Tag Archives: reflection

Reflection: My Journey Through English 104

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.

Reflection: Stepping Stone to Something Greater

           It’s about that time again; the end of the semester and everyone is trying to cram and get everything finished before the wonderful five-week long winter break. This English 104 class has taught me a lot about my strengths and weaknesses as writer, and I feel I have improved as a writer as a whole. In the beginning I definitely wasn’t taking this class that serious, but I really learned a lot from this and I can apply what I have learned to my other classes, such as history. Now I know how to properly site my sources in an annotated bibliography as well as in my own writing. A lot of people say this class is just another Gen-Ed class to get out of the way, but to me this class played a crucial role in my writing in most of my classes.

            I’ve posted stories and excerpts online before, but never for a grade and never for an audience of my peers that I share the same class with. Knowing who my audience was and knowing that they were also doing the same kind of assignments helped me better prepare for my pre-writes. Before posting, I always typed out a small outline of what I wanted to say and how I wanted to say it. That way, I was more organized with my thoughts and how I wanted them to be portrayed. Typing the first draft out in Word was always a step in my writing process because if I saw any mistakes, I could fix them, or if I didn’t like the word order or how something sounded in my piece I could easily change it before posting it on to WordPress. I know that the people reading my works were in the same situation as me where we all needed to post something that not only showed how we were moving along in the class, but also show a part of ourselves. I always tried to write something worth reading, because there is nothing worse than a dry and uncreative piece of work that everyone has to read. I wanted my readers to find some kind of enjoyment and humor out of my writings so they are worth reading. Enter The Realm of Listverse is a prime example of my writing strategy and how I wanted my readers to be interested in what I was writing.

            Ever since I was in 6th grade, writing has been a passion of mine. I love writing short stories and little poems here and there but I have definitely grown a lot as a writer through English 104. As of right now, I see myself as still a “work in progress” with writing. I know I have a strong voice in my writing and I know how to get my point across to people, but delivery and structure are two things that I am still working on. With my final Pro-Am Investigation Project paper, I really feel that my structure, voice and delivery were all very well explained and introduced. I believe that anyone that reads my paper will have a better understanding of American Military Warfare and will know enough to be able to explain to others the main points and arguments I posed. I may not be as advanced with my rhetoric as Le Guin or Orwell, but if I keep practicing with writing and challenging myself, I see myself writing papers and journals for college students in the future.

            From middle school and all throughout high school, my teachers have always commented on my strength in writing. My grammar and punctuation have never been an issue, and I have always been able to get my voice and opinion out to my readers. I always try to write for my audience, because it doesn’t matter how good I think my paper or work may be, what really matters is the opinion of my readers or teacher. In my opinion, no one wants to sit and have to read a boring essay that was the product of carelessness and laziness. Even if it is last minute, I always try to engage my readers into something that will catch their attention and keep them thinking even after the piece is over. In my narrative for the WordPress blog, I wrote about a fictional man named Ryan Kirby who is in the same age group as my readers, and had some experiences that a lot of people could understand or relate to. Although not too many 23 year olds are out fighting wars overseas, the fact that he is an American that has a dream and pride in his history and background is something that most people can feel connected to. I feel that my biggest weakness in writing is the fact that I feel like I add a lot of “fluff” to my work and it causes me to float around the main point I’m trying to get to instead of hitting it dead on. I definitely feel this was the case in my Article 1 submission where I talked about the “self”. I made a lot of good points that I didn’t really go into depth with, and I added some things that may have been better omitted. From that piece until now, I have really tried to get down to the facts and explain them as much as I can as to avoid any confusion or misleading ideas. I don’t feel the need to add unnecessary comments or fluff to emphasize a point I’m trying to make, because it’s better to just plainly state what I have to say opposed to adding confusing metaphors or examples that take away from the major premise of my work. I really feel that my paper The Evolution of American Warfare captures how I have grown into just explaining my facts and getting my complete point across to all of my readers. There is no fluff or trivial information in this piece, and I feel it is the best because all of my information is there and I get my point across very clearly.

            This class has really helped me grow into a better writer, and understand that there is always room for improvement. There are skills I can take from this class that I can apply to other classes that I am taking, especially history. For now, I will continue to grow as a writer and hopefully one day have my works and opinions studied in college campuses across the country.

Reflection: What was I thinking?

I used to think I was a good writer before I found myself in this class. I used to write thing s for fun but this class just drained that enthusiasm out of me. I used to write for no one else but for the thrill of self-fulfillment and that mentality stuck with me for a while. I cannot say writing for this class has been the highlight of my year but I have learnt a few things about myself. I realized that my writing style was not reader oriented. I never stop to think about what everyone else would like to read. I wrote around what was on my mind or how I felt at the time an essay or blog was due. One could say I had a selfish way of writing but that’s just how I see the purpose of a blog space is. I figured it was an opportunity to share my thoughts on limited topics.

I think my writing has improved in a few ways. I have learned to understand how to capture a reader’s attention with my title and intro. My writing is a lot more reader oriented and I have developed a tolerance for unnecessarily long essays. I’m still not so much interested in them but writing them has become a breeze for me. I think writing for this class has improved or widened my range of vocabulary; I mean big words do tend to impress some people.

Writing for a blog really changed my perspective of college writing. Throughout high school I was thought to exclude myself from my essays and never make it too personal. Coming to this class I got the chance to make everything too personal. I am not sure if that was a good or bad thing but either way, it freed a little bit of my creative side.

In many ways I always tried to break the rules of blog posting in this class. One example would be my blog post “My Twisted way to F!@#$%☢ Reality”. The purpose of this blog was to show people that I could be partially crazy. I always try to step outside my limited boundaries and do what is very much unexpected. I hate being confined to a limited space so every once in a while I test myself to see how far past the line I could jump. If you still don’t get it the “F!@#$%☢” is me cursing at reality.


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