“Semester Reflection,” Nathan G. Burns (2014) — Inquiry 5

Writer’s Reflection

Writing this final reflection really gave me a chance to see how I developed and grew as a writer throughout the semester. I was able to go back to reexamine all of the different papers I have written and see my progression between each one and how I was able to become a more focused writer. I am glad we were able to have a little bit of a head start during class last week because it was a little bit of a challenge when I started to write, but then I got some traction and had a better of what I should be writing about: the specific areas in which I was able to progress. Like I do with most of my papers, I thought about it for a little while, and then sat down at my desk and cranked up my music (Christmas music in this case), and got my writing juices flowing!

Mid-way through writing this paper, it became more of a struggle to figure out what I would be able to write about in terms of progression, but then I remembered the different “breakthrough” moments. I was able to take these different moments and further elaborate how they were able to help me in my writing. I particularly enjoyed being able to write an entire paragraph relating to my learning to the ionization of neon, because I was able to incorporate science, something I really enjoy, into a paper of a completely different subject. This showed me that different fields really do overlap with each other.

I think that I grew tremendously over the course of the semester as a writer, and that the class in general was not a struggle, like it was in high school, because I actually looked forward to coming to it. Reflecting back on this past semester while writing this paper, I realize that I really enjoyed it.


One of the major reoccurring themes throughout this course has been to “dig deeper” into a point or argument and “unpack” a sentence or an idea in order for it to become more interesting to the reader and also to develop more academic writing. This proved to be rather challenging, especially when writing the first inquiry, during which time this entire idea of “unpacking” and “digging deeper” were fairly new to me.  My prompt for the first inquiry was “do not be afraid,” and at one point I was writing about the time I lived in France. I had chosen to write about this particular experience because there had been a lot of times during this trip that my chosen quote was very appropriate. Toward the end of the paragraph, I wrote, “…such as skiing in the Pyrenees, getting lost in Paris all by myself….” Upon reflection of this paper, I realize that I missed huge opportunities to unpack an experience. I could have written more about going skiing and what it was like to go on mountains that size, or even about the numerous amount of hotels we had to call just so that we were able to communicate with someone well enough to make a reservation. Getting lost in Paris by myself, what an easy thing that would have been to unpack! Looking back, I could’ve have written an entire page on just that!

Further into the semester, I do believe that I formed at least a grasp on the whole idea of “unpacking” and “digging deeper.” While writing inquiry two, I was more aware of what I should be working on to do these things and I found it becoming a little bit easier. In this essay while writing about the author of the article, Sara Davis, I was able to not only say that she is a respected person in her field of study, but I was able to really dig into why she should be considered as one. I found myself not only speaking about things such as education, but further explaining why that kind of thing adds to her merit, “…which indicates that she is very well researched in the type of things about which she is writing.”

Another major area in which I found myself growing was in narrowing down a topic. When it came to writing the third inquiry, the argumentative essay, I was once again a little worried because I had no idea how I would be able to write a full essay on why students should be able to carry medicine in school, it was too narrow of a topic. In previous English classes, I probably would have been able to get away with putting this in a paper on a broader topic along with a few reasons supporting my idea, but I never would have imagined a paper on this. Luckily, after coming up with reasoning to support my argument, I actually was able to really pinpoint and narrow my arguments for this. I found this especially apparent when I gave examples such as the court case of Doe v. Delie and elaborate on that. I was also able to come back to the idea of unpacking something when I said, “If, for example, there is an asthmatic student outside on the playground and is playing too strenuously, it is very likely for him to undergo an asthma attack.” After saying this, I was able to really explain the example and write further about what would happen in this situation and even give a scenario of this happening to a student at school.

Looking back, I think that my two biggest breakthroughs that occurred during the semester came with inquiries three and four. When saying “breakthrough,” I do not mean to say that I was told to do something and it took me a few minutes to figure out how to do it, I mean something that I really had to work on to figure out. It is kind of like expanding my shell of capabilities. Being a science-y person, when I visualize this, I think about chemistry. I imagine taking an atom with a full valence shell, such as neon, and bombarding it with electrons. I picture myself as the neon atom, all of my writing knowledge with which I am comfortable as the electrons, the new ideas as the electrons with which the atom is being bombarded, and the course and teacher as the electron accelerator. The neon atom already has a full valence shell and is, for lack of a better term, happy that way. With enough work and energy, however, neon will expand and the additional electron will be added to its shell. I find this very similar to what happened to me during my breakthroughs. I had ideas being thrown at me to work with, and after putting in the time and energy, I was finally able to add them to my “shell of capabilities.”

Inquiry three really showed me that I can narrow in on the minute points of a topic. Never before had I been able to take a topic as narrow as why high school students should be able to have medicine with them during school, and then go even narrower to support my point. Of course I had my own reasons to support my point, such as how annoying it was to try to concentrate with someone constantly blowing his nose behind me, or losing class time to go to take my medicine in the office. Finally, I was able to take my reasons and then find supporting evidence to back myself up, such as a statistic about how many high school students are affected by allergies or asthma.  I really surprised myself when I found the case Doe v. Delie that gave an example of a time a person’s privacy was infringed and he was able to sue because of it.  This paper really taught me how to take a very narrow topic, and really get to the nitty-gritty aspects of it, making it a much more academically-sounding paper, and after I got the hang of it, I rather enjoyed it.

Inquiry four, on the other hand, was a different kind of breakthrough. Growing up, I remember always hearing people classifying everyone by the way they think. Someone is either a science and math person or an English and history person. Left-brained or right-brained. Better with facts and logic or better with creativity. With this in mind, I have always thought of myself as a very left-brained person because always seemed to have preferred and liked science and math more than my other subjects. When the fourth inquiry was first introduced, I was a little terrified because it basically had ‘creativity’ written all over it, something we left-brained people are not good at. I knew from the start that I would be doing a PowerPoint, something requiring very little creativity and very safe for someone like me. After a while, however, I had decided that it would be fun for both my audience and me if I did something more exciting. I ended up trying my hand at making an iMovie, which ended up turning out very well and I was very happy with it! As I said, I had always believed myself to be a left-brained person, but I was able to break out of my comfort zone and create something rather creative. The major breakthrough that I learned from this inquiry is that sometimes the general classifications of “left-brained/right-brained” and other similar things are not always correct, and people can really do things of both “sides” well.