Final reflective memo: My composition I journey

make-your-own-journal~ Section I ~

When I entered college, I thought I could write just about anything. For a while I think that was true when I was writing two or three pages of literary narratives, rhetorical analyses, and literary analyses. I will admit my grammar and syntax isn’t always on point and writing can always improve but I was pretty well off.

That was at the beginning when everything was going nice and smoothly and I wasn’t writing multiple things for different classes and work. I think something I really improved on was learning how to write multiple things at a time while adhering to certain deadlines. I didn’t always hit the deadlines, but I improved a lot from high school when I didn’t have to juggle multiple essays at the same time.

I’ve also been notorious for my run-on sentences or just being wordy. That was something I got told in high school and it still comes up in instances in college too. Working in journalism for five years has helped chip away at that since short and sweet is more of a preference in that writing style. Although I think I’ve made the most progress in actually improving in grammar and syntax after this course. Dr. McMurray specifically took the time to practice our sentence writing taking examples from everyone’s submitted essays. I haven’t had anyone single out my grammar in years so it was refreshing and I learned a lot from it. One key thing I really enjoyed was when he taught us comma splices; I didn’t even know how to use the semi-colon until he showed us one day.

The thing I really struggled in the most was writing in APA style. I hadn’t written a research paper since my sophomore year of high school and it was in MLA format. I’m also was terrible at researching since I’d only done it a few times where I was required to cite sources. I had little experience going in and it was at the worst time of the year for me. I had been assigned a 10-page research paper at the same time along with several articles from work. I honestly had know idea where to start. After several class discussions, friend advice, and my own research I slowly pulled through it.

I see myself heading in the direction of becoming a writer able to write more research pieces if necessary and writer with a little less grammar problems. I have a love hate relationship with writing and hope to become one that will be remembered for telling many different stories.

~ Section II ~

Something I consider myself to be good at this semester is responding to different rhetorical situations. Rhetoric is the different appeals that an author can make to their audience within their writing to get their audience to support their argument. The first one is ethos which is an appeal to creditability. The author can to this by writing about something that they happen to have a degree or job in that credits them as being knowledge about what they’re talking about. The next one is pathos with is an appeal to emotion. This can be done by painting a tragic picture, a heartwarming picture, or just writing something that draws out emotions of the reader. The final appeal is logos which us an appeal to logic. The author can do this by backing up their point with data, statics, or whatever kind of facts they want to use. When forming an argument, writers tend to use a mix of the three to gain the support of their audience.

I’ve gotten to pick a part an author’s appeals within my rhetorical analysis paper on this WordPress titled “Rhetorical analysis: Should education be reformed?” which can be found under the composition I category within the course work tab. I examined Regan Manwell Sowinshi’s editorial from the Huffington Post titled “Stop Blaming Teachers: Send Texts Instead.” The piece used a mix of all three appeals and argued the message that classroom issues aren’t from the teachers but their learning materials. Sowinski establishes ethos by telling about her position as a teacher currently teaching in the classroom. She used pathos by providing examples of personal experiences she’s had with students. She used logos in the form of reasoning with different comparisons to make her point about the materials. Sowinski made her point using appeals to rhetoric.

I think this was a fairly good illustration of rhetorical analysis since it covers all three rhetorical appeals. I made sure to identify her argument in my thesis and I setup the essay to give each appeal a paragraph. In each body paragraph I specifically cited instances where the author made her appeals to her argument and proceeded to explain how they worked toward the audience. Finally I concluded the piece with a reworded thesis and wrote in my reasoning for her wanting to make such a change in school materials. While I think the paper is a good sample of rhetorical analysis it could have been better if I pointed out the lack of counterarguments the author made and inserted some of my own within my essay.

