Final Project engw 1111 April, 2017

One is never a perfect writer. He or she may have a beautiful voice or style to articulate ideas and experiences, but one can always make improvements. Working in the classroom setting with a handful of other students with the shared goal of learning is a healthy environment to foster this growth.

Every day when students arrived to class at 11:45 on Mondays and Thursdays, Professor Lynn Dornink would outline the plan for the next hour and forty-five minutes.

Students learned both to learn and to communicate what they learned through group discussions and by delving deeper into their writings. This task was certainly easier said than done, but as student Brooke Hermann commented, “You write to educate yourself by making sense of your thoughts on paper. When I would write many of my papers, I would have more questions and found myself doing a lot of extra research and broadening my horizons.” Many other students had similar sentiments, citing that several assignments in specific stood out.

The documentary film “West of Memphis” was a very memorable piece for many students and they found themselves doing a lot of research to understand the context of the situation. Student Aidan Bridwell commented, “It was a really interesting documentary, but it was also really confusing at first. It took me some research and awhile before I was able to make sense of everything and write an essay about it.” This topic wasn’t only interesting to students as a topic of class discussion, but many found themselves talking to their other peers about it. With assignments such as this, students had to rematch the documentary and pick a stance to vigorously defend. It proved difficult with the convoluted storyline, but students prevailed in the end after a thorough drafting process and discussions.

Students also learned to explore and represent their experiences, perspectives, and ideas in conversation with others. There were many class discussions where students got to participate and were asked to share their perspectives on the various topics covered. As student Shannon Todd stated, “We had some great conversations as a class and we got to know each other this way. Some people have had really interesting experiences and I liked that we all brought something totally different to the table in that respect.” Shannon wasn’t alone in feeling this way, with several of her classmates saying something of a similar nature.

Students collaborate on work.

Not only were discussions key to expressing one’s experiences, but so were a number of the projects. Assignments such as making a comic about a personal, family story and making a photo essay allowed for students to further understand experiences that happened to them. Student Lauren Feeney talked about her comic, “It was a really emotional topic— writing about my mother’s experience as an adopted child from a laundry in Ireland. But when I discussed it with my classmates, they were really empathetic and I could easily talk to them about it. Once I started talking, the story just started to flow.”

Other students agreed that the comic was huge in representing this aspect of the learning process, with a few of them also talking about the photo essays that they made. Student Tommy Githens discussed the photo essay, saying, “The photo essay really opened my eyes to what I’m like as a friend and what kind of people I spend my time around. Having these friendships is really important to me and really showed me what I deeply value.”

Professor Lynn Dornink and student Curtis Frye discuss an assignment during class.

Students came to class ready to learn and excited to share their experiences. Having a professor who was ready to facilitate these feelings was a key to the success of the class. If there's anything that students learned during their time in English Writing 1111, they learned how to shape their voices and increase the scope of their abilities.

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