Professional Literacies Project Spring 2015 — Jenn Rients

Composition that Shares & Cares: Writing to Empower Families

Jenn Rients, Regional Coordinator for the Parents Care + Share Program, providing support group services for local communities, joins Instructor Tharini Viswanath’s class of 101 Composition students to talk about her daily writing practices. Students learn that composition that shares and cares really understands the needs and requirements of their audiences. In order to empower people, writers must empower themselves by understanding their own writing strengths and weaknesses, which not only shape future practices, but also helps to navigate a wide range of literate activities. April 20, 2015

Clip 1: A New View: Exploring the Boundaries of Writing and Writers (0:51)

Moderator Michelle asks participants, “Why do we invite people to come talk about their everyday writing practices?” One student talks about how this is “a way to show different styles and perspectives,” and another student replies how “you don’t have to be a ‘writer’ to write.” Although the moderator is off stage, what comes into focus is the case that writing is a lot more than essays we write for class.

Clip 2: Cream of the Crop (1:37)

Relating to audience is important when writing and speaking. What methods does Jenn employ, showing her writing researcher identity? How does saying “Oh so you have to know how to write to go school” situate this genre and Jenn’s expertise? This clip is certainly cream of the crop; click it!

Clip 3: Identity Interactive: “What do I have to offer?” (1:31)

Jenn shares how she doesn’t “just sit and write for my job” and wonders about her qualifications for coming and talking to students about writing, but then Jenn realizes that she is, in fact, a writer. How does Jen come to this new view? Is writing defined as an isolated act or as a dynamic social activity?

Clip 4: Rock the Group & Play with a Purpose (1:11)

Explore the purpose of the flyer genre. How does its purpose influence how it is produced? Do flyers tell a story? How?

Clip 5: Working and Not Working: “I don’t love this” (0:27)

What is the benefit and limitations to using stereotypes? Producing an effective flyer is more complicated social activity than one may think.

Clip 6: “We’re publishing these things” (1:59)

Jenn discusses techniques that go into creating newsletters and pamphlets and reveals how the product reflects something about the person who created it. Is the way you come across important? How is that “way” determined? How can writing discredit a person? Do bad examples matter?

Clip 7: “That’s a Reality”: Genres that Can Determine If Keep Your Job (1:38)

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 Jen decide not to pass around this genre?

Clip 8: Flyer Power! Hyped-Up: “How it all comes together” (3:24)

Jenn talks about the activity involved in producing effective flyers for a Teen Mom Support Group, demonstrating how creating effective content requires investigation and 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!

 Clip 9:  Pyramid Effect: How to Reach Your Target Population (2:33)

Student questions “Where do you distribute your flyers?” Jenn shows how distribution is not so simple of an activity and carries its own range of practices and methods. “Here, check this out.”

Clip 10: Ethics: You Better Make Sure (2:08)

“Are there any ethics involved in making flyers?” participants ask. Jenn talks about how care is need when targeting populations of parents and how design and language can make a difference. How does including social situations such as gender or age impact the audience?

Clip 11: Spell Check Doesn’t Save Lives or a Lieutenant’s Credibility (1:58)

Jenn reflects on her writing experiences working for the Bloomington Police Department, and how police have to write too! Her ability to assess writing thoughtfully becomes a highly sought out transferable skill.

Clip 12: Knowing Your Writing Weakness: Stubbed Toes and Rules of Thumb (1:17)

From writing case histories to emails, Jenn shares how feedback from others and really coming to understand her own writing weaknesses not only shapes her future practices, but also helps her in very different writing situations.

Clip 13: Free Time (1:47)

Student asks, “Is there any kind of writing that you do in your free time?” Jenn explains how her hobbies don’t involve writing, but rather the reading and interpreting of the writing of others. What do you think is Jenn’s most frequent writing activity? What is yours?

Clip 14:  Make or Break Situation: Proofing Yourself (2:38)

Jenn stresses the importance of keeping your audience in mind and how navigating very different writing situations requires you to better understand not only the requirements of the genre, but also the importance of being versatile and adapting your practices accordingly.

Clip 15: Lingo Bingo! (1:21)

How to do you know what lingo to use and where? Jenn speaks about the limits of acronyms with diverse audiences.

Clip 16: Feedback: We Don’t Know? (2:34)

Jenn talks about getting and not getting feedback. Are having audiences assess what’s working and not working important? How so? Oh, Princesses Elsa and Anna and Spiderman will be there!

Clip 17: And the Winner Is… Writing! (2:06)

“Has anything on the job surprised you?’’ participants ask. From police work to social work, Jenn wraps up by putting the activity of writing center stage!