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Rachel West Professor Rand Honors English October 16, 2013 Midterm Reflection 1.

What connections are you making within this class, and to other classes you are taking or have taken since starting college? In the Community Service Practicum, I have learned new literacies in my 17 hours of volunteering with Habitat for Humanity. These have ranged from efficiently hitting a hammer to caulking, with many more in between. We have also talked about poverty. It is definitely what Ken Bain would call an ill-structured problem. There is no one simple solution, but perhaps we all bring a small part of the solution in our efforts to make the world a better place. This is something I have learned through community service that stemmed in English and learning about how to approach problems not just with one definitive surface answer, but through digging deep into the less obvious aspects of the issue at hand. In the Honors Freshman Seminar, metacognition has played a large role in our learning and success in the class. We have been asked to think about the way we think and the way we process things for several assignments, including an altered book project (in which we collage our worldview in the categories of art/hobbies/passions, down time, family and friends, fears, food, life goals, gender issues, world issues, loss, and religion) and a This I Believe essay in which we focused on one of our most important beliefs and explained why we hold that belief so dearly. Learning about metacognition in English has definitely helped me in the Honors Freshman Seminar. In Sociology, we have learned about culture and some of the differences that exist between cultures, such as hand gestures and greetings. We also have learned about social norms, which are literacies in themselves. The literacy of knowing how to behave appropriately in public is a large part of our lives, and before English, I did not even know that you could consider that a literacy. I just thought it was a mix of social norms and common sense. In this way (as well as several others!), both English and Sociology have broadened my thinking and my perception of the world we live in. In my Calculus class, the professor emphasizes not just knowing how to plug a formula into a calculator, but actually knowing how to do the math. This, to me, reflects deep learning vs. surface or strategic learning. He also emphasizes using math to solve problems, just as we are learning to look at out of the box solutions in English. Through Ken Bains What the Best College Students Do, I have learned the qualities of deep thinking and its importance in the process of learning. In Visual Arts Honors, our responses to art require deep thinking. When we write about pieces of art, we must include personal connections and global or societal connections. We must look beyond the obvious or surface answers and reach deep into the piece to try to understand what the artist was trying to convey. This requires deep thought and questioning, as well as going beyond the first answer that you come to. I have been able to use the deep thinking strategies I have learned in English and apply it to my art appreciation and writing in Visual Arts, improving my ability to learn for the sake of learning in both classes.

2. How would you describe your writing process? Has it changed at all since the start of the semester? First, I brainstorm and come up with possible topics that fit the given assignment. Then, I leave it alone for a couple of days and then add more to it. I keep adding more until I feel that I have said all that I need to say. I read through and look for specific areas to rewrite or ideas to possibly add in. I keep revising this way until one of two things (or both) happens: 1) the deadline approaches quickly and/or 2) I feel that, at the moment, I cannot do anything else to revise the paper (in other words, the paper is where I want it to be). I must admit that the deadline usually approaches before my paper is where I really want it to be. I want to clarify, however, that I dont turn in a paper unless I think it is good. I hold myself and my work to high standards and I want it to be the best it can be. Sometimes it just is not that way before or at a deadline, but it is still good enough (developed, organized, grammatically correct, etc.) to turn in. Since the beginning of the semester, I spend more time looking back and revising my work. This change really started for the literacy autobiography assignment because I wanted to do it well. If you complete your work in enough time, you can ask a teacher questions and help on it. I am so glad I went to Ms. Rand for help because she helped me to see things in my writing that were blurry to me before. She also gave me suggestions on fixing problem areas in my essay, many of which I regularly struggle with. In short, yes, this class has changed my writing style for the better, and I will always remember it! 3. Reviewing your initial letter to your instructor, how would you describe the extent to which you are meeting your general semester goals? In my letter, I described three goals for my writing: to incorporate more literary and rhetorical strategies into my writing; to work on making my writing more concise and to the point; and finally, to relearn my strengths and weaknesses in writing again this semester, aiming to improve on both. I still have a lot of work to do with the first and second goals. However, I feel that I have done well with the first goal. I have gotten to the point of relearning my writing process and how I work well. Now that I have gotten to this point, I will continue to work on making my writing more concise and using more literary strategies to enhance it. I also described several general academic goals for this semester: to do my best in all my classes, learn a lot, get to know my professors, try not to get overwhelmed, and just enjoy learning. I have been doing my best in all my classes, although I need to put in more study and reading time in for Sociology and Calculus, where more textbook reading and math practice is required. But overall, I feel great about my academic performance in this first semester. I have also learned a lot, and Ken Bains deep learning theory has really helped with this. I was talking with my parents the night that I got my first test grade back for Calculus it was an 89. I was telling them that I really wanted an A overall in the course, and going into detail about what elements are bringing it up to an A. They stopped me and said to 1) stop being so hard on myself (which is what I usually hear from them), and 2) enjoy learning for the sake of learning. That conversation reminded me of deep learning and showed me that I was becoming more and more of a strategic learner without realizing it. I am still continuing to have fun while learning for the sake of learning, and I am finding that when you have fun learning, the good grades usually follow. For the goal of getting to know my professors, I have done this as well. I have talked with several of my professors. I was very impressed that even though our class has 110 students, my Calculus professor remembers my name because of the times I have gone to his office hours to ask questions. I have definitely seen the fruits of reaching out to my professors, which I am

