Wednesday, June 4, 2014

"Contract" Project: One Way to Help Students Understand Audience Proximity

Message to Teachers: This assignment asks students to make several decisions about their rhetorical situation beforehand—and provides students with more agency than a typical task. Approximately half the group will approach me after the first in-class writing session and (timidly) request permission to "change their Contract." They want to change some combination of subject, audience, feedback, and evaluation (or sometimes all four categories). Students spend 2-3 class meetings writing the text they establish in the Contract, so it's also typical for quite a few students to approach me again after the second class writing session and request yet another change in contract.

This request is PRECISELY what I'm hoping for--I want students to ask to change the contract, although I pretend to grant their request with reluctance.

What I am after is to help students, through the act of writing, gain a sense of the text as an intrapersonal conversation, as a possible private conversation away from the teacher (students don’t need to show me their text but rather only their Process Note, see below). I want students to take control of the proximity of audience during the invention phase. As they explore content which they have fully designated, students interact with their writing intrapersonally, making decisions about audience, feedback, and evaluation which reflect their relationship to the text.


Instructions:  This writing project will be done in two class meetings.  Note that you can write any type of writing for any type of audience.  I suggest using this project as an opportunity to write something that you’d really value: a piece of writing that would make you proud to advance or an idea you’d enjoy sustaining.

Before our next class meeting, read over the below contract, complete it, and email it to me.

I ____________________________ [YOUR NAME] will be writing about the topic of

___________________________________________________________ for the Contract Project.  The genre or type of writing this project will take the form of will be  ________

__________________________________ [GENRE].  I understand that I can write in any genre and that it need not be a conventional school-based genre.  The audience for the piece will be  _________________________________ [AUDIENCE FOR THIS PIECE]. I understand I can designate any audience including individuals outside of the class, that I have the option of selecting no audience, and that the professor need not read your document. In terms of feedback for this piece, I understand that I can request any type of feedback, including but not limited to the following: Not Sharing, Sharing But Getting No Feedback Whatsoever, Getting Only Positive Feedback, Getting Feedback on Specific Questions I Ask my Audience About the Text, to Completely Open Unlimited Feedback.  My designated audience, _____________________

__________________________, [NAME(S) OF YOUR AUDIENCE MEMBER(S)] will provide the following feedback: ______________________________________________________ __________________________________________________________________________.

In terms of evaluation, I understand that I can select any type of evaluation, including but not limited to the following: No Evaluation; Evaluation Based on Rubric (Designed by You)—provide rubric; Evaluation Based on Rubric (Designed by Other Party)—provide rubric; Letter Grade; Check System Grade; A Predetermined Final Grade of ____.  I understand that I must give the piece to my designated audience before turning in the Process Note for this Project. In sum, I understand that I can write about any topic, in any form, for any audience, and for any type of feedback and evaluation as I designate but that I must give the piece to my audience before turning in the Process Note for this Project.   


Process Note

The audience for this project is the one you designate in the above contract.  You’ll want to give the writing you do for this project to that audience (no matter who it is—unless you’re doing strictly private writing) before completing the Process Note. I will only be evaluating your Process Note. 

For the Process Note, write 2 double spaced pages which will be graded on the basis of the thoroughness and care you take in exploring the following:

·         What were the different moments in the experience?  Possibly zoom in on one moment and describe in depth.

·         How does this project relate to our class discussions of the writing process?

·         Draw connections between the Contract Project with the prior projects from the semester as well as with course readings, course writings, and course discussions.

·         Use terminology from the course and discuss particular readings.  (The more connections you draw to course readings and terminologies, the stronger the Process Note.)

·         Draw comparisons—hypothetical or actual—to other things and activities to make your point.

·         Lastly and most importantly, identify and explain at least one insight about writing that could be reached from the Contract Project.


* image provided by

No comments:

Post a Comment