Monday, April 24, 2017

SNL Writing Boot Camps - Spring Quarter

SNL Writing Boot Camps are a great opportunity for SNL students to get one-on-one assistance from an SNL faculty member to complete writing assignments. Boot Camps have been scheduled for all campuses.

For more information contact:

Date​:                                                         Location:
Sat., May 13, 2017: 9am-1pm                  O'Hare, Lab 204
Thurs., May 18, 2017: 11am-1pm            Online [Registration required]
​Sat., May 20, 2017: 9am-1pm                  Naperville, Lab 140​
Wed., May 24, 2017: 5:30pm-9pm           Loop, 14 E. Jackson, Lab 1327
​​​Sat. June 3, 2017: 9am-1pm                      Loop, ​TBA

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Annette Davis and The Lost Codicil

Annette Davis is an SNL student and one of last year's SNL Writing Showcase winners. This year, she's a featured reader at Writing Showcase Live, an annual event where our Writing Showcase nominees read and discuss their excellent work.

Annette recently published a book, The Lost Codicil, and also took some time to answer a few questions for our SNL community. Check out her interview below, and be sure to come see her (and get a signed copy of her book!) at Writing Showcase Live tonight.

SNL Writing: Have you always enjoyed writing? How long have you been writing?

Annette Davis: I have always enjoyed writing! I started writing in grade school and every single story had Michael Jackson somewhere in the story. In high school I stopped writing. My father always thought that writing was a nice hobby, but not a serious subject to pursue as a career. I grew up in the 70s and back then, in my neighborhood, writing was not deemed a career that would earn “a decent living,” in my father’s words. With family, work and the demands of life, I had actually forgotten my love of writing. One day after my daughter joined her high school newspaper, we differed over her research of a story she was writing and I said, “Fine, I’ll write my own story.” Just like that, I remembered how much I used to love writing. I would say I’ve been writing full time now for about seven years.

SW: When did you start this book process? What gave you the idea?

AD: The book process began with a dream! The Lost Codicil story was a dream that I had back in 2014, concurrent with my lupus diagnosis. As my health deteriorated and sleepless nights of unimaginable pain became the norm, my doctor recommended a life-changing process of transcribing my dreams. She wanted to give me something positive to focus on. All of my stories began with dreams. Dreams that would not leave me alone. Dreams that were repetitive and persistent and in full Technicolor! I used to think that my dreams were a nuisance, but now I know that I am blessed!

SW: What is your book about?

AD: My book is about a young girl named Alex, who dreamed of living a simple life as a painter away from her aristocratic family in France. However, at 18, she was forced to run away from home. After arriving in America, she changed her appearance and her name to Gabriella Gruena previously forbidden family name. Four years later, after graduating from Harvard and about to be married, Gabriella finally felt free. She promised herself that she would tell Stephan her family history before their wedding that afternoon. An hour before the wedding, she received a visit from her French solicitor who told her she had fulfilled the mandates to a mysterious codicil, which included a massive inheritance, some very old letters, and a precious ring that everyone believed had been destroyed. Her solicitor also told her someone had committed murder to find her and she would have to disappear immediately. Was someone after her? The inheritance? Or the ring? Feeling trapped and determined to protect Stephanand their unborn childGabriella ran. Again! Just when she thinks it’s safe to stop running, her solicitor is murdered and her child kidnapped. With no one to turn to, Gabriella is forced to seek Stephan’s help. Will he help her? And if he does, will it be merely for the sake of the child he never knew existed?

SW: What was the most difficult part of writing your book? What was the best part?

AD: The most difficult part of writing my book was the editingit never stops. Every time I would try to read through the book to determine if it was finished, I would always find something to change or rewritealways thinking I could make it better. The absolute best part was writing the scenes I could see in my mindscenes that had plagued my dreams for so long. And of course reading those scenes out loud to my friends over Sunday morning coffee. There is nothing better than receiving confirmation that your story is actually interesting, when your friends ask, “What happens next?”

SW: How did you go about having your book published?

AD: After attending a writing conference, I decided to self-publish my book. At first it seemed like an overwhelming task. There was so much to read and learn, but by taking each task one step at a time, I got through it. Was it hard, yes! Did I make mistakes, yes! Did I learn from those mistakestotally! Was it worth it, yes! But hopefully, the next time around will be easier. The most important thing is to remember what you love, have patience, and be organized. Planning, budgeting and lots and lots of help from family and friends were crucial to the process for me. Without the help of my family and friends, I would not have finished by my deadline.

SW: Do you have any other projects in the works? What's next for you?

AD: My next project is my second book, The Divorce, which I’m planning to self-publish in 2017. I’m in my last year at SNL and I hope to graduate in June 2018. I also plan to start my master’s program with SNL soon afterward. I’m so excited for the future!

