Note: This site is an archive of the work that Zamirah Martin has completed as part of ENG 101 at Emory University during spring semester 2020. You can find more information about David Morgen’s Play. Make. Write. Think. English 101 course at: https://eng101s20.davidmorgen.org/
NAVIGATING THROUGH PLAY. MAKE. WRITE. THINK.
The main theme of this reflection letter is blossoming. This assemblies image shows the way in which I blossomed. I think that this class has allowed me to blossom in several ways that I did not originally think that it would have. It has given me growth when it comes to both my reading and writing, and I think that it is essential. I think that whatever you experience and put some type of time or effort into it, growth, lessons, or values should come from it. Everything teaches you something, even if it is minor. And this class has taught me a lot in various ways. Let’s take a dive into the ways that I blossomed to meet the learning outcomes.
The first learning outcome is rhetorical composition. I remember when I first started this class and we were learning about rhetorical situations that should be analyzed after reading, and in this case, also after playing a game: genre, audience, purpose, medium, tone/stance, context, and design. I never knew about these ways to analyze literature, but it became very apparent quickly that these were the best ways and most helpful ways to do so. Anytime that we read a chapter from Jane McGonigal’s SuperBetter, we analyzed these rhetorical situations, especially purpose and stance. McGonigal always had a stance or argument in each chapter when she discussed how games enhance everyday lives and thought. Also, whenever I read her novel, I began to become a better analyst. Noting that her audience were mostly those who are in favor of games or convincing those who believe that games are pointless to think otherwise, her purpose changed every chapter to get the reader to discover or learn new things about games which I analyzed each time. Additionally, the analysis in rhetorical situations influenced my own writing. At first, in my writing, I would be structured and uninteresting to read because I tried to add a certain criteria into my writing. However, I used these rhetorical situations to add a sort of comical, colloquial, yet professional free style into my writing. The first time that I realized that I incorporated this was in style was in my second post, “Ordinary Emory Kid?”: “However, if we are being 100% truthful, I haven’t had pencils and pens since the start of spring semester. Don’t worry, I’ll still ace this semester! (Remember, I have a MacBook… who needs pens and pencils?).” My personality radiated in not only this line but throughout the entire post and continued in my future posts. I realized that the posts were not like the writing that I was fixed into creating in high school. It did not have a strict writing or rubric to follow because the posts had a different audience and purpose. So each post I created, I made it unique and centered around my own stance, purpose, and audience that the post produced. This directly related to the second learning outcome: critical thinking and reading resulting in writing. Similarly with the SuperBetter, I learned to analyze who the author’s were aiming at and for what purpose. For example, the Johnson reading was one of the articles that I really dived into. His article was about an idea of a “Sleeper Curve” where he discussed the ideas of probing and telescoping for those who are in favor or undermine video gaming. Being able to analyze the audience, purpose, and stance allowed me to use the article in future writing assignments and take his ideas to enhance my own interpretations of video gaming. In my podcast episode that I produced, which analyzed the game Paranoia, I used Johnson’s ideas of probing and telescoping in order to enhance my own analysis of Paranoia which made my podcast more sophisticated and focused.
The last three learning outcomes are closely knit and relate to one another in my process of blooming throughout this course. The third learning outcome is writing as a process. One of the main ways that I showed this learning outcome is through my process of reflection. This class is all about reflection: reflection of experiences, reflection of assignments, reflection of successes, reflection of opinions, reflection of coursework. I mean, reflection is at the nitty gritty of everything that we do in this class. And this class taught me just how important reflection is. The fact that Dr. Morgen asked us to reflect on every assignment that we did made a big difference for me. There was one side quest that was really challenging for me which was the combo-photo and in the first line I explicitly reflected on my struggle, “So, if you asked me how I liked this task… I would say I didn’t. I don’t think that this task of creating a combo photo is a horrible one, but I would say that the idea of thinking of two completely different things and fitting them into a similar graphical/physical agenda posed as a real challenge.” Growing up, when I did an assignment, I always did it and then was completely finished with it. But that was a boring and kind of depressing way to go about it. Whatever someone spends their time on, it is important to reflect because that experience taught you something. And I think that by not reflecting in the past, it has caused me to miss out on those lessons that I learned from those experiences. By reflecting, it makes me a better writer, experiencer, failure, successor, etc because I retract the valuables and details from the event/task. So, from now on, I’ll reflect on everything that I do because it is important (THANK YOU ENG 101!). This brings me to the fourth learning outcome of collaboration. Collaboration was the heart of the podcast episodes in this class. While there were several instances of collaboration throughout this class that I experienced, the one I felt resonated with me the most was when I was the assistant producer of the Tetris podcast episode. I developed the coronavirus when the producer of this episode, Rachel, needed me so that we could produce the episode. Rachel created the entire script for us because I was unable to. Still feeling ill, I tightened up and rehearsed with her to test the length of the video and it was way too short and Rachel ran out of ideas. Instead of giving up, we both thought about our own experiences while playing Tetris, and we combined our thoughts together and it allowed us to dive into a deep discussion regarding the game and thus great content for our podcast episode. This is when I realized that collaboration was more than just working together with others. It was about learning from others and struggling with your peer(s) to overcome an obstacle and also learn from that struggle. The final learning outcome for the course is digital citizenship/digital identity. Anytime I used a reference on the internet such as an image or an stl file, or an article, I always added the link to make sure that I am giving credit to those sources that I am using, which is obviously the right thing to do.
