Monday, July 16, 2012

Bringing the White Paper into the classroom

Lately I've been thinking about a genre to include in my English classes for next year - the White Paper.

This idea is a continuation of an earlier post I wrote about blogging your research as a way to breathe life into the traditional research paper as it's commonly taught in schools – an attempt to reconcile two genres, blogging/connected writing and the research paper. I've noticed that when students write interest-driven posts on Youth Voices, they participate in numerous discussions over the course of a term that touch on a recurring theme that matters to them. What if students periodically were to pull back and compose a white paper on their enduring interests? Here's a definition of a government white paper that I came across: "White Papers have tried to perform the dual role of presenting firm government policies while at the same time inviting opinions upon them." In my mind this is good research because, while it may be finished, it's not yet done. Good research continually informs practice and vice versa. What if our students explored this "dual role"?

This seems like another type of academic writing that's worth a closer look. The Purdue Online Writing Lab has a section devoted to resources for the White Paper.  

Here are a couple of examples of the kind of research writing I want my students to do this year, White Papers that continue to inform my own teaching and learning: Confronting the Challenges of a Participatory Culture and Living and Learning with New Media.

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