At the beginning of today’s class you will receive your handwritten drafts with my comments, and you will have the class period to devote to revising on your laptops–or you may continue to write longhand, if you wish. Your revision is due on Blackboard and your blog next Wednesday, February 1. The hard deadline is Friday, February 3.
As you continue to revise your literacy narrative, consider visiting The Writing Center. If you do so, you will earn five bonus points.
To schedule an appointment, visit https://highpoint.mywconline.com, email the Writing Center’s director, Justin Cook, at email@example.com, or scan the QR code below. To earn bonus points for your literacy narrative, consult with a Writing Center tutor no later than Thursday, February 2.
As a model for your own literacy narratives, Monday in class we began to examine “Me Talk Pretty One Day,” originally published in Esquire magazine and later as the title essay in David Sedaris’s 2000 essay collection.
As you continue to work on your literacy narratives, study Sedaris’s essay as a model, and consider how he uses the following:
Shifts from summary to scene and vice versa
Look for opportunities to use one or more of those elements in your own literacy narratives.
To read more of Sedaris’s essays, see the list of links under the heading Writing and Radio on his website.
Friday marks our third Wordplay Day of the semester. Review my blog posts devoted to Scrabble and review the tips and tools on the on the Scrabble site to strengthen your word power and up your game.
Next Monday, we will continue our study of “Me Talk Pretty One Day,” and we will examine additional literacy narratives, including Helen Keller’s essay “The Day Language Came into My Life.” You can read more of Helen Keller’s autobiography, the full text in fact, here: The Story of My Life. “The Day Language Came into My Life” is Chapter Four.
In Wednesday’s class, before you begin drafting your literacy narrative, I will distribute copies of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “Letter from Birmingham Jail.” Although I could ask you to listen to a recording of it, I ask that you to read it instead. King’s gift for oratory is well known, but for students of writing, closely examining his words on the page is a more pertinent exercise than listening to his voice.
What makes King’s letter an effective piece of writing? With that question in mind, consider these words in the eleventh paragraph: “Perhaps it is easy for those who have never felt the stinging darts of segregation to say, ‘Wait.’” Here King is addressing his initial audience, the eight white Birmingham-area clergymen who criticized his protest as “unwise and untimely.” He suggests to those men that waiting to act isn’t difficult when you yourself aren’t the victim of injustice, when you haven’t, in King’s words, “felt the stinging darts of segregation.” The sentence is notable not only for the contrast it illustrates between King’s reality and the lives of his readers but also for the words that King uses to show that contrast.
Consider King’s sentence and the paraphrase that follows:
Perhaps it is easy for those who have never felt the stinging darts of segregation to say, “Wait.”
Maybe it is simple for people who have not experienced segregation to say, “Wait.”
King’s sentence is stronger than the paraphrase that follows it because of the “stinging darts.” Writing that someone has not “experienced segregation” is abstract. Readers do not feel the general experience in the second sentence, but they feel King’s “stinging darts.” Sensory details strengthen sentences by appealing to readers’ senses, and figurative language invigorates writing by making the unfamiliar familiar. King’s white readers have not been the victims of segregation, but his choice of words makes them feel the sting.
While King’s “stinging darts” sentence—a relatively short one—is laudable, the long, winding sentence that follows is nothing short of staggering.
It starts with these words: “But when you have seen vicious mobs lynch your mothers and fathers at will and drown your sisters and brothers at whim.” King presents those atrocities in an introductory dependent clause, one whose full meaning depends on an independent clause that follows. But rather than immediately turning to an independent clause to complete the thought, King expands the sentence with this series of dependent clauses:
when you have seen hate filled policemen curse, kick and even kill your black brothers and sisters;
when you see the vast majority of your twenty million Negro brothers smothering in an airtight cage of poverty in the midst of an affluent society;
when you suddenly find your tongue twisted and your speech stammering as you seek to explain to your six year old daughter why she can’t go to the public amusement park that has just been advertised on television, and see tears welling up in her eyes when she is told that Funtown is closed to colored children, and see ominous clouds of inferiority beginning to form in her little mental sky, and see her beginning to distort her personality by developing an unconscious bitterness toward white people;
when you take a cross county drive and find it necessary to sleep night after night in the uncomfortable corners of your automobile because no motel will accept you;
when you are humiliated day in and day out by nagging signs reading “white” and “colored”;
when your first name becomes “n—,” your middle name becomes “boy” (however old you are) and your last name becomes “John,” and your wife and mother are never given the respected title “Mrs.”;
when you are harried by day and haunted by night by the fact that you are a Negro, living constantly at tiptoe stance, never quite knowing what to expect next, and are plagued with inner fears and outer resentments;
when you are forever fighting a degenerating sense of “nobodiness”–
The independent clause that readers have been waiting for, the statement that completes the thought is this: “then you will understand why we find it difficult to wait.” Those words could have immediately followed the first dependent clause, but instead King offers nine more dependent clauses, ten darts that sting his readers.
