input and feedback when I do not know how to start and what to write.  This helps me better acquaint myself with the situation and allows me to dive in head first the next time I write the same sort of genre. 

     I do feel more confident writing some genres than I do with others.  For example, when I participated in Model United Nations, I was not very confident in the position papers I wrote simply because I knew what was expected, but didn’t know how to apply it to a real life example.  I didn’t know how to take a country’s point of view on a situation and apply it on a worldly scale.  It took two years of practice before I finally got it down to a science, and actually won an award for one of them.  I am much more comfortable writing school flyers because they are anonymous and no one can really judge the work—the main point is to get a message across.  On Facebook, I am comfortable posting statuses and pictures because I know which people will see it, and know how they would appreciate it.  I learned how to write these genres after multiple attempts and years of practice.  Although I have learned to satisfy my standards and hopefully the readers’ standards, I will never cease to better my writing and improve it—whether it be writing one more position paper, or blowing up someone’s newsfeed with different posts.   

Reading Response 4

Merriam’s text on interviewing was very informative.  It paved the way to dozens of ideas of how to interview efficiently and effectively, who to interview, how to use probes, and how to retain the most information from an interview.  As I read this text, I started thinking of Project 2, and my question “How would life be different if I lived on campus?”—how would I ask people? Is it clear to them? Who should I ask? As the text progressed, my questions became much clearer, and I finally got a grasp on the whole interviewing process and how I should apply it to my I-Search question.  I came to realize, also, that my I-search question is very different from an actual formal research paper question.  I have tons of human resources, and don’t necessarily have to go straight to the online encyclopedia.  I am going to use the suggested strategies from Merriam’s text and interview people on campus about their college experience.  To get both sides of the spectrum, I am going to interview students living on campus, and students commuting back and forth.  During the interviews, I will use my iPhone to record the conversation, and later type the entire interview.  The questions I ask will be more specific to the student, and I will end with the final question “How would your life be different if you lived on campus (or commuted)?”  Although it is an open-ended question, I believe it will be thought provoking and give me several points of view.  Hopefully, I will be able to interview myself, and use the different points of view to answer my own I-Search question.       

Reading Response 3

                Reading Postman, Weingartner’s, and Macorie’s texts was quite challenging, to say the least.  Understanding them was another game.  The ideas proposed in Postman and Weingartner’s text were abstract yet sensible, and the concept of the search process in Macorie’s text was zealous and intriguing.  Both of these texts, I realized, came down to one science: questioning.  Questions lead to new discovery, and provide for a genuine eagerness to learn and understand the world, people, and one’s self.  Questioning is the key to knowledge, and the renaissance of deep thought.  I also saw in both of these texts how questioning (and reasoning) is directly related to persistence.  In Macorie’s text, Kathy did thorough research on firefighting and found her vision would hinder any chance of fulfilling her dream of becoming a firefighter.  After further investigation through questioning, she was able to set up an appointment and see what the firefighting life is like.  Without questioning, Kathy would not have the opportunity to realize her dream is not what she thought it was, and simply is not for her.  Likewise, in Postman and Weingartner’s text, without persistence through questioning (and reasoning) a new “curriculum” would not be available as a useful resource on the “Language of Adverising, Language of News Reporting” and so forth.  (Almost) Every question has an answer, and it is up to the individual to search and think of a clear, thoughtful answer.  One is not able to test his boundaries without testing what he knows and does not know (not testing like the ACT, but asking questions provoking curiosity about the unknown); most of it is solely based on life experience.  The privilege of asking a question provides for a different life experience– one that is not by coincidence, but by purpose.  The process of asking questions and answering them seems to be a reasonable comparison to the goal setting and achieving process.  The question is the prospective goal, and the searching process is where the journey begins.  Once the question is answered to its fullest potential, the goal is reached, and sure enough, another question will surely lie ahead.  The question-answer process also serves as an important element to personal, academic, spiritual, and general growth.  Without this growth, people would not be able to ask bigger, better questions that change lives constantly. 

Question to Postman and Weingartner: With this school of thought, would you suppose standardized testing and curriculums supporting standardized testing be completely eradicated and replaced with a so-called “conversation of questions (and answers)?”

Question about Macorie’s Text:  Where does one find the motivation (and time) of the questioning, searching and answering?

Ideas for Project 2

Some questions I think are “worth knowing” and are relative to my discourse communities:

What happened to Detroit? Why is the “city life” so similar yet different to that of the suburbs? (relative to Wayne State/Detroit discourse community)

Is opportunity the only reason people migrate to America? Why Michigan/Detroit? (relative to Chaldean discourse community as I am a first generation Chaldean American, and semi relative to my Detroit discourse community).  Do any of these immigrants regret their move? If so, why?

How is high school different than college? What are the advantages of college life? High school life?

*Some sort of question about Discourse that I can’t really find the words for (I’m still trying to figure out Gee’s concept).

