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Reflecting, Debating, and Field Note Taking

Wilderness Writers kayaking on Roanoke River

Roanoke River Paddle Trip Reflection (10 minutes)

What stands out to you from our trip this past weekend?  What did you learn about wilderness, yourself, or others?  What is the value of the Roanoke River?

Full Group Discussion (10 minutes)

Roanoke River Debate (60 minutes)

Scenario:  You are about to attend a meeting with various groups whose interests intersect with the Roanoke River.  You and your team will prepare the best arguments possible to defend your position and argue for your vision of the Roanoke’s value and future.  You may not agree with the position you are given, and that’s ok.  It makes you a stronger rhetorician when you practice arguing against something you believe in.

In your group, you will talk, do some research if necessary, and decide:

  • What is the mission of your group/ organization?
  • What values does the Roanoke River hold for your organization (use Bergstrom et. al)?
  • What does your organization want in terms of a long-term vision for the river? Why?
  • Why should your group’s vision be recognized, honored, and granted?
  • How might this vision be contested by other groups?

Roanoke River Partners: Taylor, Chris

Virginia Uranium, Inc.: Daniel, Elanie, Kelly

Roanoke River Basin Association: Kate, Zach

Triangle Municipalities: Stephen, Erin

Kapstone Paper: Mallory, Katherine, Sydney

NC Wildlife Resources Commission: Corrie, Ryan

Debrief (10 minutes)

Discussion of Field Note Archive and Reflection (Due April 3)

  • 3 Complete Sets of Field Notes (at least one using Grinnell method steps 1 & 2) Posted to Blog and Tagged “Field Note Archive”
    • (Note, you must also put a Tag Cloud Widget on your blog so that readers can click the Tag Category)
  • Screen shots of the Field Notes you contributed to NOAH tagged “Field Note Archive”
  • +/- 1000 word analytical reflection that accomplishes the following:
    • Outlines what you think is essential in Field Note reporting and points to examples in your own notes that illustrate these practices.
    • Discusses the purpose and function of field notes as you understand them, pointing specifically to what you were able to see, learn, and understand through the practice of taking field notes.
    • Explores how the organization of field notes and field note systems (such as Grinnell) forgrounds certain types of knowledge-making.  In other words, what does the structure of the system reveal about values held by field scientists?  AND what system do you prefer and why?

Field Notes for the Citizen Scientist (45 minutes)

Explore Project NOAH and participate as a citizen scientist, uploading your field notes.


Field note archive and reflection due April 3, posted and tagged on your blog.  Read Beautiful Data: The Art and Science of Field Notes and Look At Your Fish to help you think through and compose your analytic reflection.  Feel free to quote or cite from these sources sparingly, but remember to cite according to an accepted style (Chicago, APA, MLA).

Also read  Aldo Leopold, “Wilderness” and Noss, “Soul of the Wilderness,” available on the course readings page.  Be prepared to discuss how these perspectives contribute to our ongoing conversations about wilderness and its values. On this post, comment on the following: how do these articles influence or impact your emerging ethic about wilderness values?


Reflection, Synthesis, and Writing Workshop

Connections Tree

Open Reflection

Pull up your blog entry for the Boone trip reflection.  Open reflection about your experiences. (20 minutes)

Mapping Our Connections

On a sheet of paper use webbing to identify the emotions you experienced over the course of the trip.  Find these in your blog post and include others you might not have written about.  Each emotion should have a separate circle.  Next, think about who was with you as you experienced each emotion.  Draw a new circle, add the person’s name, and connect their circle to the appropriate emotion circle.  (10 minutes)

Read The Science of Love: How Positivity Resonance Shapes the Way We Connect (10 minutes)

Discuss article as group (15 minutes)

Find the people whose names were most frequently listed on your web.  Get together and discuss the connection of emotion together in the context of your wilderness experience and in reference to the points discussed in the article (15 minutes).

Break (5-10 minutes)

Peer Response in Writing Groups (75 minutes)

Get into your writing groups.  Each writer will have 20 minutes (15 minutes in groups of 4) to read his/her 1st polished piece and get substantial feedback from the group.  In much the same way we modeled in Boone, group members will give feedback using the “I like..”, “I am wondering…” and now possibly add in the “I am concerned about…” feedback stem.  The goal is for this to move into authentic conversation about each writer’s draft.  Each writer will also choose a recorder to take notes on the conversation and synthesize it to post as a comment to his/ her blog by Friday of this week.

Recorders:  Take good notes and make sure to note who says what.  Each person in the group should have a turn as a recorder.

