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As a new resident in the Chapel Hill area, I experienced my first taste of fall this week – both literally and metaphorically. Although the leaves have not yet begun to turn colors, Tuesday marked the first official calendar day of the autumn. However, most students know this changing season by the anticipation of midterm exams and projects. Our classmates here at Chapel Hill are no exception and worked hard studying and preparing for those academic challenges. While the changing weather is a reason for excitement, students in Paul Blom’s ENGL 105i spent the past week completing their cumulative unit projects for the upcoming deadline on Monday, September 27, 2021.

This week, we mainly focused on creating and polishing our first unit project (UP1). Preparation for Tuesday’s class began over the weekend: assembling our UP1 rough cut. The assignment asks students to translate a recently written medical research paper into a video essay appropriate for general audiences. Topics range from the efficacy of drugs used to treat Parkinson’s Disease to concerns regarding the COVID-19 vaccine. By Wednesday night, we submitted a “rough cut” of our video essays. This included writing an eloquent script, recording voice-over, finding video footage, and aligning all aspects of the video. On Thursday morning, we met as a class to peer-edit each other’s video essays and provide valuable feedback. Over the weekend, each student will be adding the final polishing touches and posting them to the course website. Please consider viewing their diligent efforts here! For me, this was my first intensive experience creating a video from scratch; I have found it both challenging and rewarding. Importantly, I think this project gave me in a greater appreciation for video production. To produce even short TV commercials, not to mention a longer film, it must require several hours of writing, filming, and (tedious) editing. I’m impressed by all the members of the class who have thoughtfully engaged in this project by spending hours reading authentic research, writing analyses, and editing video footage.

The classwork has also complemented our progress on the unit one project. Tuesday’s class focused on polishing and editing local errors. This included reviewing punctuation, grammar, and proofreading. Although we each have varying levels of experience, I found it helpful to reinforce grammar as a means of improving our writing – especially as we advance through college. Our classmates suggested using strategies such as reading our work out loud, marking up a physical copy of the essay, and taking breaks during work sessions. These mainly help us defamiliarize our writing and gain a better perspective needed for revision and editing. Additionally, the UNC Writing Center has countless resources for all aspects of the writing process and even offers an editing service free to all UNC students. I have used this a few times and I feel that their asynchronous feedback is particularly insightful. When we returned on Thursday, we finished our discussion of editing by considering syntax. From these discussions, the aspect of my writing that I hope to improve over the next few semesters is fluency and style. After Thursday’s class, I feel like implementing increasingly varied and intentional sentence structures will make my writing more precise and engaging.

Students in Paul Blom’s ENGL 105i class will be busy this weekend finalizing their projects. While it might require several hours working in the library, our instructor has thoroughly prepared us to complete the project. Over the past few weeks, I’ve learned that instructors at Chapel Hill want to see students succeed and that help is always nearby. Although we all have hours of work to prepare for the big deadline over the next few days, I hope that we can spend a while enjoying the beautiful outdoors around campus this weekend and that my classmates will find satisfaction after submitting their UP1 projects.


Feature Image Source:

@uncchapelhill. “Happy Thanksgiving, Tar Heels! We Hope you have a safe and relaxing holiday.” 26 November 2021. Facebook.

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