September 2009 Archives

Due Today:

Essay 2 Draft

In an essay of 2 to 3 pages, made up of several paragraphs, explain something that needs explanation. Choose a topic that is sufficiently complex that two intelligent people could disagree on it.  I am not asking for a set of instructions, such as "How to change the oil in your car," but "Why I won't be buying a battery-powered car any time soon" would probably work.

Assigned Text:

SFW 10b: Reduce Wordiness

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Essay 1 Revision

We will end class by visiting the writing center, on 5th Admin.
Assigned Text:

SFW 10a: Active Sentences

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ILP Revision

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In a single paragraph, explain a difficult concept for a reader who does not share your specific knowledge of a subject. Do not spend time defining common words, and do not repeat lists of procedures or data that somebody else has created (such as a recipe, or the parts of an orchestra, or the rules for playing a sport).

I would rather you explain why you like a particular food, or why you hate going to your cousin Beatrice's tea parties.

This assignment asks you to spend 200 words, SHOWING me a single incident, with specific and vivid details that help you to make your point.

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SFW 8: Language Choices

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Essay 1 Peer Review

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P4: My Secret

In a 200-word paragraph, SHOW me a side of yourself that you think most people wouldn't know otherwise. Upload to

Points to keep in mind:

  • Show, Don't (Just) Tell
  • Rather than including a list, or describing the kind of thing that "usually" or "sometimes" happens, choose a specific event, and bring me along with you on that event, SHOWING through details that let me live the experience through your senses.
  • Rather than stating "Many people would be surprised to learn that I am the kind of person who does X," which TELLS me that people are surprised, actually try to surprise me.


Due Today:

Essay 1 Draft

Upload to by noon.

(Moved from Sep 10)

Write a perosnal essay, 2-3 pages (about 500-750 words) long.

Show, Don't (Just) Tell

Rather than giving a list of the kinds of emotions you experienced or the kinds of events that usually happen, focus on one specific event. While I'm not absolutely requiring your whole essay to describe only events that happened within a particular 24-hour time period, I am asking that you focus on a single specific event, and make me feel as if you are bringing me alog with you to that event, rather than simply listing what happened,

Personal Essays: How to Write Them
I won't grade you on how much you loved your deceased family member, how wonderfully you played in the big game, or how narrowly you escaped death.  I want you to use a personal story to practice your ability to focus on one specific incident -- even a routine happening -- and tell it in an engaging way. Your essay should generate, in me, the emotions that you experienced on a noteworthy occasion, but "noteworthy" does not have to mean life-threatening or lfie-changing..


No Class

Opening Liturgy and Book Discussion

Due Today:

P3: My Strength

Rather than simply announcing your strength, and listing adjectives that describe the kind of person you are, tell me a story (a short one) that shows me your strength in action.

Focus on one particular day when your strength helped you to solve a problem or define yourself as a person. Show, rather than tell, your strength in action.

Help your reader to live the experience of that particular day, through your senses. Avoid writing any sentence that simply restates the assignment. "if I had to choose one thing to be my strength, I would pick.... One day when my strength helped me to solve a problem was..."

As usual, a single paragraph, 200 words long, formatted in MLA style, uploaded to

This assignment is advance work on your "Individual Learning Plan" (ILP). Bring an electronic copy of this document to class . You will share it with your peers, and I will circulate through the room and discuss them with you.

Below you will find questions that are designed to get you thinking about the issues that will be important to your ILP. Please note that your "Individual Learning Plan" is not simply answers to a series of questions. Your ILP, when fully developed, will be a brief personal essay, that emphasizes the goals and strategies that are most important to you, with evidence to provide justification for your choices, and promises (to yourself) about what you will do this term to reach those goals.

Due Today:

P2: My Passion

Show me your passion, but do it without actually writing a sentence that comes right out and tells me that "My passion is ____."

