It’s that time of year where we are overly excited that the semester is over. But now it is time to look back at all we have done and reflect upon whether or not we have improved from all of this hard work. English 104 at Northern Illinois University was not a blow off class by any means. There was a lot of reading, analyzing and reflecting to be done. So how did we benefit from this, or did we not?
This was my first ever English class where we addressed the significance of blogs. I was very unfamiliar with the purpose of blogs and how to be a successful blogger at the beginning of this course but all of these questions were definitely answered by the time the end of the semester came around.
Throughout this course we wrote multiple drafts before we finally put together a final copy. I believe this a major key in being a successful writer. As a writer when I began an assignment I would write whatever came to mind. Then, whenever my mind was blank I referred back to the assignment guidelines and had to change, add or delete some things in order to make sure I was following the assignment. Next, I would reread one more time before I left it alone for a couple days. After a couple of days I would come back and reread and sometimes I even realized what I had made no sense. Finally after writing and rewriting I had a final draft to turn in. In this class we had to turn in a hard copy to our professor and an electronic copy on our class blog. The professor would return our hard copy with many suggestions on how to improve. I always found her suggestions very helpful. The main thing I noticed about my writing through instructor feedback was that I tended to add a lot of unnecessary words or phrases that I thought made me sound more intelligent. My professor helped me realize that these words or phrases were not making me sound more intelligent but in fact were rather distracting to a reader. The purpose of posting an electronic copy to our class blog was for our classmates to comment on it and have conversations with one another. From the beginning of class the professor stressed how important it was to read each other’s writings and create a sort of blog atmosphere. However, I feel as though our class failed miserably. According to the syllabus, when we posted anything on our blog we were suppose to comment on two other posts. While many of us did this, the comments were often just “good job I can relate to what you were saying!” But I believe this did not give the writer any feedback on ways to improve or what he/she was doing well. Therefore, I did not see our class blog very helpful at all when helping me with revisions. However, I did find our class blog helpful when it came to prewriting strategies. I often found myself stuck or lost on where to begin an assigned topic. I often would go on our class blog and read my classmate’s assignments to see what they were doing well or what seemed as though it wasn’t following the assignment at all. This was often extremely helpful because it led to ideas of where to begin for my own assignment and what to try and stay away from.
I believe my writing has improved a lot this semester. I already mentioned that my professor gave me insight on how I was distracting my readers with the use of unnecessary words and phrases but in addition to this I believe I improved a lot more. Throughout this course I really understood the importance of word choice. For example in my third encounter, Time to Enter the World of Bodybuilding, I started off by saying “an upcoming issue in American society is how overweight our society as a whole is becoming…” the issue with word choice here is the word upcoming. Obesity in America has been a problem for a while now and is not an issue that is about to be addressed, it has been addressed. I knew this when I was writing but I was trying to say it was a major issue that is becoming more and more well known. Therefore the word upcoming should be replaced with a more proper word choice of recent or drastic. Another way I improved my writing from this course was that I really tried to break down what I was saying as much as possible. My professor constantly iterated “imagine as if I am constantly saying why, why, why as you are writing.” This really helped me when I was writing because it made me think of why this particular part is necessary to put in my assignment. I believe I really demonstrated this in my article one. I ended article one by summing up all my points. For example, “OSBG is still educating its students … (how/why)… Each student is benefiting from the education they are receiving … (how/why) … they [are] bettering themselves and their community… (how/why).. they are building their community back up from the disaster” Here I added in how/why to show that I was breaking down my writing to important factors. I believe the new strength I found in my writings was writing narratives. I find writing narratives is much easier than any other form of writing and I never realized that this in fact was one of my strengths. I find that I often struggle with writing, mostly on getting started. I never know where to begin or how to begin when writing assignments. I dealt with this issue in different ways. First I already addressed one way, where I referenced our class blog to read other classmates assignments and try to spark ideas that way. Another way I dealt with this issue is constantly thinking about the assignment. This lead to me not even working on the assignment but an idea just popping into my head and I would then send an email to myself what the idea was in order to not forget it. Then when I got home, I would start typing it up in Microsoft Word and when I was stuck again I would stop. This might sound crazy but I actually got a lot of ideas for assignments when I was out and about and not even near any of my English material. I would say that I did notice improvement in my writing because I believe my writing started to have life and not just be dull and boring.
Now that the semester is over I can look back at my time in English 104 and say that I have improved as a writer. I now know my strengths and my weaknesses and how to improve from them. I am confident that I will take what I have learned here with me and apply it to any future writings I will do.