Tag Archives: teaching writing

English 5 – 2/17/16

17 Feb

Title of Session and Day’s Word:  celerity = swiftness; speed.

“What cannot be said above all must not be silenced but written.” -Jacques Derrida

WAW:  Listen to you SELF.  More than anyone, YOU are your strongest teacher.

Title – 5 points

Introductory Paragraph/Thesis – 5 points

First Body Paragraph, starting the “argument” – 5 points

Supporting Paragraphs – 5 points

General usage of sources – 5 points

Mechanics – 5 points

Voice – 5 points

Word Choice – 5 points

Paragraph before conclusion – 5 points

Conclusion – 5 points

*** Consider the essay as a whole, and not just what’s quantifiable, but the feel of the writing…  Did the author convey authority, a passion for the direction they chose.  Did you learn something?  Does it seem as though they learned something with their unique consideration of Hunter’s book?

Every workshop should be helpful, useful for the strengthening of a draft.  And, more than anything, professional and safe.   So, comment honestly.  Compliments do help, but so does specific and truthful criticism.

Today – 0730 to 0820: readings, presentations, comments, rubric

0820 to 0840: Plath, Open Mic, Poetry

0840 to 0850: WAW’s, HW (Plath poems & reactions), Creative Writing

Writing Prompt–

15 Feb

Write what you did ten minutes ago (50 words)…

Then write what you did five minutes ago (50 words)…

Write what you’ll do in eight hours (100 words)…

Then, what you do in five years (100 words)

What does this do to your understanding of time, your Self, life, your writing?  What do you see in what you wrote?


English 5, 2/8/16

8 Feb

I quite literally rushed to my “office” to write you all.  Thinking more of Hunter S. Thompson and the political climate and consistencies today, and how polarizing and as I said ‘vitriolic’ they are, perhaps a more grand and encompassing writing could be composed for this first longer submission.  Please note:  I’m not trying to gear your expression or argument one way or another, just sharing my observations and analytic entertainments as they materialize.  So what am I cooking exactly with this idea?  Something to the tune of Hunter’s estimations of mankind, of how we behave, how he behaves.  And….. Is there a REMEDY for this behavior?  Enjoy your storming brains and the ink that precipitates to page.  This topic is yours.  This novel is yours, ours, and all ideas should be shared.  And with the notion of a “thesis”, forget all clinical instruction of the past.  The thesis is the promise you make to the reader.  The idea, your idea, that you take the reader through (not so much “prove”, even though you do hope to “prove” it, a bit.. I’m just saying this shouldn’t be the entire purpose of your writing).

His chaos is certainly enviable.  And beautiful (topic?).  His entire embrace of his Craft, and how he just does, he doesn’t deliberate excessively.  If at all.  As students, we should learn from his to trust ourselves, and know what we’re doing with our lives, Art, careers or whatever is right.  Is TRUE.  How is that not desirable?

You have to be truthful with yourself before you can ever hope to find a true Truth.

DAY 1 — Puissance (1/20/16)

20 Jan

Know your own story before you read someone else’s.

Who can “inspire” you?  Someone else…  Or YOU?

Critical Thinking…  What does that mean?  How does it differ from just ‘thinking’?

It’s difficult, but record everything.. use the holstered journal.. be ready, be armed.

iamatology: study of remedies.  Study your own written remedies, find more, use them, instruct yourself on how to self-heal with paragraphs, narration (much of what this semester’s about).

Maybe you shouldn’t ask so many questions and just go find the answers yourself…?img_0829

Freewriting, may just be for the sake of doing so or it may quake to some tremendous composition.  And think of the work more closely, the provinces of the idea, to free-write.  Yes I write it as one word only because I cringe at ever separating the concepts of ‘free’ and ‘write’, even if it’s proper, or some kind of standardized something.  But don’t discount yourself when scribbling erratically in your Composition Books— it could lead to something, it could lead to some remedy…..  It could lead to a sterling stretch of Self-Education (what I believe to be the most truthful form of educating).  Be your own force, in your writing, what ideas you bring to class and share with your colleagues.  Be what YOU know you have to be…

When you write, hope to be out of breath.

Gift yourself elevated goals, ones challenging and inwardly vocal.  And don’t be afraid of not reaching them.  Don’t entertain not reaching them.  that’s not a possibility in this new mind.  What is possible, and wildly likely, is holding what you sought upon the term’s close.

And once more, what’s your story?  What have you seen?  What have you lived and what do you want?

Don’t worry if you lose and idea, or can’t write it down.  You’ll have the opportunity later.  And if you don’t, it wasn’t meant to be written.  Don’t force the ideas.  Or, not all the time, anyway.  You have to live.  You can’t always be at the keys, in front of your Composition Book.  And I know that this may seem like a bit of a ramble but it’s one meant to assure you that you ARE capable of generating ideas worth writing, ideas that deserve to be heard by the rest of the class.  And by myself.

You can walk away with whatever you want to, from this class.  The experience can be whatever you want it to.

And let me return to remedy.  Study your own patterns for producing them through your writing.  And don’t stop.  Don’t get tired.  Use everything around you for inspiration.  Even the small notes you rush in the corner of one of your notebook’s pages is valuable.  Throw away nothing.  Be a packrat with your work.  Who knows when you might return to a particular entry, by accident or purpose.

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).