When looking at my work for this semester, I see two main things within my writing: patience and malleability. I think the very first time I learned patience is on our very first day of class when we played the card game. I didn’t understand why every time we rotated, people were presenting a different set of rules and it was frustrating me. But by the end of class, there was a larger lesson regarding the importance of rules and dynamics of power. This was the start of my patience. This quickly carried on to my readings. At the beginning of the class, we did a lot of readings. The readings, especially Superbetter, was very annoying for me to read. I was used to reading analytical essays and research papers but here I was reading books about games and how games affect and relate to our lives and views. But after giving the readings a fair chance, I realized that the readings were more than just about games, but was giving me techniques into changing my ways of thinking about games and how thinking in a gameful way may impact everyday decisions. Patience even carried on to my writing. Similarly to my reading style, I thought my writing had to be in the form of research papers or analytical essays. But during side quests, writing was more of a free verse style which I was not accustomed to. However, through patience in the side quests, I began to be more creative and began writing in a more reflective manner that made my writing more interesting and engaging to read. Next comes malleability…WHEW, this class really taught me this one. I learned to read flexibly. There is not one way to read or interpret a piece of work. One thing can have several meanings depending on the context, medium, or personal experience. This hit home with a lot of the readings. For example, Superbetter had a ton of different meanings upon various different students because they interpreted them differently. Even the home tasks..people interpreted the home-tasks differently such as the sporting arena home-task. I interpreted the home-task as at a football or baseball of basketball game in the crowd. However, other peers interpreted it as somewhat of a olympic event that they were in. This taught me that things do not mean just one thing and just because one interpret things differently than myself does not mean that they are wrong. And then you have my writing. As touched on previously, my writing has become more flexible as the class allowed me to practice a new style of writing that does not stick to a certain criteria or guideline.
One piece of writing that I did that resonated with me the most was one of my home tasks that I titled “Cutest Doggie Eva!”. This home task’s purpose was to do something spectacular with a pair of trousers, and in this home task, I wanted to loosen up and be a little more open. In this home task, my audience was honestly my peers as they viewed the videos to vote on them, and I wanted to give them a little laugh, so I put my dog in a cool hat and leggings. Even my writing in the home task was evident in my more comical approach, “Although it took several treat bribing, chasing around, and funny faces, this video came out great. I mean look at her… have you ever seen a cooler dog? (I mean, maybe if I would have put sunglasses on her, it would have enhanced the look even more, but I’m trying to avoid making her into a little diva).” This honestly brings me to my experience with the home tasks in general. During the quarantine, the home tasks presented both struggles and breakthroughs. When I first started the home tasks, I was very closed off. I didn’t really open up or show any personality as I felt uncomfortable to complete a lot of them because my house was undergoing renovation. However, this video of my dog was my breakthrough podcast. I started to loosen up and realize that the home tasks were not about judging but being authentic and creative. As a class, I realized that everybody made the home tasks their own. Everybody interpreted and understood the tasks differently, and it made the home tasks more interesting to watch as each one was unique to each student. These home tasks taught me that writing is surrounded around being creative and making it your own. The best writing comes from authenticity, open-mindedness, and knowing your purpose which I can carry on to all of my assignments.
Overall, English 101: Play. Write. Make. Think. has taught me several skills that I have applied and will apply to future classes. One skill that I have already applied to a class is communication: freedom in the way I communicate in my writing. In my poetry class, I had an analytical essay on a poem and I was urged to use a strict structure to write. But I remembered what this class taught me: FREEDOM OF THOUGHT, FREEDOM OF THE PEN, and FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION. And honestly, it helped me immensely because it helped me have more interesting paper, rather than taking a boring approach by implementing a strict structure. It also allowed me to more easily get all of my thoughts and ideas expressed without feeling like it doesn’t fit within a certain paragraph or criteria. A skill that I will apply in the future is collaboration. Before this class, I have never collaborated in an english class because I never felt the need to. However, this class has taught me that collaboration can only enhance my writing and thoughts. It allows for new perspectives and ideas that I did not previously think about to be implemented, thus making my writing stronger. Also, it is honestly a fun and interesting approach because it blends several ideas of the parties involved, making the project more exciting to read and engage with. There is always power in number, right?