Monday, August 15, 2011

A Taste of Haste: Accelerating the Writing Process

In the Slate article, “Slowpoke: How to be a faster writer,” Michael Agger explores why some people can more quickly finish writing projects. He relates habits and anecdotes of highly efficient writers, which effectively boils down to “read and write more each day.” Agger offers this practical writing tip, “Try to limit your working hours, write at a set time each day, and try your best not to emotionally flip out or check email every 20 seconds. This is called "engineering" your environment.”

To aid with checking Email/ Facebook/ Twitter/ Wikipedia/ insert your favorite internet distraction “every 20 seconds,” some people prefer to work in surroundings without internet or install software, like Freedom©, that turns off a computer’s network connectivity for a given period of time. However, if you have the discipline to stay only on sites that are relative to your writing, Agger suggests using the internet for research while writing can be helpful. He writes,

“The modern multitasking style of composing next to an open Internet browser is one solution to limiting writing's cognitive burden. There are experimental programs that will analyze what you are writing and attempt to retrieve relevant definitions, facts, and documents from the Web in case you need them. Like many writers, I take a lot of notes before I compose a first draft. The research verifies that taking notes makes writing easier—as long as you don't look at them while you are writing the draft! Doing so causes a writer to jump into reviewing/evaluating mode instead of getting on with the business of getting words on the screen.”

Agger cites research from The Cambridge Handbook of Expertise and Expert Performance in which author Ronald Kellogg purports, "Serious writing is at once a thinking task, a language task, and a memory task." Naturally, by sufficiently preparing for each individual part of the writing process, the writer shortens his production time. For instance, Agger relates how much easier (and presumably faster) it is for one to write about what one already knows. He says, “… the writer's brain is juggling three things: the actual text, what you plan to say next, and—most crucially—theories of how your imagined readership will interpret what's being written. A highly skilled writer can simultaneously be a writer, editor, and audience.” This all-in-one approach to writing takes practice, which Agger says can only come from reading more to increase knowledge (what you know) and then writing more, with the critical eye turned inward. And if you really just can’t seem to expedite your writing output, find a paid writing gig – Agger points out that “the promise of money has a way of stimulating writerly ‘flow.’ Amazing!”

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Educating in the Digital Age

The August 7th New York Times Op Ed article, “Education Needs a Digital – Age Upgrade,” by Virginia Heffernan discusses technology learning themes from Cathy Davidson’s book titled Now You See It: How the Brain Science of Attention Will Transform the Way We Live, Work, and Learn. Heffernan supports Davidson’s position that the American educational system needs to make better use of the digital age in which we find ourselves to facilitate learning. She claims educators must meet students where they are, which often includes commenting on online political forums or creating digital videos, rather than perpetuating archetypical classroom assignments,

“What if bad writing is a product of the form of writing required in school — the term paper — and not necessarily intrinsic to a student’s natural writing style or thought
process?” She adds: “What if ‘research paper’ is a category that invites, even
requires, linguistic and syntactic gobbledygook?”…After studying the matter, Ms.
Davidson concluded, “Online blogs directed at peers exhibit fewer typographical
and factual errors, less plagiarism, and generally better, more elegant and
persuasive prose than classroom assignments by the same writers.”
With the above in mind, educators could assign blog posts that resemble a research paper’s framework by asking students to include a thesis statement, scholarly citations, or imposing a length requirement. A blog offers students the opportunity to read and comment on one another’s work, therefore creating an active community of learning in a format familiar to students of today. Wiki projects are another online learning option that encourages information sharing between students. Heffernan writes,

A classroom suited to today’s students should deemphasize solitary piecework. It
should facilitate the kind of collaboration that helps individuals compensate
for their blindnesses…The new classroom should teach the huge array of complex
skills that come under the heading of digital literacy. And it should make
students accountable on the Web, where they should regularly be aiming, from
grade-school on, to contribute to a wide range of wiki projects.

SNL Writing instructors Michelle Navarre Cleary, Peggy St. John, Suzanne Sanders- Betzold, and Polly Hoover explored the option of wiki based learning when they co- taught a writing intensive class through the use of “bliki” (blog + wiki). Students worked together to write a group research paper, and two conduct manuals; “How to Transition to Life After College and a “Good Friend Handbook.” You can read about both the instructor and student experience using the “bliki” by visiting:

For more ideas on how to incorporate digital media into your courses, check out the book, Encyclopedia of Information Communication Technologies and Adult Education Integration available by visiting

To read the NYT op ed in its entirety, please visit:

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Fall 2011 SNL Writing Course Offerings

The following Fall Quarter courses at SNL have a writing and/or literature focus. Encourage your students to register today by visiting campus connect.

