Do my coursework

Students wrote straightforward, detached prose, careful not to reveal personal bias, basing obser- vations and conclusions solely on research they could document. I presented accuracy and form as paramount to good research writing. Although many students met the deadlines I set, their re- search writing seemed stale. My students did not share my excite- do my coursework ment for research.

And the writing I asked them to do failed to have the intensity I wished to foster intellectually and personally. When I started teaching, I held romantic notions about how I would inspire my students. Quickly I learned that effective teach- ing also means being both organized and structured. I needed clearer expectations of myself and of my students. Although I wanted to develop my own pedagogy, during my first years of teaching I often relied do my coursework on those teaching materials and assign- ments previously developed by former teachers of the courses I inherited. Those materials provided some of the direction I needed as a new teacher. Not perceiving them then as a crutch, I used those resources to help alleviate my constant fear that I was not doing what the school expected of me. What I grew to under- stand, however, were the needs, not of the school per se, but of the students I taught. My initiation into the profession - 120 - 150 Alternative Forms of Research Writing started with attendance at National Council of Teachers of En- glish (NCTE) and Indiana Teachers of Writing (ITW) conferences and developed further in graduate composition courses. After trial and error, as well as deliberate reflection, I became more comfortable in my role as writing instructor. I began to realize how the teaching materials I inherited failed to address and foster the growth I wanted in student writing.

This observa- tion was important in rethinking what I asked my students to do. Yet help writing college research paper these expectations proved especially problematic when, in my fourth year of teach- ing, I completed the assignments a few steps ahead of my stu- dents.

Imposing structure on the research process seemed necessary, yet the very process I was pushing students through did not work for me as a writer. The neatly packaged approach with specific deadlines failed for me as a writer.

Rather than wrestling with substantive issues and perspectives in my research, I became more concerned about fulfilling the conventions of the specific tasks (e. Writing the research paper along with my students helped me understand the limitations of the assignment and my expectations. More important, the experi- ence made me think through audience, focus, and documenta- tion. I learned through the process how the final product seemed to overshadow the smaller steps along the way.

I learned that students had too many deadlines to meet and that the deadlines assumed all writers write in the same way: basically, the dead- lines I asked students to meet failed to recognize the messy and sometimes chaotic musings of a researcher and a writer. I learned that some skills such as documentation and writing transitions needed less evaluation and more practice. The skills and knowledge I would review would mirror those in previous years: summary, paraphrase, MLA documentation, and integrating quotations.

But I wanted to make the research process less rigid, less a cookie- cutter approach to research writing. I wanted the writing of the research paper to be more engaging than the traditional research paper had previously encouraged.

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My revised approach was a mix of standard research-writ- ing activities and activities meant to encourage personal connec- tions, reflection, and innovation. All students began their research projects by generating annotated bibliographies, listing and evalu- ating at least ten sources. Students then used at least four sources to develop four- to five-page traditional research papers, which included thesis statement, MLA parenthetical citation, and a works cited list. The written and oral re- sponse to cover memos and drafts prompted revision and for some students prompted new directions for their research and writing. For the second part of their research project, students had the option of developing their initial four- to five-page paper into a longer eight- to ten-page paper or treating the second part of their paper in a new way. Guidelines and expectations for the second part were less formal and prescriptive than those for the first section. She scribbled down her name on the papers as do my coursework if it were being chis- eled into a rock,. Although the first section of the project needed to be clearly and closely researched and documented, the second part did not require students to proceed with documented writing as long as the new section used the research in the first section as a founda- tion. Similar classroom procedures continued with the second part, namely informal conferences, peer response groups, and cover memos.

For some students, the creative and reflective re- sponses allowed them to shelve formalistic documentation concerns and instead focus more closely on what they had come to know and understand about their topics. These alternative forms of relating research allowed students to take risks in ex- pression and do important personal reflection and critical think- ing, examining their attitudes toward their subjects and what formed those attitudes. I also needed to rethink what type of writing I wanted to encourage in the final paper. I paused to con- sider whether my assignments, such as the research paper, en- couraged students to demonstrate competency or to write compelling, interesting prose. I needed to consider this risk taking in my instructions to students. If I wanted students to take risks in their writing, I needed to be prepared to respond to their writing in ways that took into account not just competency but also inventiveness and personal expression.

Allowing students the choice of genre in the do my coursework second part of their research project allowed me to encourage various forms of writing and risk tak- ing even within the parameters of a research project. Rethinking the final paper meant I took risks as an instruc- tor.

I felt constrained by having to assign a researched and docu- mented paper while wanting students to write intensely, even personally. Because I wanted my assessment to better reflect changes in the assignment and the revision process to move stu- dents to write stronger papers, I solicited advice from Peter El- bow about how, without becoming overburdened by teacher response to drafts, to move from assessment of structure, con- tent, and mechanics of student writing to encouraging expressive papers. How about us- ing the revising process to help students move early exploratory germs in two slightly different directions: a kind of more formal tight paper and a more personal essay kind of paper — but using the same thinking.

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