Tag Archives: college

If you doubt yourself,

27 Dec

analyze the doubt.

Trust the Self.

When reading…

18 Sep

As I’ve said, read further into the text.  And I know, that sounds like teacher gibberish.  But it’s not.  It’s one thing to read, and another to UNDERSTAND.  To not only identify what’s being said on the page but feel it as well and either align the words with your own life or identify the dominant ideas and see how they could provoke someone else to thought, or perhaps even action.  Write in the margin, note what you’ve identified, felt.  You’re not just reading, you’re living.  In someone else’s world, life, sight and place.

Pay attention to

21 Jun

the ingredients of your moment ’cause you never know what they might teach you.  Have all senses in a ready dote…  Day or eve there’s always something to pocket, reflect in and on.  Take your time… know that there’s more to know.

Have a wonderful and inspiring nuit, and I’ll see you all in a wink less than 24 hours…



Ownership of Topic

16 Mar

Anyone can see this is encouragement, when I say it in class—  “Make the topic your own.” Or, “The onus is all yours.” But it’s more than that, actually.  The ‘ownership’ precipitates from the eagerness and exploratory urges from the student.  ‘What is the author wanting us to do?’ and ‘How does this relate to my life, and society today?’ The ownership is really a connection between the student and their work, their life as a matriculant.  A student can be passive, merely going from one assignment and class to the next, or they can feel an irrefutable inner-compulsion to explore their abilities, to test themselves.  Ownership of topic is command of experience.  But, the student has to make that choice.  The other day I stressed that “The student has to be an animal, a predator feeding on knowledge, otherwise they become prey to their own idleness.” It comes down to choices, actions, maintenance of mental activity.  The ownership begs creativity, to find new approaches and thoughts, ways to read and write, do research and study.

In the college purview, you need to encourage yourself and not wait for some momentous encouragement from the outside.  The owner of anything should be starkly abreast that the story begins and ends with him/her.  Again, I know, “encouragement”.  But why not encourage?  Why not encourage yourself?  Make all topics, classes, semesters, programs, goals your own.  There is no student who can’t be a serious student, who can’t master, own, something in the curriculum.  Once you’ve mastered something, or feel that sense of ownership and control of your work, you’ll be lifted… lifted from angst and self-doubt.  You, the student, are the master.  You are in control.  You own what you’re working on.  You have to convince yourself of that, and maintain, encourage, that conviction.

For ALL Spring ’15 Scholars–

20 May

React to the work you submitted for your final larger piece of writing.  I’m not asking what you could have done better, or what you wish you would have done different, but to the process.  What you learned about the topic you chose, what you learned about yourself as a writer, student.  React to the act of composing this paper.  And going forward in your academic and/or professional careers, how do you think your new writing habits and visions, whatever they are, will materialize down the road?  Again, just react to the act of composition of this final paper.  What you learned, what you found, how you the author and student changed.  If you were truly passionate about your writing, the composition itself, both process and product, took on some life of its own and interacted with you.  What was in that interaction?

Rubric, Focus Paper

10 Dec

As I discussed in class today, the final writing you submit for the semester IMG_9869will be evaluated in ten areas.  All of which I went over in class today, and are enumerated and explained below.  Above anything, and everything, just write from your convictions, from where you feel comfortable, and don’t second-guess yourself.  When you start to doubt yourself, and let yourself tire and give up, you’re infecting your writing.  Let it go too far, and the writing will be terminally compromised.  So write well, and enjoy…..  -Mike

(each dimension below is worth 5 points)

1 –  Title:  A creative, relevant, engaging, and non-cliché title that serves as the first words of your essay, and an orientation as to what we’re about to read.

2 – Introductory Paragraph:  The first paragraph of the essay which contains the thesis, yes (a thesis written out, not just lazily inferred or hinted), but equally as crucial provides a context for the argument, and adequate lead-in to your idea’s body.  This paragraph is where you station yourself in your idea and clearly let the readers know where you’re going to take them.

3 – Body Paragraphs/Paragraph Balance:  These body paragraphs not only support your thesis with strong examples and explanation of the examples, but should read smoothly, with a compliment to each other and provide strong structure for your position.  No paragraph should be underdeveloped, nor excessive in length.  I know, that doesn’t help.  Use your best judgement.  There should be a fluidity and a musical sense when reading though these body paragraphs before reaching the conclusion.  Think of the body paragraphs and the balance they’re to demonstrate as a foundation, a core, a heart.  Keep that heart in the healthiest of conditions!

4 – Voice:  Confident, authoritative, with definite language.  Don’t qualify yourself!  But, don’t come across arrogantly, either.  Assertiveness balanced with civility and humility is what I, and your future “professors”, are looking for (and if they’re not, they should be).

5 – Transitions:  Logical and untroubled connectedness, paragraph to paragraph.  Nothing random, or unexpected, or removed from paper’s principle and guiding intent.

6 – Mechanics:  Oh, the fun stuff!  Yes, it’s exhaustive, but truly, colleagues and friends, it makes you a stronger, more lethal, writer.  So.. punctuation, capitals, grammar, syntax, verb tense, spelling (as spellcheck doesn’t find it all!), indenting…  Give the paper several reads and examine every word, sentence and paragraph.  You have to be especially stringent with your paper and yourself to find mechanical inequities.  And when you do, you’ll be a stronger and more versatile writer.

7 – Conclusion:  Closure.  No loose ends.  Introduce nothing new.  And, no provocative or antagonistic rhetorical questions.  Everything should have been answered by now.  By the conclusion, we as readers should have a clear and uncompromised understanding of your position.

8 – MLA:  In-text citations, quoting, bla bla bla…

9 – Works Cited Page:  2-4 outside sources, MLA format (all information), numbered and in alphabetical order.

10 – Word Choice/Variety:  Play with words, use different words, make language your own.  Use synonyms, yes, but don’t be disingenuous with your language–  In other words, don’t sound like you’re reciting from a thesaurus.  Make your words reflect and convey mood, passion, authority and confidence from you as the scholar, the writer, the investigative journalist.  Display a mastery with language and you’ll pocket the 5 points for this dimension.

(Total – 50 points)      

And that’s the semester.  Time moves quicker than we want it to.  But all we can do is appreciate each moment as its own standalone piece.  There’s more to be written and more to be said, expressed and lived.  More to be read from us as writers.

Enjoy your writing and editing till final submission, and we’ll soon speak, and write just a bit more next week, together.

À La Tienne, votre instructeur,


SOLANO, 370 — Take a Position!

2 Sep

So.. after all the short pieces we’ve read, start preparing a 4-page position.  NO, it doesn’t have IMG_7979-0to be four FULL pages!  Just get onto the fourth page and try and extend/expand your argument to the bottom.  The last candidates for this paper are “A Hanging” on page 167, Hemingway’s “Camping Out” on 195, and Muñoz with “Leave Your Name at the Border” on 437.  Pick the piece that you’re most passionate about, that you connect with the most and develop a strong opinion…  A statement!

Start taking notes in your journal, then start typing an outline if you wish..  BUT, you must comment below as to which piece that we’ve read so far you’re entertaining selecting for this longer essay and why (meaning your reasoning, and justification).  Your response below can be as long as you wish, just be sure that we, your colleagues, know where you’re coming from (idea-wise).