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Professor in Print #5: From Short Stories to Expository Works: Helping Students Through English 101

Updated: Oct 22, 2020

How could I help under-prepared students get through English 101?  Sometimes, in a composition course, my freshmen had little experience writing essays that would meet college standards. They were the students who were not considered "college material" or even expected to attend any college, not even a community college.

In many cases they would take an English course that would not prepare them for any college. They would write short, short stories in these type of courses. Indeed, if they ever changed their minds and wanted to attend any college, they would not be prepared for any college. One of the best ways was to follow the philosophy: Begin with students where they are, and work to get the students where I want.

One of the best ways was to give extra credit for anyone of the students to contribute to the "Continuous Short Story" on the MANA Sunriser Blog. They would only have to write a minimum of five sentences to add to the writing of the previous post. Each student could earn up to twelve (12) extra credit points AND (MANA) would donate money to a designated charity

The results?

First of all, those students with minimal skills enjoyed writing the type with which they were familiar—descriptive and narrative prose. I would be able to help them correct any grammatical errors as well as enhance the development of the content presentation of their posts. Then, I would focus on an expository topic and demonstrate how they can use the skills to add to short stories to write an expository work.   The topic? How does a person write a short story? Then, I would guide them in the development of an outline and the writing of an expository theme. Furthermore, many had that "good feeling" knowing they were helping others by putting their writing skills to work.   And they enjoyed seeing how the continuous short story developed. Finally, since I was able to gain access to the data, I could share with the class that there was an average of 200 views per short story. Thus, their work made them "famous" nationally and internationally.        Analysis Generally, students with limited skills have little self confidence. Seeing their work in print on a website and knowing that many are viewing their work helps build up their confidence. And the posts are the "fodder" for the specific examples for each and every paragraph. The students begin to understand how to develop a theme with solid topic sentences and specific examples, which their posts have provided. Voila'. 

Sunrises and Sunsets,

Dr. Fairy

Fairy C. Hayes-Scott, Ph.D. 

Have a question about your students? Or would you like a one-on-one consultation with Dr. Hayes-Scott? If so, contact her via email at Otherwise, feel free to comment on the post.

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Is there a way I can get my students involved in helping others during this pandemic? Yes, I was able to do this through the "Continuous Short Story" on the MarketingNewAuthor's (MANA) Sunriser blog.

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