UNM’s English Department is rewriting the traditional curriculum for its 101 courses.
The department will host its first Celebration of Student Writing on Thursday in the SUB to showcase student projects that incorporate genres of writing beyond essays and stories.

Freshman Meagan Halstead, a student in Rick Raab-Faber’s English 101 class, had to write memos for her class project.

Raab-Faber had his students go out and review local chain restaurants and then design a fictional restaurant to compete with the chain.

“He’s not only meeting the needs of the kids that can write, because some kids get to be expressive through the art part of it,” Halstead said. “I think it’s cool because it’s something that all the students have to take. The students that aren’t that great at writing and the English part of it, I think that it meets their needs, too.”

Raab-Faber said making students work in groups is not his ideal teaching method, but it turned out well in this case.

“I really had to think of a way to get them involved,” he said. “It’s really hard to get kids — and especially these freshmen because they are doing so much adjusting — to do something they don’t want to do.”

Raab-Faber said his class’s restaurant project also required research.

“Based on that, we did reports, we did memos, we wrote questionnaires trying to find out what people wanted,” he said. “We also did reviews and observations.”

Genesea Carter, who is organizing Thursday’s event, said the English Department tried to integrate genre-style writing, such as economics and business writing, into all of its 101 classes.

Carter said the projects are meant to help students learn skills outside essay and short-story writing.

“The way we view writing is changing,” she said. “Students are not coming to UNM to learn how to write essays. They’re coming to learn how to write in their professional and academic fields, which generally are not essays.”

Halstead said her writing project familiarized her with research techniques and business writing.

“Because it’s about restaurants and stuff, it hasn’t been as interesting as it could have been, but I think the process has helped with knowing how to put everything together,” she said. “When you’re in a working environment, that is something you’re going to experience.”

Carter said about 600 students in 25 English 101 sections will participate in the celebration Thursday.

“Students are creating these art installations either as a whole entire class or in small groups,” she said. “I told all of the TAs to be as hands-off as possible because we really want the students to get very excited about creating a visual representation of their work.”

Carter said the celebration will give freshmen an opportunity to show off their writing and creative skills to the whole campus.

“We’re really hoping that administrators come, and that deans come and that families come and that the rest of the campus comes and shows their support to these students,” she said. “It also builds community in their own classrooms.”

*Celebration of Student Writing
Thursday, Nov. 5
12:30 – 2:30 p.m.
SUB Ballroom*