Presentation Program, Thursday 4/17

Portfolio Website (Taia) For my final project I have decided to take the content created for this class over the course of this semester and reorganize it into a portfolio website. I have chosen to work with WordPress since I am comfortable with the formatting they use and have already run blogs using it. This portfolio website will only contain content from this class, but I will expand it after this semester ends so it will host my work from other classes as well. My intended audience for this site is professional, such as prospective employers or other writers who are interested in my work. This website will be useful to me both as a way to organize my own work, and as a way to give myself an online presence that is professional and (hopefully) interesting.

Education, the power to change to the world (Ellen – link) My presentation is mainly about the differences between the Chinese and American education systems. I have drawn from my personal experiences in both education systems to share with my readers how the two differ and how they both have their good and bad. I have also used material from my interview project to help me make a more informative website. I interviewed my high school calculus teacher, and my friend here at Pitt. She is also Chinese, so I thought her perspective would be interesting. There is no absolute decision of which education system is better, I just want the people who come across this website to see China in a way that is not just from the news or just pure politics, and to reflect on themselves and see how different things are in two countries. Then maybe…understand the Chinese students here a bit more, by seeing the background they came from.

Stressed Out (Bridget) My final project is a website that is focused around helping students who suffer stress. I noticed in my interviews that a lot of students feel like they are the only ones under this much pressure, or they focus on how someone else is much more put together. Students need to see that their feelings are validated, and not only that, but how stress has increased since the past. My website is to allow students to see that they are not the only ones feeling overworked or stressed and that there is something they can do to help themselves. I have a source of on campus and online help for a variety of people, because sometimes they may be anxious about going in person to get help.

Study Steroids (Allison) So far, production of my website is moving slowly. I underestimated the amount of technical skill it would take and the amount of time I would have to put into it. I have started working on a few different pages within the website, but moving forward I am still unsure of the exact organization that I will use. I wanted to revamp my audio essay and split it into three separate shorter pieces, but now I am worried about the time that would take also. I would appreciate any feedback or suggestions that you have. This is still a pretty rough draft of the final product, so any help that you would like to offer are welcome. I also haven’t figured out to link pages to each other, so if anyone knows how please let me know.

Art for All (Erika) For my final project, I decided to create a website that focuses largely on advocacy for arts education. It originally started out with a ton of features, including a regularly updated blog, but after working with more of the design aspects of Wix, it seemed like a lot of clutter, and, frankly, too much for the average viewer to maintain interest in. I decided to cut it down to a “why and how” section that details why the arts are important and how anyone, from parents to educators to kids, can help keep the arts in their community. I’m also including a section of “spotlights” and stories – these will be profiles of local arts organizations and students, family, and friends that detail their connection to the arts. I’m in the process of getting interviews from all avenues, including the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre and the Pittsburgh CLO Academy.

Special Education (Ben – audio link) I worked with the special education funding this semester. I focused a lot on how the system works and its shortcomings, but I’ve done little to justify why the average person should even care about these problems. For my final project I am presenting a philosophical argument for special education by applying three different popular ethical theories to the issue: consequentialism, deontology, and virtue theory. In all my research I was unable to find a lot of work along this line so I am hoping that I will be breaking relatively fresh ground.

Unfortunately, my final project is almost entirely text-based and so difficult to present in a classroom setting, but the special education teacher I interviewed mentioned something that could be an interesting application of the philosophical argument. I asked her what she would ask legislators if she could ask them anything, and she offered a challenge. Apparently, the rationale behind special education is foggy to everybody at times, even legislators.

Start to Finish: #30DaystoRaceDay (Natalie) For my final project I have combined the various tips and tricks that I researched regarding healthy running and training into a 30 day blog. The timeline of the blog encompasses the 30 days leading up to a race and targets a novice runner audience. I start from day 1 with the first run and provide motivation, tips, and describe a personal journey that other first-time runners can follow along with. With having a limited timeline the blog has a “daily column” feel that you might find in a paper or magazine. It is mainly image based and will provide text based descriptions surrounding the singular topic for that day. There are a lot of resources on the web for how to train for races, but this blog will provide both fun and factual tips (how long to run, where to run, what to eat, what to listen to, cross training etc.) combined with my personal journey so they can feel as though we are training together leading up to race day.

