Writing to make a difference

Most college classes are good for teaching you facts and figures, but few teach you how to use that


knowledge in a practical way.


University of Toledo Professor Michelle Davidson’s Honors 1010 class is one of the  few classes making practical use of what is taught within the classroom.


As part of a writing assignment, the class will be hosting a food drive for the Student Food Pantry November 17 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Composition Program’s Showcase of Student Writing. It will take place in the Student Union rooms 2582 and 2584.


Davidson said the assignment focuses on how writing can make a change, and the students plan to do just that.


“We recently read excerpts from Robert Putnam's ‘Bowling Alone,’ about altruism and philanthropy, and we put what we discussed into action,” Davidson said.


Davidson asked students to share ideas for a successful food drive in a discussion on Blackboard and then discussed their ideas during their next class.


“I let students make most of the decisions on purpose. And I tried to make sure we included as many of their ideas as possible,” Davidson said. “The next class periods, we’re devoted to research and writing.”


Davidson said she made a list of all the written documents that were necessary to a successful food drive and students were required to sign up for two writing roles.


“There were a lot of choices…everything from make a website, to writing an opinion piece for the Collegian,” Davidsonshe said. “Some chose to present their research on campus food insecurity at the Showcase of Student Writing.”


Students will have two bins for non-perishable food donations and two cash donation stations at the event and will be selling raffle tickets for a $25 Chipotle gift card, Davidson said.


Daniel Boyle, a student advocate and student involvement specialist, works closely with the Student Food Pantry and said that student organizations and classes like Davidson’s help to organize two to three drives each semester and 20 to 40 students benefit from the pantry each week.


“Our main goal is to help students in need,” Boyle said. “Our role is to allow them to focus on their academics. If a student is trying to figure out where their next meal comes from, they’re not going to be able to be successful in the classroom.”


Any student enrolled at UT can visit the pantry and take up to three days--worth of food each week, Boyle said.


He also said, in addition to donating non-perishable food items, people may donate money directly through the UT Student Foundation online.


Davidson said, when the drive is over, she will ask her students to explore how their act of altruism made them feel about their role in UT’s community.


“Students will write a reflective essay that discusses how they made choices about what to include in their writing tasks to meet their purpose,” Davidson said..”


For more information about the Student Food Pantry, please visit its website.

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