First Project Follow Up

As part of my attempt to move us all away from a traditional model of  writing in schools (where you write only to the teacher, an audience of one; then throw away your thinking and work put into the essay, if not the essay itself, when you get it back), I plan to have us follow up each writing project in a couple ways.

  1. I will be posting here some reflections on what I am seeing and noticing–strengths as well as some collective weaknesses we can add to our to-do lists. For this first time, I saw strengths throughout in how writers introduced the theses/focal points of their essays using a basic ‘template’ of some sort. To get right away to the ‘so what’ and the ‘why you should care about this essay and my perspective on reading/writing.
    1. To consider just two examples (there were many more): Max effectively uses a version of the I used to think this/now I think this–complete with the template from the Graff’s (“Although my old self would disagree…”). I think it works very well and in fact allows him to be creative in his voice and style while still offering a clear thesis; Carolyn effectively uses Birkerts on the privacy of reading to set up and highlight her contrasting vision.
    2. One presentation (mechanics/punctuation) issue I saw frequently concerns run-on or fused sentences: basically, when a sentence has more than one sentence in it, incorrectly joined by a comma when it should be a period. This is one of the hangovers from the transition from oral to print: a sentence that in our head or in conversation can fit lots into it, but in print comes out sounding hurried, rushed, confusing. The page on run-on sentences at the Guide to Grammar and Writing is very good–includes strategies for repairing them and some self-quizzes. Take a look. This is a basic use of commas that you need to get control of so we can move on to some more complicated ways of putting commas (and other punctuation) to work for us in more stylistic ways.
  2. A second way we will follow up on the projects you have completed: on the Wednesday following each project publication date (this Wednesday, for example), I will assign you to read through the essays of the writers from one of the writing groups. After reading, I will ask you to comment, briefly, directly on the writer’s blog (at the bottom of the essay posting). Your comment should respond to the following: Good writers are never fully satisfied; in the case of this class, each of the four projects could lead to something larger, different, hopefully stronger (namely, the final project in which one or more of these essays will be revised, expanded). If the writer were to go back to this essay at the end of the course, what might they do, where might they go further? What is here that you would encourage them to stay with, develop, build upon?
    1. You will be reading the writers from group #1
      1. 1.2.30 class: alex a., mike, tyler, kat cohen
      2. 1.30 class: cbevans., mallory, jcragle, claire