Week 12


The last big writing assignment for ENGL 101 is the “Un Essay.” From the syllabus:

Audio podcast script, proposal, Powerpoint (with speakers notes) or another specific genre of informative writing chosen by the student and approved by the professor. It should demonstrate They Say/I Say awareness and appropriate style. This is a chance to write something that reflects the norms in your prospective major or to practice transferring your skills into a new domain.

Concept: The idea behind the un-essay is that you begin to use the skills you've developed in sentence-making, paragraph-formation, grammar, style and voice – combined with the “rhetorical awareness” you practiced in assignment 3 – to transfer these skills to another writing situation and genre.

In the next few classes, you'll explore formats and choose one, then develop your guidelines for what good writing should look like in that genre.

Consider the ways in which composing a piece of writing might be like cooking a new dish. Eating a five-paragraph essay every day would get a little boring. In fact, people read and write lots of different kinds of dishes every day. So your challenge is to find a new (to you) type of writing, study it, then emulate it by composing your own.


1. Class Activity - Mapping out the Recipe for a Piece of Writing

In other classes and in your future work, you will almost certainly be asked to do a kind of writing that we have not learned in this class. Over the years, I have written and helped others write grant applications, recommendation letters, advertisements, project proposals, course proposals, scripts, wedding vows, donation campaigns, mission statements, program evaluations, eulogies, etc. (None of these were taught to me in a class.) I had to reverse engineer the recipe by studying the situation and audience expectations, then looking at models to understand the required elements as well as the organization and style.

What is the “recipe” for an online recipe?

Look at these examples? What do they have in common? What are the key features? What is the expected order of elements? What distinguishes them from other kinds of writing?

Class notes in the Word Online workspace below.

2. Group Activity - Writing Recipes

Choose one of the following examples to study with a partner (max groups of three). You are going to “reverse engineer” its recipe. What would someone need to know in order to make a piece of writing like this? What are the features you normally see in the best examples? (Are there some features or unwritten rules of the genre?) How is it organized? Does it use formal English, casual English, or special jargon?

Workspace: 8am Class Workspace External Link; 9am Class Workspace External Link; 11am Class Workspace External Link

Purpose or Goals:


Steps (outline a sequence or usual order of key elements):


Start with one of these samples, choose another text of the same type, or identify another type that would interest you:

Wikipedia article https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chatbot

Wiki-how article https://www.wikihow.com/Build-a-Fire

Ted-talk Video https://www.ted.com/talks/sir_ken_robinson_do_schools_kill_creativity

Short Podcast (Radio Headspace, Dora Kamau, Motivation and Our Future Selves Radio Headspace

Product Unboxing Video I Phone

Product Review https://www.nytimes.com/wirecutter/reviews/best-creamy-peanut-butter/


1.) Finish group notes above for class presentation

2.) Choose a kind (genre) of Un-Essay that you might want to learn more about. (Almost anything that is informative and persuasive can work. It does not have to be a traditional text.) Find a good example. Study it. Then write its “recipe” in your Writers Journal.

For example, if I were interested in writing doing a Ted Talk style piece, I would analyze one to understand what is required and what makes it good. For my Un-Essay - Assignment 4, I might end up writing the script and choosing the visuals for my own Ted Talk on the topic I choose.


Three Minute Presentations

What is the “text” you analyzed?

  • What is the “text” you analyzed?
  • What is its “recipe” (ingredients and procedure)?
  • How would its audience judge a good one?

Exploring an Un-Essay Format and Topic

Consider your own Un-essay recipe (from homework). Can you imagine following this recipe to cook up your own project? If so, what topic or subject would you address? (A humorous audio podcast would not be a good choice if you want to explain the history of “Take Back the Night.”)

Consider the examples your classmates shared.

Begin writing your “un-essay proposal” – homework for Tuesday.


Write a one-page, 250 word Un-essay Proposal and upload it to D2L for participation / homework credit. Your proposal should: 1) Name your topic or subject and your purpose in writing about it; 2) Name the genre or type of un-essay you are writing; 3) Explain why the topic and genre are good match; 4) describes what steps you will need to make and how the work should be evaluated (in other words, what makes a good wiki-how article, Ted Talk, podcast, etc..

On Tuesday, we will look at the assignment and the rubric in more detail. I will invite you to help me write the grading rubric in a way that makes sense for your work.

Un Essay Assignment

Un Essay Grading Rubric