Saturday, December 20, 2014

Anatomy Diagrams as Mentor Texts: Adventures in Procrastination!

Instead of grading finals, I've got Ruth Culham's The Writing Thief: Using Mentor Texts to Teach the Craft of Writing on my mind. I've joined a MOOC that assigns me weekly challenges that help me understand an experience Culham's text (see the first two challenge here and here). I am enjoying the process immensely, likely because at least if I'm going to procrastinate, at least I'm being productive.

This week's make-cycle challenge compelled us to become mentor text sleuths (shout out to Thinking Through My Lens for this word gift). We had to investigate the world around us for words, images, signage, basically anything that can be decoded, that could serve as a mentor text. Of course, I had to wait until I saw what other folks on the MOOC found; I would have floundered unless I got to stand on their shoulders.

I didn't actively scavenge, just lived my life, which includes playing around on social media. I follow several folks on Tumblr who post about #BlackLivesMatter and #ICan'tBreath, as well as a whole bunch of social justice bloggers. When one particular post came up on my dash, I knew I'd find my contribution to our MOOC. And I found further justification that playing on using social media serves professional purpose. The Tumblr post that inspire this make is the second image in the clip below. 

I haven't read the whole book yet, so if Culham suggests using anatomical drawings, my bad. 

The anatomical diagram can be re-purposed to make political statements (police abuse), to describe individuals (Tom Waits), or to generalize about concepts (self-awareness). I did a quick Google search of "anatomy diagram parody" and found other inspirations, too.

I can imagine using anatomical diagrams to demonstrate informational texts that parse out elements, parts, and ingredients of an entire composition. I can easily use the textual traits from Culham's book to analyze how anatomical diagrams construct meaning: ideas, organization, voice, word choice, conventions, and presentation. Maybe sentence fluency, if the image includes a title. 

So, if I were to make an anatomical diagram of what's on my mind, grading would be lurking there, the smallest portion of my brain. Would that be the pituitary gland? Mid-brain? . Definitely, the cerebellum would be avoidance, the different lobes devoted to Social Media, Netflix, and holiday cheer. Shoot, even washing dishes and sorting laundry ranks higher in my brain than grading. 

Perhaps the labels should be based not on size but on function. Is the amygdala, the lizard part of my brain that governs instinct and automatic responses, my procrastination/avoidance control center? O rshould it be surface area? Those ridges and wrinkles are all over the place. Aren't they called sulci?  Lemme look that up while it's on my mind . . .