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Writing Center hosts instructional essay writing series

Photo+by+Tomas+Castro.
Photo by Tomas Castro.

Photo by Tomas Castro.

Photo by Tomas Castro.

By Valerie Akinyoyenu

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The English department writing center hosted a series of weekly instructional workshops throughout third quarter, inviting students to bring their lunch and a friend while improving specific essay writing skills.

In response to English teachers and students expressing a need to reinforce class instruction, English composition assistants Orion Hyson and Cathy Neff led sessions on source evaluation, the latest MLA format, introductory paragraphs and five-paragraph essay organization beginning Feb. 6, with additional assistance from parent volunteers.

“In this day and age, in this culture of ours, I feel as though it’s really important to emphasize the value of thoughtful, careful, civil discourse, and that is expressed in good writing,” Hyson said.

While the workshop focused on improving English essay writing, it could also help students in assessing an argument’s validity on social media or writing college essays, English teacher Danielle Fus said.

“Being a good writer helps you to be a critical thinker and a better citizen of the world,” Fus said. “It’s more comprehensive than just writing a paragraph. It’s about being more aware of your own strengths and weaknesses and being able to identify strengths and weaknesses in other writing.”

Being a good writer helps you to be a critical thinker and a better citizen of the world.

— English teacher Danielle Fus

Parent volunteer Maryam Farooqui, who taught English in Pakistan for 25 years, commended the specialized instruction that was offered in each session.

“In a class, you tend to just shy away or you just keep quiet,” Farooqi said, “but such opportunities, they encourage students to open up and to seek one-to-one help, try to clear the doubts which are in their mind, or even to learn more and polish their skills for writing.”

After attending his first workshop, freshman Evan Belsky agreed that these sessions help students better express their ideas.

“It’ll help them branch out a little bit, and maybe that’ll lead to new things,” Belsky said.

Although Neff and Hyson have discontinued the workshop due to low attendance, they will be evaluating the effectiveness of the structure and topic areas before they consider restarting it.

“These writing workshops reinforce the lessons that teachers teach in class, but it’s just additional instruction,” Neff said. “The immediate feedback is what we’re finding is most beneficial to students, and that may be where our focus should be.”

For now, students are welcome to seek individual help in the Writing Center during both lunches and after school in the English office.

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The Student News Site of Walt Whitman High School
Writing Center hosts instructional essay writing series