The Weather on FaceBook

Draft of sustainable assignment for Piedmont Project

Outcome Goals:

Frame research questions and circumvent a digital data set

Develop best practices for comparative analysis of visual and verbal digital texts

Represent findings in multiple modes: argument driven analysis essay & visually as maps or infografics


Work as citizen scientists assess warming or environmental change and its effects over time via a social media database


The idea for the assignment grew out of a conversation I had with colleagues about decorum and social media, where I joked, “If I you can’t say something nice on Facebook, just post about the weather.” It made me wonder how many users did just that—talked about the weather (regardless of motivation). My Facebook feed this winter kept me apprised of the record snow fall in Boston; the relentless cold in MI; and the terrifying drought on the West Coast. That night I flipped through pics of my friends and family at ski resorts over the last 5 or so years, and given clear direction and outcome goals, I bet I could use that data effectively. I wonder if my students could, with clear perimeters that we all work to generate together, also cull together and represent similar findings. One of the toughest problems with climate shift, species depletion, pollution, etc. is representing the scale and rate of change. Effective data collection and representation requires a huge effort on the part of citizen scientists, which is why this project (might) work in a first year writing course that emphasizes the enduring importance of the amateur in American natural history/environmentalism.


This is all in the draft stage, so I’m really grateful for the opportunity to develop the project through Piedmont.


Looking forward to meeting you!





First Day Freewrite

Writing About Writing About Nature


Using a classroom desktop computer or your portable, please launch Word and complete the following:

Part One: Write as much as you want/can in response to the following prompts. Don’t worry about spelling, punctuation, etc. Just get your ideas out.

  1. Choose from one of the following terms: Ecology, Nature, Wilderness, Sacred, Human, or Animal
  2. Define the term you chose in your own words.  OR look up the word in a database and then revise the database definition in your own words
  3. Explain a personal connection or experience you have to the term you defined

Garbage Dump

Part Two: In pairs or small groups, share your term definition and personal experience. What are some points of overlap between you and your peers? What ideas or images did you ask your peers to expand upon?

Part Three: email your freewrite to