sure will continue to help me here at UNCC. Finally, I do not feel like I was overwhelmed academically (besides the times that I procrastinated and brought the overwhelming feeling and urgency upon myself). I have struggled more with feeling overwhelmed socially, but thankfully, the tides are turning and I am making more friends that share my beliefs and values. I struggled with finding friends like this, and when you feel out of place as far as beliefs are concerned, life can be frustrating. Thankfully, I am feeling more comfortable socially, and I can only see things getting better from here. 4. Please discuss your thoughts on the feedback you have received from peers and your instructor on your written work. The feedback has been very helpful. It is in-depth (especially with specific details or places where I need to pay attention to) but it also looks at the big picture, which is important as well. Ms. Rands comments have made me a better writer, such as affirming or changing my plan of action while writing and revising my literacy essay. On the other hand, my classmates comments have made me a more creative thinker. I really enjoy class activities that get everyone moving and talking one-on-one. It is easier for me to ask one person a specific question than it is for me to ask the entire class. I like the connection of talking with just one other person. I really appreciate the different thinking and perspectives everyone in the class has. Hearing from others has helped me think outside the box on several projects, most recently the beginning of the inquiry project. All in all, this has been a great class for honest and constructive feedback. 5. What are you proud of in the work youve done in the course so far? This could be your written work, class participation, collaboration, etc. One thing that I am very proud of in this class is my class participation. In high school, it was hard for me to participate in class discussions. Interestingly, I was always in an English class with outgoing people. It was hard for me to get a word in because the teachers did not always want us to raise our hands. They would usually prefer normal conversation style, but it was frustrating when the majority of the conversation was dominated by the loudest three people in the room. By the time you found a space to comment in, either someone had said the same comment or the topic had changed. In this years English class, I feel very comfortable talking in class discussions. It was a big deal for me to have made three comments in one of the first class discussions we had on Platos Allegory of the Cave. This may not seem like a big deal at all, but it was a milestone for me. I was told by several teachers in high school that I would need to become more comfortable with conversational-style learning (such as talking in discussions) before I got to college. This was a source of intimidation for me because I was not sure if I would be successful. When I started UNCC, I found that it is a lot less intimidating than I made it out to be! Plus, it is great that the classroom environment encourages everyone to talk and there are not loudmouths that dominate the conversation while others listen. I feel like my classmates in English class this year have a lot of respect for one another, which is definitely evident in the encouraging and thought-provoking environment that Ms. Rand has established.