SW: What is the most helpful writing advice you've received?

AD: Actually, Steffanie Triller Fry, who I met in the Month of Writing class once told me to imagine my characters on a stage and ask myself, “Are my characters moving the story forward?” After she had read a few of my chapters, she said my dialogue moved the story forward, but my characters were stationary for two chapters. Best advice ever!

SW: How did your writing change during your time at SNL? 

AD: I have learned a lot about writing during my time at SNL, especially how to be inspired to write. Professor Craig Sautter taught me how to use pictures, news, and music to inspire my writing. A great example is that I never liked poetry before, but now when I listen to certain music the words to a poem will just flow through me. My best friend told me that she loves my poems, which is such a huge compliment to me, as I am such a novice with poems and I still have much to learn. But inspiration comes in many forms. Now after a class exercise by Professor Sautter, when I read a particular depressing news item, I am inspired to imagine a more positive outcome and write about it. And there are times when I can look at the most diverse and sometimes bizarre pictures, and based on another class exercise, I will write what I think about each picture individually. It really helps to create the most wondrous short stories or poemsat least to me.

SW: What writing advice would you give other SNL students?

AD: Be open to all types of writing styles and genres. Be open to going back to the basics of writing and refresh your mind of how to write. Be open to all forms of inspiration to help your creativity. Use the people and places you are most familiar with and write about how they make you feel. Use your feelings, use the feelings of others to make your characters more real. Writing can be beautiful and can help inspire others if you are willing to share your emotions, your vulnerability, and your imagination!

SW: Did SNL encourage your writing? If so, how? What support did you receive or value?

AD: Oh yes! Almost every single professor and faculty member that I’ve met has encouraged me to continue writing and has offered words of wisdom that has given me confidence and inspiration, which I will forever be grateful for!

SW: Is there anything else you'd like to share with your SNL community?

AD: I would not be where I am today without SNL; my professional mentor, Asha Nathan; my peer mentor, Kim Allen; another SNL graduate, Kim Lewis; and my family and friends that support my pursuit of higher education! I’ve published my first novel and soon to publish my second, I’m almost finished with my undergraduate degree and about to begin my master’s program, and I’m finally pursuing the passion in my life! This is all because of SNL. The day my co-worker, SNL graduate, and peer mentor, Kim Allen, told me about the SNL program was the day my life truly changed for the better!

Writing Showcase Live TONIGHT!

SNL's annual Writing Showcase is over, the entries have been scored, and winners will be announced soon. We had lots of incredible submissionsour blooming tree (one flower per entry) fits right in with Chicago's spring weather!

Now it's time to celebrate our Writing Showcase nominees with Writing Showcase Live, our third annual event where we're able to hear our SNL students read and discuss their excellent work. Please join us this evening, April 20, in room 1451 of the Daley building from 6-8 p.m. Light refreshments and pleasant conversation will be provided.

In addition to the readings from our Writing Showcase nominees, our featured reader for the evening is Annette Davis, an SNL student and one of last year's Writing Showcase winners. Annette will be reading from her recently published book, The Lost Codicil, and discussing her writing journey. Annette will also sell and sign copies of The Lost Codicil as we wrap up the Writing Showcase Live event.

Stay tuned for more information about our featured reader and her book; hope to see you tonight!

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Resources for MLA Update

Sometimes it feels like getting students to use correct citations is a struggle. Many of us develop resources to help students learn the forms and formats. Then the organization makes an update, and we have to change all of our student resources.

Last year, MLA updated their style, and we are faced with another round of changes. Thankfully, Beth Gulley of Johnson County Community College has created this padlet to share resources and presentations on MLA 8.

Friday, March 31, 2017

An Opportunity for SNL Writers to Hang Out

by Steffanie Triller Fry

“The lonely writer” has long been declared a myth by social epistemic composition theorists. No longer do we believe that writing involves sitting alone at a desk late into the night penning pages and even volumes of work before ever sharing a single word with a reader. Nevertheless, this is exactly how many SNL Online students undoubtedly feel as they tackle Research Seminar and Advanced Project, sitting at their computers late into the night after kids and partner have gone to sleep, struggling to find the right word or the right place to put the period in APA citation format while their brain would rather wander to other things: work, family, non-existent social life, and sleep.

When these student writers need a place to turn for help, they do have options: DePaul’s Writing Center tutors review Advanced Projects, but most of them have never completed one, and the Writing Center usually expects students to show up with a draft, however rough. But where can the student go for help in developing that draft? In forming a research question in the first place? The AP Online course includes the assignment to create “Working Groups,” but some students struggle to find camaraderie in the Discussion Forum, and these groups often fizzle for lack of participation.

