English Comp

In this unit, you’ll be completing your last paper in this class: The Letter to the Instructor.  In this paper, your analytical skills and persuasive powers will be put to use in evaluating the course and your progress as a writer. This assignment is designed to allow you to reflect on your writing, your process, and the course in general.

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Though the content is very similar, the specific page numbers of your reading assignment may vary depending on your edition of the textbook.

11th Edition Reading Assignment:

The St. Martin’s Guide to Writing, Chapter 8, pages 335-336.

10th Edition Reading Assignment:

The St. Martin’s Guide to Writing, Chapter 6, pages 350-351.  

Older Editions:

The page numbers listed above are for the two latest editions of our textbook. If you have the 9th edition, please read pages 384-386. If you have the 8th edition, please read pages 394-396. If you still have the 7th edition, please read pages 391-393.

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Write a 3-4 page letter to the instructor, which includes your own analysis of your work in this class. 

You may discuss any of the following in this letter:

* Your strengths and weaknesses as a writer, and how these may have changed or your awareness of these may have been altered.

* The essay that you are most pleased with

* The essay that you are least pleased with

* The difficulty level of the various essays you completed for this class

* The format of this class

* The quality of lecture notes, instructor feedback on papers, and other materials

* The helpfulness of the textbook

* Your progress from Comp I to Comp II

Though this letter is to be addressed to the instructor, the real point of this paper is for you to reflect on this semester–how the course did (or did not) help you grow as a writer–and prepare yourself for other writing assignments you may have in the future.

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For your final paper in this class, you will be writing a 3-4 page letter to the instructor evaluating this course and your progress this semester.  You will want to use examples and explanation to justify your evaluation. 

Again, you may discuss any of the following in this letter:

*Your strengths and weaknesses as a writer, and how these may have changed or your awareness of these may have been altered.

*The essay that you are most pleased with

*The essay that you are least pleased with

*The difficulty level of the various essays you completed for this class

*The format of this class

*The quality of lecture notes, instructor feedback on papers, and other materials

*The helpfulness of the textbook

* Your progress from Comp I to Comp II

Please be sure to justify your evaluations of your own work and the course using specific examples whenever possible.

Here are some questions to keep in mind as you are revising your Final Letter to the Instructor:

* Is the overall focus of the letter clear in the first paragraph?  In other words, does the first paragraph make it clear what you’ll be discussing specifically?

* Are examples from your own essays (or the course materials) used to support your claims?

* Is the letter generally well-organized, and does it use transitions effectively?

* Is there a sense of closure (or completion) in the conclusion?

As with all of your other papers, please keep in mind that I’ll still be considering these basics as well:  purpose, focus, organization, tone, and editing.  

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Example : 

Sample Letter to the Instructor

 Dear Sheyene,

         The reason I took this class was simple: I needed it to graduate.  To be honest, I’d never liked writing much and didn’t expect to enjoy this experience.  However, it was much less painful than I feared and I did learn a great deal.  In this letter, I will be discussing what was most and least helpful in the course.  I will also discuss my own progress and what I got out of this class.

          The most helpful aspects of this course for me were the lecture notes and the instructor’s comments on each of my papers.  The lecture notes broke all of the concepts and assignments down into simple terms and steps that were easy to understand.  And you gave me great feedback on all of my papers, pointing out my strengths (which helped to build my self-confidence as a writer) and offering specific suggestions for further improvement. 

          The textbook was probably the least helpful thing for me, but then I’ve always found it hard to make myself actually read textbooks.  However, I must say that I really did appreciate the approach this course takes to the textbook:  The textbook is a tool.  Rather than reading the whole book (including a lot of stuff that wouldn’t apply to what we were doing), our reading assignments were very focused and always applied directly to the assignment we were working on.

          The assignments I enjoyed most were those in which I had total discretion in terms of my topic.  So the letter to the editor and the persuasive research paper were my favorites.  Perhaps, as a result, these were also my two strongest papers in the course. 

          In my letter to the editor, I discussed the problem of animal neglect and abandonment and proposed a solution, which I called GET TOUGH.  (This solution included several steps, but the real key to my solution involved using the community for outreach and involvement in ensuring animal rights).  As I work in an animal shelter, this issue hits very close to home to me.  Plus, it was easy to get all of the information that I needed to be specific.  My passion came through, and that heart-wrenching story about the basset hound we found in shock would have gotten to any reader.

          In my persuasive paper, I focused on the importance of spaying or neutering your pets.  This issue was, of course, very much connected with the topic of my letter to the editor.  Animal abuse and neglect would be greatly lessened if there weren’t so many unwanted puppies and kittens being born to people who can’t take care of them and don’t wish to do so.  I opened up the paper with a series of questions, which I think helped catch the readers’ attention.  And I had a great number of facts such as the current stats–local and nation–regarding unwanted pets and annual pet birth rates.

          My weakest paper was the summary and critical response.  I hated that article!  As a result, I fould it very difficult to remain objective in the summary, and I found it hard to keep myself from just going off on a rant against the author in the critical response.  I wanted to keep including words that gave away my position in the summary (such “As the author tries to argue . . ” or “The last point in her useless rant . . . “).  These were inappropriate, of course, so I had to edit them out. And, as I mentioned, in the critical response, I wanted to just talk about how much I disagreed rather than focusing on whether or not the article was successful as a piece of writing.

          According to our syllabus, this course is designed to teach us how to compose purposeful writing as well as the nature of argumentation, critical thinking, and persuasive writing in particular.  The course taught me all of those things, but it also taught me something else.  This course taught me that I can be a successful writer and that persuasive writing skills are going to continue to be important for me–in other classes, in my career, and in my personal life in my community.

          Words are, indeed, powerful tools.  Thanks for teaching me how to use them.

Sincerely,

John Banks

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