Monday, October 28, 2013

Tips on Preparing for Class Discussions

"Smooth seas do not make skillful sailors."
               —African Proverb

To recap what we discussed during class (and to aid those who are not in my class or missed the session), these are key points for preparing successfully for class discussions:

  • Read the assignment before class and write down any questions you may have about it.
  • Ask questions based on critical thinking skills:
  • How can I use this information?
  • How does this information compare with what I already know about the topic?
  • What ideas, concepts, or points of view from the reading did you not understand?
  • What is the source of the material?
  • Is the material fact or opinion?
  • What is the author’s purpose? Is the author biased?
  • Has relevant and sufficient evidence been provided?

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

College Writing Skills: Study Success Tips

"Success is to be measured not so much by the position that people reached in life as by the obstacles that they have overcome."
—Booker T. Washington

To recap what we discussed during class (and to aid those who are not in my class or missed the session), these are key points for successful studying:

• Study in a place that has minimal distractions.
• Stay healthy and relaxed.
• Attend each class.
• Take notes during class and on each assigned reading.
• Reflect upon your habits and routines. Accentuate those habits that will help you be successful in
           college and try to eliminate those habits that will hinder your success.
• Seek help from your professors and/or the learning center when you need it
• Maintain a positive attitude.
• Complete assignments on time and to the best of your ability.
• Develop ways to manage your time well.
• Prioritize your most important projects, assignments, and activities.
• Avoid waiting until the last minute to complete assignments.
• Try to balance your academic work, extracurricular activities, and personal commitments.
• Be organized. Organize your study space, desk, planner, and notebooks and binders.
• Stay focused while studying, during class, and as you are taking exams.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Formal and Informal Communication

This topic invariably comes up in my writing workshops and classes. It doesn't matter the age of the group or whether they are taking the class for personal enrichment/lifelong learning or for college credit. When we communicate---whether verbally or through writing---the outcome is always the same: to convey thoughts. Knowing your purpose and audience determines HOW you will communicate your message.

Informal communication is among friends or people we know personally. We let our guard down, use slang and colloquial phrasing. Because it's informal, we know they'll "get the gist" of our message and that's all we are aiming for. Examples include text messages, phone calls/voicemail, and friendly banter. Informal communication may use non-standard English.
Formal communication on the other hand always follows the rules for standard English. When we are writing for our jobs – creating memos, reports, business letters – we use standard English. Are there times when we might use informal English in a work situation? What are examples of formal writing? What are examples of informal writing?
Whether we communicate formally or informally, the writing process is followed. First we collect our thoughts, then we decide how to share those thoughts, finally, we deliver our message. In formal writing, however, ideas and thoughts are focused before delivery. This ensures our message is clear. This is why correctly using words that are frequently misused is so  important.
Focusing our thoughts.  Planning is the first step in the writing process. It allows us to explore a topic before focusing it. We then consider our purpose and audience before we plan (or outline) and then draft. How many ideas can you generate about the differences between high school and college? Now, brainstorm ideas on this topic: What 3 tips would you give to a new college student?  You will write your first paper to turn in on this topic.