Nontraditional adult students who are often distance learners require creativity and flexibility from the institutions that provide them with services (Compton, Cox, and Santos Laanan 78). Some institutions, like Empire State, have online writing centers. While DePaul’s University Center for Writing-based Learning does provide services that are accessible to fully online students, it does not provide creative and flexible services designed for the adult online population. Additionally, SNL students have demonstrated that they prefer SNL-specific writing help: in a recent Student Satisfaction Survey, 82% reported that their writing improved “Quite a bit” or “Very much” after attending a Boot Camp in contrast to the 41% of students who reported that their writing improved “Quite a bit” or “Very much” after working with a Writing Center tutor.

But the Writing Boot Camps, evening sessions that take place in a computer lab 4 times each quarter, are not accessible to most distance learners. To this end, the SNL Writing Program recently created “Writing Hangouts” that are currently facilitated by Student Support Coordinator and Part-time faculty member, Nicholas Hayes. I was the lucky Advanced Project Online Course instructor who piloted the first Writing Hangouts. My Winter Quarter students were required to attend two Hangouts with Nicholas. In the course Q&A discussion, one student highlighted their formative function: “The hangout is basically like going to a class where you can formulate your questions about your current writing difficulties with your AP, or any questions related.” Few resources provide students help in the development of a paper. This is one of them.

Hangouts fulfill 4 out of 8 of CAEL’s “Principles of Effectiveness for Serving Adult Learners” (CAEL). Adult learners are known to spend less time in extracurricular activities than younger students. They also spend less time chatting with peers about their courses, and can sometimes struggle to work in groups because of conflicting work and family commitments. Adult students rarely “hang out.” Distance students have the opportunity even more infrequently. O’Donnell and Tobbell argue that students must engage in dialogue with one another in order to become legitimate peripheral participants in the higher education community of practice. In one of the Hangouts, two students arrived to the chat room early and began discussing their projects, independent of the facilitator. The Writing Hangout provided them with the opportunity to participate in this community of practice.

I must admit that, as their instructor, I feel a bit guilty. All I did was require students to attend two Writing Hangouts. Then, I sat back and watched as their projects grew more developed, more thoroughly researched, and better analyzed. I have always been impressed by what students could produce in 10 weeks, with some support. I am now more impressed than ever before.

SNL has long believed that reflection leads to deeper, more connective, more impactful learning. But the Advanced Project Course now demands that students complete a capstone experience that demonstrates both prior and new learning, and reflection, more quickly than ever before. To support them as they go, SNL Writing will continue to offer this opportunity to Hang Out to students completing Advanced Project and Research Seminar in the Spring and Summer Quarters. Email if you want to invite your students to attend Writing Hangouts.

Works Cited

CAEL. “8 Principles of Effectiveness for Serving Adult Learners.” The Council for Adult and Experiential Learning.

Compton, Jonathan I., Elizabeth Cox, and Frankie Santos Laanan. "Adult learners in transition." New directions for student services 2006.114 (2006): 73-80.

O'Donnell, Victoria L., and Jane Tobbell. "The transition of adult students to higher education: Legitimate peripheral participation in a community of practice?." Adult Education Quarterly 57.4 (2007): 312-328.

Spring Quarter Hours at the Writing Center

The University Center for Writing-based Learning (UCWbL) will open for Spring Quarter at 9am on Monday April 3 at both Loop and LPC Writing Center locations. Hours for both campuses are below.

Loop Campus Writing Center
(312) 362-6726

Monday: 9am-7pm
Tuesday: 9am-7pm
Wednesday: 9am-7pm
Thursday: 9am-7pm
Friday: 12pm-5pm
Saturday: 12pm-5pm
Sunday: Closed

Lincoln Park Campus Writing Center
(773) 325-4272

Monday: 9am-7pm
Tuesday: 9am-7pm
Wednesday: 9am-7pm
Thursday: 9am-7pm
Friday: Closed
Saturday: Closed
Sunday: 12pm-7pm

Click here for step-by-step instructions on how to register and make an appointment. Be sure to select the correct campus from the drop-down box at the top of the WCOnline scheduler when making an appointment online. Call either Writing Center with questions or concerns.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Remind your students about SNL's Writing Showcase today

Here at SNL, our Writing Showcase submission tree is blossoming, but we still need your students' work! For every Writing Showcase entry we receive, another flower growsup until this Saturday, April 1.

Please remind your students to collect their best work, fill out an application, and email everything to by 11:59 p.m. on April 1. SNL students may submit up to three pieces, including poems, stories, essays, reports, ILPs, Capstones, Advanced Projects, Applied Inquiry Projects, Integrating Projects, and e-Portfolios.

Check out our previous blog to learn more about Writing Showcase, which is open to all SNL undergraduate and graduate students. And stay tuned for information about our upcoming Writing Showcase Live event where our Writing Showcase nominees will read from their excellent work. Will your student be one of them?