2016 Reflections on Teaching WRA 202 and Working with Community Partner Michigan Environmental Council

In the 2016-2017 school year, I taught WRA 202: Introduction to Professional Writing. My favorite project for this course was “Creating a Deliverable for a Client: The Michigan Environmental Council.” Students created Facebook posts calling the general public’s attention to rather complex environmental issues. These students took a variety of forms, including infographics and a video. In their individual reflections on these projects, many students commented on the challenge of trying to convey a lot of information within the constraints of social media. They also reflected on the sometimes difficult but ultimately rewarding task of receiving and responding to feedback: from the instructor, from a guest reviewer, from peers, and from the client.

Here are some of students’ proposed mock-ups. Wow!

Yellow background with a black honeycomb shape. Inside the honeycomb reads 50% of Michigan fruits and vegetables depend on bees.A yellow background. On the top left and bottom right corners: a series of honeycombs, hollow inside. In the center: 44% of beekeepers' honey bee colonies were lost between April 2015 and April 2016. At the bottom, center of the page, #BeeTheDifferenceSolid yellow background. At the top: Hollow, black honeycombs. In the middle of the page: $980,000,000 the estimated value of Michigan crops credited to bee pollination. At the bottom, center: #BeetTheDifference

A solid green background. At the top, a header: Lead Poisoning is Irreversible. In the center of the page, a simple icon of a human body with a bright red heart. An arrow points to the head, and reads, Statistics show a significant decrease in IQ with every increase in blood-lead level. An arrow points to the heart has text that reads "In 2015 only 20% of Michigan kids under the age of 6 had a blood test; that year, at least 4700 MI kids had an elevated blood level. An arrow pointing at the organs reads "Lead toxicity can affect every organ system." By the feet of the black person likes a bag with a money sign on it. An arrow points to it and reads "An estimated $171 million is lost each year in wages and productivity in lead. At the bottom of the page, in bold, reads "Prevention is the Only Way."   An infographic of a sunflower with bees buzzing around it with blue sky and clouds in the background. In the head of the sunflower reads "Honey Makes Money" the social and economic benefits of bees. Each of the leaves on the sunflower has a fact. Leaf #1: 40% of U.S. bee colonies have died in the past year. Leaf #2: More than 130 fruits and veggies rely only on bees. Leaf #3: Honey and beeswax have anti-bacterial ingredients. 4. The Cherry Festival yeilds $25 million annually. At the bottom of the infographic, in the grass, reads "What Can You Do? Plant more Culvur's Root & Yellow Giant Hyssopl Native MI. Bees love 'em.