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For each assignment, I usually read one or two sample es- says in the traditional prose format. Then I present some of the other unique creations students have produced for that particu- lar assignment. For the heritage essay, for instance, I often illus- trate using a piece by a young man who provides full-page color photos along with prose to make the written connection between ancient Hispanic warriors and his own child. This spectrum of formats and styles, which demonstrates a mere sampling of the possibilities, serves as an invention exer- cise, as it usually prompts students to imagine the directions they can take in their own essays.
Furthermore, in the discussions that ensue from these exercises students inevitably discover for them- selves whether the various approaches are effective and whether the alternative formats complement or distract from the prose. In essence, we brainstorm as a class about creative and effective ways to address the issues presented in the assignment. I also introduce each group to the text for the course, The Book of Questions by Gregory Stock (1987). I invite them to page through this collection of rhetorical questions about values, be- liefs, and life and encourage them to answer a few of their choice. This exercise, aside from helping the students focus their ideas for the essay, provides an opportunity for them to get to know the classmates with whom they will soon share their personal stories. At the next class meeting, I ask the students to more closely scrutinize The Book of Questions for an intriguing question that relates to the essay assignment at hand and respond to it in one to two pages. This step in the process produces prewriting that in most cases serves as a platform cheap essay writing service online for the first draft. For each essay, before a first draft is due we also engage in various other invention exercises. For the family essay, for ex- ample, students bring to class several examples of metaphors they find in published essays, poems, novels, articles, and so forth.
Once the students have first drafts in hand, they participate in peer editing sessions during which they read and respond to the essays of two classmates. For each essay, I prompt their re- sponses with general questions. In other words, is the common thread that has in- fluenced or shaped the writer obvious?
Having read two other essays and received cheap essay writing service online three opinions regarding their own writing, students leave the work- shops with plenty of food for thought as they approach the revi- sion stage. Between the due dates for the first and the final drafts, I meet with students in ten- to fifteen-minute individual conferences, during which I address any concerns they have about their es- says, the workshops, or the class in general. I also use the confer- ences to establish a personal relationship with these students. I consider this a significant step in the process since I ask them to entrust me with their life stories.
To minimize such problems, I prompt discussions about the value of adding outside sources as a way of projecting our experiences for an audience so that writer and reader can connect in the shared human experience. Thus, although these and other concerns arise over the course of a semester, through dialogue, they are man- ageable. Ultimately, despite some hesitancy and overzealousness on the part of some students, I continue to rely on this personal involve- ment in my Advanced Composition course because in theory it makes sense and because in practice it works. This approach, theore- tically, allows students to trace their past, sort out the present, and clarify the values and convictions they are developing for the -37- COURSE DESIGN future. The essays themselves, although personal, engage writers in both reader- and writer-oriented goals. In other words, they provide an excellent forum for students to examine themselves, but they also lead to the examined life in relation to cultural and societal knowledge and the formulation of values and convic- tions.