Day 8: Peer Conferencing

PC Top

Today is dedicated mostly to peer conferencing, which we’ll move straight into after today’s presentation.

Why do we peer conference? Every writer needs a reader, no matter how advanced they may be. So stay open-minded, give quality, helpful feedback, and use the PC Revised as your starting point.

Finally, to submit your final papers, please click on this link and upload (similar to last time).

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Day 7: Breaking Out of Writers’ Boxes & Student Presentations

Before we begin the full slate of student presentations scheduled for today, let’s talk 5-paragraph themes. For today, you read Ed White‘s “My Five-Paragraph Theme.” In your journals, I want you to write about whether or not you agree with White’s logic. What good or bad points does he make? And tell me how you feel about five-paragraph themes in academic writing. Do you think they work? Why or why not?

A little comma-dy.

A little comma-dy. Open-source image from

We’ll discuss as a class, and after that we’ll begin presentations, which cover a broad scope of subjects–everything from stylistic techniques to basic grammar rules. Here’s the line-ups by section:

Section 3:

Danny – Similes and Metaphors,

Yanet – Exclamation Points


Five paragraphs that make for a controversial ride.
Image credit to

Jorge – Run-on Sentences

Cindy – Em vs. En Dash

Section 4: 

Kathryn – Commas

Keven – Possessives

Cole – Oxford Comma

David- Run-on Sentences

And a joke for you today: What’s the difference between a cat and a comma?








A cat has claws at the end of its paws and a comma has a pause at the end of its clause!

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Week II: Exploring Border Issues

Purdue OWL

Open source image from

Another week begins and we move away from exploring the borders we have and move on to explore how they affect others.

For today, you were to bring an annotated bibliography of the sources you will be using in your research paper. We’ll use whatever time remains at the end of class for workshopping and putting together your Borders Essays, but first I want to go over some of the helpful online resources and tools you have available to you.


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End of Week I


Image courtesy of The OWL

It’s been a good week, and we’ve flexed our writerly muscles in so many ways. We’ve written both informally in our journals and formally in class. We’ve workshopped or critiqued the writing of others. We’ve read about writing and speaking in international contexts, and we’ve even had a few students stand up and teach grammatical rules. For all of that, I hope you walk away from this week feeling a little more confident in your writing.

On today’s agenda, we have just as much. We need to cover:

1. Attendance Q: What’s your issue? Share & receive feedback.

2. Introduce Assignment #2, Exploring Borders.

3. Discuss major “takeaways” from the Business and Administrative Communication text you read for today.

4. Time permitting, we’ll workshop another essay and/ or spend time researching your topics for the next assignment.

For Monday, you’ll need to turn an annotated bibliography into me with the sources you will use for your research. If you’re unsure about what an annotated bibliography is, read this helpful article from The Purdue Owl or checkout the image on this page for a visual example.


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AutoEthno Workshopping Examples

1. When I was growing up my parents were always strict like a teacher. Having strict parents was not fun because I was limited on what I can do and what I cannot do. For example, sleeping over at a friends or cousins house on the weekends. My brother and I would always be bored out of our minds when we were young. We didn’t have a fast working computer or a cool game console. Therefore, my brother and I always slept early or watch T.V.

My freshman year of high school was the year I became rebellious and reckless. I would go out a come home late. Then my sophomore year of high school was the year I got my license and got to drive my mom’s Mercedes Benz to school. After school I would drive around with friends throughout Des Moines. One unfortunate day, I ending total my mom’s Mercedes Benz and ending being carless for the longest time. On the weekends, I would stay out passed my12:35 curfew because I did not have a car to go home whenever I wanted to. As a result, my parents gave up lecturing and yelling at me for going out so much.

All in all, my life when pretty strict throughout half of it, but the other half its been life learning experience. So, growing up and having traditional parents was not a fun time in my life, but at the end they just wanted what was best for me.
Assignment Name: Literacy Autoethnography

2. Name

Eng 250

There are many reasons throughout my life that have taught and influenced the way I speak today. Two of the most influential actually happened just in the past two years. I had the privilege to go on a trip to NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas to be in an engineering design competition during both my junior and senior year of high school. During this trip I learned many very valuable lessons on how to speak and to do it in the most effective way possible.

My first experience was when I was a junior. I was at this competition and I was part of a team where the leader of the team had given up and did not know what to do, so I took the lead of the team. This being one of my first big leadership challenges in high school I had to learn how to take information from forty people and learn to process it and give them back information in a clear way that made them understand what I was trying to say so they could keep their production at a high level. Doing this for twenty-four hours straight was quite a task.

Once that was over, I had to present our proposal that we had just worked on for an entire day and night to a panel of judges and an auditorium full of other competitors. This was very nerve-racking and I was very nervous because this was one of my very first times public speaking to a group this large. To make things even worse, we didn’t have a computer to project our slideshow to show the listeners so I had to be very precise with the way I explained things because I couldn’t point them out to people.  This experience has very much helped me with my public speaking and has made it much easier for be because I did it again the next year and made many improvements that even some of the engineers noticed.

