Sunday, February 08, 2009

Sunday Roast, and Writing Quiz

David McMahon did his Sunday Roast interview with me this week. I appreciate David taking the time to run it. I enjoyed answering his questions. You can check it out on his blog if you've a mind to.

I haven't mentioned much here about the writing class I'm teaching this semester but so far it is going well and I seem to have a pretty good crew of students. Below is the first quiz I gave them. I'll bet you all get them correct. Or else you'll want to argue with me about the correct answer. ;)

Writing Quiz. Each blank = 1 point.

1. In trying to communicate specific information, the main
advantage of writing over talking is: _______________________


2. The main disadvantage of writing is: _________________________


3. (1 Pt). Which of the following is NOT one of the "good"
habits that I suggested you develop to improve your writing?
a. Schedule a time for writing and stick to it.
b. Use a dictionary to look up words that you are unsure about.
c. Write only until you get tired, then stop for the day.
d. Read a wide variety of other people's writings, from textbooks
to novels.
e. All of these are "good" habits.

4. Since your audience is not present when you are writing a
paper, you must think more carefully about what you are going
to say than when you are having a spoken conversation. Name
two things that you can do which could help you figure out the
kinds of questions readers might ask.

a. _________________________

b. _________________________


True/False (1 point each). (Please circle your answer).

5. T. F. The only reason for writing is to communicate ideas.
6. T. F. Writing skills depend upon inborn verbal abilities and
cannot be learned.
7. T. F. Once you have found a formula for writing a successful
term paper, you should stick with it so that you
will always be guaranteed to get good grades.
8. T. F. I suggested that you should just assume that the first
draft of your paper is not good enough to hand in.
9. T. F. Writing is easy.
10. T. F. There is only one way to write a good paper.

11. Name the most recent book that you have read (or are
currently reading): ____________________

-----
-----

Answers: (AS I See Them)
1. You have time to consider your full argument without having anyone waiting impatiently to see what you're going to say.

2. You don't get immediate feedback about your success, or lack of it, at conveying your message to readers.

3. I think "C" is a bad habit. I urge my students not to write to exhaustion but to push themselves.

4. A. Develop your own critical reading habit.
B. Ask peers to read your work and tell you where they got confused.

For the True/False, 8 is true and all the others are false.
---
---

35 comments:

jennifer said...

Not sure what it says about my personality but I reeeeally don't like to be the first to comment.

I prefer the back pew in church and I always let others go in front of me in buffet lines as well.

Cool Quiz!

(see? I caved under the pressure)

H.E.Eigler said...

I wish I could take your class Charles, if only to focus my mind on writerly things for a while. Although, I've never been one for tests! Going to check out your roast .....

Cloudia said...

Charles: mostly, my immediate reaction is: "Thank God I'm done taking tests!" LOL
But I agree with what you are teaching your (lucky) students. I'm sure that I'm not the only one who benefits by the "refreshers" you share here at Razored Zen. Mahalo & Aloha-

Steve Malley said...

That was fun, not sure how I would have done without the answers right there, but I like the way you think!

the walking man said...

1. In trying to communicate specific information, the main
advantage of writing over talking is:

I don't have to bitch slap anyone to silence as they try to talk over me.


2. The main disadvantage of writing is:

It keeps me out of jail for assault.


3. (1 Pt). Which of the following is NOT one of the "good"
habits that I suggested you develop to improve your writing?
a. Schedule a time for writing and stick to it.
b. Use a dictionary to look up words that you are unsure about.
c. Write only until you get tired, then stop for the day.
d. Read a wide variety of other people's writings, from textbooks
to novels.
e. All of these are "good" habits.

Uhhh errr ahhh...(yes I have written that on quizzes)...Well professor seeing as they are suggestions I will take them under advisement but for the present refuse to answer because no one ever accused me of any having any habits but for bad ones.


4. Since your audience is not present when you are writing a
paper, you must think more carefully about what you are going
to say than when you are having a spoken conversation. Name
two things that you can do which could help you figure out the
kinds of questions readers might ask.

a. Read the back pages with an open eye, non critical eye and, question my writing.

b. Question my understanding of the source material


True/False (1 point each). (Please circle your answer).