Homework:  Post your synthesis to the appropriate writer’s blog in a comment on their draft.  Make sure the posted record reflects the discussion for the benefit of the writer.

Review your peer comments and prepare a final draft of your 1st polished piece due on your blog before class on Wednesday.  Meet next week at the ECU Adventure Center for winter camping and safety skills with Brad Beggs.

The Purpose of Wilderness and Our Place In It


Agenda for 2.20.13

Values of Wilderness Discussion

Clustering (10 minutes):  From Bergstrom et al’s Figure 1 – choose one particular Wilderness Function, Service, or Value.

Put a word you’d like to explore in the center of a piece of paper and put a circle around it. As fast as you can, free-associate or jot down anywhere on the page as many words as you can think of associated with your center word. If you get stuck, go back to the center word and launch again. Speed is important and quantity is your goal. Don’t discount any word or phrase that comes to you, just put it down on the page.

Webbing (5 minutes):  Finding associations and themes within clusters

Using the results of your cluster exercise, now draw lines between words that associate together in some way in your mind.  Label these subcategories.  What categories arise from your analysis?  What does this tell you about how you value wilderness?

Wilderness Values discussion (45 minutes): Why is wilderness important? What are the values of the wilderness?  How do they relate to each other and within what context? What do Bergstrom and Mosden say about valuing wilderness?  How can a sound understanding of wilderness values help us as individuals, as a society, and as human-kind?  What are the consequences of different values of wilderness?

Write Invite – Personal Wilderness Values (15 minutes): Using Bergstrom et al and Mosden as food for thought, write a response through a comment to today’s agenda about how and why you value wilderness and what services, functions, or values is offers you personally or elsewise.

Workshop – Genre research and polished piece writing (60 minutes):

Using your laptop, research and find at least three examples of writing within the genre you have chosen for your polished piece. Describe them either in your daybook or on your blog.  How do these pieces exemplify your chosen genre? List at least 5 main points of this genre that will help you in your writing.

Genre Discussion (20-30 minutes).


Before next class, using lists, narrative, and other literary devices, please write a short reflection (min. 500 words) of your experiences on the previous trip.  How did your experience with wilderness (inclusive or place, activity, weather, thought, etc) influence your understanding of the definition and purpose of wilderness?  What did you notice about the wilderness you were in?  Does it fit your understanding or definition of wilderness?  Did your understanding of wilderness and its values change through your experiences? How did your experiences contribute to making meaning and significance of the wild? Submit this assignment to the blog before the start of class next week.

Be prepared to come and share your thoughts on the trip and contribute to a discussion on making meaning and significance out of our experiences in the wild for next week.

Preparing for the Winter Wonderland

Tree in Snow


Wilderness Safety and Winter Hiking by Brad Beggs, ECU Adventure Center Coordinator (1 hour)


Trip Planning (1.5 hours)

Flash Write (5 minutes):  What are you questions, concerns, or desires for this trip?  What do you hope to get out of the experience?

Share and Create Activity Plans/ Potential Agenda

Google Doc for Collaborative Activity Planning

Meal Plans

Google Doc for Meal Collaborative Planning

Homework:  Prepare for Trip.  Finish reading A Walk in the Woods or Becoming Odyssa.

Visual Rhetorics


Big question for the day:  How has photography impacted attitudes towards wilderness?  What can images do and how do they do it?


Writing into the day (10 minutes):  Browse the Ansel Adams gallery for 5 minutes or so.  Pick a photograph that speaks to you.  Why did you pick that image? What does it say to you?  How does it connect with your emerging definition of wilderness?

Pick photo for Full Group Visual Analysis (20 minutes) :  What can we infer (because we have bodies and live with others in society) about this image?  Where are the vectors of attention?  How is the audience involved in the photograph?  How is the image framed?  Are we, as the audience, asked to be intimately involved or distant?  How has the image been cropped to focus our attention?  How do light and color affect us?

Investigation:  Explore the PBS American Experience (25 minutes): Ansel Adams website.  Definitely check out the timeline and the sections on Ansel Adams, Photographing the American Wilderness and Closing the Wilderness.   As you read, make notes about what surprises you, what intrigues you, and what bothers you.  Break as needed during independent reading time.

Full Group Discussion (15 minutes):  How does building historical context and an understanding of photographer, his audience, and his purpose impact our interpretations of Adam’s photos and his writings–including the letter to Cedric?

Workshop (40 minutes): Return to your River Park North wilderness narrative.  What is the theme, message, or significance of your narrative?  How can you use strategies of visual rhetoric to help your image argue as effectively as your words?