Ten dependent clauses connected by semicolons followed by a dash and an independent clause, a total of 316 words: That is not a structure I recommend for the sentences you write in English 111, but it’s a valuable model, nevertheless.
I hope that you, as citizens, will continue to study the words of his letter. As your writing teacher, I hope that you will return to the sentence that I have examined in detail here. Along with showing his readers why his nonviolent protests could not wait, that sentence of King’s demonstrates how to develop a piece of writing through the accumulation of detail—not just the when, but the when and when and when . . . .
College writing offers you the opportunity to develop skills, such as supporting arguments with evidence, writing effective thesis statements, and using transitions well, but it also gives you the opportunity to develop habits. Successful college students develop certain habits of mind, a way of approaching learning that leads to success.
In 2011, the Council of Writing Program Administrators (CWPA), the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE), and the National Writing Project (NWP) identified eight habits of mind that successful college students adopt.
In class on Monday, we began an exercise in written reflection focusing on four of the eight habits of mind. Later in class today, we will begin writing about the four that you did not address in your writing on Monday. The paragraphs that follow include the descriptions of the habits that you examined (and the ones you will examine today), as well as the questions that you answered in writing (and the ones you will answer in writing today).
Are you the kind of person who always wants to know more? This habit of mind will serve you well in courses in which your curiosity about issues, problems, people, or policies can form the backbone of a writing project.
WRITING ACTIVITY: What are you most curious to learn about? What experiences have you had in which your curiosity has led you to an interesting discovery or to more questions?
Some people are more open than others to new ideas and experiences and new ways of thinking about the world. Being open to other perspectives and positions can help you to frame sound arguments and counterarguments and solve other college writing challenges in thoughtful ways.
WRITING ACTIVITY: In the family or the part of the world in which you grew up, did people tend to be very open, not open at all, or somewhere in the middle? Thinking about your own level of open-mindedness, reflect on how much or how little your own attitude toward a quality like openness is the result of the attitudes of the people around you.
Successful college writers are involved in their own learning process. Students who are engaged put effort into their classes, knowing that they’ll get something out of their classes—something other than a grade. They participate in their own learning by planning, seeking feedback when they need to, and communicating with peers and professors to create their own success. Write about a few of the ways you try (or plan to try) to be involved in your own learning. What does engagement look like to you?
WRITING ACTIVITY: Write about a few of the ways you try (or plan to try) to be involved in your own learning. What does engagement look like to you?
You may be thinking that you have to be an artist, poet, or musician to display creativity. Not so. Scientists use creativity every day in coming up with ways to investigate questions in their field. Engineers and technicians approach problem solving in creative ways. Retail managers use creativity in displaying merchandise and motivating their employees.
WRITING ACTIVITY: Think about the field you plan to enter. What forms might creativity take in that field?
You are probably used to juggling long-term and short-term commitments—both in school and in your everyday life. Paying attention to your commitments and being persistent enough to see them through, even when the commitments are challenging, are good indicators that you will be successful in college.
WRITING ACTIVITY: Describe a time when you faced and overcame an obstacle in an academic setting. What did you learn from that experience?
College will require you to be responsible in way you may not have had to be before. Two responsibilities you will face as an academic writer are to represent the ideas of others fairly and to give credit to writers whose ideas and language you borrow for your own purposes.
WRITING ACTIVITY: Why do you think academic responsibility is important? What kind of experience have you already had with this kind of responsibility?
Would your friends say you are the kind of person who can just “go with the flow”? Do you adapt easily to changing situations? If so, you will find college easier, especially college writing. When you find, for example, that you’ve written a draft that doesn’t address the right audience or that your peer review group doesn’t understand at all, you will be able to adapt. Being flexible enough to adapt to the demands of different writing projects is an important habit of mind.
WRITING ACTIVITY: Describe a situation in which you’ve had to make changes based on a situation you couldn’t control. Did you do so easily or with difficulty?
