Second Week of Spring 2011 Done, Now on to the Fun Stuff

As important as the rudimentary and routine parts of a writing class are, I am always glad to have the groundwork completed so that my students and I can move on to the fun stuff that forms the core of the writing that they will do during the semester.

In my writing classes, my students have daily and weekly writing assignments to do, and I spend the second week of class introducing them to that routine aspect of the class.

Their daily writing is usually focused on the theme of the class or some aspect of that day’s discussion. I want to give them a daily opportunity to do formal writing as practice, but it also serves a dual function to help each student formalize their thinking about the class for that day.

Their weekly journals are equal in length to two days worth of daily writing (one page each day for daily assignments and two pages for each journal). The weekly journal is an out of class reflection exercise that challenges students to consider the how, why, and what of the types of writing that they do each week. This work will give them material to drawn on for their fifth and final essay in the class.

This week, we also went over the basics of MLA formatting and documentation. My students will have an exam on Tuesday to reinforce the basics so that they will more easily be able to employ MLA throughout the course rather than in the middle as I had done in my previous writing classes. I was particularly impressed by how attentive and inquisitive my students were in today’s class. I believe some of them have used MLA before based on their questions, but I hope that the lessons we covered on Tuesday and Thursday helped everyone get up to speed.

Now that my students have begun these routines and covered the basics of MLA formatting, we can move on to talk about brains, brain trauma, and explorations of the brain. We will have much to talk about and I believe that the topic should be very engaging. Also, it will easily allow us to cover all of the critical thinking and research skills that we need to engage in the first tier writing course at KSU.

Published by

Jason W. Ellis

I am an Associate Professor of English at the New York City College of Technology, CUNY whose teaching includes composition and technical communication, and research focuses on science fiction, neuroscience, and digital technology. Also, I direct the B.S. in Professional and Technical Writing Program and coordinate the City Tech Science Fiction Collection, which holds more than 600 linear feet of magazines, anthologies, novels, and research publications.