Wisdom Story




Please read the directions and rubric carefully.If you have questions about this assignment, please ask me. :-)

In this assignment, you will write a short, original story.

Stories are a powerful way to store and share wisdom. Some wisdom must be shared in stories. If the wisdom is removed from the story, it becomes inert or too abstract, and thus less useful. Lee Shulman--a respected educator and researcher--calls this "narrative ways of knowing." So stories are a legitimate mode of writing in academics or research.

Storytelling is a complex, challenging activity. Learning to write really good stories would take a separate course. In this course, I just want you to try to store and share some wisdom in a different mode than an essay or a presentation.

Your story should focus on one serious or crisis issue. The ultimate goal of your story is to "catch" some big ideas about the issue--some wisdom--in a narrative structure.

By "big ideas", I mean organizing principles, useful insights, and compelling strategies. Organizing principles may include perspectives, patterns, models, structures, recurring cases, or other ways of looking at something and making sense of it. Useful insights may include ideas that transcend surface features to the underlying dynamics--correlations, causes, synergies, cycles, etc. Useful insights are more than abstract discoveries; they are useful because they point to dynamics that help us act and react more effectively. Compelling strategies may include steps, recipes, plans, advice, or other ways of acting or reacting that seem promising.

You should strive for a basic narrative arc (exposition, rising action, conflict, resolution). Focusing on big ideas may help you write your story. For example, if you're taking inspiration from a real experience, you may be able to leave out many details or events that aren't relevant to the big ideas (e.g., what the character is wearing). While preparing to write your story, you should study the serious or crisis issue so that you're familiar with some of the big ideas for the issue. Then try to include those ideas, explicitly or more subtlely, in your story.

Your story can be completely fiction, completely non-fiction, or a mix of both. If you write non-fiction (i.e., a true story), you must change the names of people and any institutions to protect confidentiality.

Your mode of writing should be semi-formal to formal. A semi-formal story may sound like you're telling a story to a friend. It can include exlamations (e.g., "Can you believe he said that?") and conversation pragmatics (e.g., "Anyway, after she stopped yelling..."). A more formal story may sound like a case study: more academic or like a news story. For an example of a case study, see Jackson & Ormrod's "Coming Back to School" (in Readings). For your story, you may need to include questions at the end, like those for this case study. Check the rubric.

You can use third-person ("he") language, or you can use first-person ("I") language. If you use first-person language, I won't assume that it's a non-fiction story. Likewike, if you choose to write a non-fiction story, you don't have to use first-person language. The rubric includes conventions (e.g., spelling, grammar, punctuation), so be sure to read Avoiding Common Writing Errors external link.

Your audience is our real or imaginary colleagues in our places of work: preschools, K-12 schools, social services agencies, and more. Your story should help them better understand the issue(s) you're writing about. You're not required to share you story with your colleagues. Rather, thinking about your audience should guide your writing process.

While your story should focus on one serious or crisis issue, you may find ways to also store and share some big ideas about motivation and learning community. You won't be scored on this, but watch for such connections as you write. Since some issues are related, you may find yourself writing about multiple issues: that's OK.

Since you're writing about a serious or crisis issue, you may not want or need to reveal the issue during the exposition. For example, a teacher might observe several worrisome symptoms in a student, only to discover the root issue near the end of the story. Likewise, you may not want or need a clean resolution (a "happily ever after" ending). But your story should have a sense of closure, rather than ending abruptly.

Your story should have a title (not just "Wisdom Story").

Style Guide

Here's how I prefer you format your essay. This is not a requirement.


From the Syllabus:

I expect you to complete your assignments with integrity. For most assignments, you will be free to use resources and people inside and outside of this course. Some assignments may even require this. However, I expect you to give proper credit for anything that isn’t your own original work. I urge you to make intellectual integrity a central part of your professional identity. Professionals in a variety of fields routinely use other people’s work (e.g., lesson plans in education). But accidentally or deliberately leaving off credit is professionally and morally wrong. I use anti-plagiarism tools. I don't expect my students to plagiarize others' work; rather, you can be confident that no one is plagiarizing your work (e.g., in a future class). If you are unclear on how to give proper credit, please ask me before turning in the assignment.

Submitting This Assignment

Submit this assignment via the correct Dropbox in D2L. Your scenarios should be in a single Microsoft Word document (.doc or .docx). If you haven't used the Dropbox before, I recommend you leave enough time to figure it out. If you have problems with D2L, please let me know.

You must use a specific filename.

After you submit, you will receive a confirmation email. Don't delete this email. Save this email until you see your final grade for this course on your Degree Progress Report and you're satisfied with your grade.

When I score your work, I use the Grademark feature of Turnitin. To view my feedback, go to the D2L dropbox and then click on the Turnitin report (i.e., the percentage with the color square).

Submit vs. Resubmit

You have the option to resubmit this assignment. Check the Gradebook for the due date. From the Syllabus:

Some assignments are “Resubmit" assignments. There are two due dates for Resubmit assignments. The first due date is a Submit. I will score your assignment using the rubric and record a score in the gradebook. The second due date is a Resubmit. If you wish, you can simply accept your score on the Submit. Or you can resubmit a revised version for a new score. By resubmitting, you can increase your score. In a face-to-face or hybrid course, the maximum increase is 10% (or at least 1 point). In an online course, the maximum increase in 20% (or at least 1 point). (You can’t decrease your score.) If you submit an assignment late, you can't resubmit it. Likewise, I won't accept a late resubmit. (The late penalty would cancel the resubmit increase.)

I used to think I was indecisive, but now I'm just not sure. -Unknown (more quotes)

Created by Kym Buchanan | http://KymBuchanan.org | This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

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Some content and curriculum based on work by: Maysee Herr, Rand Spiro, Lisa Bardon, Quinn Stanley, Larry Riggs, Pat Shaw, Sue Slick, and others at the University of Wisconsin Stevens Point. Unattributed images are the work of the author or taken from Microsoft PowerPoint.

Last revised 12/22/14