My junior year of high school, I took AP Language with the best teacher I have ever had. Ms. Hicks introduced me to a wide variety of writing techniques and styles. but the most important skill I developed in that class was thesis-writing and analyzation.
These two skills are what I carried with me when I dual-enrolled my senior year and what I have used in my first semester at Georgia State. I think that English 1103 has only built upon that foundation and given me even more knowledge and practice with these skills. I love the setup of the projects, where each one builds upon the last, building to a true academic research project. The steps that we used to ramp up to our Primary Source Analysis, the Reading Responses and the Annotated Bibliographies are extremely practical ways to go about writing seriously about a topic.
When I met with you in your office hours to review my draft for Fitzgerald’s Reading Response, the loudest feedback I heard was for me to include more nuance in my arguments. In my reading response, I was essentially trying to make the case that the centuries-long mistreatment of Native cultures by Western cultures was due to a critical lack of understanding of Native culture and how to study it. The polarities of dualism vs. nondualism, capitalism vs. natural resources, individuality vs. community, and notions of ‘advanced’ vs. ‘primitive’ serve to underline this chasm between Western and Native values.
However, in trying to illustrate this gap and increase the validity of my argument, I tended to paint with a broad brush, turning all Westerners into greedy, money hungry, cutthroat capitalists, ad all Native Americans into stoic, noble, protectors of the Earth. Obviously, in reality not all Westerners or Natives are like this. You encouraged me to introduce a little more nuance and difference of opinion into my responses and encouraged me to take a look at how Fitzgerald addressed counterarguments and then presented her own take of the basket. I definitely thought that this improved the overall ethos of my reading response. This manifested itself in sometimes little ways, like changing “Westerners view land and resources as….” to “Many Westerners view the land and resources as….”. This little change accounts for many Americans how actively fight for environmental protection and climate change research. Hopefully these changes are evident in the overall rhetorical tone of my annotations.
Aline Castro worked gave each other feedback at every level of our Reading Response process, so it was only natural that we would each review the other’s responses once we felt that we had a finished draft. As we worked through the rubric it was pretty much immediately clear that we had surpassed the ‘complete’ threshold of the rubric.
With that in place, I started examining her annotations for clear evidence, an organizational structure that backed up her core thesis, and multimodal content. Her evidence was good, and I thought she did a good job of not just arbitrarily annotating obvious sections of Fitzgerald’s text, but digging deeper into some of Fitzgerald’s more complex arguments. She had plenty of images and links to content that fully satisfied the multimodal section of the rubric. The only constructive feedback I gave her on the ‘skillful, persuasive’ area was in her organization. There were some small tweaks she could make that would make her annotations flow into each other a little cleaner and smoother, but I think that’s the only thing that could potentially limit her overall score.
Her feedback for me included some calls for greater clarity in the meaning of some of my more abstract annotations. I did my best to fix those and make it easier to understand what my intent was behind some of them.
In the first chapter of First Year Guide to Writing, it says that students work best in collaborative groups or pairs. So, knowing that, Aline and I decided that it would be good to get together in order to work on assignments together and help each other if we got stuck at all. This time was incredibly helpful as she helped me clarify some things that I had been fuzzy on, and we were able to talk through some of the tasks and how to do them. A few of the fears we had, like if she was already behind or if I was the only one who had an issue with one of the technological tools, were assuaged when we started realizing that not only were we in the same boat, but the entire rest of the class was too.
I definitely feel like I have a lot more clarity and feel far more comfortable engaging with the course than I did before we collaborated. I had some Gradian questions that she helped me resolve and I also think I have a far better grasp on the overall flow of the class, its rhythms and how to navigate them, than I did previously.
Overall, I think that this meetup was incredibly helpful for both of us and we both plan on meeting up to work on the course together often.