The Bully Ordeal (Diana) My presentation will be about how I’ve connected my written pieces over the semester as well finding other articles in media that go along with my semester long research project. My research topic was about how there is a bully in everyone and how I wanted to demonstrate different incidences of bullying that happen through mediums such as films, novels, and issues in society. My project is a website that uses these mediums and articles to further spread an enlightenment for the reader. They will look through their past as well as think about their future. I will be making my website be written as a more personal blog than a professional blog.

Lists (Alyssa) For my presentation in class tomorrow, I will be sharing what I have been working on so far for the final project on the need for a sexual education reform. I will be transforming my text interview project into a multimedia and more interactive form. As of now, I’ve started this project on Creativist but I might switch it to a format on iBooks Author. I am including photographs of the people I interviewed, their lists, and parts of their stories as well. I am changing parts of the stories I originally included in the interview project and hope to also add components of the When, Why, How project. I hope that this major revision allows the interview project to work effectively in a different manner than the text form and that the visual inclusions make it easier to connect to the interviewees.

body image/ e-newsletter (Marissa) For the purposes of this final project e-newsletter, I wanted to bring in pieces of public writing that I have already worked on in this class, but also bring in other aspects of my topic as well. I will bring in new ideas of how the media negatively portrays body image from a legal standpoint, specifically about plastic surgery and the use of photoshopped images in the media. This was originally going to be a part of my topic for the entire semester, but when I started creating the other projects, I was more focused on other aspects of the issue, so I am excited to incorporate a new aspect of my topic into my final project.


Presentation Program, Tuesday 4/15

Free Play (Morgan) Over the course of the semester, I worked with the issue of free play because, after a summer interning at a nonprofit that advocates for the importance of play by building playgrounds, I became quite passionate about the issue. I decided that for my final project that I wanted to do something fun and creative so I created People of the Playground, a blog showing that play means something to everyone. It’s really different from everything I’ve done so far this semester (or ever) but it really gets at the fundamental idea that I want to promote: play matters, and it benefits everyone. I had a lot of fun putting it together and I’m really proud of how it turned out.

A Sliver of Adoption (Julianna – link) For my final project I wanted to branch off from that central idea and get another story. I decided to interview Cindy Rodgers, a mother of two adopted girls from China, who are not biologically related to each other. I am going to show my creatavist project in the works- the pictures I’ve gathered and the questions and responses of the interview. I learned how varied adoptions could be despite being from the same country at about the same time, and will ask if the audience is left wanting to know more about a specific topic.

The Stigma of Mental Illness (Alyson) For my presentation, I am going to show the class what I have been working on so far with my final project. Over the past week, I have been working on putting my work from the semester into a comprehensible website that raises awareness about the harmful effects of the stigma of mental health. I plan on telling the class about the new material that I have written about concerning statistics about stigma which are all featured on the home page of my website. The website is definitely not finished, but I feel there is enough content on it to be able to share and give the class a rough idea of what I’m doing. Specifically, I really want some feedback about the design of my site. I want to know if the color scheme is appealing and if the layout is clear; I am also concerned that I am not using enough graphics. In addition, I am looking for tips about using Wix and making a header. I have something in the works, but it won’t be included on the website that I display because it is not cooperating with Wix. Whenever I insert it onto the page, it is blurry: this occurs even if I use Photoshop.

Salt of the Earth (Sophia) For my presentation, I plan on sharing just a few of my favorite things that I’ve written for the class and edited for my final website. I would like to show a rough preview of my website/blog as it is so far also. Initially, I would like to provide everyone with just some little background information on what my overall goal for this project was and the reasons behind my choice because I feel as though that information would be the best way to lay the foundation for the rest of my presentation. Although I could indeed go on for a while about the topic, I just want to accomplish sharing some interesting pictures, firsthand knowledge and a quick peek at the blog that I’ve really put a lot of work into already.

