Thursday, May 31, 2012

"Getting unstuck" with SNL professor Dr. Susan Reed

Do you ever suffer from writer’s block? While getting the right words onto the page can sometimes prove to be very difficult, SNL associate professor Susan Reed has a suggestion that might help – journaling. She describes a time she struggled to write a piece for publication on access to healthcare in Chicago. Frustrated with her lack of writing flow, she opened up a new Word document (her journal) and just began writing to herself informally about the topic, instead of to the academic powers that be.

By first writing to herself in a journal style, Dr. Reed was able to formulate her thoughts more clearly. She wasn’t concerned with “sounding smart” as she puts it, and the words came more freely. Even though she wasn’t consciously writing for an academic audience in her journal, Dr. Reed actually found that she was able to cut and paste from her journal into her publication. View her experience with “getting unstuck” below:


Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Glen Ellyn-Based Organization Recycles Educational Supplies

S.C.A.R.C.E. (School and Community Assistance for Recycling and Composting Education) is a local organization that gives teachers, nurses, or people who volunteer at nonprofits gently-used supplies FREE for the taking. They have everything from file cabinets and in-trays to games, books, and tools—and the list goes on! They also take donations, so if you’re doing some spring cleaning, please consider S.C.A.R.C.E. Learn more about this organization by visiting their website:

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Congratulations to the 2011-2012 SNL Writing Showcase Winners!

SNL Writing is pleased to announce five SNL students as winners of the 2011- 2011 SNL Writing Showcase. The winning entries included a creative writing piece and research papers on a wide variety of topics. View the winning entries below:

Toni M. Bond Leonard, The Struggle for Reproductive and Intellectual Integrity
Lisa Freeman, Running for the Train
Kristine Schultz, It’s the End of the World as We Know It

These students will be recognized with a plaque and public congratulations at the Spring Awards Luncheon to be held on June 2nd, 2012.

The SNL Writing Showcase is an annual competition which celebrates the outstanding writing students do for their SNL classes and Independent Learning Projects. SNL Writing is currently accepting applications for the 2012-2013 Showcase. Please encourage your students to visit the 
SNL Writing website to download an application or contact for more information.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Writing tips from Sr. Helen Prejean, best-selling author

On Thursday, May 17th, DePaul University faculty, staff, and students gathered at the Lincoln Park campus to hear author Sr. Helen Prejean, CSJ speak about her writing process at the facilitated discussion, “A Dialogue on Memoir Writing with Sr. Helen Prejean.” This program was one of several campus talks that Sr. Helen participated in last week to celebrate the donation of her archives to DePaul University. She has authored two books about her experience with inmates on Death Row and her activism to abolish the Death penalty, the best-selling Dead Man Walking and The Death of Innocence. She is currently working on her third book, River of Fire.

When asked “What does it mean to you to be a writer?” by one student participant, Sr. Helen stressed the importance of committing to the craft, “If you’re writing, you’re a writer. If you’re just talking about writing or reading about it, you’re not a writer. You need to keep showing up to the page. You need to get into the habit of writing. It’s about commitment.” She suggested that every writer carry a writing pad with them at all times to jot down ideas. Many of Sr. Helen’s thoughts for Dead Man Walking were penned on her way back and forth from visiting Patrick Sonnier on Death Row.

Another writing tip she shared was that one’s writing should “show, not tell.” She says, “Don’t do a heavy commentary. Let the reader decide for themselves.” One student asked if Sr. Helen viewed her writing as a form of activism, to which Sr. Helen responded yes. She said, “If you can change consciousness, you change culture” and that she believes in the power of the book. Her reasoning is that books bring people to a quiet, deep place for reflection where they don’t have to debate.

