I often tell students to respect their readers and remember that human beings are behind the screen. Imagine reading one sentence after another. Does it flow? Does it make sense? Who is your audience? Define the audience. Identify purpose, tone and word choice. Make decisions about what information you should include, how you should arrange that information, and what kind of supporting details will be necessary for the reader to understand what you are presenting. The bottom line is in order to develop and present an effective argument, you need to be able to appeal to and address your audience.
Students write about a myriad of topics. Sometimes the topics are open and sometimes the topics are chosen in a reader response style assignment. The audience can be fellow students on a Discussion Board, the instructor in an e-mailed essay draft or a more public audience when posting a blog. One of my favorite writing activities with students is to ask them to write three letters about winning the lottery: one letter to their employer, one letter to their family and one letter to their friends. How does the word choice and tone change? I encourage students to think carefully about their expression. Here are some examples from my English 0492 students:
I wanted to inform you that I won’t be coming into work tomorrow. I worked with this company for a long time. I enjoyed being here, but I am happy to share that I recently won the lotto jackpot. At this time I am consulting with my advisers and figuring out how I will direct my attention elsewhere. It was a pleasure working with you. Thank you.
Whoo hooo! You’ll never believe it. I won the lottery today! My numbers matched and all of our dreams are coming true. I can’t wait to buy you whatever you want Mom. You deserve it. We’ll never have to worry about paying the rent again. Isn’t this fantastic?
What’s up? I’m outta here. I can’t stand getting up in the morning and I can’t wait to do whatever I want, whenever I want. I just won — my lottery ticket finally came up. Life doesn’t suck after all. I’ll be taking the rest of my life off. Sinara, bye, see you later! Hope you can join me for some fun because we’re going to have a lot of it.
At College of DuPage we offer several sequences in the course selection process. Often the first course serves as a foundation and prerequisite for the second course and so on. Students are required to take a placement test in order to match their abilities and experience with the appropriate course in the sequence. Consulting with an academic adviser is also highly encouraged when building a course schedule.
However, successful completion of a course sequence may be difficult for some students as they move from one course to another. Even with defined course objectives and targeted outcomes, some students face stumbling blocks along the way. For example, if a student earns a “D” grade in English 1101 during his first semester, repeats the course during the second semester and earns a “B” then takes English 1102 the second semester and earns a “D” during the first attempt, is the student advised to seek additional assistance? Will the English 1102 faculty member conference with a student about his process and progress in English 1101, perhaps asking for writing samples or related assignments? Is there a significant difference in the academic performance in English 1102 versus students who successfully completed English 1101? Does the English 1101 course prepare students for the rigors of English 1102? Does our course sequence provide a solid foundation to prepare students to excel at each level? These are questions faculty work together to answer on a regular basis in committee meetings, student conferences and workshops. We strive to scaffold and create curriculum that will build critical thinking, writing and reading as students progress from one course to another.
Here is a listing of some of our English course sequence offerings:
- ENGLI 0480
Preparation for College Reading
4 credit hoursBuilds the foundational reading skills necessary to prepare for college-level reading. Develops active reading habits that lead to comprehension and that introduce critical reading. Students read a wide variety of texts and show how the texts relate to their own lives as well as enhance their understanding of the world. This course may require use of academic support services. This course may be taken four times for credit. Prerequisite: Appropriate score on the Reading Pre-Course placement test. (4 lecture hours)
- ENGLI 0481
Approaches to College Reading I
4 credit hoursContinues to develop the reading skills necessary for college-level reading. Emphasizes the role reading plays in acquiring new information and extends literal comprehension to more complex reading tasks required for difficult texts. This course may require use of academic support services. This course may be taken four times for credit. Prerequisite: Appropriate score on the Reading Pre-Course placement test (4 lecture hours)
- ENGLI 0482
Approaches to College Reading II
4 credit hoursFocuses primarily on content area reading to prepare students for the challenges of reading in college. Students begin to read critically to determine the purpose, point of view, audience, and message conveyed by an author, to trace the development of the line of reasoning, and to identify and evaluate the rhetorical devices used to convey a point. Also includes vocabulary development and reader-response activities. This course may require use of academic support services. This course may be taken four times for credit. Prerequisite: Appropriate score on the Reading Pre-Course placement test. (4 lecture hours)
- ENGLI 0490
