End of Semester

Hello class,

Just wanted to say that I have finished grading and submitting grades for your work this short semester. I was very impressed with the final projects, and even though I’m supposed to be your teacher, you all taught me a great deal about each of your subjects. I really enjoyed working with you all this semester.

In the next two days, I will be emailing you all some feedback on your ePortfolios and breakdown of your contract and ePortfolio grades (just in case you were curious). If you don’t hear from me by Monday night, shoot me an email. I try to be careful when I do things, but sometimes, things get lost in the shuffle.

I hope you all have a wonderful last few weeks of summer and a great fall semester! Keep up the good work in all of your  college writing 🙂




The Polishing Process

Editing and Proofreading Tips

As you work towards your final drafts, editing is an important step. Once you have completed the revision process, it’s time to go back through your paper and make sure you have achieved sentence clarity and precision of language. Here are some solid tips for proofreading and editing:

*Read your paper aloud. Listen for places where things sound wrong and places where you stumble over words. These are usually indicators that something is not quite right with the wording.

*Ask a friend to read it aloud while you read along. A really good friend might even help you proofread.

*Read your paper from the last sentence to the first sentence, looking carefully at the words that you read. Are they spelled right?

*Give yourself at least a day to put the draft aside. If you try to proofread immediately after writing it, you are almost guaranteed to miss errors because your brain automatically fills in what you were thinking instead of what’s on the page.

*Hit Control+F, and then type “their” in the find box. Look at every use of “their,” and make sure you are using the correct version of this homophone. Then, go back and repeat for “there” and “they’re,” as well as “you’re” and “your.” Let’s add “its,” “it’s,” “to,” and “too” while we’re at it.

  • Their = ownership “Their ball is in the street.”
  • There = location “The ball is over there” or existence “There is a ball.”
  • They’re = they are “They’re playing ball.”
  • You’re = you are “You’re really tall.”
  • Your = ownership “Your height is above average.”
  • It’s = it is “It’s a beautiful day”
  • Its = ownership “Its kittens were black.”
  • To = a directive “Give the ball to the cat.”
  • Too = also “I want a kitten too!” or excess “It’s too cute!”

*Make sure that every time  you use “I,” you have capitalized it. I cannot tell you how many times I have seen “i” in your projects, posts, freewrites, tweets, and emails.

*Definitely is spelled d-e-f-i-n-i-t-e-l-y NOT d-e-f-i-a-n-t-l-y. Defiantly means disobediently, not certainly.


Some Additional Grammar Tips

These are some common errors that I see in many of your papers. If you have more questions, there are great resources online, such as GrammarGirl and the Purdue OWL, that can help you figure out your specific issues.

*Introductory clauses (actually called ‘dangling modifiers’): Whenever you have an introductory clause or phrase, you need to use a comma.

  • When doing homework, my computer caught on fire.
  • Once upon a time, there was a frog.
  • In 1999, there were a lot of parties.
  • Because I was sick, I could not go to school.

*Semi-colons link two COMPLETE sentences that share very similar ideas or a list where it’s necessary to separate commas. They are a stylistic tool, not a necessity. Limit yourself to one semi-coloned sentence per page (if you feel a need to use them at all).

  • I love my mom’s chocolate chip cookies; they are made with love.
  • I have friends from Atlantic City, New Jersey; Athens, Greece; White Plains, New York; Las Vegas, Nevada; Miami, Florida; and Los Angeles, California.

In the case of very long lists, especially ones that include many commas, a semi-colon may be used as a “super comma.”

  • I have many futures jobs in mind: a zoologist, one that works in a zoo laboratory; a marine biologist, especially if I get to work at Sea world; or a cactus farmer, which I think is self-explanatory.

*Which vs. That: There is a difference between “that” and “which.” “Which” refers to something that is simply an attribute or added on. “That” reflects something that cannot be removed from the subject to which it refers. I recommend that you listen to this podcast from GrammarGirl. It will help clarify the difference.

*Common fragment starters: If your sentence begins with “for example,” “because,” or “which,” make sure it’s actually a complete sentence. “For example, Casper the Friendly Ghost” isn’t a sentence; it’s a fragment or a dependent clause. However, “For example, Casper the Friendly Ghost is a cartoon where the supernatural comes into play” would be considered a complete, independent clause. Casper the Friendly Ghost is the agent. In order for this to be a sentence, that agent has to complete an action. In this case, it’s a simple one. The shows exists, signified by the word “is.”

*Dependent clauses that define or describe something: There are many types of dependent clauses, but one common type of dependent clause that I’d like to point out in particular is dependent clauses that are used to describe something. For example, in “My mom, who is a rockstar baker, likes to enter pie contests,” you must use commas to hook in the extra information. You might also write something such as “The candy apple is hard, which is because it was placed in the refrigerator.”

*Active vs. Passive Voice: Try to use the active voice when possible. For example, “The cat had been washed by my mother” is passive; the object is acted upon by something. “My mother washed the cat” is active; the subject/agent performs an action. You should also avoid using too many helping verbs. It is typically better to say “I learned that cats are fluffy” rather than “I had learned that cats are fluffy,” unless you are purposefully trying to create a sense of distance.

A good test for the passive voice is adding “by zombies” after the verb (usually works, not 100% accurate, though). For example: “I chased by zombies” does not make sense. “I had been chased by zombies” does. So, “I chased” is active; “I had been chased” is passive.



GrammarGirl’s Quick and Dirty Tips

The Purdue OWL

Guide to Grammar and Writing

Grammar Help

Some of you have noted that you need help with grammar. It’s hard to address grammar during an online course and out of context. This is my attempt to create some useful instruction.

