Co-writing an Essay


Our assignment was to read two poems and analyze how adults provide explanations for children. We had to identify literary devices and how they are used to contribute meaning to the poem.  The poems were “A Barred Owl” by Richard Wilbur and “The History Teacher” by Billy Collins. We had to co-write this two-page essay with three other people.

I am painfully shy. I’ll take on the label of antisocial in favor of having to correct people. I’m basically an intelligent doormat that occasionally explodes in short bursts of negative emotion that come with weeks of warning.

For me, working with others is uncomfortable. If I’m with a close friend, we get slightly off topic and rush through the assignment at the end of class. If it’s with someone who I don’t know that well, my throat sometimes feels like it’s closed up and words are impossible. Communication is basically doing independent work, reading each other’s, and adding or revising. If in a group, I usually don’t speak unless directly addressed to and the answer requires more than a nod, shake, or shrug. If my partner or group gets an answer I know is wrong, I’ll correct them.

With this project, I didn’t have that problem. We all used chat and a shared google doc to do all our work. So the problem I had was with the actual writing of the essay together. It was some time between seven and nine pm when we were all online at the same time. We found the points we were going to make and our paragraph that we all worked on was horrible. After that, we split up each part, introduction, comparison body, comparison body, theme body, and conclusion. It end result was chunky, did not flow, and had one or two restated points.

We had to turn it in online individually and I felt the need to apologize and add this explanation to my submission:
It’s a few inches less than two pages and by the way my paragraph is the one starting with: “A Barred Owl” and “The History Teacher” vary in structure and length… I helped with the conclusion too but the rest we basically wrote individually and slapped it together. We tried and it took too long and was frustrating and that was our happy compromise.

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