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My English Class Experience

By Erin-Rivera-Newton Oct 21, 2014 1195 Words
Erin Newton
Deborah Schwartz, Instructor
English 102
21 April 2014
Final Reflective Essay
During my time in Professor Schwartz’s English 102 class, I feel that I improved as a writer. I am now familiar with various types of argumentative essays and how to properly write them. Discussion assignments taught me how to review and synthesize articles and speeches, as well as interact with my peers. The self-evaluations required at the end of each essay helped me to critique my own work and connect my personal ideas with my writings. I learned how to identify mistakes and the specific details of writing through the peer review assignments in this course. Furthermore, I am more knowledgeable about the following objectives: accurately citing source material, revising my work with attention to detail, using writing strategies and processes to write for a wide variety of audiences and purposes, and collaborating productively with my peers and instructor. Through Professor Schwartz’s English 102 class, I have strengthened my overall writing skills. Each learning module was based on a different form of argumentative writing. The first module focused on the basics of arguments. In this module, I learned how to avoid plagiarism through the video provided and how to annotate an article. The second learning module involved argument analysis. This module taught me what a claim is, the three qualities of a claim, how to identify one, and how to compose a strong academic claim. In the third learning module, I learned how to create a visual argument. This module taught me how to determine argumentative techniques in various images. The response to the visual argument assignment taught me to analyze the effectiveness of a visual argument. The fourth module focused on writing definition arguments. Through the brainstorming exercise, I learned how to create a topic heuristic. I had to choose three topics and create a heuristic for each one; then, I had to write a response about what I know and what I would like to learn about each topic. In the fifth module, I learned how to write a proposal argument. The prewriting exercise helped me establish a topic to propose and brainstorm for problems and solutions. In this assignment, I had to create a topic heuristic for the subject matter that I chose. Overall, with each module, I learned something new. The knowledge gained from these modules and assignments will be useful throughout my college years, and later on, my career. The discussion assignments throughout the course taught me how to review and synthesize speeches and articles, as well as interact with my peers. Several discussions were based on speeches I watched. In these discussions, I had to discuss each speech's effectiveness, identify the speaker’s tone, and identify the evidence used to support the speaker’s claims. In several other discussions, I had to read an article and discuss whether or not I thought the article was effective. I also had to determine if the author’s argument was valid. Because I felt that it was the best written, my favorite discussion post was the comparison and contrast one. With each discussion assignment, I had to respond to a peer’s discussion post. These activities allowed me to interact with my peers and share my opinions. The discussion assignments helped me learn how to review and synthesize works and collaborate productively with my peers. The process of self-evaluation was new to me. Examining the reasons, both personal and otherwise, for choosing certain topics, looking at my own writing style, proofreading what I had written, and critiquing my work proved to be an eye-opening experience with each essay. At the end of each essay, there were required brief 200 word self-evaluations. In these self-evaluations, I had to determine the effectiveness of my work and explain the reason for choosing my topic. I was also asked to connect my personal feelings with my essays when explaining my reasons for selecting the topics for two of my essays. The self-evaluations for "What is Race?" and "At What Age Should Students Learn a Second Language?" illustrate this connection. The subject matter for these essays "affect me on a personal level because I am of Puerto Rican descent. Being raised by a Caucasian mother, I never had the opportunity to learn Spanish until I entered high school." Through the self-evaluation process, not only was I forced to read objectively and revise what I had written, but also I was able to connect my chosen topic to my personal interests and give meaning to what I had to say. The peer reviews, along with the instructor's comments, were also beneficial. I learned to identify mistakes and note specific details of writing. Before this course, I had never written any form of argumentative essay. From my first paper “Qualities of a Heisman Winner” where I was often repetitive and redundant, to my last paper “At What Age Should Students Learn a Second Language?” my writing has developed, in part, due to peer reviews. For example, in my essay "What is Race," both my peers and my instructor pointed out that I did not develop a definite thesis, and that my sentences were choppy and did not flow well. In my essay “Corruption in Government” my instructor pointed out that I too often used the word very. I know now to avoid making these mistakes again. The peer review assignments also taught me to recognize mistakes in the writing of others -- a skill that lead me to spot flaws in my own compositions. Furthermore, I can now identify specific details of an author’s writings, such as the following: thesis statement, word count, and potential areas of improvement. With the help of student comments as well as those of my instructor, I hope that I am now ready to move to English/Literature courses and can continue to learn and improve. In the course syllabus, the teacher provided numerous objectives for the class. I feel that I made progress in meeting four of these objectives. This course has taught me to cite source material accurately. Several assignments, such as the annotated bibliography exercise, required me to cite source material. This course has also taught me how to revise my work with attention to detail through peer review assignments. Other class assignments provided opportunities for me to write for a wide variety of audiences and purposes. They taught me strategies, such as appealing to my audience's emotions, in order to persuade them to accept a certain viewpoint. Discussion assignments and virtual classroom discussion threads certainly helped me to collaborate more productively with my peers and my instructor. The teacher's comments along with the questions posed by students often led to an enhanced clarity about the writing lessons. I feel that I made the most progress in meeting the objectives of citing sources, revising, reaching out to my audience, and collaborating with others. English 102 helped me to become a stronger writer. I gained a new appreciation for writing an essay and achieved a level of confidence with writing that I did not have before taking this course.

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