Retrospective Blog Post

I learned a number of interesting writing skills and strategies. My Writing Research Project, for example revealed several writing process techniques that I hope to begin using. These include, procedures for outlining and organizing ideas, ways of analyzing problems and developing strong thesis statements, and time frames for starting and completing work. I also learned from and enjoyed writing the blogs. I found new and interesting ways of expressing my ideas. Including multimedia sources such as videos, gifs, drawings, and memes. When combined with content filled text, these resources can help me connect with my readers by appealing to their interests and sensibilities.

Social Activist Meme

Ultimately, this class served to change my perspective on writing, and how writing should be taught. Additionally, it opened my eyes to the way technology and digital publication in particular has altered composition as we know it.

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LMA: Why I Chose SCU & What I would Change

Michael-Owen Panzarella; Andrew Conway; Randall Scarlett

I wish the SCU community was not a closed as it seems to be. It has often been my experiences outside of the Santa Clara “bubble,”  which I have found the most eye-opening during my college career. I look forward to taking the knowledge I have gained during my time here into the “real” world, where I can put it to use.


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Reversing Notions of Disability

“In other words, to “write” is to use whatever activities we and our students can think of to stimulate ideas, frame concepts, make connections, formulate critiques, and then re-envision all of the above in revising. Universal design in writing pedagogy means using a variety of visual, aural, spatial, and kinesthetic approaches to tap into the intellectual chaos that goes into writing in the physical, literal sense. The hardest part of designing more flexible writing pedagogies is climbing out of our own text-comfortable cocoons – the writing-as-learning blankets we’ve had draped around us for so long. We can still keep our blankets. They continue to serve us well. But it’s time for some spring clothes.”

I found the first part of this reading interesting. It makes sense to utilize different approaches to tap into the intellectual process that is associated with the writing process. It has become increasingly clear through out this quarter that there are many different activities that contribute to the overall writing process besides the literal drafting, writing, and editing process. As a teacher of composition, it would be effective to try and harness these activities in different ways. This would serve to help students with differing learning styles.

Universal design also seems like a very practical idea. I think in some respects this comes back to the portion of the writing process where writers consider their audience. Accessibility is a key aspect to writing. You want to share your ideas in the most effective way possible. This means utilizing different mediums of expression, and ensuring that your material can be viewed by audiences with varying access. It comes back to the concepts of equality and flexibility in your writing and in they modes of communication you choose to utilize.

Myers: Remembering the Sentence

“In-a-nutshell/ it-is-important-to-note-that/ a-large-part-of-communication/ makes-use-of-/ fixed-expressions./ As-far-as-I-can-see/ for-many-of-these-at-least / the-whole-is-more-than-the-sum-of-its-parts…. there-are-lots-of-phrases that/ although they can be analyzed using normal syntactic principles/ nonetheless/ are not created or interpreted that way./ Rather,/ they are picked-off-the-shelf/ ready-made/ because they-say-what-you-want-to-say” (Myers p. 613).

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I thought that Myers use of this quote by Nick Ellis was quite interesting. It made me think about children, and how they learn language. It is taught to them through experience, or through ostensive definitions. For example, a parent might show their very young child what the word chair means by pointing to a chair in the room and repeating the word. It is through ostensive definitions, and experience that we first learn language and, in particular, meaning. In much the same way, we might initially pick up fixed expressions without fully understanding their meaning. However, once we see a context in which these fixed expressions might be used, they gain a meaning. As Myers continues, he begins to show how many of these phrases are being categorized. It is true that there are many types of fixed expressions. Some that are more suitable in formal writing, some for formal verbal conversations, and others that might take the form of casual slang. From the ostensive definitions we gain as children, however, we might begin to build up to more complex expressions, and then even more complex “set phrases.” I like this process very much. It seems to me that sentence combining exercises are a very natural way to go about teaching syntax, grammar, and vocabulary.

Shaughnessy: Errors and Expectations

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“Seldom had an educational venture begun so inauspiciously, the teachers unready in mind and heart to face their students, the students weighted by the disadvantages of poor training yet expected to catch up with the front-runners in a semester or two of low-intensity instruction” (Shaughnessy p. 389).

I thought this reading was very interesting. Shaughnessy did a great job of setting the context for his work. He explained the situation both (BW) students and teachers found themselves in during the 1970s. Clearly, a solution was needed. Further, teachers needed an approach to handling the new mixture of students they would be responsible for. I found his views on error to be especially interesting. In particular, his description of academic writing as a trap for the basic writer, and of how the complexity of the errors basic writers display inhibits a simple solution. It was important that Shaughnessy recognized that the absence of errors does not count much toward good writing. Clearly, however, the significant number and type of errors basic writers display must be addressed.

“There is no easy or quick way to undo this damage. The absence of errors, it is true, does not count much toward good writing, yet the pile-up of errors that characterizes BW papers reflects more difficulty with written English than the term “error” is likely to imply” (Shaughnessy p. 394).

