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February 20, 2006

Organizational Procedures: How Do You Prepare for a Writing Class?

"The most difficult thing is the decision to act, the rest is merely tenacity. The fears are paper tigers. You can do anything you decide to do. You can act to change and control your life; and the procedure , the process is its own reward." ~ Amelia Earhart

Prepping for courses and class assignments can be daunting for even the most experienced teacher or student. Besides the matter of preparedness, the other issue is time! How much of it are you willing to contribute so that you'll get everything you want and expect from the content? This juggling act of time spent in preparing and maintaining one's own sanity is one that many of us deal with on a daily basis.

So, what is your organizational procedure for class preparation? Do you have a failsafe M.O. (method of operation) or would you say there is a method to your madness? University websites, such as the St. Louis University of Law, often have . . .

Processes in Writing.gif

. . . common sense type approaches that seem easy on the surface, but complicated when you factor in the conditions of real life. Consider the following exerpt:

. . . Before you even start [preparing for class], you need to guarantee that the atmosphere is proper for learning and reviewing. So decide: are you an “I must have quiet” sort of person? If so, hit the library and resist that temptation to prepare with friends. How about “I can’t think unless there is music?” Find a good location for some sound – although you might need the music at lower decibels than normal. Law school requires immense concentration. Finally, can you prepare with friends? This one may be the most questionable: all of you need to be ready to prepare – and have the same degree of concentration. Otherwise, the studying may deteriorate into a talk session.

Once you found the proper atmosphere, you need to determine how to begin. In the same way an outline will guide you through the entire course, you need some guide of the day’s assignment. Before you begin, look at the professor’s syllabus and the table of contents. What is the subject matter being covered? [ . . . ] Are you dealing with the basics? Exceptions? Be prepared to even skim over the day’s reading to have a sense of proportion regarding how this day’s readings fit into the entire scheme of topics currently being covered by the professor. . . .

To read the full article, please click HERE


. . . If you are a writing student, please leave comments for one of the following ideas:

1. How do YOU complete a class assignment? Again, explain your own procedure. A typical assignment in this class is a blog comment based on an in-class writing prompt. What steps do you take from start to finish?

or

2. How do YOU write an essay? Don’t just write what you think I want to hear. Describe the process from beginning to end for how YOU actually write a formal essay.

Posted by lhobbs at February 20, 2006 10:59 AM

Readers' Comments:

Professor Hobbs

How Do You Write A Essay?

How do I write a essay? Good question to ask. Everyone writes a essay differently. When I am assigned a paper or essay to write and a topic. Sometimes, I am given a essay without a topic to write about. I do exactly the same thing no matter if I have a topic or not. I usually sit back and think about the way the paper should be set up. Then I also, sit back and think about the topic which I need to be discussing throughout my paper. After I do that I had to my computer or what ever computer that is around me and I begin writing what ever comes to my mind about the topic. It usually ends up in a paper format. When that happens, I end up going back to what I just quickly wrote down and added sentences between sentences to make the information flow smoothly, without much difficulties. Once I do that, I end up printing out my paper that I just wrote. When I end up printing out the paper, I sit down and read the paper this way is easier for me. I actually can see what I changed and what I had before. I then after all the corrections are made, I will end up going back to the computer and making the corrections from my paper onto the computer. Once that is done, I end up reprinting out the paper and handing it off to one of my friends to read and correct. When I get my paper back I end up reading what they wrote and then head back to the computer and put in there corrections. After I do that I reprint out the paper, and read it one last time and see if there are any more mistakes if there are I will head back to the computer and fix them. Once, I fix those corrections, I will print out the paper again and continue this process until I find no more mistakes. Finally, when I think that my paper is perfect I will print out a final draft and hand it into my instructor. This is what I do when it comes to writing an essay.


Jennifer G.