Autism On Screen (Caroline – link) I will be presenting the introduction from my website I have created for my final project. There are definitely not enough characters to represent the actual statistics concerning autism diagnoses. However, in the past few years especially, characters with Autism have been more apparent on television and in film. Using a few examples from my own knowledge, and after doing supplemental research, I have determined the best, most truthful, examples of characters with Autism on screen. The best example is Max from Parenthood. I will also talk about the implications of thinking of Sheldon Cooper from The Big Bang Theory as a character on the spectrum, and what that would mean for the show and the character himself if he was to be diagnosed. There is a certain pressure for a show or movie that goes along with a diagnosis. But some shows and films are brave enough to take that risk and explore autism. Questions: Would it deter you from watching characters if you could not relate to them yourself? Do you think about the demographics of characters on television in terms of representing the population? Would having more characters who are on the autism spectrum change your understanding of the disorder in a positive way? Could it be a negative thing?

Fit at Pitt (Kaylie) I have compiled health and fitness pictures on an Instagram account titled “Fit at Pitt.” My Instagram shows work out ideas, recipes, upcoming races, things to do in Pittsburgh, and micro interviews with Pitt students talking about where, why, and how they exercise. I’ve had a blast compiling the pictures, and have already gained followers and a ton of likes on my posts. “Fitstagram” accounts are huge right now, especially for people our age, which is why I chose this as the best form for my target audience. I’m wondering whether the class thinks this is something I should look into continuing. Although I’m graduating, I was thinking about passing the account off to an underclassman, or emailing the Healthy U and Pitt Recreation directors and inquiring about whether one of their staff members would like to run the account. Completing this project was a ton of fun, but I also underestimated the amount of time and effort it would take. After all, I can’t compile pictures related to health and fitness without getting out there and doing active things myself!

Why Are African American’s Leaving Baseball: A Quick Look (Joe – link) I’m going to be showing a brief portion of my audio essay from the interview project. I will be logging onto my soundcloud and playing the clip from there. I really feel that the class would enjoy this more than something from my final project because this piece definitely gives a nice introduction about some really important ideas surrounding my topic. I’m also going to talk for a minute or two about how this links up with my final project.

Beware of Signs of Cyberbullying (Kara) As half of my final project I am creating a checklist for students to give to parents. This checklist will help parents become conscious of warning signs that students will display if they are being cyberbullied. By creating awareness of these warning signs, parents may be able to help their children from being cyberbullied before it is too late. When I think of cyberbullying or bullying in general, the color red comes to mind, therefore I decided to use different shades of red and black. But the red turned out pink in some instances. Do you think I should change the red to different shades of black? I decided to use a basic font that was easy for parents to read. Do you think this font works? Or does anyone have any recommendations of different fonts I should use?


Final Presentation Schedule

Tuesday 4/15: Morgan, Julianna, Alyson, Sophia, Caroline, Kaylie, Joe, Kara, Kevin.

Thursday 4/17: Taia, Ellen, Bridget, Allison, Erika, Ben, Natalie, Diana, Alyssa, Marissa.

All presentations will take place in the G27 computer lab. You’re invited to use the big screen at the front (bring whatever you want to show on a flash drive, if it isn’t live online somewhere), to draw on the board, to post something to the blog and ask your peers to pull it up while you’re talking, and/or to bring handouts.

These presentations should be thoughtful and preprepared, but they can be informal. You will get 4-5 minutes (no more), plus there will be 1-2 minutes for people to ask you questions or answer questions that you’ve posed.

What you show is up to you. It should be somehow representative of the time and effort that you’ve put into your chosen topic this semester. Show something you’re proud of from earlier in the semester, show a final project in-process that you want to both share and get feedback on, or just bring whatever you’ve produced that you think will be the most fun to share with class. You might bring a provocative example of public writing that you’ve found to showcase alongside your own work.

