Cultural-Historical Activity Theory

WHITEBOARD ANIMATION VIDEO – Episode 5 CHAT: How Sweet It Is! Mapping Out the Activity of Writing

Go on this sweet city adventure with Gary the Snail and Jellybean. With help of the trusty turtle, Mr. T, Gary learns a new way to think and talk about the activity of writing. Coming to view writing as a situated social practice, Gary’s YouTube Lip-Sync Proposal video sweeps Jellybean off her foot. Now that’s writing bliss! Learning Outcome Adventure Series | Runtime: 8:57

VIDEO CLIP – Fifteen Hours into a Forty-Minute Huddle Up: Activity of Breaking It Down with Technology

Student asks if Coach Gaddis had ever wished for a technological advancement that wasn’t there. Discover why his answer is yes and no. In the past, what were the genres of this activity system? What were the genres and genre requirements? Were these limiting? In using new technologies, how has representation changed? Half-Mile with Coach Gaddis Fall 2015 | Runtime: 2.24 minutes (Also Learning Outcome Seven)

VIDEO CLIP – Talking with Hands: The Multimodal Team Communication Activity System

What are the alternative modes of production in these football literate practices? Who participates? How does this shape the activities and player identities? Join us in giving this winning coach a hand! Half-Mile with Coach Gaddis Fall 2015 | Runtime: 3.13 minutes (Also Learning Outcome Seven)

AUDIO CLIP – Everything Depends on Each Other 

Jamie and John reflect on the benefits of English Composition 101 and what stuck with them the most. BEYOND 101: Ep. 2 | Runtime: 1:21

VIDEO – Activity theory: Because things are actors too

In this video we explore the concept of activity theory–the idea that even non-human things and ideas can impact human activities. We look at the example of Driver Dave and his unfortunate encounter with a speed bump. Activity theory relates to writing because writing itself is an activity and texts serve as influential actors that influence human behavior. The Word Bird | Runtime: 4:38

VIDEO – History and Writing: Is Writing Ever a Solo Sport?

The Word Bird argues that you can’t write love letters all on your own. All of our writing reflects history and social practices of the wider culture we participate in. The Word Bird | Runtime: 4:30

AUDIO CLIP – CHAT Maps & Fortune Cookies: Messing with Minds!

So how do we help students move away from simplistic, static views on writing? DC and Jeff share examples of how using uptake genres, such as CHAT maps, and plotting out seemingly trivial genres, such as fortune cookies, cereal boxes, and coupons, help students not only take up new perspectives on writing, but also talk about the complexities of production more explicitly and robustly. Let’s CHAT: Ep. 8 | Runtime: 4:56

ARTICLE – Understanding Language and Culture with Cultural Historical Activity Theory

Tyler Kostecki lays out the foundations for thinking about writing and genres in their creational contexts.  A favorite article of many instructors in the Writing Program, Kostecki provides a cogent view of CHAT from the student point of view. GWRJournal: 3.1 | Pages: 10


Joyce Walker discusses cultural-historical activity theory and how it’s a useful tool for examining “how/why/what of writing practices.” GWRJournal 1 | Pages: 10

VIDEO CLIP – “That’s a Reality”: Genres that Can Determine If Keep Your Job

Social work is a competitive and complex activity system, particularly when it comes to securing funds to continue working and helping others. How do social workers secure funds anyway? What sorts of writing practices are involved, what is required, and when? Who determines these things? And why does Jenn decide not to pass around this genre? Half-Mile 2015 | Runtime: 1:38

VIDEO CLIP – Flyer Power! Hyped-Up: “How it all comes together”

Jenn talks about the activity involved in producing effective flyers for a Teen Mom Support Group, demonstrating how writing does not happen in isolation. So how many people are involved in one flyer? Learn what works and what doesn’t work and why collaboration and knowing your audience really matters. Surely, this clip is worth the hype! Half-Mile 2015 | Runtime: 3:24

ARTICLE – CHATting in the Workplace

Irene Taylor and Jeff Rients present a dialogue in which they discuss workplaces genres from their previous professions using Cultural Historical Activity Theory as a lens to analyze features of the genres and how their various users interact with them. GWRJournal 4.2 | Pages: 11

INSTRUCTOR RESOURCES: Pedagogy and Teaching Applications

AUDIO CLIP – Huddle up! Purposefully Scrambling in the Writing Trenches for Productive Uncertainty

Dan and Deb offer example of writing football plays and using productive uncertainty to destabilize students’ fixed notion of writing, creating the opportunity to not only embrace failure, but also discuss context and culture as well audience and tools. Let’s CHAT: Ep. 8 | Runtime: 3:31

AUDIO CLIP – Barriers and Bridges

First semester graduate instructor talk about which writing program concepts are the most challenging to teach, offering a range of barriers and bridges to considered in order to help student with uptake and transfer. Let’s CHAT: Ep. 10 | Runtime: 4:53


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