Posted by: Jennifer G at February 20, 2006 04:27 PM

Professor Hobbs,

Everyone has his or her own individual way of going about composing an essay. Personally, as soon as I pick my specific topic, I sit down at my computer and begin writing, without worrying about the title, margins, spelling and grammar, the header, or any other technicalities. This first draft of my essay is usually very raw and in need of many alterations. After I am done writing everything I want to say, I then perform a spelling and grammar check on the essay. Next, I print it out and self-correct all the mistakes I can see at first glance. After that, I take a more in depth look at the paper, reading it out loud to myself. This oftentimes helps me catch mistakes with how the paper flows. After I am satisfied that I have caught all of the mistakes that I am going to catch, I go back on my computer, correct everything and then reprint the essay. During this step, I also usually add a title, now that I have become familiar with my paper.

After I print out my second draft, now including headers, a title, and all of my information in the top right hand corner, I either take it to class for a peer-review session if we have one, or I have one of my friends read and correct my paper. Then, I discuss what changes they have made, and many times, add a few more corrections of my own.

I then proceed to print out a third copy of my paper, after correcting the newly discovered mistakes. I take my third copy to the writing center and have one of the tutors there help me make some of the last revisions. I correct them, print the paper again, and do one last self-revision. If I am happy with the paper, then I take it to be handed in. However, if I find yet more mistakes, I change them again and print the paper a final time before handing it in.

Kelsey L.

Posted by: Kelsey L. at February 20, 2006 05:34 PM

Professor Hobbs

During English class, we are usually assigned an in class writing prompt. Professor Hobbs gives us a few minutes to write down the thoughts that first come to mind. For homework we have to edit the writing and post it on an English blog.

I usually do not get a chance to complete it in class, but I try to get the work done right after class, while it’s fresh in my mind. I open Microsoft word and transfer it, by typing what I have already written. This takes some time because I have to change words around, add sentences, and correct my grammar and punctuation. I then run a spell check on my document and have my roommate proofread my response. Once I’ve made sure that everything is written correctly, I post my response on the English-blog website.

Angela H.

Posted by: angela h. at February 21, 2006 02:33 PM

Professor Hobbs

The first thing I do when I need to write an essay is find some time when I know I can concentrate and get good ideas. At that time I think about the topic and scribble down words and ideas that come to my mind on a piece of paper. When I know what I am going to write about I make a general outline on my computer. From there I start my rough draft on my computer, keeping my outline up to refer to. When I am done with my rough draft I save it and put it away for a while. I find that it is easier to fix and reword mistakes in my paper when I have not read it for a while. After I come back to my paper I reread it and revise it. Then I have a friend read it and revise it too. When my mistakes are pointed out, I write a final draft.

C. Robinson

Posted by: Cathy at February 21, 2006 04:13 PM

Professor Hobbs,

I complete all of blog assignments for the class the same way. I read the question asked and class and write as much as possible in the time given. This is what I would call my freewriting for blog.

Then when I get back to the dorms to finish it on the blog site, I go over the question and what I have written. If I think that more explanation is required I write more. After that is all done I reread all of my ideas and form it into sentences that make good sense.

My last step before submitting the blog entry is to find any mistakes that I may have made during the writing process. This is how I complete my blog entries.

Thoryn S.

Posted by: Thoryn S. at February 21, 2006 06:45 PM

Professor Hobbs

To write an essay there first needs to be a topic to write about. A good essay must include a thesis, organized thoughts, and a conclusion. The writer should write down any thoughts or feelings that they have about the topic, and then organize those thoughts into different categories. Then, when creating the thesis the writer should be telling the reader what the essay is going to be about. When creating the body paragraphs, supporting sentences and examples need to be added to make the paper proficient. The final step on writing an essay is to create a conclusion. The conclusion summarizes the entire thesis and all the main points that were stated in the paper.

Kelly J

Posted by: Kelly J at February 21, 2006 08:00 PM

Professor Hobbs,

I am beginning to write differently than I used to because I am more opinionated and other people are reading my work more often now. Before I begin writing I need to find a topic and usually my writing is really bad if I can’t write about a topic I’m passionate about. It’s hard for me to fake an interest in something so a lot of times I will sit for a while and think until I come up with something. I like to write about things that are controversial and things I have a strong opinion about.

