Michigan State University
Michigan State University
Department of Writing, Rhetoric, and American Cultures
First Year Writing Symposium - Fall
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Students show off their work at the First-Year Writing Symposium

Written by Peyton Lombardo, edited by Hanna Kielar

Students in the Writing: Science and Technology WRA 110 class show off their

The First-Year Writing Symposium is held every spring, but due to its success, a symposium also took place in the fall for the first time this year. A diverse group of students from various writing classrooms gathered to present their work in the First-Year Writing Symposium. Throughout Bessey hall, students showed off videos, posters, and other projects they have been working on over the course of the fall semester.

Joyce Meier, Assistant Director of the First-Year Writing Program said that “First Year Writing students who are in writing classes - that’s 7,000 students over an academic year - have an opportunity to celebrate and share the kinds of things they’ve done in the classroom.”

“One of the projects they do is called a remix, where they take something they did as a paper or project in some other way and then they change the mode, which means they make either a video, powerpoint, poem, cookbook, all kinds of things,” she told me. In the session I sat in on, two students presented a video in which they walked us through cooking a popular dish from their culture.

A duo presents a video on how to cook a rice dish that is popular in their home country.

“All of these rooms are filled with their products that came out of the learning and thinking and writing they did over the semester,” Meier said. “So there’s an opportunity to share what they did and also a chance to learn from what they’re doing.” Aside from showing off the great work they’re producing, students also get the chance to practice their presentation skills. “There’s a kind of professionalism happening. You get the experience of speaking in front of people and introducing your project,” Meier said.

I ventured to another classroom where students of the Writing: Science and Technology WRA 110 class were displaying posters they made. One student, Matthew Huber, made a poster on grant writing in the field of science, and he even furthered it by bringing in worms. He said that the worms can live on a diet of Styrofoam which can help with recycling matters, and he hopes that written grants can educate others on the topic. “They talk about what they’ve learned with the technology, group dynamics, and learning in a forum where they can share with other students and faculty,” Meier said.

Matthew Huber brought in worms that ingest Styrofoam, and he showed how writing grants can make practices like this more common.

In many of the rooms of the symposium, students were meeting for the first time that day. “We tried really hard to make them all come from different classes,” Meier told me. In the session I was in, students came from five different writing courses. “We want them to see the diversity of things people do in these classes,” she said. “We have a strong international group of students, students who come from many places.”

Students who participated were encouraged to check out other presentations happening in different classrooms. One student presented a drawing of her playing softball while wearing a stethoscope, uniting her passions for sports and the medical field. Another student shared his experiences growing up in a migrant family and how much he enjoys being a part of the College Assistance Migrant Program at Michigan State.

Because of its success, the First-Year Writing Symposium will now be held every fall and spring, giving students the opportunity to bond and share interesting facets of their culture all through writing. The spring symposium will be held on Friday, April 22nd, 2016.