Kelley's Writer's Profile:
to my writer's profile. You'll find a summary of my English 105 experiences
below. I took this course while attending NAU (about time, some people would
say...) and hope you enjoy it as much as I enjoyed the class. At the bottom,
you will find some links that I find interesting, including a link to my
own website about building an airplane.
- The first
interaction proved the easiest. Students gathered in groups and introduced
themselves, then the groups introduced themselves to other groups. I am
much older than my fellow students but this did not matter for the first
exercise. It was actually easy to begin and lead the interaction because
I had less to lose and more experience in dealing with group situations.
- It was
difficult to keep up with the reading response assignments because the format
of the class would change daily. The reading was easy enough, but I often
didn't know what to write on for which day.
- One of
the big problems with class discussion was not talking too much. It seems
that most of the students are fearful of speaking out, even in a forum like
this where the answers are not graded. They don't seem to grasp that it's
the effort to communicate, not the content, that matters for this class.
I have had some success getting a few of them to open up; others seemed
to find their voice on their own. One will not speak up at all, even though
they are quite articulate speaking one-on-one.
- I am finishing this
profile before my final presentation. I don't expect to have a problem presenting
my topic, though I have been observing the other students and know that
they may find holes in my logic that I have not discovered. On the other
hand, I am assured of at least having a good organization and a clear thesis,
which has been somewhat lacking in other presentations.
of your overall writing skills
- I was
quite experienced coming into this class. Most of my work life has involved
communication of some sort or another. I have taught, dealt with users through
a help desk, written reports and manuals, and given presentations. In my
personal life, I wrote articles for magazines and newsletters, and also
wrote editorial material. My technical literacy is high because I started
as a programmer and ended up as a web designer. Along the way, I've had
extensive experience with all the Microsoft tools.
- What I
lacked was editing skills. Often the material I produced was passed through
some sort of editing process. In this class, I gained a unique set of tools
for making my formal writing more active and removing some of the wordy
- The first essay consisted
of a narrative account of my first solo motorcycle trip as a teenager. I
learned to write in a more descriptive style, though it does not pervade
the essay. Part of my difficulty lies in the fact that I have told this
story often, usually by explanation rather than description. Also, I usually
spend most of my time in conversation explaining and directing rather than
describing and my writing style tends to echo my speaking style.
- The second essay
contains a rhetorical analysis of UPS's advertising campaign with NASCAR.
It clearly, under headings, explores the author, audience, purpose, and
rhetorical appeals of the campaign. I originally organized the essay chronologically,
as the campaign has shifted over time, but later rewrote it to its final
form to better identify the rhetorical elements.
- The next essay was
a contextual analysis of Starship Troopers, written by Robert Heinlein.
Rather than the dry analysis of the previous essay, this essay explored
the work from the point of view of its author and the time and social context
in which it was written. It required researching the author's life and the
events surrounding the period of the work. In this case, I was fortunate
to have the author's written comments on the piece itself and why he had
chosen to write it.
- Then we embarked
upon preparation for the final argumentative paper we would write for the
class. I chose to write about the Public Burden theory concerning motorycle
helmet laws. We were required to submit a prospectus and annotated bibliography
as a checkpoint prior to pursuing our final topic. It not only reinforced
the researching skills of the previous paper but also required that the
logic of our argument be examined and, if necessary, corrected before continuing.
- The argument paper
capped my writing experience. My draft tended to be disjointed because I
was failing to add transitions between sections, even though the general
organization was sound. By this time I was used to using the editing tools
that I had learned, but now I found myself needing to pull back and look
at the overall pace of my work.
my writing experience, I find myself surprised at how much room for improvement
there was. I discovered problems with wordiness, overuse of 'that' and 'be'
forms, and a certain stiffness of speech, compounded by a passive voice.
Over time, I have become better at editing these out, but they still appear
in my writing.
there was little here that I could be taught in this format.
by pointing out what you still need to work on to improve your critical
thinking, reading, and writing skills and your technological literacy skills?
Where do you need to go from here? What skills do you need to practice to
do well in your college career?
- I continue to work
on my writing skills. Though I now see some of the problems I have, I have
not progressed to naturally eliminating them. Only practice can resolve
them in time. I have always been a naturally critical thinker, which served
me well in this class, and my technical skills are, by profession, top notch.
I am an avid reader, which aids my thinking skills, but I will continue
to practice writing to preserve the particular editing skills I've learned
and also to change my bad habits. One area I'd like to try, and one that
might aid my narrative skills, would be the writing of fiction.