My next experience is a little bit different than my first one. It is the same competition, but a different time, and instead of working with all Iowans and Texans, I had to learn how to communicate with people from the United Kingdom and India.  This was a very difficult task at the start because of the language barrier and how difficult it was for us to understand each other. This was especially hard for me because I was once again the team leader and they were all coming to me with questions that were difficult enough the way it is without the difference in language.

Through the first couple hours I learned to adapt, I picked up on accents and I also learned some of the slang and body gestures and by the end of forty-eight hours, I was able to communicate very effectively.  To cap it all off I had to present to another panel of judges and this time there was a set of judges to see who was the best speakers of the group. Going from just really starting public speaking a year earlier, that group of judges had told me that I was runner up for the best male speaker award and that made me feel very confident about my speaking from then on.

Through all of this I found out that there are many things that make speaking difficult. People not understanding, others not knowing certain words that you use, and nervousness and how it can affect the way you speak to a single person or a crowd of people.  I think that the language barrier is one of the hardest things to overcome in speaking. Public speaking is hard itself but the language barrier is the hardest of all to me.

3.         Young, confident writers are often hard to come by, especially fresh out of high school.  Putting personal thoughts and ideas down on paper for others to analyze, judge, and critique is something everyone fears, at least at some point in their life.  Writing can be scary and many students (and professionals) often have difficulty communicating fluently and more importantly, confidently, through their written work.
Mr. Brekke, a middle-aged Advanced Composition high school instructor, was the first educator in my life to successfully demonstrate how writing could be painless and almost entirely stress-free.  He was a quirky man and it took awhile to get used to his dry sense of humor and the creative, more informal teaching style he possessed.  Brekke constantly encouraged his class to participate in class discussions, free-writes, and other miscellaneous out-of-class work.  Simply communicating our thoughts one way or another was first and foremost the critical starting point to becoming a more skilled writer.
Writing is difficult.  Thoughts don’t always flow as easily as they should nor do they express words in the same way as verbal communication – a challenging roadblock.  Writing takes practice and lots of it.  In as few as forty minutes each day, Mr. Brekke had his classroom communicating and interacting constantly.  His assignments were relevant and applicable to life outside of the classroom and with each piece he gave honest yet constructive criticism.  “First drafts are garbage,” he would remind us.  “I just want you to write something down.  I don’t care if it’s one sentence or one word; you need to just get started.  More importantly, I don’t want you to stop writing either.”  With those words drilled in minds of his students, Brekke managed to relieve the tension in the classroom in terms of written communication, storytelling, and expression.
Over time I kept reminding myself, “it’ll be O.K., what are you embarrassed of?”  I was proud of many of my pieces, eventually, after gaining the confidence to just start writing, whatever it was about.  Mr. Brekke reassured me, not necessarily personally, that writing is something that can always be improved upon.  Confident writers are practiced writers, those who have spent the time to learn and understand different writing styles and rules.  More than that, however, confident writers are those who have practiced frequently and expressed themselves freely.
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Day 4: Reflecting and Goal Setting

Basic CMYK

Who says writing is easy? Those who don’t do enough of it.
An open-source image from

The Literacy Autoethnographies you wrote yesterday are looking really good and I’ve enjoyed reading them. From what I’ve seen thus far, it seems that we as a class will benefit from focusing on:

1. Adding substance to our writing with analysis and style.

2. Improving coherency and flow through organizational strategies and transitional phrasing.

3. Familiarizing ourselves with MLA formatting (for better or for worse).

Those are topics we’ll focus on today during our workshopping session. To start class though, we have a journaling activity. In your journals, I want you to write about one aspect of writing you think you did well on in the last assignment as well as one you’d like to improve and why. We’re going to use what you write as a goal-setting strategy for the next major assignment, so be thoughtful and purposeful in choosing the aspects you discuss.

Finally, did you notice our course site has a new page? Our “Resources” page provides you with lots of Ms. H-approved informative pieces and tools to aid you as you write. Ask me about them. I hope to discuss as many as possible in class, but I’d love to hear about which ones you’ve used–which we could possibly ad.


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Day 3: Finding Our Borders In-Class Write

Yesterday’s writing was a form of brainstorming.

Words to write by. Words from Hemingway, image from

Words to write by. Words from Hemingway, image from

Today’s writing is still exploratory, but more formal. Use your very best skills–what you know works well in writing and what doesn’t–to synthesize the ideas you have, organize them logically, and present them in a style that does them justice. By this I mean you all have excellent ideas; I heard them yesterday during our in-class discussions, so don’t shortchange your brilliance because the paper and pen (or keys and PC monitor) intimidate you. Work hard, think hard, write well.

You have the assignment sheet, but you can also find it by clicking here. When you’re ready to submit, follow this link and upload your document to Crocodoc.

I’m looking forward to reading your work. Happy writing!

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