All posts by Sheffner

Part-time instructor of Academic Writing in English @ Kyoto Prefectural University, Kyoto, Japan.

Academic Writing II – week 3, October 19th, 2012

It’s just a first draft
  1. Freewriting 1: 5 mins
  2. Freewriting 2: same but for a neighbour: edit your freewriting #1 to create a piece of writing that you would be happy to let your neighbour in class read (or write something completely new, or mix the two, it’s up to you)
  3. Freewriting 3: same but for whole class – edit your freewriting #2 (if necessary, if you want to) to create a piece of writing that could be read by the whole class.
  4. Freewriting 4: how did your writing change? Did it change? Which was easier to write? Which was most interesting to read?
  5. Get back  your last week’s papers
  6. Random groups of 5-6 students: share your list of possible topics, then say which one you chose & why. Make suggestions, ask questions, give feedback.
  7. Changed your mind about topic? If so, change it now.
  8. Each person told the whole class about their topic ( title only, not reasons)
  9. Freewriting 5: about today’s class.
  10. Hmwk:Comparison/contrast essay draft #1 – don’t worry about format, or grammar, or spelling. These can be dealt with later.
    1. I just found this short essay comparing private and public universities in Egypt. It’s not a great example (I’m sure you can write something better), but it might give you some ideas.
  11. Schedule for this semester:
    1. Nov 2 – compare/contrast due
    2. Nov 30 – persuasive essay due
    3. Jan 11 – “responding to a reading” due.
First draft - a handwritten example
First draft
Hemingway quote: "The first draft of everything is shit."
Hemingway quote: “The first draft of everything is shit.”

Academic Writing II – week 2, October 12th, 2012

Venn diagram comparing whales and fish
Venn diagram comparing whales and fish

Today we did:

  • Freewriting 1: 5-6 mins, anything. Private writing (only you and me will read this, no other student)
  • Txtbk p71D, p72E.
  • Share your list of possible topics for a comparison-contrast essay with the students sitting near you.
  • Do Venn diagram exercise comparing the subject of p.73-4 practice 3
  • Choose a topic and start freewriting or making a Venn diagram (10 mins ) about it
  • Share your diagram/freewriting with your neighbours (10mins):  give them some comments, questions, advice, suggestions about their topics, and ask them to give the same to you.
  • You will get feedback from other students several times during the process of writing your comparison-contrast essay
  • Freewriting 2: about today’s class. Your thoughts, feelings, questions, comments, suggestions, complaints, anything is OK. This is private writing.


freewriting  (10 mins)  on why you chose this topic, and the purpose of your comparison-contrast essay.

Academic Writing II – week 1, October 5th, 2012

This semester, we will use the same textbook, starting from chapter 3.

I have cut up my textbook. I scanned it onto my iPad. Now I don’t need to bring the actual textbook. I did the same with the teacher’s book (with the answers).


  • did some freewriting
  • looked quickly through chapter 3,
  • and we read the model essay,
  • read another model essay about a girl deciding which camera to buy,
  • freewriting 2: about the differences between the two essays
  • freewriting 3: comments about today’s class (the readings, the writings, anything you like).


Start a list of possible topics for your comparison-contrast essay. Bring the list the list to class to share with other students.

  • Over the next few weeks, think about what you would like to know, what you are genuinely interested in.
  • Do not be satisfied with just “something for teacher”.
  • The essay topic, and the essay you write, should have a value for you, personally.


Shy? Level up!

Last semester, for Essay #2, many students wrote about the problem of shyness and how to overcome it.

Watch this. In this video, 3 young men in Columbus, Ohio, go out to the mall to practice their foreign language skills. One of them (Moses) has never been out of America. How can he learn to speak so many languages? There is only one way. LEVEL UP!!

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Academic Writing I – week 15, July 27th, 2012

Cover- the Art of Non-Fiction, Ayn Rand

Today, we

  • took dictation: some advice on writing by Ayn Rand (from her book “The Art of Non-Fiction”);
  • did our own free writing for 30 minutes;
  • asked ourselves these questions:
    • what am I writing about? (subject)
    • what do I have to say about my subject? (theme)
    • who might be interested in reading my writing? (I.e., who am I writing for?)
    • what kind of knowledge am I assuming they have?
  • reviewed our writing in the light of these questions, re-writing as necessary.


  1. Copy what you wrote about reading other students’ essays as a comment on this blog
  2. Enjoy your summer vacation.
Mountain stream, Adera Keikoku, Nagano, Japan
Mountain stream, Adera Keikoku, Nagano, Japan



Academic Writing I – week 14, July 20th, 2012

Reading each other's essays
Reading each other’s essays

Today, we

  1. handed in our final versions of essay #2, the problem-solution essay;
  2. read each others’ essays;
  3. wrote a comment about the experience of reading other students’ essays;
  4. checked the answers to Practice 9-13 in the textbook.


If you have not yet sent me or given me a typed copy of your final version, type it and send it to me before next Friday.

Next week is the last class. There will be no test.

Academic Writing I – week 13, July 13th, 2012

Problem? Solution!

Today, we continued revising our Essay #2 – problem-solution. We did the following exercises in the textbook:

  1. Page 60 – Hedging.
  2. Page 61 – Practice 11 and 12. Answer directly on your textbook.
  3. p 62 – Practice 13 – on looseleaf
  4. p 62 – read B “‘Using conditionals to hedge”
  5. p 63 – Practice 14, 15 + 16 – on looseleaf
  6. p 64 – Read C “Punctuating Conditionals”, and do Practice 17 on your textbook.
  7. Read your Essay #2 again. Make any changes you want.



Read your essay again. Make any changes you want. Now write your final version.

  • Save your document as “AS_Essay2_final_draft_YourName.doc(x)”,
  • email it to me by Wednesday;
  • print it out and
  • bring it to class next Friday

Academic Writing I – week 12, July 6th, 2012

problem solution
problem solution

Today, we continued working on our essay #2, the problem-solution essay.

In the textbook we read the following pages and did the following exercises:

  1. p. 55 Peer Feedback Form – give your draft to your partner and ask him or her to comment on your essay.
  2. read page 56. Writers can learn some useful techniques from marketing and marketers.
  3. Page 57, Practice 9. Write your answers to 1,2 and 3 on looseleaf paper.
  4. Page 57, Your Turn – read and then read your essay again. Make changes if necessary.
  5. Page 58, C Think Critically – read then do practice 10 (answer directly on your textbook).
  6. Page 59, Your Turn – read your essay again and make changes if necessary.
  7. Write your 2nd draft. Finish for homework.
  8. Page 60 – Hedging.
  9. Page 61 – Practice 11 and 12. Answer directly on your textbook.



Finish your 2nd draft:

  • Save your document as “AS_Essay2_2nd_draft_YourName.doc(x)”,
  • email it to me by Wednesday,
  • print it out and
  • bring it to class next Friday

    problem solution road sign
    problem solution road sign