At the end of the discussion, Sr. Helen wished the writers in the room luck and urged them to band together to build a community of writers. She said that since writing does not have much cultural support today, it is important that writers support one another. To learn more about Sr. Helen Prejean’s writing and activism, please visit: Her archive exhibit, “In Deeds and Words: The Prejean Ministry Against the Death Penalty,” will be open to the public Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. through Nov. 30 in DePaul’s Special Collections and Archives, Room 314 of the Richardson Library, 2350 N. Kenmore Ave., Chicago.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

SNL Writing Spotlight: Ezzat Goushegir

SNL Writing Faculty member and playwright, Ezzat Goushegir, had a very productive 2011. She saw many of her works published and produced, both in the U.S. and abroad. Her short story "You are not a Man" was published in an anthology "Afghanistan, a Window on the Tragedy "in January 2011. Her play "My name is Inanna" was translated into Chinese language and produced at the Trojan Theatre in Beijing, China. This play has had several staged readings in Chicago and Washington DC in 2011, and was chosen by the 9th International Women’s Conference to be performed in Sweden in August 2012. For more information and to view some clips of the Chinese production, check out: You can read more about productions of her other plays, including “Bride of Acacias” and “Two Iranian Children,” both produced in London this past year, on Ezzat’s blog:

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Teacher Feedback that Helps Students Learn

Since her 1982 article "Responding to Student Writing," Nancy Sommers' research has been instrumental in helping teachers understand how to give feedback that promotes student learning. In 2010, Sommers interviewed 50 students at Bunker Hill Community College and then produced this video presenting her findings. Like SNL students, these students are nontraditional students and what they have to say about feedback mirrors what SNL students have said.

Friday, May 11, 2012

How to incorporate a Writing Fellow into your online course

SNL Resident Faculty member Dr. Beth Rubin worked with a Writing Center Writing Fellow in her Winter 2012 course. She had a great experience, and shares some advice below for online faculty who choose to work with a Writing Fellow in the future.

I strongly advocate integrating a Writing Fellow into your online course. It was a terrific experience for me, and improved the quality of the projects I received. Some suggestions and caveats:

1. Meet with the Fellow to describe your class and learning goals, so s/he can help your students meet them.
2. Tell your students right away, and introduce the role of the writing fellow as a support.
3. Ask Snlonline or FITS to put the Writing Fellow into your class in the appropriate role, so s/he can access the Dropbox.
4. Ask the Writing Fellow to make a Youtube or other video where the Fellow introduces him/herself, and insert that into a new announcement.
5. Create a Discussion Forum for the students to ask questions and connect with the Writing Fellow.
6. Remind your students about the Writing Fellow -- in posts, in News Items, or in your own videos.
7. Give the students points for working with the Fellow, and/or make it required.
8. Make sure the Fellow has access to the drop boxes, so s/he can work directly with the students.
9. Communicate with the fellow several times each term to make sure you know how things are going, and can give appropriate credit to students.

It was a wonderful experience for me; the Fellow was professional, friendly, skilled, and really dedicated to helping the students achieve my goals for them. It's a great, easy way to give online students strong support for their writing!

Dr. Kenya Grooms also says that Writing Fellows were an immense help in her online Research Seminar course. Here are her comments about the experience:

In the Winter 2012 term I used the Writing Fellows program for an online intensive Research Seminar course. There were 23 students enrolled and the Writing Center assigned the class 2 writing fellows. The experience for me and the students was wonderful. The writing fellows worked with my students, answering their questions about writing, grammar and style. I was able to focus on content and structure which are essential components to the course. The writing fellows, Ashley and Peter, were gentle, responsive and helpful in their interaction with my students. They also saved me time in the revise and resubmit stages. We were lucky to have this experience; I think my students are better writers because of this program.

 For more on the Writing Fellows program, please see Remember that Writing Fellows are also available for on-ground courses as well!

Monday, May 7, 2012

A Dialogue on Memoir Writing with Sr. Helen Prejean

The School for New Learning and PAX proudly present: A Dialogue on Memoir Writing with esteemed author, Sr. Helen Prejean. A facilitated discussion lead by Sr. Helen and SNL Faculty member Ann Stanford will focus on the craft of writing a memoir. To learn more about Sr. Helen, please visit: When: Thursday, May 17th from 12 – 1:30pm Where: Lincoln Park Campus Student Center, Room 220 Lunch will be provided! Limited Space! RSVP Today:

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Resources for self-publishing

Are you interested in self-publishing? There are several ways to share your writing with a larger audience without using a publishing house. Please see a list of resources for self-publishing below; some are guides, some are for-profit companies, some are tools, and some are blog posts. All offer insight into the steps needed to get your writing published. Get inspired, get writing, and get published without the middle man! • (Association) • (Association) • (How-To) • (How-To) • (Tool) • (Tool) • (Tool) • (Tool) • (Tool) • (Blog) • (SNL Writing Blog) • (Conference)