Although I am not entirely sure if these questions are appropriate for the “I-Search,” I find them relative to my life and my mind goes in a million directions when I think of the possible answers.  These questions are interesting to me, and finding the answer would allow me to further my knowledge about my cultural background in more aspects than one. I’m getting the feeling that this specific project is about both the journey AND the destination.  

Reflection 1

After an elongated process of thinking, writing, more thinking, and more writing, I finally was able to construct Project 1, a page about me.  Although it seems like a simple and straightforward concept, this specific project required much thought and attention to detail.  I first sorted out my ideas for this project after reading Gee’s article on Discourse, Lesner and Craig’s chapter on reading/writing skills, and Yancey’s text on reflection.  I used the objectives of these texts and applied them to my life, thinking about my own Discourses and true identity.  Once able to get a firm grasp on the content for the page, I started to look at genre conventions, not knowing where to start.  I asked myself many questions: “What is the purpose of the About Me page?” “Who is my target audience?” What should I include—how personal is personal?” “How should I present—should I use images, or strictly text?” “How can I keep the reader’s attention?” After thorough investigation, I was able to answer these questions and start to develop clear thoughts on genre, pick up my pencil, and put my thoughts on paper.

The beginning of my writing process was composed of much free writing. I wrote about my identity, the Discourses I have acquired over the years, my knowledge about college writing, and my experience in writing.  This free writing evolved into thoughtful sentences which served as the foundation for Project 1.  As I got deeper into what I was writing, I eventually ran out of ideas in respect to words and was suddenly inspired to use a visual.  I decided on a word collage courtesy of to not only tell, but show my inner persona.  This visual cut down much anticipated anxiety about Project 1.  I was able to fly through the rest of the piece as I was writing with a clear mind and open heart.  Although I had to come at several angles, I found this process effective, and stuck to it.

Gee’s text about Discourse was my key influence on Project 1.  Of course, there were context requirements, peer feedback, stimulating questions asked in class, my life experiences, and my own self constantly criticizing my work; but Gee’s text came through as the strongest influence of them all.  It forced me to think about my current position in life, and helped me focus on how far I have come.  The concept of Discourse allowed me to see myself and the notion of identity in a different light, changing my thought process completely.

Project 1 definitely helped me support the writing aspect of the learning outcomes for ENG1020. During this project, I was forced to think about genre and really analyze my thoughts through several rhetoric strategies (asking many questions leading to clear, effective writing and using various formatting skills).  I was fascinated at how quickly my invisible thoughts evolved into words.  It was the first time I had ever used a blog, and had to adjust my writing style accordingly.  I was not accustomed to informal writing as many of the texts written in the past were for an academic grade, provided the text was formal.  This project really made me appreciate writing much more than I did before.  I came to the realization that not all writing is a five paragraph essay with big words—it can be anything from a blog post to a Nobel Prize winning thesis statement.  I also learned writing is more than a text one reads for enrichment—it is a form of communication.  Through Project 1, I was able to explore the inner writer and me; understanding my own writing process, and more importantly, my own thought process.  From this project, I aspire to grow into a better writer, and open my mind to a new point of view.

Yancey Notes

Reading strategy used: Reading Rhetorically

What did I gain as a reader from this article?

As a reader, I gained much knowledge about reflection–what I means to teachers, students, writers, readers, children adults, ect, and how it is applied.  I expanded my viewpoint on reflection; realizing people interpret in different ways.  I also came to find there are many different types of reflection ranging from reflection with respect to composition to “reflection-in-action.”  I was also able to relate the article (and the concept) back to Gee’s reflection on Discourse.  I made several connections i.e. “‘While we cannot learn or be taught to think, we do have to learn how to think well…’ especially how to acquire the general habit of reflecting” (Yancey 9).  It made me think…could reflection potentially be a Discourse (that’s another long and involved conversation)?

Who is the intended audience for this article?

Mainly students and teachers (in my opinion), but could also be intended for writers looking to deepen their understanding on reflection–learning new ways to implement reflection skills.

“Reading With A Purpose”–Why read this article?

At first, I read the article to fulfill a reading requirement for ENG1030, but as the test progressed, I found myself actually searching for different interpretations of reflection and how I could actually apply it to my own writing, thoughts, and life.

How was the text organized? Style?

This article was broken up into several paragraphs that are all interconnected with one another, but still provided separate claims with various pieces of supporting evidence.  There was also some dialogue, which consisted mostly of people’s thoughts on reflection.  Nice, broad selection of vocabulary which also raised attention (some words I did not know and had to look up).  Easy to read—paragraphs were a good length: not too short or long.  Good setup for this specific topic.  The style was pretty formal—it was obvious this article was not a blog post or diary entry. Yancey wrote in a way where the message was relayed, but not in an overzealous, repetitive fashion (like Gee).  Many examples and scenarios were provided (i.e. student reflection vs. teacher reflection) to make the point/ ambiguous definition of reflection relatively clear.

How would I now define reflection after reading this article?  How would I define it before?

Before reading this article, I thought reflection only had to do with reading, and was self-centered (reflect on thoughts, accomplishments).  Now, I understand reflection is used in many aspects of life and can actually be applied on the academic scale: it helps achieve academic goals, helps with critical reading, regurgitating what was learned in a different perspective, changes the thought process to a more “inquiry based” one, causing a rush of thoughts that once were probably never considered.