5. T. F. The only reason for writing is to communicate ideas.
6. T. F. Writing skills depend upon inborn verbal abilities and
cannot be learned.
7. T. F. Once you have found a formula for writing a successful
term paper, you should stick with it so that you
will always be guaranteed to get good grades.
8. T. F. I suggested that you should just assume that the first
draft of your paper is not good enough to hand in.
9. T. F. Writing is easy.
10. T. F. There is only one way to write a good paper.

So as not to prejudice my audience, which is you professor; I am going to have to decline to answer the above questions on the grounds that any answer I may give is subjective and therefore open to interpretation.

For example #9...definitely T

11. Name the most recent book that you have read (or are
currently reading): Calling Mr. Lonely Heart By Laura Benedict
(notes from the hand basket, mystery horror)

I like tests.

Georgie B said...

Thoughtful post.

And just like the bad old days, we blanked out when it came to answering the non T/F questions.

However, for the one regarding the book, the last one I just read was called "Yellow Medicine".

Very interesting book about domestic terrorism by Neil Smith.

Vesper said...

Interesting quiz! I'm off to read your interview.

There's a little something waiting for you at my site. :-)

Vesper said...

Charles, I much enjoyed reading your interview. It confirmed again my opinion of you, of being such a thoughtful, considerate and intelligent writer and human being.

The poem is beautiful and heartbreaking.

I cannot reach
No hand can grasp
But yet I wave
Once more in passing
April again


I know this feeling. For me it's every December, when I know that my Grandmother is not here anymore... I dread the moment when other months will attain this sad connotation...

Travis Erwin said...

I bet your class is very informative and fun to take.

pattinase (abbott) said...

It would have been nice to take a class where some of these issues were discussed. All four of my classes were workshops so we never went over these things.

cs harris said...

So, how'd they do?

Mary Witzl said...

Would it be plagiarism if I went and swiped this, dumbed it down, and gave it to my own EFL writing class?

I love The Walking Man's answer to number one. That is just so true.

Heff said...

Thank God for the true/false, or I would have failed, lol !

BernardL said...

You're sure right about pushing to finish a term paper. Although college was long ago, I remember how easily a term paper could generate excuses. :)

X. Dell said...

I was gonna leave a smart-ass response, but Walking Man beat me to it. But the last book I read? Venona: Decoding Soviet Esponage in America by John Haynes and Harvey Klehr.

Charles Gramlich said...

Jennifer, I’m like that except for buffet lines. I always want to be first there.

H.E., I actually always kind of liked tests. Weird, I know.

Cloudia, thanks. Glad you find some items of interest.

Steve Malley, well, that quiz was open book so the students had the answers too, although they had to look harder.

Mark, I would have given you at least half credit for those answers. Perhaps they are better than my own in fact. However, I’m not sure we’d have time in a normal class to discuss all of the possibilities. Maybe if I taught a graduate class.

Georgie B., I put that question about reading in there because so few of my students read at all outside of class and I think a major key to good writing is reading.

Vesper, I’m behind in my Google reader rounds today. So many things happening at school. Yes, I know what you mean about the power of certain months. And yes, over a lifespan more than one will begin to take on that resonance.

Travis Erwin, they might disagree with you.

Pattinase, There’s a time for these kinds of nuts and bolts and I think we can all use a refresher from time to time.

Candy, since it was open book they mostly did pretty well, although only about half the class got 12 out of 12 point.

Mary Witzl, use it if it helps.

Heff, that’s because you were probably sitting in the back of class trying to look up the girl’s skirts as they came in.

Bernardl, I find I can generate excuses these days to avoid deadlines, but I’m much more aware of the fact that I’m making excuses.

X. Dell, ahh, some of your usual “light” reading. ;)

Lauren said...

I didn't realize that you teach a class. Lucky students!

laughingwolf said...

good stuff, charles... as are yours, mark ;) lol

Lana Gramlich said...

Do I get an automatic "A+" for sleeping with the teacher?

ivan said...

I rather like what the late Flannery O'Connor used to say about visiting teachers of writing

"What had just been said by elephant will immediately be countered by the giraffe."

There is no one way in writing, it seems. I wonder whether you can really foster it through classroom technique, though it does help if you are a little on fire. Students will pick up on the enhusiasm.

Individual script evaluation and one-on-one tutorship seem to work best.

But workng and writing in an academic atmoshpere can take baroque turn.