Choose an image from that you shot last week at RPN.  Import it into a photo manipulator that will allow you to crop, flip, rotate, play with color and light, and experiment with filters and special effects.  Work to with the tools to make your photo a stronger part of your persuasive argument.  If you do this easily, repeat the process with additional images.  Post the original(s) and the edited photo(s) to a new blog post with a description of what you did and why.

Outdoor Letter Writing (45 minutes)

Based on Adam’s letter to Cedric, write your own letter to a friend explaining an abstract concept or idea such as love, friendship, success, grief, suffering, art, happiness etc. that likens one or more of these abstracts to something you observe on our walk or while we sit.  Try not to obsess over picking the right concept or the right metaphor in nature, just go with it and write.


Finish your photo manipulation blog post and create another post for your letter to a friend.  Feel free to add persuasive images to accompany your letter as well.

Reading:  Read “Thinking Like a Mountain” by Aldo Leopold available on course readings page.  Leave a comment on this post that responds to the question– what does it mean to “think like a mountain”?  How does this notion of being resonate with Dillard, Thoreau, Adams, and/ or your own?  Make connections and show where there might be emerging conflicts.

Also, make sure that you have a copy of and are reading your chosen book–either Becoming Odyssa or A Walk in the Woods as we will discuss those novels during the Winter Wonderland Trip.

Next week we will meet at the ECU Adventure Center to learn about wilderness safety, winter hiking, and snowshoeing.  We’ll also make plans for our trip the following week to Boone.  Start keeping a list of all your questions, concerns, or hopes for the trip!

Writing Your Senses

word cloud student comments

Agenda for 1.23.13

Thoreau & Dillard Discussion Synthesis (15 minutes)

Text sweep:  Looking for evidence of the 5 senses in Thoreau & Dillard (15 minutes)

Field Notes: Capturing the Five Senses (15 minutes)

FIeldnotes RIver Park North

Sharkbait’s Fieldnotes RPN

Walking & Writing What Your Senses Tell You:  Walk until you find a quiet place that engages your senses.  Stop and take a minimum of 30 minutes of field notes.  Capture several images of this place that correlate with your field notes.   (75 minutes)

Debrief: Share and Respond.


Using your field notes, create a 300-500 word personal experience narrative of walking at River Park North.  Like Thoreau and Dillard’s narratives, yours should have vivid detail and should have significance– a sense of purpose for the reader.  Post the narrative and selected images from the trip to your walk by Sunday at noon.

Before class on Wednesday, read and comment (100-200 words) on at least one classmate’s personal experience narrative.  You’ll want to address what intrigued, surprised, or interested you in their story as well as what bothered, confused, or left you, as a reader, unsatisfied.  What questions do you have or what would you like the writer to elaborate on? Did the writer use vivid detail to tell an interesting story with a thought-provoking message or point?  If so, what message did you take away? If not, how might the writer refocus on a theme?

Read “Letters” by Ansel Adams and “Understanding Visual Rhetoric by Anne Wysocki available on the Course Readings page.  Leave a 150-200 word comment on this post that connects to the readings and addresses the following:

Why are images important to us? What sorts of arguments do they make? How do they make these arguments?  What questions are you thinking about regarding images and visual rhetoric?

Next class will meet in Brewster 209 D.  Bring your laptops/tablets and power cords).

Getting Acquainted

1st Day’s Agenda

  • Name Tents/ Random Facts (12:30-12:45)
  • Small Group Website Exploration (12:45-1:50)
  • Break (1:50-2:00)
  • Writing Invitation (2:00-2:15) :
  • What does it mean to be wild?  How do you know?
  • Wilderness Boggle (2:15-2:45)
  • Logistics for Class Trip next Wednesday to River Park North (2:45-3:15) Weather, Clothing, Daybooks, Cameras, Transportation


  • Take the following wilderness attitudes surveys.  Links will be available Wed. evening.
  • Read: “Walking” and “Living Like Weasels” available under Course Readings.  In a comment on this post, respond to the following:
    • For Thoreau, what does it mean to be wild?  And for Dillard?  How does your own definition and way of knowing compare to each of theirs? (300 word minimum).
  • By Saturday, set up your own blog, post your “What Does it Mean to Be Wild” writing invite and email me ( the url.  It should be something like “”.   I will then post all of your blog links to the course blog.
  • Between Sunday and Tuesday at midnight, go to the course blog and click on two (2) classmate’s names to read and respond (100-200 words) to their  posts.  Respond to their ideas, experiences, etc. rather than conventions of the writing, but feel free to agree, disagree, question, or make connections.
  • Next class meets at 12:30 at River Park North.