Suggestion: Don't actually name the specific thing that you present as your passion. SHOW me a scene in which you are actively engaged in that passion, and demonstrate your ability to choose details that teach me something about what that passion means to you.

See "Show, Don' t (Just) Tell."



Sign up for an individual conference.

Rubric for ILP Draft and Conference:
Student: ___________________________
Conference Day and Time: ___________________________

Come ready to discuss your ILP. In addition, what else would you like to discuss?

Attended Conference
Yes No
(Required for me to report any grade but zero)

Brought Printout of ILP Draft
Yes No
(Required for me to report any grade above C-)

ILP Draft contains specific references to MyCompLab results

Yes No

ILP Draft demonstrates willingness to take full advantage of resources available to LA100 students

Yes No

ILP Draft contains specific promises to yourself, regarding your learning strategy

Yes No

ILP Draft is more than a list of answers to questions; it is a short essay that makes, and proves, a point.

Yes No

0 of the above: D
1 of the above: C-
2 of the above: C+
3 of the above: B
4 of the above: A

Assigned Text:

SFW 3-4

We will discuss the Individual Learning Plan (ILP), an important multi-stage assignment that is responsible for 15% of your grade, and helps lay the groundwork for the final self-assessment paper, which is worth another 10%.
Writing is not a "sit-down-just-before-the-deadline-and-do-it-all-at-once" activity. Rather, it is a multi-stage activity, and a college writing class expects that you will take time to plan, draft, and revise each assignment before.

Planning -- Choosing a Focus

Exploring your Ideas

The course will ask you to experiment with different methods of exploring through writing, such as brainstorming, idea-mapping, and freewriting.  We'll go through each of those strategies in class, though you're welcome to try them on your own. (See section 2b in SF Writer.)

Drafting --  Giving Form to Your Ideas
Your writing task is not finished once you get to 200 words. College writing students are expected to make occasional mid-course corrections to stay on track, and frequent hairpin turns in order to follow an idea that heads off in an unexpected direction.

You won't be able to cover every possible answer to the prompts in just 200 words.  Try jotting down your reactions to each prompt, and see which one sparks your creativity the most.  Choose that prompt as your topic, and determine what your answer will be. 

Rather than wasting 20 words repeating or rephrasing the question, just focus on giving the answer.  

Revising -- Seeing Again, Building on Strengths
Once you have a decent draft, try putting it aside and coming back the next day. You might also try

  • trading drafts with a classmate and exchanging ideas (this is perfectly acceptable in a writing class)
  • asking someone else to read your draft to you
Find some way to help you step back from the act of composition, and take on the role of the critical reader, so that you can focus on making the approach you've chosen as effective as possible.
Assigned Text:

Sample ILPs

Distributed via GiffinGate, under "Handouts."

Use the information you gathered from your MyCompLab pretest in order to write a brief essay that describes your strengths and weaknesses as a writer. You may already have done a similar thing in your first paragraph assignment, but at that time you didn't have the pretest feedback to guide your reaction.

Remember that a multiple-choice test doesn't actually test your ability as a writer, it simply tests your ability to take a multiple-choice test on grammar and punctuation.

I will be looking for your ability to apply what you learned from this pretest, and your ability to form a strategy for improving your writing. This essay is the first step in a process that will lead to your "Individual Learning Plan" and your "Final Self-Assessment Essay."


ILP Workshop

We will discuss the Individual Learning Plan (ILP), an important multi-stage assignment that accounts for 15% of your grade, and lays the groundwork for the final self-assessment paper, which is worth another 10%.

Recent Comments

Dennis G. Jerz on P7: Correct a Misconception: Okay, I've posted more information. If you still h
Ryan Murray on P7: Correct a Misconception: What is the topic of this assignment?
Dennis G. Jerz on Individual Learning Plan: Nathan, look on the day the assignment was actuall
Nathan Bennett on Individual Learning Plan: I can't see anymore of the instructions for this a
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