Another thing I’ve continued doing into this semester is writing in different genres. I’ve found I’ve had to do it in college more than ever before. Genres are different categories that written work is split into based on topic, style, subject, etc. When the genres change the audience changes and each of these readers look for certain elements in writing that they expect out of that genre. For example there is APA style and MLA style of writing. MLA creates an argument and bases the paper off of a thesis. APA creates a theory and bases the paper off of a question. MLA is more text heavy while APA is more fact heavy. MLA style is used by people writing in the humanities while APA style is used by people writing in the social and natural sciences. They both also have different citation formats.

The most common genres I write between is MLA style and journalistic writing. An example of my MLA style of writing can be found in my paper titled “Literary analysis: Our role models” which is in the composition I category of my WordPress under the course work tab. An example of my journalistic style of writing is my story titled “Matthews supports Stella Russell residents” found in the print category of my WordPress under the Rambler tab. In my MLA story I start with an attention grabber and a thesis statement. Then I write paragraphs that provide and explain the evidence to back up the points supporting my thesis. Finally I conclude with my reworded thesis and an expansion on the author’s message. In my journalistic piece I start out with a leade followed by a nut graph. Then I pick out a strong quote to start with and follow it with alternating transitions and quotes. Finally I end it with another powerful quote. Also my information for MLA is from the text “Refresh, refresh” while my information from my journalistic piece is gathered from 3 different interviews. They both cite their information differently with one doing a citation at the end and the other directly quoting the person in the text.

I feel the stories really illustrate how writing differs in different genres especial since the subject matter has similarities. In my MLA story I write about how Percy’s male protagonists are effected by their fathers and how they’d grow up in their absence. In my journalistic piece I write a profile about Katie Matthews, whose grown up in house with little support and now because of that tries to provide it to her fellow peers, especially the girls she lives with. Both stories share similar themes of lack of absence of family support and growing into their young adult identity. However they fall into different genres because of the style I wrote them in. The MLA is written around my opinion about what I read in Percy’s story while my journalistic piece is my arrangement of a story based around the information I received from interviews. They both have different pieces of structure that put them in different styles which makes them in different genres.

Finally this semester I’ve polished up on my ability to control surface features such as syntax, grammar, punctuation, and spelling from all the mini lessons in class. Syntax is the sentence structure; sometimes people write sentence fragments and run-on sentences. Grammar is knowing the correct way of phrasing something using the proper forms of verbs, nouns, and tenses, etc. Punctuation is using commas, periods, and all the other symbols correctly when needed. Spelling is making sure the words used are written correctly.

For this example, I’m going to use the writing piece I completed in composition I of a written interview titled “My professor gives the inside scoop on social science writing” and a written interview I did a few weeks later for my ASE class titled “Diversity interview: How well do you know your best friend.” Both can be found under the course work tab in their class category. In my composition interview I opened with a good summary of who my professor was and why I interviewed her. Then I asked a lot of questions out of the textbook and put in her responses basically word for word. In my ASE interview I gave a brief description of my person and location. Then I asked questions I came up with and edited the responses to be more reader friendly. Then I closed with my thoughts after having the interview.

I think these two pieces are a good example of surfaces features because they display how I’ve improved in it after the first time writing out an interview for publication. In my first interview the questions aren’t worded to my style of speaking like the ones in the second interview so they didn’t enter my conversation as smoothly. This could have hindered the quality of the responses I got back in the first interview which makes it harder to write out. If you look at my first responses I wrote they’re very long and scattered. The sentence structure is unusual in some places and awkwardly phrased. It’s hard to read and really should have been more tailored to my questions because it sidetracks in places as well. In my second interview the responses are shorter and are tailored to my questions. The sentences are also written in regular syntax and are easy to read. People don’t speak in the same grammar used in writing so it’s important to be able to edit it to a more appealing form. I think I really mastered that on the second interview after practicing and hearing critiques on the first one.

Composition I didn’t always show me the newest things but it helped me realize all the different types of writing I could do. It helped me perfect and polish writing skills, some I didn’t know I had. It made me work to become better at college writing and at my craft in general. I hope the same continues in Composition II this spring.


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