I was assisted by my professor in English to get a short story published in my college magazine.(One-on-one tutoring). The teacher-student relationship worked. We became friends...At least as far as my fiction project was concerned.
But I had cut a lot of classes to take on this literary project; my prof said he deemed my fiction writing, "extra-curricular"-- I had cut classes-- and he damned near failed me in English Drama, a subject I really had no idea of (and to this day, I can't write a play).
But I could write a short story.

--Jesus. Most widely published student-author at Ryerson University in 1967--and he has to write a sub in English Drama.

Ah well, I had been building up too much ego anyway.
Writing is writing and academe is academe, I suppose.

Greg Schwartz said...

good quiz. i hate to say it, but i didn't get them all right.

that was a good interview, too. neat to hear the idea behind "razored zen."

Charles Gramlich said...

Lauren, they might not agree.

Laughingwolf, thanks.

Lana, you've certainly made my honor roll. I'll say that.

Ivan, I think you can certainly teach the discipline and techniques involved in writing a nonfiction piece to a specific style, although natural talent always counts for something. Fiction writing is a different matter, though.

Greg, glad you enjoyed.

Miladysa said...

I wish you were teaching in the UK!

Great interview - April Again is a favourite of mine and believe it or not I was only thinking about that particular poem at the weekend.

Michelle's Spell said...

If I still taught writing, I would definitely use this test. The one thing I know for sure -- writing is the hardest thing I have ever done of my own free will. Spiritual tests in my life are another thing! :)

Virginia Lady said...

I like this test if only because it makes one think about writing in a different way. It makes one think about the purpose of what you're writing and how to communicate your thoughts while considering your audience. I love the T/F questions.

JR's Thumbprints said...

My students (ever so CONfident) make the following claim on a daily basis: Writing is easy. It isn't until after they've tried creating a story, that they'll defend their initial remark with: I could do better, but I don't have enough time. Funny thing is SOME OF THEM ARE DOING TWENTY YEAR SENTENCES WITH ALL THE TIME IN THE WORLD.

Charles Gramlich said...

Miladysa, that was a poem that practically wrote itself. glad you liked it.

Michelle, I've been a bit lazy of late where writing is concerned. I need to put in that work. Because you are right, it's truly hard.

Virginia Lady, I could see the students reevaluating the purpose of writing as I was talking to them about these issues. I hope it stays with them.

JR, writing is one of those things that seems pretty easy until you try it.

the walking man said...

Maybe because I am insane, or the nuns bent my mind in such a way as to be able to hang two sentences together. Maybe because, like masturbation for the body, it has become the only form of recreation in the mind; writing is easy.

Almost a form of dictation translating the words of the head into responses of the fingertips. Even the editing portion, once enough time has passed from original to final, has become an automatic response.

I don't know why I don't struggle with writing but I do know I am grateful not to.

The latest example of a thousand word short "House Rules" was written in one continuous flow edited for spelling as I went along and when it was done it was done.

Truth be told Charles I have no memory of ever agonizing over the use of certain words or being able to present the mood or feeling I was trying to communicate. That's not to say I haven't failed in the attempt at times for I have, many times. But from the failures comes the learning.

Personally I would like to know why writing is hard for them of your audience who find it so. I want to know if there is something in the experience I am missing out on.

Merisi said...

I wished I could take your class!

I read and enjoyed David's Sunday Roast interview with you.

When I read 3C you had me smile all the way to the end of your post. ;-)

Charles Gramlich said...

Mark, the hard part for me, is trying to find the exact way, with words and sentences and paragraphs, of conveying on paper what I want the reader to experience. In fiction, how do I make the reader see and feel what I want them to, or at least with some degree of accuracy. In nonfiction, how do I communicate a complex idea in simpler language for an audience who knows little of the idea. I find that I'm often misunderstood, or unclear, and so I realize that it doesn't come easy to me.

Merisi, I'm glad you enjoyed. Thanks for going over to read the roast.

L.A. Mitchell said...

I wish someone would have shared some of this with me ten years ago. They don't know how lucky they are :)

Charles Gramlich said...

L. A. I only wish more of them were paying attention.

Barbara Martin said...

Charles, I have had readers misunderstand the words I have written and learned how to change them so that they do.

Elsalman said...

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can you add my baner


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Charles Gramlich said...

Barbara, I have too and it's sometimes pretty hard to figure out just how to convey something.

Elsalman, you know, dude, it's kind of rude to do a blog drive by. Not that you'll ever stop back here, of course.