4 credit hoursBuild confidence and fluency in writing and the ability to generate well-developed texts. Students will understand how their texts fit in with a larger text-based world by developing a sense of audience and purpose. Classes are workshop-intensive sessions. Because of the strong relationship between writing and reading, students are immersed in reading activities. This course may be taken three times for credit. Prerequisite: Mandatory testing and appropriate score on the Writing Placement Test as determined by the English faculty (4 lecture hours)
- ENGLI 0491
Approaches to College Writing I
4 credit hoursThe first of two developmental writing courses designed to prepare students for ENGLI-1101. Focuses on creating effective sentences and paragraphs within the context of writing short (250 – 350-word) essays, and on developing critical thinking skills. This course may be taken three times for credit. Prerequisite: An appropriate score on the English Placement test (4 lecture hours)
- ENGLI 0492
Approaches to College Writing II
4 credit hoursThe second of two developmental writing courses designed to prepare students for ENGLI-1101. Focuses on composing longer (500-word) essays and on further developing critical thinking skills. This course may be taken three times for credit. Prerequisite: English 0491 with a grade of C or higher or an appropriate score on the English Placement test (4 lecture hours)
- ENGLI 1101 (IAI C1 900)English Composition 1
3 credit hoursThe first of two courses in the one-year composition sequence. Introduces students to college-level writing as a process of developing and supporting a thesis in an organized essay. Requires students to read and think critically. Emphasizes using appropriate style and voice as well as the conventions of standard English and citation. Prerequisite: Satisfactory score on English Composition Entry Test or ENGLI-0492 or ESL-0553 with a grade of C or better. Course requires Reading Placement Test Score – Category One. (3 lecture hours)
- ENGLI 1102 (IAI C1 901R)
English Composition 2
3 credit hoursSecond course in two-course composition sequence. Students continue to develop experience in reading, thinking and writing critically by writing essays that demonstrate ability to analyze and evaluate the ideas of others and integrate them into their own writing. Reinforces student experience with the conventions of standard written English and the conventions of documentation while developing student ability to carry out independently the proper method and responsibilities of research. Prerequisite: English 1101 with a grade of C or better (3 lecture hours)
Today I am thinking about numbers. Numbers mark important events. We can analyze numbers and discover patterns, formulas and answers to questions. Numbers are significant. But there is also a mystery behind numbers, an abstract quality that encourages us to look closer. I remember taking an inferential statistics class in graduate school. We reviewed definitions of mean, standard deviation and sample size. Summarizing data numerically or quantitatively was expected. We tracked numbers, graphed numbers, interpreted numbers. It was a nightmare. I struggle with numbers. I transpose numbers in our family checkbook, throwing off our balance with errors. I scramble at calculating percentages, moving decimal points and rounding. I often say, “I am not good with numbers, but I can write you an essay.” Computation is not one of my strengths.
As I head toward celebrating a half century, I find myself reflecting on some symbolic numbers in my life.
- Today, March 29th, is my 48th birthday
- I have been teaching for 22 years at College of DuPage
- I got married when I was 25 years old
- I gave birth to our first daughter when I was 30 years old and to our second daughter at 32 years old
- 3 cars are parked in our garage
- I have 0 siblings
- 2 dogs greet me when I walk through our doorway
- 15 hours make up a full-time faculty contractual workload at College of DuPage
- Full-time faculty are required to serve 10 office hours per week
- I have had 1 shoulder surgery when I was 11 years old
- We have moved 6 times
- My phone number has two sets of two numbers in it
- I have skied in Colorado 14 times
- My mother died when I was 21 years old
- I was a Girl Scout leader for 7 years
- I run approximately 3 miles every other day
- I started working when I was 14 years old with an Illinois permit
- My lucky number is 25
- I ate rutabaga 1 time (I didn’t like it)
Recording these numbers raises my level awareness regarding a concrete value. I strive to be more present in the moment and enjoy the routine and surprises in life because there are only so many hours, days and years.
What does this 48th birthday represent? What will this year bring? As I blow out the candles, I am thankful and look forward to another 365 days.
Now that we’ve had one week of rest and rejuvenation during the College of DuPage Spring Break, it’s back to class to finish the next few months before the semester ends. I purposely do not assign work over the break and invite students to decompress. Today we’re dusting off our laptops after a much needed reprieve. Motivation is a key factor now as we make the push toward the Reading Exit Exam in English 0482, final assignments and drafts in English 0492. My students pepper the Discussion Board with Spring Break stories. They are refreshed and share that they had time to sleep in, go out with their friends and catch up on Netflix.
We’re working on regaining our momentum by starting with a reflection map outlining where we’re at with writing and reading assignments at this point in the semester. Students have found their rhythm, they have a sense of mastery over some materials, but are striving for improvement in particular areas — maybe it’s paragraph unity or submitting assignments on time or increasing the frequency of posts to the Discussion Board.
