Monday, October 29, 2012

2 spots available for 3-week online professional development course

Course: Because You are Not a Writing Teacher: A Professional Development Course for SNL Faculty

Instructor: Michelle Navarre Cleary, SNL Writing Coordinator

Time: 11/26 to 12/16, all online

This six-module course will give you practical ideas and coaching on how to make the most of writing as a tool for teaching and learning in SNL’s writing-intensive program.

You will learn about short in-class writing assignments that allow you to set up discussions and to get quick feedback on what students are learning. You will learn how to develop assignments and provide feedback on student writing that enhances student learning and decreases your frustration and time spent on student writing. You will have the opportunity to share ideas with each other, get feedback on your current writing assignments and ways of giving feedback and create new assignments. Finally, you will learn about additional resources at DePaul to help you continue to develop your teaching.

Please note that we will complete six-modules of work in three weeks, including 13 discussions and 3 assignments, so you can expect to be in the course most days during this three-week period.

Participants who successfully complete the course will earn a certification of completion and a $500 stipend.

Enrollment is limited to 15. If you would like to reserve a place in the course or be placed on a waiting list for future classes, please send an email to

Friday, October 26, 2012

Tell your students not to format citations . . .

Really. Tell them to have Microsoft or any number of other programs format those citations for them. 

Although you may not guess it, interviews with SNL students indicate that they spend an inordinate amount of time and energy worrying about how to format their citations, time and energy that would be much better spent on developing and organizing their ideas; researching, evaluating, and synthesizing sources; and drawing conclusions.

Similarly, teachers spend an inordinate amount of time teaching, correcting, and being frustrated about students' formatting of citations. Time that would be better spent giving students feedback that challenges them to develop, support and organize their ideas.

As the videos below indicate, students can use Microsoft Word to format their citations and bibliography. The nice thing about this tool is that when students enter the information for a source once, they do not have to enter it again when they are working on a new paper. Similarly, Zotero is a free web-based tool. To learn more about it, see

To share this information with your students, send them to

The Craft of Composing Panel Discussion

On October 24th, SNL Writing hosted a panel discussion with 5 writers from different genres about their writing process titled, "The Craft of Composing".

The panelists included:

Michelle Navarre Cleary, SNL Writing Coordinator and Professor (academic writing)
Penny Pollack, SNL Alumnus and dining editor of Chicago Magazine (journalism)
Rita Leganski, SNL Alumnus and Novelist (novel writing)
Ann Stanford, SNL Professor and Author (scholarly articles, poetry)
Rochelle George Wooding, Neighborhood Writing Alliance member (personal narrative)

Three items that each panelist touched upon were

1) The importance of community
Writing is meant to be shared and written for a specific audience.

2) Revision
Write first, edit later. Even if you need to make significant cuts later on, you may be able to use that writing elsewhere.

3) Presence of panic
Deadlines can be stressful, and so can negative critiques of your work. Remember that practice makes perfect; you will find your voice the more you write.

To listen to the full discussion, please visit:

Monday, October 15, 2012

Upcoming Chicagoland Writing Events

October 20th is the National Day on Writing!  To celebrate, consider attending one of these upcoming local writing events…

On October 16th at 6:00pm, the DePaul President's Signature Series is hosting a talk with author Hector Tobar, "Latino Identity, American Identity, Artistic Voice: A Writer's Journey, A Community's Journey." It will be held at the DePaul University Student Center, 2250 N. Sheffield Ave. Room No. 314 A & B. RSVP to
The University Center for Writing-based Learning will be hosting an event titled, “Aloud! A public Reading of Non-fiction, Fiction, Essays, and Poetry” on Thursday, October 18th from 4 - 5:30pm, 2nd floor of Lincoln Park Student Center.
Haymarket Pub and Brewery is hosting The Drinking & Writing Festival 2012 on October 20th. Theme is “The Beats.” Visit:
Chicago Writing Association’s affiliate, In Print, hosts its 2nd Annual Book fair at Barnes & Noble Cherry Valley Mall on October 20th. Visit:
The SNL Month of Writing presents “The Craft of Composing: A Panel of Writers Discuss the Writing Process” on October 24th from 6- 7:30pm at 14 E. Jackson Blvd, Chicago, Il 60604 – Room 1328. For more information, email:
The Chicago Humanities Festival has many talks with authors and a competitive reading series. Dates are Oct.  21st and Nov. 1-11th. Visit:

Join a Neighborhood Writing Alliance Group. Visit:

Friday, October 12, 2012

SNL Month of Writing Challenge is Underway!

Today, October 12th, is the final day to sign up for the SNL Month of Writing Challenge (email: You can set your personal goal to be either higher or lower than 50,000 words -  just make sure you spend time each week to improve your writing practice. The sentiment of the challenge is quantity over quality; first produce words and go back to edit them later. Author Simon Rich phrases the challenge's sentiment well in the New York Times Magazine piece, "Great Moments in Inspiration":

 Simon Rich Author/Comedy Writer, “Last Girlfriend on Earth: And Other Love Stories”
“I’ve always been an obsessive New York Knicks fan, and John Starks is the closest thing to a messianic figure that I’ve ever known. It’s hard to overstate it, how much I loved watching him play. Starks set the Knicks record for most career 3-pointers and most career 3-point attempts, and the lesson I took from him is that if you shoot enough 3’s, some will eventually somehow go in. I’ve always been a quantity-over-quality kind of guy. I’ve thrown out a few terrible novels, I’ve thrown out two whole collections of short stories, I have hundreds of comedy pieces that are terrible that will never see the light of day. My feeling is I can’t really control how talented I am, but I can control how many hours I work and how many things I write.”
For helpful information about the writing challenge, please visit:
Happy Writing!