More recently I have been using a web to collect my thoughts. It’s a good way to see how your ideas can connect and it still leaves your final essay open to change more than an outline would. Although I like outlines a lot too because you don’t have to try and connect things together as much while you are writing.

Usually after I have my topic and I know all the details it’s going to incorporate I just need time and a quiet place to get my essay done. I like to go to the library alto with my laptop and just sit and type.

Once I have my paper done I look at it and revise it. Sometimes it takes a lot of revision to clarify what I am trying to say. With my last essay I added a page and a half to clarify something.

I keep revising it as much as I can until the deadline or until I’m satisfied with it. Then I turn my paper in and go on my way knowing that what I wrote is how I felt and that I can be satisfied with it.

-Sam Hakes

Posted by: Sam H. at February 21, 2006 10:51 PM

Professor Hobbs

When beginning the essay process, I start by thinking about the topic. Throughout the day I will ponder what to say and what examples to use. I try to organize my thoughts so the next step will be easier.

After I have an idea of what I want to write, I develop an outline. This allows me to see what my paper will look like. I can play around with where and when to mention certain statements. It gives me a skeleton of what my paper will look like, and allows for an easier formulation of a thesis.

The next step I take is writing the rough draft. I create a draft according to the outline and expanding my general outlined statements. When I have finished the first draft, I read and check what I wrote. Then I have other people go over my paper, catching mistakes I may have missed. I correct my mistakes and generate the final copy.

S. Velkoff

Posted by: Samantha V. at February 21, 2006 11:06 PM

Dear Professor Hobbs,

When writing an essay there are a few things I

would do. First I start off by identifying what

the topic is and how it relates to me/I relate

to it. Next begin to brainstorm ideas that come

to mind linked to this topic. This gets the

creative juices churning and essentially helps

to form a focus for my paper. Now large part of

composing the essay is finished.

The next thing I do is I put

similar ideas together. So all like subjects are

put together into larger groups so that (say for

instance)20 ideas may be grouped into 5 or 6. I

then create an introduction to my essay

incorporating my thesis. From that thesis and my

grouped ideas, I then formulate the subjects for

my body paragraphs. I now have an outline of

what I will write.

I begin to fill in the blanks now in

this stage of the process by brainstorming for

more ideas and adding the ideas from the groups

and elaborating on them. After making cognitive

sentences for the paragraphs, I survey the

content and formulate a conclusion. After that I

go over the essay and edit it for all and any

mistakes.

After the editing process then I look

it over one more time and then I turn it in. I

relax and have pride that not only did I get it

done, but that I did it to satisfaction.

Posted by: Holden B. Jones at February 22, 2006 02:49 AM

Dear Professor Hobbs,

The first part of writing an essay is planning. First I pick a topic that I know I have a lot to say about. Then I organize my thoughts. I list all my thoughts then group them. After I group my thoughts, it is time to begin writing.

First I come up with a well written introduction paragraph. I make sure it always has a grabber and a thesis in it. After that I take my grouped thoughts and put them into body paragraphs. I add examples to strengthen my thoughts and end with a transition sentence. When I have body paragraphs that I feel are good enough, I begin my conclusion.

I often spend a lot of time on my conclusion. I think of ways to summarize what was said, but in a different way. I then look for a clever ending that is not corny or stupid.

When everything is written, I read over it again out loud to proofread for errors. I then correct the errors I found. After the proofreading and corrections, I give my paper to a friend to check. I fix the errors they found then turn it in to be graded.

Brendan L.

Posted by: Brendan L. at February 22, 2006 11:16 AM

Professor Hobbs,
When it comes to writing an essay, I never follow the standard process discussed in english classes. Upon receiving an assignment, I look over it and try to come up with details to add in. I usually skip the freewriting and outlining steps and jump straight to my computer. I type and hit the backspace button untill my paper is complete. Of course this doesn't happen in an hours time, it sometimes takes me days to complete.

