Friday, November 20, 2015

Lessons from Our Writing Center Work: Tessa on Integrating Evidence into an Essay

My experience working as a writing consultant this semester has reminded me that I’m still a developing writer. While I might secretly think I can create a list of works cited in MLA format blindfolded, the truth is – I still have a lot to learn. Before my first appointment as a writing consultant, my biggest fear was that a student would ask me a question I didn’t know the answer to. But, it happened. It still happens – a lot. Realizing that I don’t have all the answers has helped me become a better writer and a better student. Each time I’m confronted with a writing question that I don’t have the answer to I try to look at it as an opportunity to further develop my own writing skills. 

Recently, I have met with students asking for help with introducing a quote with a colon. I knew it could be done, but it’s not something I do every day. I knew right away that if I wanted to use a colon (for something other than a list) I needed to have a complete sentence on each side. For example, when trying to introduce a quote with a colon, I couldn’t do this:

   For children in The Giver: “The front-buttoned jacket was the first sign of 
   independence, the first very visible symbol of growing up” (Lowry 40). 

The problem here is that I only have one complete sentence. If I take the quote away, I have:

   For children in The Giver. <– This is not a complete sentence. 

To make correct this example, I need to turn this fragment into a complete sentence. For example, I could do something like this:

   For the children in The Giver, clothing is not a fashion statement, but a part of their   
   identity: “The front-buttoned jacket was the first sign of independence, the first very visible
   symbol of growing up” (Lowry 40).

It is also important to remember that when using a colon to introduce a quote, both sentences must be related. It wouldn’t make sense for me to write the following:

   Lois Lowry’s The Giver is set in a dystopian society: “The front-buttoned jacket was the
   first sign of independence, the first very visible symbol of growing up” (40). 

I do have complete sentences on both sides of the comma, and my initial sentence is a true statement about the novel. However, the quote following the colon does not really relate to the information in front of the colon. 

Helping other students understand how to introduce a quote with a colon has helped me, too. Now, I find myself using this method to introduce quotes in my papers more often than I did before. Being a writing consultant has reminded me that I still have a lot to learn, but it has also provided me with opportunities to grow as a writer.

For more tips on how to introduce a quote with a colon, check out Integrating Quotations into Sentences from Illinois Valley Community College. 


Wednesday, November 18, 2015

African American Poetry Workshop: Still I Rise, Unbought and Unbossed

Welcome to this online workshop! We are here to read, think deeply, respond, and listen.

Our topic: African American poetry, art, history, and culture.

Our goal: learn about the lived experiences of People of Color, particularly those who identify as Black in the United States. Perhaps some of you will go on to create work of poetry or art to enter in the Poetry and Art Contest or to share at the Poetry Slam during MLK Week at RSU this January!

Who can participate: anyone and everyone! Open to RSU students and to the public.

How long do I have to finish this exercise: A new entry will be posted each week, but you are welcome to join in and add your responses to any entry any time before March 1, 2016.

We begin with a well-known figure, Maya Angelou, and her poem 1978 "Still I Rise."

You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I’ll rise.

Does my sassiness upset you?
Why are you beset with gloom?
‘Cause I walk like I’ve got oil wells
Pumping in my living room.

Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I’ll rise.

Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops,
Weakened by my soulful cries?

Does my haughtiness offend you?
Don’t you take it awful hard
‘Cause I laugh like I’ve got gold mines
Diggin’ in my own backyard.

You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I’ll rise.

Does my sexiness upset you?
Does it come as a surprise
That I dance like I’ve got diamonds
At the meeting of my thighs?

Out of the huts of history’s shame
I rise
Up from a past that’s rooted in pain
I rise
I’m a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.

Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
I rise
Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear
I rise
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
I rise
I rise
I rise.

To complement this poem are this video of Angelou reading the work...

...this photograph of Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm (1972), linked to information about how she was recently awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom...

...and this poster from Chisholm's campaign for President:

So, with those items in mind, we invite you to please consider these questions and share your thoughts in the comments below:

1. What wording does Angelou repeat in "Still I Rise"? What is the effect of the repetition on you as a reader?

2. What questions does Angelou ask in "Still I Rise"? How would you answer her questions? Who does she seem to be responding to?

3. Why does she compare herself to dust, air, to the owner of oil wells and gold mines and diamonds, to an ocean and to daybreak?

4. What connections might we make between Angelou's poem (its content and style) and Chisholm's poster's content and style?

Let us know what you think!


Tuesday, November 17, 2015

11 days of class left. Need writing help? Contact the Writing Center NOW!

Hi, RSU students,

The RSU Writing Center is a free resource and a place where you can find engaged readers who are ready to support you as a writer.

Remember, to make an appointment! You can have 2 appointments per paper assignment, and we don't offer appointments on the assignment due date (though we will answer a few specific questions if we have time)--so plan ahead.

Here are 3 optimal times to ask for feedback on an assignment:

1. When you receive the assignment sheet: we can help you make a plan for writing and help you make sure you're on the right track from the start.

2. When you have an outline or partial draft: we can help you make sure you are on-track to meet assignment requirements and help you make sure your outline/draft is shaping up to be focused and unified.

3. 2-3 days BEFORE the due date, when you have a full or mostly-complete draft: we can help you check to make sure your citations are correct and help you check to make sure the writing is clear and concise.

Our schedule is filling up, so call, drop by, or visit to reserve an on-ground, over the phone, or online appointment in advance.

Happy writing,