Harris: “Error”

“Nowhere here (or anywhere else in her book) do we get a sense that the work of a basic writing course might be not only to train students in the mechanics of writing correct sentences but also to engage them in the life of the mind, to offer them some real experience in testing out and elaborating their views in writing. At no point in Errors and Expectations does Shaughnessy talk about how teachers might respond to the gist or argument of student writings, or about how to help students use writing to clarify or revise what they think” (Harris p. 108)

I found Harris’s critique of Errors and Expectations very interesting. After seeing Shaughnessy’s outline of a 15 week beginning writer class I began to agree with Harris. I understand a need to focus on the basics of writing. Syntax, punctuations, spelling, word formation, and all the other aspects of basic grammar are important. Without a grasp of these skills one would have a very difficult time communicating in writing. However, I also believe that there is much more to writing. It is about the development of ideas and arguments. Communication is used in order to convey an individual’s perspective on an issue or point. Thus, I believe It is important, even in basic writing classes, to spend some time helping students to clarify and revise their thoughts. Writing is a tool that can be used to do just that. In fact, it is one of the most valuable aspects of writing. By focusing to heavily on accuracy in sentence structure and word agreement, beginning students might lose opportunities to convey important and meaningful thoughts and ideas.

“Indeed, as Rouse pointed out, Shaughnessy does not even seem to notice how many of the students whose work she cites changes what they actually have to say in the process of trying to write more correct sentences” (Harris p. 108).

Chronotopic Lamination

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At first the idea of chronotopic lamination seemed a bit over the top to me. However at its most basic level I suppose it makes sense. I find myself attempting to shape my environment, or my workspace all the time. This process, whether it is in moving around tables, chairs, adjusting lights, or simply selecting the table I will work on, ultimately contributes to my ability to focus on my work. In this sense I do see a certain discernible chain of events and places that becomes tied together in my writing process. Much of this is shaped by past experiences as well. In the past, I have noticed certain aspects of a writing environment that either serve to aid my concentration, or deter me. As a result, I attempt to avoid or replicate these variables when I can. All of this, of course, also depends upon the type of writing I am performing, and the level of effort I am willing to put into the assignment.

Hunter S. Thompson Meme

Murray: “Decisions and Revisions”

“When the writer saw the major revision (as opposed to copy-editing) was necessary, he collapsed planning and revising into an activity best described as reconceiving. To “reconceive” is to scan and rescan one’s text from the perspective of an external reader and to continue re-drafting until all rhetorical, formal, and stylistic concerns have been resolved, or until the writer decides to let go of the text” (Murray p. 162).

As I read the passage on the concept of “reconceiving” from page 162 I felt I could absolutely relate to the experience. Many times as I have been working on an essay, or writing a creative piece, I have found myself scanning my writing to examine my use of language and my clarity. Additionally, my process of scanning often allows me time to make additional connections. Even when I have a well planned outline, and a complete understanding of my desired structure, I find new pieces of information or points that I want to add to my work. This process is central to my writing, and I believe it is generally an important part of all writers’ processes. However, I also see that people may use the technique differently at different stages of their writing process. At certain points writers may re-scan their work to look for grammatical, or syntax errors. Other times they may be scanning to be sure that they included all of their salient points in a particular passage. Additionally, writers might utilize the technique in a comparative way, to ensure that a particular passage fits appropriately in the context of their greater work. However the writer chooses to use the technique of “reconceiving,” I think it is clear that the act of scanning and re-examining a piece of writing is essential for the development of coherent, well written work.

“In the act of composing, writers move back and forth between planning, translating (putting into words), and reviewing their work. And as they do, they frequently “discover” major rhetorical goals” (Murray p. 162).

My Perceptions of Process in Writing

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I have worked alongside several of my friends as we all wrote papers for various classes. We would do this to bounce ideas off of each other, and peer review each other’s work. I noticed certain aspects of their writing processes, which differed from my own. Some of them worked up long and detailed outlines before beginning to write a formal draft. Others began by simply writing whatever came to their mine, and editing/organizing it after. In fact, I noticed that most people would simply start writing without organizing or outlining. The differences in these processes served to create a very different final products. They all had characteristics that set them apart.

Harris: “Process”

“Even the persistent concern that Tony shows for spelling (where most of those crossouts that Perl includes in her version of his text come from) suggests not a lack of reader awareness but an overriding anxiety about how his text will be judged by others, a disabling hypercorrectness that it is easy to imagine as stemming from the internalizing of a reader who is more interested in surface form than meaning. And the irony is that he is right; for all her sympathy for Tony, even Perl is still more interested in counting miscues and crossouts than in responding to what he has to say” (Harris p. 75).

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I have many times felt the anxiety Tony appears to exhibit in his writing. I have felt that anxiety not only in my desire for hypercorrectness in my grammar and punctuation, but in my attempts to express my perspective as well. However, I do think there is something healthy about this anxiety. It forces me to focus more intently on what I am saying, and how I am saying it. It focuses my attention toward who my readers are, and how they will interpret my writing. That being said, when too much of that anxiety shifts toward concern over surface form then it ultimately serves to hurt rather than help my writing. I lose the focus and attention that is often necessary to earn an audience.

“What gets lost in this concern for development toward a known ideal are the actual concerns and perspectives students bring with them to their writing” (Harris p. 76).