By 9PM the night before your presentation: email me a 100-150 word description of what you will present and a title for your presentation (you’ll have time to produce this in class on Thursday).

In-class blog work (for after debriefs)

Edit: this is the Fast-pitch event I just mentioned in class:

(1) Be in a group of at least 3-4. Ideally, these won’t just be the people you always work with. Move around. Each group will compose one response to this blog post before leaving class (create a new post, not just a comment; include links and, if apt, images).

(2) Select a Pittsburgh area non-profit (or similar) organization with a web presence to profile on our class blog. Your writing-oriented profile should address the following: 

[a] What is this organization all about? How long did it take you to get a sense of their message/purpose/goals? What kinds of language do they use? Are there ke


phrases that show up again and again across their materials?

[b] Make a list of all the types of writing/media compositions that they’ve authored that you can find. What values/tactics do you see in these different forms?

[b.i] Do they have a social media presence? Which platforms do they use? Are they using these platforms well? Do they post different kinds of things in different places? Use different language on different platforms? Use different kinds of language on social media sites than they do in their other direct messaging?

[b.ii] Are there forms of writing that you imagine this organization uses in-house that are important to their operations? What kinds of documents might they spend a lot of time producing that you can’t see here? Why might they not want and/or not need for you (as a member of a public) to see this stuff?

[c] Be ready to pitch your organization to the class. Give a brief overview and share one coolest thing they do.


Where, Why, How Debrief

Due via email sometime today. Your debrief should tell me about the parts of your writing/design process that I didn’t see (or might not have seen). What went well? What could have gone better? Which rhetorical terms, devices, and strategies were you most conscious of as you composed? Why is this format a good fit for the particular content you presented? Who do you imagine as an ideal audience? What other audiences might also be interested? Who isn’t this project for?

* Everyone should spend part of their debrief time thinking through this last question: 

Normally, I ask: if this project was out in the “real” world, what kind of venue/publication might host it? If you can think of some surprising or interesting answers to this question, please include them. But, more importantly, think about the compositional elements that this project asked you to pay attention to. What “more traditional” forms of writing for the public might also require these skills? What forms value the same kinds of things? Justify your answer a bit. Say about where and how and why you see a value (or values) moving across forms.

For example, you might consider the ways in which “brevity” or “conciseness” (different values, but both things this project required) worked for you and how it (or they) work in a press release or a status update on a non-profit organization’s Facebook page.

Or you might write a little bit about how “trying to get and keep someone wondering about a topic” might be a useful tactic when recruiting volunteers to help run an outreach program.

In-class work for 3/27: Thinking with Images.

In a group of 3 (or 4): scroll through all of your classmates’ image posts. Select three or four to respond to. Try to respond to a few very different types of images. Each response should include:

(1) Five (or more) questions that someone might ask in conjunction with this image.

(2) A first sentence for a WWH-style piece linked to one of those questions and the image.

(3) A short paragraph or bulleted list that says something about your experience of the image. How does it make you feel? What does it remind you of? What does it make you think about? How—aesthetically—does it accomplish the work of making you feel or think those things? This paragraph should also say something about how you might make an image like this one. What tools would you need? How would you go about the making? What potential problems would you need to watch out for while making/thinking about making a thing like this one?

(4) This doesn’t need to end up in your comments, but do talk about whether or not you can imagine making a graphic like the one you’re responding to that’s relevant to your issue. What parts of your issue might work well (or interestingly) with this style?


Where/Why/How: Quick Mid-week Blog Post.

Volvovski, Rothman, and Lamothe’s introduction notes that “Much of the inspiration for this book came from looking through old scientific charts and diagrams, in periods where the scientific world was still very much in development. There are incredibly beautiful anatomically incorrect drawings from the Japanese Edo period, and wonderful classroom diagrams from the 1950s detailing the structure of blood cells. These visually unique works attempt to impart an understanding of phenomenon.”

