A group of Grade 12 students from Blaketown, Trinity Bay, got a double dose of Shakespeare last Friday when they visited St. John’s. First up was a matinee performance of Shakespeare-by-the-Sea’s Macbeth at Holy Heart Theatre, followed by an intensive workshop in academic writing with the Faculty of Arts’ Writing Centre Director Ginny Ryan.
Ms. Ryan, who previously collaborated with Crescent Collegiate English teacher Jack Reid on location at the high school, loved leading the workshop.
“It’s something that has long been a part of the Writing Centre’s mandate …finding ways to liaise with the provincial school system and to ease the transition from high school to Memorial,” said Ms. Ryan.
In advance of the Memorial University workshop, Mr. Reid selected 15 representative student essays on Macbeth and sent them to Ms. Ryan who then determined strengths and weaknesses in the various texts and developed a series of overheads which the class then analyzed and discussed together.
Among the tips Ms. Ryan imparted to the class were to avoid sweeping statements and minimize the use of clichés, and the best way to incorporate quotations into an essay. Her upbeat presentation and clear concise descriptions of how to improve scholarly writing made an indelible impression on the student participants.
“I think the workshop was a great opportunity see how we can improve our essay writing,” said student Paul Woodman. “Ms. Ryan did a really good job showing us how small changes can make a big difference in developing arguments and writing strong introductions and conclusions. Every student in the province should take her workshop … too bad there’s only one of her to go around!”
Ms. Ryan also talked to students about strategies for getting off to a good start at university and answered some general questions about Memorial and the expectations of faculty. She encourages other teachers across the province to get in touch regarding potential writing workshops for their students and can be reached at 709-737-3168 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.