I start my thinking and typing process at the same time so I sometimes get stuck and at a loss for words. When this happens, I take a break and come back to it. Eventually, my paper is finished, I do a proofread and hand it in. This isn't the best way to go about writing a paper but it's just what has worked for me for as long as I can remember. The writing process is an efficient way to successfully complete a paper but it just takes up too much time and I'd rather do it my way.

Adrianne E

Posted by: Adrianne E at February 22, 2006 12:19 PM

Professor Hobbs,

Class assignments may not look like they take a lot of effort. The truth is that the process involved in completing one involves many different steps. If these steps are not completed, the assignment will not be completed either.

In order to begin, one must get the assignment. Depending on what it is determines whether or not the prompt should be written in the journal. Once the assignment is received, the writing process can begin.

One very important part of the process is actually writing out the assignment. What the assignment is determines the amount that must be written. After it has been completed in the journal, it must be posted on the English blog.

The last part of the assignment process can sometimes take the longest. First, what has been written is re-read and edited. Then it is typed up on Microsoft Word. After it is typed, it is once again proofread and edited in order to catch any more mistakes. When that is done, the assignment is copied and pasted into the English blog website. Finally, the assignment is previewed and posted.

All of these steps must be done in order to complete the assignment. It may not seem like very much, but each step is very important and is needed in order to fully complete what has been assigned.

Ali L.

Posted by: Ali L. at February 22, 2006 12:46 PM

Professor Hobbs:

When I write an essay, I usually start off by knowing what I'm writing about. It helps if I can somehow relate it to my own personal experience. If i don't really know what I'm talking about, then I have to go do research on the topic so that I am able to form my own opinion about it. It makes the process a lot easier if I know what I want to say.

Afterwards, I have to form a thesis so that it helps me write my introductory paragraph and so that I can think of three reasons to support the thesis in the body paragraph. Once the introductory paragraph is written, full of things that gives the reader more information about the topic I am writing about, I start to form the body or supporting paragraph. Usually there are three of these and I write about all that I know or if I don't, then I have to go look up the information. When I reach the conclusion, I usually sum up everything that I was talking about in the introduction and the body paragraph so that the reader can remember what I was talking about. I usually try to finish it off with something interesting or keep the reader wondering.

Linda M.

Posted by: Linda M. at February 22, 2006 01:39 PM

Professor Hobbs,

When it comes to writing an essay, I really don't have a step-by-step process that I follow. I just get on the computer and start typing what comes to mind. No freewriting, no brainstorming or outline, I just write. I never had to do any of those before because I don't seem to have a problem getting my thoughts down on paper. If I do hit a problem I read a little, like a short story or something, and try to get ideas from that. If that doesn't work I take a break and let my mind relax a little before trying again.

I usually just type out my ideas then edit later. After that, I have someone read my paper and ask them what I should improve on and what should I fix. That's pretty much it. Nothing fancy, nothing worthy of being put in a textbook. Just the simple truth, that's what you wanted to hear right?

Rachael T.

Posted by: Rachael T. at February 22, 2006 01:41 PM

Professor Hobbs,
When composing an essay I am what you would called unorthadox. My style is different from any guidelines that would be suggested someone writing an essay.

First I brainstorm on the topic in my head. Then I get to a computer and just start typing. I don't worry about the mla format and things like that I just get my ideas out of my head and onto paper. Then I write my conclusion paragaraph. To finish the rough draft off I then type my intoductory paragraph.

To begin my final copy I reread the paper then reorganize my ideas to help them flow and make sense. I make sure that my spelling and grammar is correct then I finish off by doing my header, margins, and so forth. Once I have done that I have a finsihed copy of my essay.

