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The rationale for this activity was that students were already fa- miliar with, or had an investment in, a topic or an author and therefore would have an easier time engaging with the task. Students were asked to mimic, in an abbreviated do my essay for me cheap form, the narratives of the course texts. They were to tell their story — in this case, the process of discovery — and describe what they learned from the discovery. The next time we met, moving ever closer to the Save the World project, I borrowed a strategy from one of my graduate school professors and asked students to list what irritated them: big things, small things. Any irritation was appropriate: lousy parking, lousy cafeteria food, slow drivers, fast drivers, campus safety, people who snap gum, people who take the wheelchair- accessible elevator with no apparent need to do so, and so on. As I wrote my list on the board, students wrote in their notebooks. When we talked about the lists, there were lots of chuckles and oh, yeahs. Then each of us chose one problem from our list and wrote a letter to the person who could solve the problem. After writing, we reexchanged these quickwrites and read some aloud.

In between all the fun, the exercise got us thinking about issues that needed illumination or problems that needed solu- tions. For the next class meeting, students brought in draft writ- es their first thoughts about an issue or a problem, why it was a problem, why the issue was important, and some solutions, if possible.

They could field additional questions that needed answers and talk about additional sources of information to strengthen the writing. Before the essay was due, everyone met with me in do my essay for me cheap an individual writing conference.

The final version of their essays required a minimum of four and a half pages of writing plus a works cited list. Each essay also was accompanied by a separate one- to two-page pro- cess memo recounting the story of the writing of the essay from empty page to finished composition. Then each of us in the circle read aloud one to two pages of our own writing so that our community of writers could hear what we had been up to. They wrote about cam- pus issues: parking, food service, malfunctioning showerheads in the residence halls, disparate funding for athletic teams, and the campus work-study program. What in early drafts had seemed like frivolous writing about mold on essay writting service dorm walls turned into an essay that ex- plained how and why mold affects those plagued by allergies. How could what - 115 - WRITING ASSIGNMENTS you have researched and discovered be turned into something that works for change? And because I know from teachers in our West Ten- nessee Writing Project the thrill for students of writing to an au- thor — and receiving an answer — I suggested a last alternative: a letter to one of our authors. This writing might not save the world, but it would provide practice with a particular part of the third side of the rhetorical triangle — audience. Finished writings had to identify real problems and letters had to be sent to real people with real addresses or presented to real campus or other groups with real presidents who called real meetings with real meeting times and places.

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I had expected most students to write posi- tion papers, essays that could be printed in guest columns for the student newspaper, and material that could be used for speeches to student groups. But except for three or four pieces, all were letters. Another wrote the president of the Student Government Association with ideas for SGA-spon- sored weekend activities, copies to the vice chancellor for do my essay for me cheap stu- dent affairs. The student who had written about the sizzling hot showerhead in her dorm and had discovered an article about a faucet attachment that could control shower temperature wrote a letter — enclosing a copy of the article about the attachment — to the director of housing. Several students wrote to the head of campus security about the need for more parking.

A couple of students wrote to the vice chancellor for student affairs citing their problems with roommates and recommended approaches that could have eliminated some of the problems. One student wrote a short letter about the politeness of college men to college ERIC - 116 - Writing to Save the World women and sent it to Ebony Appeal, a new campus newspaper, which printed it. Another student composed a statement that she read at a meeting of the Student Government Association where she admonished students to study rather than party. A student who had suggested a more complete menu board for the cafete- ria reported that a menu board was put up after her conversation with the head of food service. Through a combination of all three writing tasks — search and learn, writing to illuminate a topic or solve a problem, and writing to save the world— the students did the work described in the English 112 course description. Students read in new texts, documented from them, drafted and revised, and in various ways combined the personal with the public. Research methods in- cluded interviews, observations, thick description, informal opin- ion polls, and library searching. All constructed a works consulted list, a requirement for much college writing. All students wrote on topics that mattered to them. Through the reading — the books were spaced throughout the semester, and we spent a day of class time discussing each — I hoped students would see that research writing could read as interestingly as a good novel.

I wanted them to believe that oth- ers could read their writing with as much interest. I had won- dered about the progression of the writing assignments and the success of the culminating Save the World piece. But the voice of 117 WRITING ASSIGNMENTS Deborah Meier (1995) sounded in my head: academic excellence is not the goal of school. Steadily reading and writing our way toward the end assignment — writ- ing to save the world — valued students as thinkers and makers of meaning. It provided an opportunity for students to draw on what they knew, to argue a position in which they believed strongly, and to send their words off into the world where they might actually make a difference. In the Middle: New Understandings about Writ- ing, Reading, and Learning.

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