Autumn Update

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This summer was brutal in so many ways. The heat in South Florida was severe. Hurricane Dorian tore up the Bahamas and parts of South Carolina. My summer class was canceled due to low enrollment, leaving me in a financial bind. However, I survived, thanks to friends and family.

Now, I am teaching four classes at Palm Beach State College (PBSC) in The Fundamentals of Speech Communication. Two classes are at the Central Campus in Lake Worth and two are at Palm Beach Gardens. I have over 100 students.

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The first assignment was to write an essay, giving me an opportunity to see how well (or unwell) my students write. They must learn the Rules for Writing in a scholarly manner, which most of them are unfamiliar with.

These are some of the rules for scholarly writing:

  1. Documents are formatted in APA Style.
  2. Your essay is double-spaced and flush with the left margin (1” around).
  3. The font is Times New Roman, 12 pt.
  4. Do not use CAPS or BOLD.
  5. A paragraph contains 3 to 5 sentences.
  6. Write in the past tense with subject/verb agreement.
  7. Do not write run-on sentences or incomplete sentences (phrases without a verb).
  8. Do not start a sentence with a gerund, a verb ending in ‘ing’.
  9. Write simple, active, declarative sentences (Subject, predicate, object, period).
  10. Do not write a question, unless it is a research question. Write simple, active, declarative sentences.
  11. Double quotes are used with direct quotations and require an in-text citation and must be listed in ‘References’ on a separate page.
  12. Use single quotes to emphasize a word or phrase (‘Normal’).
  13. Do not use contractions (don’t = do not; I’ve = I have; I’m = I am; isn’t = is not).
  14. Avoid clutter, using too many words to make a simple statement.
  15. Do not use absolutes: ‘all’, ‘always’, ‘everyone’, ‘never’.
  16. Be careful about putting commas where they belong. Research ‘adverbial phrases’ to see where the comma goes. Commas go before and after an adverbial phrase that answers the question ‘when’, ‘where’, ‘how’, ‘how much’, or ‘how many’.
  17. Do not use slang: A kid is a baby goat. In scholarly writing, use ‘child’ or ‘children’.
  18. An ellipsis (. . .) is only used to omit words from a direct quote.
  19. The word ‘also’ goes at the beginning or end of a sentence. Do not separate a subject from the verb (‘I also study’ should be written ‘Also, I study’ or ‘I study, also’).
  20. Write the word for numbers one through nine. You may use 10, 11, 12, etc.
  21. Spell out acronyms the first time you use them, for example, American Psychological Association (APA),  Center for Disease Control (CDC); National Football League (NFL).

This term, students wrote an essay, as follows:

TO:      Speech Students
RE:      Watch this video: https://youtu.be/MY5SatbZMAo

Write a 500-word essay answering these questions:

  1. What makes you special?
    1. What is normal?
    2. Do you fit the mold? Why?
  2. What dialogue have you had to make a change?
  3. What is respect?
  4. What do you see when you meet someone?
    1. What do you have in common?
    2. Do you see a human being?
  5. What unexpected event made you reimagine yourself, your dream, your goals?
    1. Did your self-determination increase?
    2. Were you more self-motivated?
    3. Did you discover self-definition?

Be humanists. Celebrate our differences!

The best response to the question “Do you fit the mold?” is this one:

I believe I fit some molds. I fit the mold as a teenager with big dreams, I fit the mold as a martial artist, I fit the mold as a film enthusiast. Everyone has a mold they fit, most often, it is more than one mold. Even those that are considered special have at least one mold they fit.

 

I am enjoying this experience because I love seeing the lights go on in my student’s eyes. I love it when they tell me they are learning something new or being reminded of something they learned as a child. Although they are challenged with grammar, sentence structure, clutter, and adverbial phrases that require a comma, their essays give me hope that millennials are more humane than their predecessors.

I am most grateful for Spellcheck in WORD and Grammarly!

Dr. Joan Cartwright

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