This month, high school students are invited to improve their writing skills and learn about university-level writing through an online interactive workshop with King’s instructors.
Scheduled for Sunday, November 29 at 4 p.m. (AST), the hour-long Zoom workshop is free to attend and open to all high school students. Participants must register in advance.
Leading the workshop are Dr. Michelle Wilband, faculty member in the Foundation Year Program (FYP), and Dr. Mark Burke, the FYP Writing Coach at King’s. The two instructors will begin with short presentations about university writing skills, then finish up the workshop with an interactive Q&A session where students can submit questions about writing, university assignments and the transition from high school to university.
Mark’s topic of focus will be common writing issues encountered by first-year university students. Rather than grammar problems, he says, many incoming students struggle with structural organization and clear presentation of ideas in their essays. He’ll offer some helpful solutions to these issues, both big and small.
Michelle will outline how the criteria for university-level writing differs from high school, discussing the key components of an academic essay and the assignment expectations that professors have of students. She’ll talk about essay structure, thesis statements and use of evidence.
While the workshop focuses on academic essays in the context of arts and humanities, both Mark and Michelle agree that good writing skills are widely transferable across disciplines.
“Learning the criteria of good writing—learning how to write well—is something I think is valuable in any field,” says Michelle. “There’s all this hand-wringing about ‘the death of the book’ and the move onto the digital platform, but even in that change of medium, people are writing more than ever. So learning how to hone your writing skills and communicate compellingly and effectively will serve students, not only in the humanities or in their university courses, but in life in general.”
Dr. Neil Robertson, Director of FYP, will give a brief introduction at the beginning of the workshop. He hopes the event will help students improve their written communication skills while also providing a glimpse into King’s academic programs.
“One of the core things we want to communicate in this workshop—and that we try and get students in FYP to do—is to learn how to make an argument and to communicate that effectively with good use of evidence, insight and persuasiveness,” says Neil.
Students who attend the November workshop may find its contents helpful for submitting an entry to the King’s Essay Writing Contest, open to all grade 12 students. The contest invites students to write a 1000-word essay in response to the question “What makes a book a classic?”, referring to one text of their choice—which could be a book, poem, play, graphic novel or other text. Submissions are due by December 14.
Neil notes that the contest invites creative analysis of texts both new and old: “this is a chance for students not to assume they know what a classic is, but to actually interrogate the very idea of what a classic text might be.”
The winner of the essay contest will receive a gift card to the King’s Co-op Bookstore, valued at the full cost of all the books required by a first-year King’s student.