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ERIC Number: EJ1097335
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2007
Not Looking Away: The Homeless Journal
Matthews, Debra H.
CEA Forum, v36 n1 Win-Spr 2007
Much of Debra Matthews' teaching experience has been with apprehensive writers, and while teaching freshman English to primarily nontraditional students, she found that the students were often nervous about the writing process. The students acknowledged that they felt threatened by the evaluation process, and some were intimidated by the writing assignments. Frequently, students said they had no source of reference for a given topic. Therefore, as a way of introducing narration and description, Matthews requires students to develop journals by assuming the identities of homeless people. All of the students have seen homeless men and women at some point, and all of them have preconceived opinions about homelessness. After a brief discussion about homelessness, she presents students with the guidelines for the activity. Herein, Matthews describes the instructions for the exercise and provides excerpts of her students' journal entries. She concludes that writing activities that allow students to draw upon their own experiences are especially beneficial. The Homeless Journal actively engages the students in the writing process, and for the week that they complete the assignment, it changes the atmosphere in the classroom. It allows even those who are having difficulty with the writing process to experience a degree of success, since the journal is not evaluated in the same way as an essay. In addition to allowing all writers to experience a degree of success, the Homeless Journal encourages students to write more.
Descriptors: Freshman Composition, Nontraditional Students, Writing Processes, Student Journals, Homeless People, Writing Assignments, Student Experience, College Freshmen, Writing Apprehension
College English Association. Web site: http://www.cea-web.org
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Authoring Institution: N/A
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A