AW1 May 22nd, 2020

This week we will start using the textbook. First, we will read the introductory chapter, and discuss some questions in small groups.

The files are available on Webdisk at the links below. Please download before class. If you have the textbook, you don’t need File 1, only file 2.

From now on, please use the following folder on Webdisk to submit your homework. (If you have difficulty, you can email it to me.)

  • File name – AW1 Upload folder to submit homework


The homework is explained in the file linked below and also in the file on Webdisk (file name AW1 Assignment2 Questions about WAW_Chap0.pdf )

Save your writing as a document named AW1 Hmwk2 Name (replace “Name” with your family name) and upload it to the Webdisk folder named “AW1 Upload folder to submit homework” (link was given in the chat in the Teams meeting).

Please take a few minutes to answer the survey here. Thank you.

Your email address is not made public. Thank you for visiting.

Welcome to Sheffner’s Academic Writing I, 2020

Hello, Academic Writing I (AW1) students. Marc Sheffner here, your instructor for this semester. Friday 8th May will be our first “class”. This will be the first time for all of us to meet online using Microsoft Teams. 
You can contact me by leaving a message for me here on Teams, or by emailing me, Marc Sheffner or leaving a comment here on this blog.

Rules for our online classes on Teams:

1) before you join the class on Friday May 8th at 2:30 pm, please mute your mic and turn your video off. When I see that you want to join, I will let you into the “classroom”.
2) KPU has asked all teachers NOT to use video, so you will only hear my voice, no picture.
3) We will communicate by voice and by the chat window.
4) When you want to speak, first unmute your mic, then say your name and speak.
5) Or you can write in the chat window.
6) I will use the chat window to send you text information, e.g. URLs and documents.
7) There will be a live meeting (class) every Friday 2:30 – 4 p.m. Please login at that time.
8) Except for the first time (May 8th), you will be expected to have done the assignments BEFORE class. 
9) Deadline for assignments is Wednesday midnight. 

Today’s May 8th class

We will not be using the textbook today (Writers at Work: the Essay, by Dorothy Zemack. Amazon link: )
1) Self-introduction by Sheffner
2) Self-introduction by each student using a) voice, then b) chat window
3) Explanation of some Teams functions (survey, calendar, etc)
4) Explanation and discussion about WebDisk – how to access Sheffner’s folder, how to download Sheffner’s documents and upload your homework assignments.
5) Explanation of class blog . You can use this as a backup to Teams and WebDisk for downloading files and communicating with me.
6) Explanation of assignments #1 and #2.

What is the meaning of “academic”? Where does this word come from and what was the original meaning? Please write your answer in a comment below. Thank you.

Update: Some students posted their comments on a different page. You can see them here:


See the presentations below about Academic Writing. There are questions to answer at the end of each one. Write your answers to each presentation before looking at the next one. The 3 presentations will be posted on Webdisk and here on the blog after 4 pm today. Write your answers to the 3 presentation questions in ONE document, save your document as “AW1_Hmwk1_YourName” (replace “YourName” with your full name), and attach it to an email. The subject ( 件名) of the email should be the same as your document.

Please see this image for details of correct email format:

In your email, please introduce yourself briefly and answer these questions:

  1. Do you have the textbook?
  2. What kind of device are you using to connect to Teams?
  3. Tell me something or somethings that you are not able to do now because of the state of emergency and corona virus pandemic.
  4. Tell me something new you have done recently.

Your email address is not made public. Thank you for visiting.

AW2: week 14, January 17th, 2020


None, but prepare for next week’s timed essay writing.

You can read some timed essays by AW2 students from 2017 on the download page here:

Today’s class

  1. Textbook p. 136 C
  2. p. 139 E
  3. p. 141 Practice 6
  4. p. 141 B
  5. p. 143 Practice 8
  6. p. 144 Practice 9
  7. p. 145 Practice 10
  8. p. 146 E
  9. p. 147 Practice 11
  10. p. 148 A
  11. p. 151 B

Your email address is not made public. Thank you for visiting.

AW2: Week13 January 10th, 2020


None. But email me your Essay 5 if you have not done so already. Also, make sure you have given me your Essay 4 Final version. I will write comments on your Essay 5 and return it to you next week.

Also, please answer the survey here about the Essay 4 Class Collection, if you would like your essay to be included:

Today’s class


  • Jan 10th – chapter 6, timed essays, textbook exercises
  • Jan 17th – in-class timed essays (practice)
  • Jan 24th – in-class timed essays (test: no dictionaries or devices)
  1. Examples from student writing of inappropriate, subjective sentences.
  2. Review: citation examples from Wikipedia
  3. Textbook p. 133
  4. p. 134 questions 1-4
  5. p. 136 C and Practice 1
  6. p. 138 Practice 3
  7. p. 140 A and Practice 5


Your email address is not made public. Thank you for visiting.

