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Outlining the Expository OverviewYou practiced the skill and process of outlining as part of your Literacy Narrative. The basic elements of outlining translate across assignments. The more advanced aspects of outlining are the critical and creative role of organizing your thoughts within the framework of an assignment. Often the structure of the outline is built into the assignment, but more advanced assignments in upper-level courses often allow more freedom to navigate within the structure.Like gridding, outlining is generally seen as the concrete practice of ordering and organizing a paper. But just like gridding is a concrete process that allows for the abstract work of analysis and higher level critical thinking related to pattern observation, outlining is the concrete manifestation of the abstract process of arranging the elements of an assignment in the best order to make them clear and convincing to the audience.For the Expository Overview, our outlining process will include the elements of the assignment that need to be included to fulfill the requirements but will also allow for spaces of individualization within your work. Our larger goal is to introduce outlining and then practice it across genres, which will prepare you to move the practice of outlining into your own writing process and develop your own personal approach to outliningin response to different genres, assignments, audiences, and situations. Outlining may seem like something that starts after the research and just before writing a paper, but the process of outlining can and should begin as part of understanding the assignment and planning your process. Early outlines can be very basic and just provide you with a plan of what needs to be done to fulfill the expectations of the genre and task. As your work advances, the outline grows and becomes the main document you use to build your paper. Putting too much in the outline can be counterproductive just like underlining every sentence in an article you read, so allow yourself to keep notes at the bottom of your outline or in another document. Also remember that practices such as gridding and annotating can help with storage and organization. For our Expository Overview, we have completed tasks that have helped us begin the process of research and construction, so while we are starting this concrete step of outlining earlier in our process than we did in P1, we have also been working on tasks that will feed our outline from the beginning of P2. Now we will translate that work into a specific space and start an outline that will grow as we build the Expository Overview. Start with the Assignment To start, always look at the assignment. Fulfilling the requirements of any assignment should always be the primary goal. Remember to look for or ask for major elements of the assignment. We know that the focus should be on informing our readers and answering the question of how our discourse community uses writing to communicate. And we know that the tasks leading up to this point in Project 2 have been designed to help build the Expository Overview and will feed our outlining and writing. Given this foundation, you should already have a specific discourse community and some answers to questions about the writing of your DC. Our Expository Overview also requires integration of one scholarly source. You have read and will continue to read sources, scholarly and public and popular, that can be included in addition to the scholarly source. Some of the sources helped deepen your understanding of the concepts and provided samples, which was important to your learning, but unless they are relevant to the work of the Expository Overview, they do not need to be included in the paper. Including additional sources that benefit the work of your task and advance the understanding of your reader, however, is a great way to move from fulfilling the minimum expectations of the assignment to providing a strong, perhaps even superb, submission, but the requirement is only one scholarly source. Swales’ article is scholarly, and it provided the foundational definition for our research, so it is important to cite direct source material from “The Concept of Discourse Community” in your Expository Overview. Integrating at least one quotation from Swales will fulfill the requirement for use of one scholarly source, but what you quote or paraphrase and how you integrate it to advance the work of informing your reader can, again, range from fulfilling the requirement to demonstrating excellence. And we know that all source material should be formatted in MLA, so while we build our outline, we will include all the requirements of MLA formatting so that they are in place as we develop our outline into a paper.The other important source material that should be included is the primary source material from your Discourse Community. If you are looking at text from a website or print document, be sure to quote that material directly. As a result of the wide variety of sources you can draw from and the many spaces you can search, the citing expectations will vary in response to the space. Formatting guidelines are always being updated and expanding as a result of new spaces, too. Not too long ago, no one needed to know how to cite a presidential tweet or whether or not it was considered an official, governmental document. You might only cite a quote from a website, and the MLA guidelines related to web sources are available through a number of credible resources online. But perhaps you engaged in personal communication with a member of the DC you are studying through text messages. Because we want you to be able to explore a wide range of communication strategies and the related literacy practices, we are deemphasizing the in-text citation and reference for primary sources. Still include a signal phrase and an in-text citation and list the source on your Works Cited page, but to practice MLA, focus on the required, scholarly source and the general formatting. Details We also know that the Expository Overview needs to be 1000-1200 words. Given what you know of the average word count for a page in MLA, approximately how many pages is 1000-1200 words? Given what you know about the average number or paragraphs per page, approximately how many paragraphs would reach 1000-1200 words? And what would be a good plan for your first and last paragraphs?Here is where you move from general to specific and from collective to personal. You know yourself and your writing process, so you know whether you should plan for short paragraphs or longer paragraphs. And you know if you tend to be wordy and require editing out for concision as part of your revision process or whether you start with the facts and need to leave space to go back and add. With those concrete details in mind, you will think through how to structure the Expository Overview in a way that includes all the elements of the assignment and presents the information clearly while engaging your readers. There are many ways to achieve that goal, and the practice of following different approaches is the best way to learn how to create practices that work best for you and help develop your personal writing process. In the same way that we followed a shared approach to outlining in Project 1, let’s move through the process for outlining our Expository Overview together.Think Through the Outline You have been given a question around which you are to structure your Expository Overview, so that is a great place to start a basic outline: How does this discourse community use writing to communicate? A “how” question should not have a yes or no answer, so there is no need to frame your outline accordingly. Instead, we can identify two major elements: the discourse community and the use of writing. We also know that the genre is expository and that we are not tasked with persuasion or analysis, so we can start with the frame of informing our reader(s) about the discourse community and then looking at how the community communicates through writing. Because we know we will have an introduction and conclusion and that we will use source material from Swales, we already have a basic outline: introduction with thesis, describe the DC (Swales quote), discuss the DC’s written communication (using direct quotes), and conclusion. From here, think about what can fit within those two main areas of informing your reader about the DC and showing how the group uses writing to communicate. And think of how much space to give each. If you have approximately 12 paragraphs excluding the introduction and conclusion, should 10 be used to provide an overview of the DC— leaving only 2 to discuss the way the DC communicates through writing? And if you know that the direct source material in the form of the written communication from the DC is included in the section on the written communication that follows the overview of the DC, how can the texts you are including help you determine what information is relevant to your reader in the overview of the DC? Strong submissions make those connections. For instance, if one of the pieces of written communication from the group you share is a post from their public Facebook page that makes note of their public goals, it would have been valuable for those public goals to have been stated in the overview of the DC that precedes the section on the written communication. Outlining before you dive right into construction allows you to think through these connections and threads.How questions don’t have simple answers, and even though the assignment details do not require the inclusion of a thesis, all writing benefits from a clear statement that frames the communication. In our case, while we were not explicitly charged with writing a thesis statement, we do know that we should answer the question; it is safe to assume, then, that the answer to that question should lead the Expository Overview. Now you know at least one thing that will appear in your introduction and your conclusion: your answer!Structuring the OutlineWithin this basic frame, you have the freedom to make a number of moves as you grow your outline into an Overview. As a result, there are a number of ways to lay out the outline. Because you know you will develop the outline into your Expository Overview, you also know that the more complete the outline, the less work it will take to develop into an essay. Your outline can be bulleted or can use complete sentences, but as you develop your outline into your paper, will it be easier to have complete sentences in place already instead of having to build all your bullet points into sentences? Also remember that your outline is the stage at which you include formatting. Instead of searching for and through the things you’ve read as part of this process in search of a quote or a page number for the in-text citation that follows your quote, include a fully formed and formatted quotation, at the least, from the Swales reading in your outline, as well as a carefully constructed Work Cited page (add the s in Works if you include multiple sources).
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