Posted by: P.Beckles at February 22, 2006 01:42 PM

Professor Hobbs,

When asked to write an essay, I tend to jump right in. Usually, I immediatly write (type) a first draft of my paper and continue to work with that draft until I have a completed essay. Of course, that first draft is often very sketchy and unclear, but I sometimes have trouble thinking when sitting down to freewrite or outline. I also like ot structure my ideas as soon as I realize them. This first messy draft almost always undergoes substantial alterations as I amend my thoughts and organize ideas in ways that are easier to appreciate and understand. The result is what I like to think of as my first "essay form" draft. From there, I like to read my work carefully to myself to be sure that it's readable and flows well. Peer review is the next step and is always a helpful tool, although I sometimes don't get a chance to show my paper to anyone I trust before submitting it. While we learn about many helpful techniques in composition classes, I believe that as writers we must all choose the tools that work best for us individually during the writing process.

Sean O.

Posted by: Sean O. at February 22, 2006 01:48 PM

Lee Hobbs,

There are several steps that I go through in order to write an essay, they may not perhaps be the most traditional of steps but they have worked very well for me in the past. To get my "juices" flowing, I write down everything I can think of that will make a good essay topic and that fall under the guidelines of what the instructor has asked for. After I have come up with something appropriate and interesting I sit at my computer and bring up word processing. I begin to write down everything that I can think of pertaining to the essay topic. I guess you could calling this my "freetyping" stage. After this is complete, I open up another word processing window and actually start my rough draft using what I've already typed and also leaving out some things that were completely off the wall.

Once the rough draft is complete, I print it, read it over a few times, correct erros and have a friend read it over so they can give me their opinion. I then start working on my final draft. Of course, I know that it takes more than just two attempts at developing an essay to write a good one. However, I never seem to give myself ample time to get it done so I have to settle for whatever I've come up with the second time around.

Emily S.

Posted by: Emily S. at February 22, 2006 01:50 PM

Professor Hobbs,

Writing is a process; it does not just come automatically. When I write, I like to brainstorm my ideas, put them in a rough draft, revise my first draft by proofreading it, and writing the final draft. I find this process the most useful, because I am most comfortable with it. This is the process that I use when writing papers.
My first step in writing is to brainstorm my ideas. I usually create a list of ideas, and then group them together by using a spider map. Spider maps are easy ways to organize ideas. After I make the spider map, I outline the main thoughts. I write my rough draft, not considering errors, based on my outline.
By creating an outline, I can easily see how I want to set my essay up. The first draft then allows me to see the work in process in order. When revising my first draft, I look for main ideas and points which build the paper. The revision of the first draft is the most important part, because this is where the mistakes get corrected, and everything gets checked for the last time. The last step is to rewrite the edited version of the essay, the final draft. At this point everything has been looked at, and the essay is ready for submittal.
The process that I follow when writing an essay is to brainstorm, outline my ideas, write a first draft, proofread it, and write the final draft. I find this process to be helpful, because it is quick, easy, and effective. This is the process when I write every academic paper.

Kashiff M.

Posted by: Kashiff M. at February 22, 2006 03:25 PM

For the in class writing prompts that have to be placed on the English blog for class, I usually finish writing them before class is over. After the class ends I go back to my room and pull up Microsoft word and type the revised version of what I wrote in class. When the entry is all finished I pull up the English blog website I sing in. Once I am singed in I copy and paste my entry to the website. Finally once everything is pasted and looks presentable I submit my entry to the English blog.

Posted by: Liz Larry at February 26, 2006 12:55 AM

Professor Hobbs,

Year by year, each student progresses into a higher level of learning. With each higher level comes different expectancies from the teachers, as well as parents involved. The workload involved with each higher level increases which means the person involved must perform certain tasks in order to do well and keep up with the workload. Everyone has their own system to do so.

When first recieving an assignment, make sure to have all of the details needed in order to complete the assignment correctly. When positive that all of the details are known, mark the assignment on a calendar and write it on a post-it. Arrange the post-its on a computer desk shelf (or wherever is most convenient) in order of importance, as well as due dates.

Then, read over the assignment once more so all of the details are fully understood. Continue to work through the assignments based on the order of importance (as stated before), and all assignments will be done at a reasonable timely fashion, as well as turned in on time!

Missy Z.

Posted by: Missy Z at April 3, 2006 08:51 PM

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