Community Writing: Researching Social Issues Through Composition employs a series of assignments that guide students to research and write about issues confronting their individual communities. Students start by identifying a community to which they belong and focusing on problems in it, and then analyze possible solutions, construct arguments for them, decide which are likely to succeed, and consider how to initiate action.
This is a primary text for first-year composition courses, covering the basics of the writing process. The assignments are recursive. Short writing assignments in each chapter build up to longer papers. Each of the assignment questions is accompanied by a guide to thinking about and writing the assigned paper, followed by a short Focus On reading that provides a brief account of community activism, a media case study, or a notable success story. The longer papers are accompanied by in-class peer reading groups. Each successive peer reading attempts a higher level of conceptual critique. By working together throughout the semester, students create increasingly adept peer groups familiar with all stages of each other's research. The book is carefully structured, but there is plenty of "give" in it, allowing instructors to be flexible in adapting it to the needs of their students and courses.
* is distinguished by pedagogy based on a collaborative, process-oriented, service learning approach that emphasizes media critique and field research on community issues chosen by individual students;
* answers real student questions, such as: Where do I find articles on my topic? What if evidence contradicts my hypothesis? How do I know if a source is biased?;
* is web-savvy--guides students into building their own Web sites, including a unique guide for critiquing the design and veracity of other people's websites; and
* is media-savvy--topics include media monopolies, spin control, dumbing down, misleading statistics, the Freedom of Information Act, "crackpot" authors, political rhetoric, and fallacious argumentation.
Table of Contents
Contents: Your Community and an Issue It Faces. Media Views of an Issue. Examining Solutions. Working Toward Solutions. The Term Paper. Appendices.Further Readings. Using the Freedom of Information Act. Citing Your Sources in the MLA Format.
"At last, a writing text that takes seriously the student's roles as citizen, thinker, author, researcher, and community member, and shows teachers how to situate a syllabus in the themes and communities of their students. Paul Collins has done a magnificent job in providing writing classes with a strong program for community literacy. This wonderfully useful and readable text offers in-depth writing projects based on student's critical inquiry into their social conditions. In these pages, a skilled writing teacher maps the way to academic skills through civic projects inviting students to examine and improve their communities. Bravo!"
The College of Staten Island
"Community Writing brings together social responsibility and composition instruction in a most timely and responsible manner. By encouraging each student to identify a community concern that is personally meaningful, Collins provides each individual with a rationale to investigate sources in an appropriately critical manner. Students will profit from the recursive steps that make them increasingly sensitive to the complexities of analyzing issues that relate directly to their own interests. This text will benefit instructors and students as they engage in a substantive dialogue on important issues."
—Marilyn S. Sternglass
Professor Emeritus of English, City College of the City University of New York
"Demonstrates a thorough knowledge of recent work in composition studies. This text is particularly impressive in its application of recent work in service learning and critical pedagogy to the first-year writing classroom....I never thought I would use a composition textbook again, but I would use Community Writing."
Stevens Institute of Technology