How does experiencing the Barbie-collecting community change Shari Caudron’s opinion about these people?
In a course like this, writing is a key component not only because it is an English course but because it is an online course and that is the primary way in which information is communicated. Writing, or formal academic writing is daunting to many people because formal planned writing is not a natural manner of communication in daily life. It’s rare that someone would make a list of prioritized items to discuss for a casual conversation. Perhaps in certain argumentation or persuasion situations this may be the case, but generally not. Most of the time communication occurs stream of consciousness as the ideas flow and the speaker is inspired to express them in the moment. Hence the anxiety associated with essay writing. Formal academic writing requires some recognizable organization which enables us as the reader to get a sense of not only what the topic of discussion is, but possibly be able to anticipate and predict what is coming in the discussion and what types of examples might be presented. It’s not like we’re fortunetelling and predicting the future, but we are using our active critical reading skills to think as we read–to participate with the writer as the information is unfolding.
Chapter 4 of The Everyday Writer presents ways that writers explore ideas and techniques they use to plan the first stages of an essay.
Take a look at pages 32-38 to get a sense of idea exploration. Some of this discussion you have more than likely heard in previous English classes: brainstorming, freewriting, clustering. These ideas have been around for decades and are commonly presented in writing classes. Drawing pictures aka mind mapping has also been around since the ’90s, but is less commonly presented in writing classes because of the artistic element required to produce a mind map. The graphics above present very simple mind maps that are very much like flow charts. Visual schemes or mind maps can take many different forms depending on the time, interest, and artistic ability of the writer. Here are a couple more elaborate visual schemes aka mind maps: Are the main topics easily identifiable in the maps? Obviously, these are quite artistically advanced and not necessary for an essay assignment. However, people perceive and comprehend differently–some people comprehend visual images more readily than printed words, so for them such artistic planning many be more natural than for those people who relate to linear lists of words without pictures. Remember the old adage, “A picture is worth a thousand words”? Visually-oriented people relate to the information presented in the picture more than to a paragraph of prose describing the picture. The picture communicates more to them than the paragraph does. However you approach idea exploration and prewriting for this week’s essay, it is still necessary to plan your discussion much like you would plan a driving trip. You know your starting point and destination, but you need to plan how you will get there. There are a different ways to organize your ideas as you plan your essay. Below is information on outlining to augment the above ideas on mind-mapping.