As a learner, you have probably been asked to think back on a learning experience and comment on what went well or not well, what you learned or what you wished you had learned, or what decisions you made or didn’t make. Writers who reflect on their own processes and decisions are better able to transfer writing skills to future assignments.
WRITING ACTIVITY: Reflect on your many experiences as a writer. What was your most satisfying experience as a writer? What made it so?
Friday marks the first Wordplay Day of the semester. To prepare for class, review the Scrabble Ground Rules posted in Blackboard, as well as the Tips and Tools pages on the Scrabble website. Also, look for a Scrabble tips posts on my blog. Most weeks of the semester, I will publish a post devoted to Scrabble strategies.
Am I the person who will teach your English 1103 class? I posed that question yesterday in class as a starting point for analysis, one of the key features of the course.
To begin the collaboration and inquiry that will figure prominently this semester—along with analysis—you worked together in groups to find the answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about the course. Continue to review the syllabus, which is posted in the Content section of Blackboard. An additional copy of the syllabus is included at the end of this blog entry. If you have any questions about the assignments, the course policies, or the calendar, please let me know.
All of you in sections 23 and 24 of English 1103 are required to have the paperback edition of the textbook, Writing Analytically, 8th edition, by David Rosenwasser and Jill Stephen. Bring your copy to class on the days when the title, Writing Analytically, appears in bold on the course calendar. On those days, we will examine portions of the chapters in class and complete some of the exercises related to the reading.
Your first reading assignment in the textbook will be scheduled for mid-September, which will give you ample time to order and receive your copy before you are required to have it in class. (Unlike my copy, pictured at the top of this blog entry, your textbook will not be in a binder.) Your textbook’s cover looks like this:
Other Required Materials
Writer’s notebook/journal, bring to every class.
Loose leaf paper (for drafts and short in-class assignments), bring to every Monday and Wednesday class
Pen with dark ink, bring to every class
Pocket portfolio (for class handouts), bring to every class
As practice in developing your web literacy and writing for a broader online audience, you will maintain a free WordPress blog for the class. As soon as possible, create a free blog at wordpress.com. After you create your blog, email the address, or URL, to me, and I will link your blog to our class page, English at High Point. If you encounter technical difficulties creating your blog or publishing a post, email firstname.lastname@example.org or contact the HPU Help Desk: email@example.com, 336-841-HELP (3457).
You will post the revisions of all of your major writing assignments both to your blog and to Blackboard. The posts that you publish for class will be public. You are welcome to create additional posts on your own. If you prefer for some of those posts to be private, keep them in draft form or choose the private visibility option.
You may also be asked to post comments to your classmates’ blogs and to mine.
As you continue to revise your final reflection, consider visiting The Writing Center. If you do so, you will earn five bonus points for consulting with a Writing Center tutor.
To schedule an appointment, visit https://highpoint.mywconline.com, email the Writing Center’s director, Justin Cook, at firstname.lastname@example.org, or scan the QR code below. To earn bonus points for your final essay and annotated bibliography, consult with a writing center tutor no later than Thursday, December 1.
Monday in class we examined Tetsuya Ishida’s painting Seedlings, which is one of the texts that you may address in your final reflection, which you began drafting in class on Wednesday. If you choose to include Seedlings, your works cited entry for the painting should follow this format:
Last Wednesday class, in you read one of your classmate’s analyses and composed a blog response to that student’s essay. This morning I asked you to revisit that exercise with a classmate’s final essay and annotated bibliography. As part of the assignment, I asked you to look for the nine basic writing errors outlined in Writing Analytically (342). Those errors are as follows:
Comma splices and fused (run-on) sentences
Errors in subject-verb agreement
Shifts in sentence structure (faulty predication)
Errors in pronoun reference
Misplaced modifiers and dangling participles
Errors in using possessive apostrophes
Spelling/diction errors that interfere with meaning
Continue to return to the textbook’s pages devoted to the nine basic errors as you work on your writing assignments for English 1103 and your other courses.
As you continue to revise your final essay and annotated bibliography, consider visiting The Writing Center. If you–or one of your group members does so (if you’re collaborating)–you will earn five bonus points for consulting with a Writing Center tutor.
To schedule an appointment, visit https://highpoint.mywconline.com, email the Writing Center’s director, Justin Cook, at email@example.com, or scan the QR code below. To earn bonus points for your final essay and annotated bibliography, consult with a writing center tutor no later than Thursday, November 3.