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W. Justin Highfill Professor Rieman English 1101X March 2, 2010

MID-TERM REFLECTION "To use writing and reading to make meaning." "To think about what it means to be an academic writer." "To make thoughtful writing decisions." These are a few of the goals of our writing class. But I think the most interesting, and potentially valuable goal is "to explore composing in various modes." Discovering different approaches to writing, from working with differing styles of papers, to simply learning alternate ways to approach a paper, seems to be the most beneficial goal of this course, and, indeed, a goal that seems to be this course's very core. The first assignment we were given was the ongoing project of the daybook. Essentially a prompted journal, daybook assignments are short entries of continuous writing. A question or topic is given to the class, and we use a set amount of time to freely put down our thoughts. This is a somewhat unique kind of writing, because you are not given the time to compose your thoughts or your words, and is a very different writing experience for someone unaccustomed to journaling. I suspect that the purpose of this will be realized in the reflections. By looking back at our unrefined writing, I assume we will be able to better understand our own personal thought processes and writing styles. Along with the daybook, we were introduced to the concept of reverse underlining. A process by which we re-read material, focusing on what we didn't highlight the first readthrough, reverse underlining allows us to gain a perspective we would generally ignore. By shifting our focus from what has already stood out to us, we are forced to see what we would

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usually overlook, granting a deeper insight into material, and thus allowing for a more astute written analysis. My one challenge with this is my tendency to skim the 2nd reading, which usually involves me darting from highlight to highlight, but as with all skills, it requires practice and time, and should be productive when mastered. Classroom assignments aside, I have a very particular way in which I must work. I can't work in my room, which offers too many distractions, nor can I concentrate if it is too quiet. I can't focus with music or TV, so I am forced to find other sources of passive noise. Ideally, I work around people. At home, I usually set up on my parents' bed, with my mom working on the computer. This arrangement offers a comfortable environment, with the perfect amount of non-distracting background noise. This worked well enough, until last semester I discovered the UNCC library. Downstairs presents the perfect working atmosphere. It's already schoolfocused, devoid of the random entertainments that often threaten my work, and has enough quiet activity to keep me from going stir crazy. Despite the near-perfect working conditions, I rarely find myself writing there, due in part to the hassle of moving my computer there, and partly because my schedule rarely has me on campus for extended periods of time. Our first real assignment came with the reading of Anyon's essay on social class in public schooling. After employing our reverse underlining technique, we began our first paper. What is of interest isn't the initial paper, a critical inquiry, but what we did after. I have experimented with writing different types of papers, but never has a class asked me to change the style of an existing paper. We developed the inquiry, taking it further and expanding it into a critical interpretation. Changing a paper allowed for a much more profound understanding of different styles, requiring a grasp of both the original form, and the intended one. This exercise was a challenging one, despite the fact that my original inquiry was already geared toward an

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interpretation, but it was an interesting and enjoyable assignment, one from which I gained good experience. Before our final draft, we meet in small groups called "peer workshop." Here, we read each other's papers, and give each other feedback as to how we did, and how we could do better. I have done similar groups before in two different forms, neither without its own merit. One form had us edit our group member's papers by e-mail, while in the other we actually read and discuss the papers with each other. This class uses the latter method, the pros of which being a face-to-face discussion on the paper, where reviews can be given verbally, allowing the recipient to better understand the views of their reviewer. The cons of this method, however, are a lack of time. With three people reading each other's papers during only part of a class period, there is little opportunity to offer an in-depth critique of someone's paper. I often find myself skimming, looking for something I can offer opinion on, simply for the sake of successfully participating in peer workshop. The e-mail method, on the other hand, allows much more time to look at each other's papers. Done out of class, the group is given the opportunity to both read and re-read the papers, and then respond with a beneficial, detailed, and lengthy response. This has the potential to be of far more assistance than its group equivalent, but it is not without its drawbacks. I mentioned that in the group I felt pressured to find at least something useful to comment on. Apart from the group setting, while it is true that we have the option to write a thoroughly detailed and helpful analysis, we also are free from the pressure to perform, and are left to select how much of our free time we wish to dedicate to a paper that's not our own. While some would put in the extra effort, others would, undoubtedly, treat the assignment with a level of disregard, to the detriment of their peer's paper. I am unsure which method I favor, but the class method of group work is

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sufficient, and I've fostered enough relationships in the class to where I could always get extra input, if necessary, something I'm reasonably certain the teacher had in mind when she originally orchestrated the class. All events following these have been revolving around our upcoming online portfolio. We have yet to do much besides accustom ourselves with the site, aside from a few dress-ups. This is perhaps the most innovative thing we have yet to attempt, and will be interesting to see play out. The focus on reflection is the final novelty this class offers, and while we don't have much work to reflect on as of now, I can see that it will be a positive task. The culmination of these activities, blended into a single, cohesive final project, promises a unique learning experience crystallizing a myriad of techniques and views.