The Grammar Hotline

The GoogleDoc below is our class’s Grammar Hotline. You can type your specific grammar questions into the document or answer a fellow classmates’ question if you are able to help them out. Specific sentences that you need help with are great. General questions may be more difficult to answer.


Online Resources

If you know you have some general grammar questions, the following resources are great:

Grammar Bytes — chompchomp.com: exercises, self-quizzes, and explanations

GrammarGirl: a reference guide for grammar questions, podcasts you can download and take with you (I did this in grad school)

Talk to the Teacher

Finally, you can always email me with specific grammar concerns, but do try the first two solutions first. I think you’ll find them helpful 🙂

Drafts — Let’s Make Them Due 8/4 Instead — And Some Pointers

Hi All,

Your first drafts were due tomorrow evening , but I think you all deserve an extra day. They will be due Sunday, 8/4 instead. I hope that helps.

Also, some of you have asked about the MS Word requirement. We can scrap that, but I do still want a paragraph+ (whether it’s on your blog or at the top of a documented embedded into your post) about your particular concerns with the draft. This will help your classmates to focus their feedback on the things you need help with the most.

Though you have some sections to develop according to the criteria of the assignment, keep these three things in mind:

  • Synthesize & Make Connections: Make sense of the information for your audience. Show how things are related. Where is the interplay of ideas/facts/concepts
  • Evaluate: How is the information biased? Is it legitimate? Is it relevant? Is it recent?
  • Analyze: So what? Why does this matter? Why does your reader need to know this information?

And of course, don’t forget to review the rubric!  It will tell you exactly what I’m looking for.

Please feel free to email me with questions, to ask your classmates for their input, and to use the resources on the Resource tab to help you improve your writing.



Some Notes

Hi class,

Just a few notes to guide you through the end of week 3:

1. Please, please, please read directions carefully. Keep them out next to you every time you do an assignment. It’s good practice for this class and any other you will take. If you write something great that hasn’t addressed the criteria, then you’re wasting your energy.

2. The interview is one of those things that has specific instructions. You should be interviewing someone who can best help you answer the questions you’ve set out to explore.

3. The rubric for the final iSearch project will be posted by the end of this week. I will be posting it in a GoogleDoc. You can feel free to use the comment function to leave points of concern if you wish. The document won’t be 100% final until the end of week 4. Until then, I will be open to your suggestions.

4. Please feel free to email me with questions and to talk to each other via comment function. It’s ok to be curious, and it’s ok to double-check your understanding of something.

5. I will be reaching out to everyone over the end of week 3/beginning of week 4 to give you a progress update and see if there is any specific writing issues you still want to tackle. Feel free to reach out to me first if you’re extremely impatient.

Keep up the good work!



Progress Posts

As we near the end of Week 2, please don’t forget to post your progress reports. While you’re writing your posts, I recommend you keep the directions near by. Several of you have written posts that do not fulfill the criteria.

You’re supposed to be informing your readers about your search process, your learning process, and your sources. This means you need to give more than some links to some sources that you might review. You need to think about who’s writing those pieces, how they are written, what they are telling you, and what they make you (re)consider or how they shape your hypotheses.

Here is an example of my own writing about a source I found on Twitter when examining what it takes to be an effective Writing Program Administrator (WPA). Though it’s not exactly a progress report (it was just a post about a source), it gives you an idea of how I’m thinking about the research process:  http://authoringmyself.wordpress.com/2012/03/11/twitter-located-research-journal-a-job-posting/ In order for this post to work for an iSearch project, I would have had to address what I found about what it takes to be a WPA and what I would have needed to explore next as a result of learning that information or how that information shaped my thoughts about the issue.

Any questions? Feel free to leave comments.



Great Work!

Just wanted to say that I am extremely pleased with the progress of this class. For the most part, everyone turned in their work on time this week, and your ideas have been insightful and interesting. I’m enjoying reading everything that you have written (and even if I haven’t commented, I have read everything that everyone posted). 

Please don’t forget to moderate the comments on your pages as they come in. If you haven’t done that, you may be missing valuable feedback from your classmates and myself. And of course, feel free to ask questions and respond to others who have commented already.

Also, I noticed that some of you were worried about your ability to be grammatically correct. As you continue to write, I will send you feedback to help you work through patterns of error. In the meantime ChompChomp has great resources and exercises for those of who are feeling a little less than confident with your grammar knowledge. 

Let’s keep up the great work in week 2!

1st Assignment Due Today (11:59pm) — Some Notes

Hello ENG1000C students,

Just wanted to say that I see lots of great posts already taking shape. They show in-depth thinking and analysis. That’s what you’re aiming for in this course all of the time! I also see some great responses that really consider the writer’s ideas. Nice job!

Here are a few notes to help you keep up the good work:


The great thing about blogs is that people can read your work and leave comments, whether you share with classmates, invite friends and family, or share with the general public. On WordPress, comments will not automatically show up until a user’s comments have been approved. In order to do that, you will have to go to the dashboard, select Comments from the menu on the left, and approve whatever comments are available (you can, of course, delete/report spam).


The comments that are already on classmates’ posts are great examples for how to write a thoughtful response. They go beyond “that was great” or “I disagree.” They interact with the writer’s ideas, consider them, and respond. You can feel free to ask questions too. Is there something you want to know more about? Was there something you didn’t understand? As a reader, you can provide insight into what was effective or ineffective. You can also help the writer to see their own ideas in new ways.

Looking forward to reading more as the day goes on!