Due Thursday 27 March, 9AM.  Find a chart, diagram, or illustration to share with your classmates. Post it to the class blog as an image post with a specific, descriptive title. Say just a bit about why you selected what you selected—what’s interesting about this visual artifact in terms of style? In terms of content? Where did you find your artifact? Is that context part of what makes it interesting? If so, how/why?

In-class Blog Work (for after debriefs)

(1) Be in a group of 3-4. Ideally, these won’t just be the people you always work with. Move around. Each group will compose one response to this blog post before leaving class. This response should include detailed answers to one or two the italicized questions below. It also needs to include a response to part 4.

(2) Start acquainting yourselves with The Where, The Why, and The How. Take a look at the pdf and the color images posted to Courseweb. Read the introduction and at least one example closely. What do you notice stylistically? How the sentences work? Do you have a favorite—how does it work? What is most notable about the content of the piece(s) at hand? How do the texts and images work together and/or against each other?

(3) Take a look at the following NY Times pieces.

A Surgical Procedure’s Risks Go Unmentioned – How is the nature of the text here similar to the texts in The Where, The Why, and The How; how is it dissimilar? Take note of the style of the art – how does it work with and/or against the text? If you had to assign a question as the title for this piece, what might that question be?

Who Made That Corkscrew? How is the nature of the text here similar to the texts in The Where, The Why, and The How; how is it dissimilar? How does the art work with and/or against the text?

*** (4) Look again at the WWH’s table of contents. What makes a good title question? Name at least 4 features. For each member of your group: come up with as many questions as possible. Aim for 7 or more each. 

Interview Project Debriefs

Due via email sometime today. Your debrief should tell me about the parts of your writing/design process that I didn’t see (or might not have seen). What went well? What could have gone better? Which rhetorical terms, devices, and strategies were you most conscious of as you composed?

I know that it is a bit unorthodox for an assignment to require you to select its form on your own and that for some people making this decision is the toughest part of the project. Why did you decide that the form you used was the best available means for conveying the particular message you wanted to convey? Why is this format a good fit for the particular content you collected during your interview? Who do you imagine as an ideal audience? What other audiences might also be interested? Who isn’t this project for? If this project was out in the “real” world, what kind of venue/publication might host it?

What information did you consider using but then save for later? What kinds of resources have you been adding to your resource log?

What new software did you try out? How did it go? If you were going to learn how to do one new design-oriented thing before the end of the semester, what would you want it to be? OR if you didn’t try out any new software, what models (i.e. texts/projects by other authors) did you think about while composing? Which class resources were most useful to you?

* You should spend at least 20 minutes on this debrief. If you finish before I give the next set of directions, start looking through the archives at This Is Indexed

Pick a favorite (try to make this something older, not just something that everyone saw on the front page). Share it with the people around you and talk a little bit about how it works/why it stood out among other examples. Here are a couple (arts funding & zip codes and connotation) that I think are interesting (note: accurate and interesting are not the same). 

After this conversation. Each of you should: Create your own indexed-style graphic (ideally this will be relevant to your topic, but something related to a classmates’ topic or the idea of public writing is okay too)—turn this in to me.

Upcoming blog deadlines.

I hope everyone is having a great spring break. This is just a quick reminder:

(1) By 9PM on Sunday, March 16 you should post a teaser for your interview project to the class blog. This should give your classmates a good idea what you’re up to. If you’ve run into any significant problems and want help troubleshooting them, feel free to include a paragraph of questions/concerns alongside your excerpt. If you’re working with sound, I strongly recommend creating an account and using Soundcloud to share your work (if you plan to do this, I recommend making an account sooner rather than later—even if you don’t have anything to share yet).

(1b) Comments aren’t required this week. But do take a look at your classmates’ posts before Tuesday’s class. If you have an awesome idea that might help someone out, take 2 minutes to post it.

(2) Each of you should post your third (and final required) affinity group blog post by 9PM on Sunday, March 23rd. This is an extension of the deadline that’s on your original assignment sheet. As usual, this can be on any subject/question/event/idea related to your semester-long project. After these posts go up, you’ll have about a week to do some final commenting and clean up any ragged website design edges.