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Instructions: Meaning Making Writes
Dr. Fox
Writing to Learn
This class is organized around two kinds of writing: writing to learn and learning to write. Writing to learn is
informal writing in which you grapple with ideas presented in a text in order to make meaning. The purpose of this
type of writing is to use the written word to work through ideas and come to a better understanding of a text or
concept or a better understanding your stance in relation to a question posed. Writing to learn takes the form of
worksheets and meaning-making writes (MMW in the daily schedule and on D2L).
Details of the Meaning-Making Writes
Throughout the semester, I will assign a MMW based on questions or concepts that arise from the course theme and
texts. Your MMW is just that: an opportunity to making meaning by working through ideas and beginning to
formulate your thoughts. There should be little to no summary of the text in the Meaning-Making Write (it is wise
to include a page number when referring to a direct passage). I will be looking for deep engagement with ideas or
questions that you will be responding to. You do not need to have an introduction or conclusion; MMWs are freewriting organized around a prompt.
To ensure greater freedom of thought in your Meaning-Making Writes, I evaluate them according to two standards:
1. by length and
2. by depth of your response to ideas presented in the text (rather than summary or skimming the surface)
The rationale for focusing on length (one full page, single spaced—see below) is because it generally takes about a
page of free-writing to get to really interesting and insightful thoughts. We all know it’s pretty easy to BS for a
paragraph or so, but it’s much more difficult to stay on the surface level (this is what BS often is) if you have to
write a full page. You are always welcome to write more than a page; one page is the minimum expectation.
There is an example MMW on D2L so that you can use it as a template for your MMW format (see below). Be sure
to use this to format your paper (simply choose “save as” and type your paper over the existing text). MS Word and
other word processing applications tend to default to “multiple” spacing and 1.25” margins. You will not receive full
credit if you do not follow basic formatting instructions.
Evaluation of MMW
Here is how I will grade your papers (based on 100 point scale):
A full page or more (minimum of 46 lines) that meets the basic requirement of engaging thoughtfully to make
meaning from the writing prompts will receive a “B” (80 points).
A full page that engages deeply with the more challenging ideas and makes connections to an array of course
concepts will receive an “A” (90-100 points).
If you fulfill the following percentage of a page you receive the indicated points:
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•
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•
•
•
•
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80% of a full page = 70 points
70% of a full page = 60 points
60% of a full page = 50 points
50% of a full page = 40 points
40% of a full page = 30 points
30% of a full page = 20 points
Anything below 30% of a page will receive a 0
A summary or a dismissal of the text will generally receive a “D” or lower.
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Instructions: Meaning Making Writes
Dr. Fox
Format for your MMW
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Single spaced (a minimum of 46 lines)
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Font: Times New Roman, 12 pt
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Margins: 1”
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No Title
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Your Name in the header
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Catherine Fox
English 191 MMW1
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I grew up in Ukraine, and then Rochester, Minnesota, for awhile as the oldest of three kids in
a very Christian family. I love journalism, and am excited about my field; one that is predicated on
finding an absolute truth of what happened in a given situation and holding those in power
accountable to a higher standard on behalf of the public.
In the Harding Interview, I connected the most with Harding’s question of “what are we for?”
I think there is a striking lack of uniform stance across my generation of what we are for, or the
concept of what we’re for is ignorant and adopted from someone else. The issue lies with the simple
fact that it’s hard to change the world. It’s hard to make the changes we want to see, especially
when we are sending help to that front through Internet communities and starting movements that
don’t have the teeth or the longevity to really do something. This is a significant but possibly nontopical gripe I have with Western/American society: the weakest, falsest opinions always seem to be
the loudest. This is why I identify as a moderate politically. I don’t think the most reasonable
opinions, the most common sense positions are loud, so no one hears it, but there is a need and a
space to fill in such a polarized and extremist conversation.
There is no larger ideal that my generation has. That doesn’t mean that everyone has to see
things in a conservative way, or a liberal way, or an individualistic way. But there should be a greater
goal and target for our society that we shoot at, and I can’t see one. Worse yet, I don’t see an ability
to consistently have discussions about topics that we care about with those we disagree. We equate
identity and ideology on a frightening basis, and that is a grave mistake. This relates back to
Harding’s concept of a civil conversation versus a democratic conversation. There needs to be a
method of discussion that isn’t accused of being hateful and malicious every time someone disagrees
with a position and vocalizes it. Someone’s disagreement is not grounds to launch an emotional
attack (also know as an ‘ad homenim’ logical fallacy). If you can’t handle someone testing what you
think and why you think it, then I think the person who holds those views should consider why they
hold them.
This is not to ratify or condone the acts of those of who claim to want “real discourse and
real conversation” but only use this as a way to make claims and statements that are nothing but
incendiary and malicious. Those behaviors are not worth the time of day, but actual conversations
and real, honest discourse about why we think what we think would go a long way. Harding did a
really powerful job of pointing out the similarities of the struggles that young people faced then and
now, talking about how there is a search for what we are meant for and how learning about each
other and ourselves is part of what can help us learn to love more.
I think “achieving ourselves” is another way to do what our generation calls “being ourselves”, simply
that we can realize what can and are meant to become, and how we can achieve that is an exciting
concept to explore.
This is not to ratify or condone the acts of those of who claim to want “real discourse and
real conversation” but only use this as a way to make claims and statements that are nothing but
incendiary and malicious. Those behaviors are not worth the time of day, but actual conversations
and real, honest discourse about why we think what we think would go a long way. Harding did a
really powerful job of pointing out the similarities of the struggles that young people faced then and
now, talking about how there is a search for what we are meant for and how learning about each
other and ourselves is part of what can help us learn to love more.
I think “achieving ourselves” is another way to do what our generation calls “being ourselves”, simply
that we can realize what can and are meant to become, and how we can achieve that is an exciting
concept to explore.
This is not to ratify or condone the acts of those of who claim to want “real discourse and
real conversation” but only use this as a way to make claims and statements that are nothing but
incendiary and malicious. Those behaviors are not worth the time of day, but actual conversations
Catherine Fox
English 191 MMW1
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and real, honest discourse about why we think what we think would go a long way. Harding did a
really powerful job of pointing out the similarities of the struggles that young people faced then and
now, talking about how there is a search for what we are meant for and how learning about each
other and ourselves is part of what can help us learn to love more.
I think “achieving ourselves” is another way to do what our generation calls “being ourselves”, simply
that we can realize what can and are meant to become, and how we can achieve that is an exciting
concept to explore.

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