Loop Campus Offerings

LL 150 Academic Writing for Adults
L4 13864
HYBRID. Meets on campus: 9/12, 9/26, 10/10, 10/24, 11/7

LL 150 Academic Writing for Adults
Forster, Peter
L4 14054

LL 153 Writing Together – Writing Well: A Community Approach to Academic Writing and Personal Narrative
Wozniak, Kathryn & Hurtig, Janise
A3A 14250
H1X 14251
H2X 14252
L4 14249
9/17. Meets from 9-1p

LL 140 Writing Workshop
Hayes, Nicholas
H3J 14171

AI 276 Creative Ink: The Art of Writing
Sautter, R. Craig
A1C 13986
A2A 13987
A2X 13988
A5 13989

AI 184 Wordplay: Demystifying Poetry
Starrs, John
A1A 14047
A1H 14048
A2X 14049
A5 14050

Naperville Campus Offerings

LL 150 Academic Writing for Adults
Muller, William
L4 13172
LL 140 Writing Workshop
Miritello, Mary
H3J 13185

LL 150 Academic Writing for Adults
Brown, Barbara
L4 12834

LL 140 Writing Workshop
Michicich, Tracy
H3J 12836

FA 247 Thinking and Writing about Work
Muller, William
A1E 12830
A2X 12831
A5 12832
FX 12833

O’Hare Campus Offerings

LL 150 Academic Writing for Adults
Morris, David
L4 13584

LL 140 Writing Workshop
Weidner, Diane
H3J 13716

SNL Online Offerings

LL 150 Academic Writing for Adults

L4 12113
Schmidt, Kathleen

LL 150 Academic Writing for Adults
L4 12117
Gilbert-Levin, Renee

LL 150 Academic Writing for Adults
L4 12115
Hemmerling, Joseph

LL 150 Academic Writing for Adults
L4 16024
Wagoner, Jane
AI 176 Creative Writing
A1C 12260
A2A 12261
A5 12262
Dumbleton, Molia

FA 133 Editing Yourself and Others: A Collaborative Approach to Writing at Work FX 12315
H3D 12314
L7 12313
Greenberg, Michelle

AI 172 Making Poems: An Introduction to Verse
A1C 12375
A2A 12376
A5 12377
Sullivan, Tom

AI 211 Men of Fortune, Women of Cents: Analyzing Pride and Prejudice and the films it has inspired
A1D 16028
A1E 16029
A1X 16030
A5 16031
Kutty, Nina

FA 339 Professional Business Writing
H2X 12719
Schmidt, Kathleen

LL 140 Writing Workshop
H3J 12450
Dow, Tom

LL 140 Writing Workshop
H3J 12448
Fitzpatrick, Kristin

Degree Completion Offerings

DCM 330 Professional Writing
Wozniak, Kathryn
4 – DCM
2 – H3X
2 – FX
DCM 14350
H3X 14351
FX 14352
Meets Online.

Independent Study

IN 270 Writers in 1920’s America
A1A 11282
A1C 11283
H1F 11284
Scheideman, Warren

IN 203 Writing and Editing a Newsletter
FX 11275
Murphy, Douglas

Writing Center Forums on August 6th

Independent Learning Pursuit Forum: This forum is designed to foster discussion, provide information, and offer support to SNL students who are currently working on or beginning an Independent Learning Pursuit. The discussion-based event features Writing Center Tutors, SNL faculty, and a research librarian, all of whom provide focused and individualized feedback to students. This is a great opportunity for SNL students to share tips and receive advice from their peers. All students and faculty are invited!

Date: August 6 from 12 noon to 2 pm (O'Hare)

Click here to RSVP.

Research-Writing Workshop: Participate in this workshop to get feedback on your research project—whether it be a quarter-long class project, an AP or ILP, or a thesis. UCWbL tutors will also provide valuable tips to help you successfully complete your project.

Date: August 6 from 12 noon to 2 pm (Naperville)

Click here to RSVP.

Monday, August 1, 2011

New Font Aids Dyslexic Readers

A new font, aptly titled “dyslexie,” has been developed to aid those with dyslexia, a learning disability which affects one’s ability to read by transposing certain letters. The dyslexie typeface helps dyslexic readers by offering greater differentiation between similar looking letters, like b and d, p and q, v and w, h and n, c and e, i and j, and so on. It also bolds punctuation and capital letters to help readers better recognize the end of one sentence and the start of a new one. According to the Project Dyslexie website,, “Independent research undertaken by the University of Twente proved that the Dyslexia font improves reading results. The study at the University of Twente showed that people with dyslexia made fewer reading errors when they use the dyslexia font compared to using standard font.”

Unfortunately, buying the dyslexie font can be prohibitively expensive for some, as it is currently priced up to $1000. This site offers alternative resources that are either cheaper or free: The site suggests that using some fonts already used with word- processors can be helpful to dyslexics, including Sassoon, Trebuchet MS, and Comic Sans.