I know I always do.
There are loads of resources on this page to help you. Scroll through this post at your leisure, and feel free to post your own tips as term goes on!!!
Code-Meshing Multiple Englishes:
As you’re learning to write at the college level, it is vitally important to remember that there is not (as you may have learned in school so far, and may continue to learn in other classrooms) one “proper” form of English.
While there is a tremendous amount of power and privilege associated with “standard” English, there is also great power and beauty in the various Englishes that exist: arguably, students have the right to not only bring their own languages into the classroom, but to learn to make these languages flourish. Learning how to integrate the Englishes that you might speak into your writing is called code-meshing.
There is no one way to effectively code-mesh, but several of the pieces we will be reading in this class exemplify these strategies (the works of Elaine Richardson, Junot Díaz and Barbara Mellix come to mind). Explained extensively here, code-meshing (or the more conservative style of code-switching) is not only possible in writing: Barack Obama is frequently cited for code-switching, as are Beyoncé and Comedy Central’s Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele (see references and videos for all four of these folks here).
Becoming fluent code-meshers is definitely something to practice in this class: keep code-meshing in mind as you read through the rest of the links on this page.
Helpful “Cheat” Sheets:
Queens College has a fantastic website devoted to helping students adapt to writing in college. Creatively called Writing at Queens, this site has an excellent list of handouts on writing that are sure to be helpful when adjusting to writing in college.
College Writing Guide:
Wondering how to dig into academic writing? This Writing in College guide from the University of Chicago has tips explaining the differences between high school and college writing; drafting papers; revising papers; and avoiding common pitfalls.
Writing Across Disciplines:
English classes aren’t your thing? Did you know that different fields in academics write differently? Just like poetry, novels, and short stories all often have different conventions of writing, so do the subjects of your potential majors throughout college. Biologists, for example, write differently than historians. The Writing at Queens website has a great set of guides to writing in different disciplines (ranging from computer science and philosophy to music and sociology).
(How to Avoid) Oops… I did it Again:
Wondering about that fine line between plagiarism and using on other scholars’ work to push your own thinking forward? Again, Writing at Queens can help.
To write effectively, one of the number one tips you’ll find is… read! Read more! Read most! For tips on reading literature (academic and otherwise) as a scholar, peruse these tips on close reading strategies:
Harvard College Writing Center: “How to Do a Close Reading”
L. Kip Wheeler: “Close Reading of a Literary Passage”
The University of Wisconsin: Madison: “A Short Guide to Close Reading for Literary Analysis”
Purdue Online Writing Lab: “Close Reading a Text and Avoiding Pitfalls”
Even though a lot of writers (myself included!) want to immediately pin down a thesis and “prove” it throughout the paper, more thoughtful, groundbreaking papers usually start with intensive research questions rather than the answer we find easiest to prove. The following links can help you hone in on research questions that are relevant to the world and interesting to you. One thing to keep in mind is always: do I know (or think I know) the answer to this question? If yes, perhaps I’m asking the wrong thing.
Rachel Cayley — “Using Writing to Clarify Your Own Thinking”
SUNY Empire State College — “Developing a Research Question”
Center for Innovative in Research and Teaching — “Writing a Good Research Question”
Thompson Writing Program: Duke University — “What Makes a Good Research Question?”
Research Rundowns — “Writing Research Questions”
Revising and Editing:
A little-known but hugely important writing fact: revising and editing are not the same things. Learn about the differences and how to effectively use them both to bring your writing to the next level (hopefully without stressing too much).
- Valerie Comer — “Rewrite Versus Revise Versus Edit”
- Rachel Cayley’s “Explorations of Style”, a blog on academic writing, has tremendously helpful resources for improving academic writing. Some highlights are here:
- Committing to Extensive Revisions: “Rather than worrying that yourwriting requires an exceptional amount of revision, try thinking that allwriting requires a great deal of revision”
- Revising Out Loud: “This past fall, I accidentally published a very rough draft of a post. I still don’t know how I managed to hit Publish instead of Save Draft, but I did.”
- Reverse Outlines: “Exposing the internal structure of a piece of writing by creating a reverse outline”
- Paragraphs: “Treating paragraphs as important units in your writing”
- Transitions: “Making effective transitions between sentences, paragraphs, and sections”
- Verbs: “Expressing the actions in your sentences with strong verbs”
- Subjects: “Using the characters in your sentences as clear subjects”
Conventions of Academic Style:
Many people argue effectively that academic style is constraining and colonizing, while others assert that it is necessary for students to learn if they are to have any hope of succeeding academically. Some of these links will explore how to use academic writing for social justice, while others will focus solely on explaining the dominant conventions of academic writing.
Decolonization: Indigeneity, Education, and Society — “Online Writing as a Tool for Decolonization”
Lukas Thiessen — “How Does the Artist Decolonize”
UniLearning — “Expressing Your Voice in Academic Writing”
Rachel Cayley — “Contribution and Voice in Academic Writing”
Documents We Will Use In Class:
Fanfic and narrative structure, evidence, etc — http://writingcommons.org/chapters/academic-writing/understanding-writing-genres/653-fan-fiction-in-the-composition-classroom
Summarizing, Paraphrasing, Quoting — http://writingcommons.org/evidence-documentation/summarizing-paraphrasing-quoting
All the (non-power acknowledging) comp topics ever — https://courses.lumenlearning.com/wm-englishcomposition1/
Rhetoric in your writing — https://courses.lumenlearning.com/wm-englishcomposition1/chapter/text-rhetorical-context/
Beyond the five-paragraph structure — https://courses.lumenlearning.com/wm-englishcomposition1/chapter/text-moving-beyond-the-five-paragraph-theme/
Integrating evidence — http://writingcommons.org/chapters/evidence-documentation/integrating-evidence