What are some similarities between this article and Gee’s? Differences?

On page 9, Yancey quotes Dewey saying “…especially how to acquire the general habit of reflecting…first, the attempt to influence others; second, the entering into of intimate relations; and only later, the third: the use of language “as a conscious vehicle of thought and language.”  Dewey is basically describing reflection as a Discourse; that it is learned and only acquired through constant practice, and once it is mastered, other goals will be set (it sounds a lot like “literacy” to me—all or nothing process).  Yancey also talks about language, as Gee did (see three uses of language in quotes above).  Once there is enough appreciation for the language, reflection becomes a lot easier, deeper, and natural.

I found very few differences between Yancey and Gee’s text—they had similar concepts, but the way the message was relayed was different.  Yancey used a lot of external information, inviting others in this article for support while Gee’s was mostly his own thought process and opinions.  Yancey’s text was more open-ended while Gee’s text was much more straightforward and “in-your-face.”

Questions to Yancey?

Have you read Gee’s text? Would you consider reflection as a Discourse?

Would you say language and reflection are directly related?

Would you consider problem solving as a form of reflection? How about constructive criticism?

Is the term reflection ambiguous? Is there a set definition (not literally from a dictionary)?

Response to Gee

Gee’s text on Discourse (with a capital “D,” that is) was probably one of the most rational yet mind-boggling concepts I have encountered thus far.  From what I could gather, Discourse is analogous to behavior, talent, and skill—all of which are relative in various societies.  It is not attained by being taught, rather, but through constant observation and practice of a particular Discourse (Gee 485).  Gray areas do not exist in Discourses: it is black or white; one has it, or does not (Gee 487).  One Discourse leads to another, which may hinder/conflict with another Discourse, or lead to the renaissance of yet another Discourse.  Primary Discourses lead to secondary Discourses which may or may not be permanent.  It is the primary Discourses one has that sets the tone for the secondary Discourses one could potentially attain.  Primary Discourses get a person “on their feet,” and basically serve as the foundation needed to live life.  Primary Discourse is especially apparent in the parent-child relationship.  Parents set examples for their children who willingly adapt, and without knowing it, obtain Discourse.  Young children then watch, learn, practice, and build on the set example of their parents to quickly master and attain their primary Discourse(s).  The primary Discourse(s) attained are then applied in the next steps of the child’s life (school, friends, ect.).  These next steps are known as secondary Discourses, where children will further develop, grow, and attain more Discourses.  Primary Discourses are used to attain secondary Discourses or to help a person better situate himself in a secondary Discourse.  Secondary Discourses have the potential to bring wealth—knowledge, status, materialistic goods, money, ect.—and success to those who acquire and fully understand them (Gee 485).  However, “illiteracy,” or failure to attain a Discourse, could do the exact opposite.  Overall, Discourse is relative and self-specific. It is the key piece to the intangible, self-defining puzzle of life.   My understanding of Discourse ends when it comes to a larger scale: the scale of life.  Since “Discourse is the saying (writing) -doing-being-valuing-believing combinations,” (Gee 484) then is life itself a Discourse? If so, can it ever be attained, or is it only achieved through death?

Project 1 Brainstorm

For Project 1, I obviously need to incorporate my Discourses.  First I’m going to list a few Discourses I believe I have attained, organizing them as primary and secondary. 

Primary: speaking English, speaking Chaldean, respecting elders, communicating with family and friends, polite mannerisms, religious (Catholic) belief, eating healthy, sleeping at night/ waking up in the morning, decision making, *understanding right from wrong (which is also relative because “right” to some is “wrong” to others).  

Secondary: reading, writing, speaking/conversation with peers and colleagues, hard work ethic, driving, making friends, babysitting, shopping, riding a bike, tying shoes, basic math, attending school regularly, attending church regularly, effective and efficient study habits, playing soccer, playing the violin, high school, *college (in the process of attaining this secondary Discourse).

I would like to highlight on the educational aspect of my primary and secondary Discourses (speaking, respecting, reading writing, high school, study habits, and college).  If I didn’t have the foundation from my parents to focus on school and stay on track, I would not have been able to master high school, good study habits, and the rest of the secondary Discourses that got me to ENG 1020 at Wayne State.  Many friends and family members would explain to me the importance of getting good grades, and how college will be the best years, but very tough at the same time.  I didn’t fully understand from their teachings until I was able to actually have the “apprenticeship” and experience college for myself.  Even though it’s only been the first week, I already love Wayne State and am beginning to realize how critical it is to work hard, focus, and succeed.  The more time I spend in college, and the more work I put in, the closer I will be to attaining the “college Discourse.”  Just like it took four years to fully understand and appreciate high school (one of my secondary Discourses),  it will take that much more to have the college Discourse fully under my belt.  I’m not sure if I’m straying from the Project 1 topic, but it’s a brainstorm and I am open to any suggestions and constructive criticism!