Post Spring Break can be a readjustment because many students are thinking ahead to summer jobs, planning vacations and securing internships. They are thrown back into the reality of due dates and looming final exams and projects. We’re back on the treadmill for awhile. But despite these deadlines, students and faculty have had the chance to do what the poet Adrienne Rich talks about when revising — to look back and see with fresh eyes. We’re now entering the last part of the semester. Spring Break gave us an opportunity to consider where we’re at, our purpose, audience and organizational techniques. And we are looking at the semester with fresh eyes to finish strong.
We have returned from our mission trip in South Dakota and I’m back in front of the computer screen preparing for school to begin again tomorrow. I am looking forward to “seeing” my students again on screen. I have missed them. This was a life changing week. For now, I’ll post our daily itinerary to provide a sense of what we did each day on the Pine Ridge Reservation. If you’re interested in volunteering with Re-Member, please go to http://www.re-member.org/trips-faq.aspx
- Saturday Arrive at Re-Member between 2:00 and 4:00 P.M. 4:30 P.M. Orientation 5:00 P.M. Supper 6:30 P.M. History I 7:00 P.M. Travel to Powwow 9:30 P.M. Quiet Time, Reading, Bathroom/Showers 10:30 P.M. Lights Out
- Sunday 7:00 A.M. Wake Up, Bathroom/Showers 7:45 A.M. Breakfast 9:00 A.M. Wisdom of the Elders, Begin Story of Wounded Knee – History II 9:45 A.M. Wounded Knee Cemetery – History III and Reflection 12:00 P.M. Lunch 1:45 P.M. Site Work at Re-Member 5:00 P.M. Dinner 6:30 P.M. Cultural Program** 8:00 P.M. Roses & Thorns (Reflection of the Day) 9:00 P.M. Free Time, Reading, Bathroom/Showers 9:30 P.M. Quiet Time 10:30 P.M. Lights Out
- Monday 6:00 A.M. Wake Up, Bathroom/Showers 6:45 A.M. Breakfast at Shelem 8:00 A.M. Wisdom of the Elders 8:30 A.M. Work Day 12:00 P.M. Lunch either at Re-Member or on the job 1:00 P.M. Work Day, cont’d 5:00 P.M. Supper 6:30 P.M. Cultural Program 8:00 P.M. Roses & Thorns 9:00 P.M. Free Time, Reading, Bathroom/Showers 9:30 P.M. Quiet Time 10:30 P.M. Lights Out
- Tuesday 6:00 A.M. Wake Up, Bathroom/Showers 6:45 A.M. Breakfast at Shelem 8:00 A.M. Wisdom of the Elders 8:30 A.M. Work Day 12:00 P.M. Lunch either at Re-Member or on the job 1:00 P.M. Work Day, cont’d 5:00 P.M. Supper 5:45-6:00 Midweek Cleanup 6:30 P.M. Cultural Program 8:00 P.M. Roses & Thorns 9:00 P.M. Free Time, Reading, Bathroom/Showers 9:30 P.M. Quiet Time 10:30 P.M. Lights Out
- Wednesday 6:00 A.M. Wake Up, Bathroom/Showers 6:45 A.M. Breakfast at Shelem 8:00 A.M. Wisdom of the Elders 8:30 A.M. Work Day/Tour Day 12:00 P.M. Lunch either at Re-Member/job/tour 1:00 P.M. Work Day/Tour Day, cont’d 5:00 P.M. Supper 6:30 P.M. Cultural Program 8:00 P.M. Roses & Thorns 9:00 P.M. Free Time, Reading, Bathroom/Showers 9:30 P.M. Quiet Time 10:30 P.M. Lights Out
- Thursday 6:00 A.M. Wake Up, Bathroom/Showers 6:45 A.M. Breakfast at Shelem 8:00 A.M. Wisdom of the Elders 8:30 A.M. Work Day/Tour Day 12:00 P.M. Lunch either at Re-Member/job/tour 1:00 P.M. Work Day/Tour Day, cont’d 4:30 P.M. Final Cleanup 5:30 P.M. Pizza Supper 6:30 P.M. Finish Cleanup/Packing 7:00 P.M. Final Sharing /Sunset & Sundaes 9:00 P.M. Free Time, Reading, Bathroom/Showers 9:30 P.M. Quiet Time 10:30 P.M. Lights Out
- Friday 6:00 A.M. Wake Up, Bathroom/Showers 6:45 A.M. Breakfast 8:00 A.M. Final Wisdom of the Elders 8:30 A.M. Packing/Final Sweep/Mop 9:00 A.M. Departure