Engaging Communities is an open-access textbook co-written by my colleague Ames Hawkins and me focusing on ethnographic research methods in inquiry-based first-year writing classrooms. In this text, we use and invoke the methodological principles and practices associated with ethnography because these strategies not only inspire and engage first-year writing students but offer both critical analytical skills and the opportunity to address the rhetorical concepts of ethics, identity, and representation. The text isn’t intended to teach ethnography as a research methodology. Rather, it has been designed to help students (most likely undergraduates, but possibly high school and some graduate students), envision interesting, hands-on research projects that are eventually converted—translated—into writing. Through our teaching, we found that ethnographic writing allows for specific discussion regarding how to involve and interest a reader, in evoking physical and emotional connection with writing, rather than simply becoming informed or persuaded by any specific piece of writing. In other words, we are invested in ethnographic writing as a practice that invites the student-writer to envision writing and composing practices as alive, interactive, connected, and reciprocal.
We invite you to join us in our collaborative, open-access text project. We have a “bring what you know,” build, adapt, and remix philosophy for the project, so we are continuously looking for any teaching materials you have created (assignments, new chapters, adaptations of existing assignments and chapters, etc.) as well as examples of student work from any aspect the text, that you would like to share. In this way, we envision the continual development of a wealth of materials for classroom use, drawing from the experience and expertise of our teaching and learning community. See more about opportunities to contribute here.