Being a chemist. Oops, science is POWERFUL!

ENGL 390, 390H, and (sometimes) 398V  Class Journal


Details about turning rain garden memo in

Monday in class:

  • Hard copy
  • memo style heading
  • Stapled
  • Double spaced
  • Your two-source bibliography can be on the same page as the end of the memo
  • Your courtesy mentions of the Prince George's County Biorention Manual and the Wikipedia entry on bioretention/rain gardens do not need bibligraphic sources.

Watch this space for possible group me option being proposed by Andy in 10 AM section.

Recall that you can email one or two questions by SUNDAY AT NOON.  Place the text you want guidance on IN THE BODY OF AN EMAIL.  ASK YOUR QUESTION.  I will get back to you AS MY TIME PERMIT NO LATER THAN 10 PM. 

Posted on Friday, September 15, 2017 at 10:06AM by Registered CommenterMarybeth Shea | CommentsPost a Comment

Sentence help, centrality of topic sentence

Memos also have a standard format:  See the image to the left.  Also, look at the email heading in your software.  This electronic message is based on the memo format.  

Bonus question:  what is the difference, traditionally, between a memo and a letter?

Topic Sentences: A list of qualities for you to strive for


  • Usually a short direct sentence (think announcement)
  • Signals the topic in the paragraph (think preview)
  • Hooks the reader by 1) raising a question or 2) provoking thought
  • Can be placed anywhere, but early on in the paragraph is the best default strategy for most professional documents; in other words, at the beginning of the paragraph
  • Contains an element of transition from the previous paragraph


Note:  topic sentences can be implied in tightly coherent prose (for now, leave this subtle technique to the professionals!)

Let's look at examples of topic sentences useful in the rain garden memo:

Rain gardens, or bioretention ponds, are a kind of low impact development.  Low impact development....

Rain gardens have two components:  layers of percolation material and carefully chosen plants.

Rain gardens protect the local environment by absorbing water run-off from impervious surfaces and by sequestering pollutants.

Dr. Allen Davis studies rain garden effectiveness.  Davis, a civil engineering professor, has been studying bioretention for more than twenty years.

Let's also think about sentences generally.  General advice to you?  Write shorter sentences than those you are familiar with in literature and many of your textbooks. 

Now, let's think about sentences: 

Sentence Patterns

Buffy and Sentences

Pitch the Verb

Posted on Wednesday, September 13, 2017 at 07:12AM by Registered CommenterMarybeth Shea | CommentsPost a Comment

Friday's topics: reading strategies and rain gardens



Reading science and scientific literature, some articles for you to skim, parse, or review (KE's guide):

  • Guidance for health professionals and physicians in 2009 "Critical Appraisal of Scientific Literature" -- all will appreciate the clarity, conciseness, and document design of the abstract.  This table is particularly useful also.  Note: you can seek out two other related articles, as this is the first of three.
  • This open access guide to writing a literature review can help you read a literature review.
  • In 2016, AAAS (do you know what that is?) published a series on reading scientific literature. In this piece, be sure to look at the summaries of how different scientists approach their reading.

A.I., a student who recently took the DAT, suggests that you consider learning about the Search and Destroy close reading method.  Additional note from A.I., she thinks that the ABT -- and, but, therefore -- structure could help you prep for job or grad/prof school interviews.  I agree!

Now, rain gardens.  We will write an in-class set of four short paragraphs that expand the definition stasis, using the cognitive wedge strategy.

  • Para 1 opens the 2nd Stasis: Definition (what is a rain garden, briefly, by two functions)
  • Para 2, adds detail and places in context: Classifying (what type of technology is this? Hint: green infrastructure, sustainability, low impact development and storm water management)
  • Para 3, elaborates further by painting a picture: Describing (Illustrative; give some functional detail on the layers of soil and also look at the plants and mulch at the surface)
  • Now enters the quality stasis, that you can write as an evalution paragraph (is this technology good or bad? Note, we are making a claim.  Claims must be supported with evidence.  Use these two sources to support this claim:  Low Impact Development Center (founded by Larry Coffman who invented rain gardens) and some of the slides in this presentation by the "grand wizard' of bioretention, Allen Davis, PhD.

By the way, did you look at the Wikipedia entries on rain gardens, bioretention, low impact development?


Posted on Sunday, September 10, 2017 at 03:23PM by Registered CommenterMarybeth Shea | CommentsPost a Comment

Day 2: first dip into the stasis theory pool

MONDAY IS A HOLIDAY.  You will have ample time to read the syllabus and syllabus rationale documents (links to the right side of web page).  

First, let's think about questions.  For the moment, we will not discuss scientific method but I want you to keep that essential cognitive frame in the background. Now, some resources to present stasis theory:

  • Purdue Owl exhibit (note the four steps) READ THIS FOR WEDNESDAY!
  • M.C.'s slides (only available in class) on applying stasis method to thinking/writing (five steps) 
  • C.M + MbS article on applying stasis in interdisciplinary science communication for policy (five steps) READ THIS FOR WEDNESDAY!
  • Using stasis theory to organize an essay answer for science classes: what is sucralose?

Vocabulary for the meta discourse -- accountable talk -- for this class includes stasis theory, scientific method, and these rhetorical terms:

Read these rhetorical term links by Friday.  Be sure to check out the syllabus link to the right ->






Posted on Friday, September 1, 2017 at 06:34AM by Registered CommenterMarybeth Shea | Comments Off

Welcome, fall 2017

MWF 9, 10, 11

This space is our text. Before Wednesday, take a look at the range of (proposed) final projects from spring. 

Today, we will look at the Flowing Data website, for a brief peek into data visualization.  Also, did you know that Ikea plays a role in GoT?

Watch this for Wednesday.  F-bomb alert.  


Are you trying to figure out more about me?  You could read this Ten Things document.

Also, for Wednesday, can you answer the question: 

notetaking in paper environment v. notetaking in digital environment.  Which one is better?  Defend with evidence.  Reveal your preference.  Spend ten minutes googling support for you answer.  Try to use authorative sources and not goofy sources.



Posted on Monday, August 28, 2017 at 06:25AM by Registered CommenterMarybeth Shea | CommentsPost a Comment