Update to this website: new download page

Hi! While you students have been enjoying your winter vacation eating too much, sleeping, watching TV, playing games, sleeping and, erm, eating, I’ve been WORKING! 

Yes, I’ve been slaving away for YOU, on this website to improve the quality and make it more user-friendly.

Since April 2019, I uploaded worksheets and other materials I used in class to this website. I’ve collected all these together in one place: the download page which you can access by clicking on the name “DOWNLOADS” on the main menu (see screenshot below; click on the image for a bigger picture).

I’ve included class collections of Essay #4 (Persuasive) and Essay #5 (Response) from previous years. I’ll be uploading a few more class collections over the next few days.

I also cleaned up the “Academic Writing Resources” page and added some useful links to MLA guidelines. Check it out. Most links are to English-language pages, but I would like to add some useful Japanese links, so if you have any suggestions, let me know in the comments, and I may add them to the resources page.

Your email address is not made public. Thank you for visiting.

A Heartfelt New Year’s Resolution

I came across this New Year’s resolution for 2020, and I thought it expressed a wonderful wish. Not something unrealistic but practical. Not something that benefits one group of people over another, but that benefits everyone, even those people not yet born.

Best wishes to you all

Your email address is not made public. Thank you for visiting.

AW2: Week 12, December 20th, 2019


  1. Choose a book, movie or article, fiction or non-fiction, Japanese or English, to respond to (see a list of suggestions below).
  2. Email me your choice.
  3. When I say “OK” (by email), you can start writing your response (Essay 5)
  4. Email me your Essay 5 draft 1 by Jan. 10th 2020.
  5. Print it out and bring it to class Jan. 10th, 2020.

You can use something you have read before,  e.g. Bastiat’s Broken Window story, an essay by George Orwell (I recommend “Politics and the English Language”) or Francis Bacon, “Philosophy: Who Needs It?” or choose something new. 

If you would like something challenging to read, below are some suggestions.

As a model, you can use the textbook essay (p. 113-4 “Model A”) or my Model B  for literary texts (fiction “Response to ‘The Elephant’s Child'”) and non-fiction (“Response to ‘Philosophy: Who Needs It”), which uses a simple 3-part structure: 

  1. Background information about the author (objective information)
  2. Summary of the story or content of the article/essay  (objective information)
    1. (The order of 1 and 2 above can be reversed)
  3. Your evaluation (can include subjective elements but try and keep it as objective as possible; NOT whether you agree or disagree, but whether it is a well-written article/essay/story or not and why).
  4. Works cited:
    1. list all the resources you used, including of course the original.
    2. Use the MLA style. See the Academic Writing Resources page on this website for useful links.
    3. All references must be in Roman characters.
    4. Do NOT translate the names of Japanese sources.
      1. See the “Citations Worksheet” for examples.

Suggested reading (or choose your own) (Updated 8 Jan 2020):

Your email address is not made public. Thank you for visiting.

AW2: Makeup class (for week 5, November 1st, 2019)

Today’s class

If you were absent today, read this blog post then do assignments 1.1 and 3.5

  1. Philosophy: Who Needs It? A look at the grammar, logic and rhetoric. (The speech was recorded and you can listen to it here. Ayn Rand starts speaking at 3 minutes 45 seconds.)  I wrote a sample response essay to this speech which you can download here
    Continue reading AW2: Makeup class (for week 5, November 1st, 2019)

Your email address is not made public. Thank you for visiting.

AW2: Week 11, December 13th, 2019


Makeup class Saturday 14 December 2019, 10:30 ~ 12:00, usual room. For those who are unable to attend, I will post an assignment on this blog Saturday 14 December after 6 pm.


Read ONE of the following: 

  1. the paragraphs about George Orwell’s “Nineteen Eighty-Four” (1.1~1.3) OR
  2. the paragraphs about Edward Bernays (2.1~2.5)
  3. You can download the paragraphs here
  4. Write two paragraphs responding to 1.1~1.3 or 2.1~2.5.
    1. Your first paragraph should summarize (and explain if necessary) the content (meaning) of the paragraphs 1.1~1.3 or 2.1~2.5
    2. Your second paragraph should evaluate those paragraphs. Do not agree or disagree: evaluate only.

Today’s class

  1. Textbook pp. 112 (answer the questions), 113-114 (sample essay).
  2. In her speech to the graduating students of Westpoint, novelist and philosopher Ayn Rand said that there are 3 important questions in life that we need to answer and that we can only answer with by using philosophy. What are those 3 questions? 

Your email address is not made public. Thank you for visiting.

website for Sheffner's Academic Writing class at Kyoto Prefectural University, Japan. Since 2012.