Good Practices for Teaching

1. Good Practice Encourages Contact.

Frequent faculty-institution contact is the most important factor in faculty motivation and involvement.

This lets out the adjunct faculty. Usually we see the boss one time a semester.

2. Good Practice Develops Reciprocity and Cooperation.

Good learning, like good work, is collaborative and social, not competitive and isolated.

Again this is often and easily a problem for adjuncts. We’re not in any groups, on any committees, or working any other way that gets us in touch with the teachers.

3. Good Practice Encourages Active Learning.

Faculty must talk about what they are learning, write about it, relate it to past experiences and apply it to their daily lives.

I think this blogging helps with that.

4. Good Practice Gives Prompt Feedback.

Knowing what you know and don’t know focuses learning.

This is essential. I had a large group of students who went to large public university tell me that they didn’t get their English papers back till they had turned in three to five papers (depending on what teacher they had). That’s atrocious. I would hate it.

5. Good Practice Emphasizes Time on Task.

How an institution defines time expectations for students, faculty, administrators, and other professional staff can establish the basis of high performance for all.

6. Good Practice Communicates High Expectations.

Expect more and you will get more.

I like this idea. It worked well at CC2 this semester. But at CC1 it has been working less well in the evening classes.

7. Good Practice Respects Diverse Talents and Ways of Learning.

There are many roads to learning. People bring different talents and styles of learning to college.

Absolutely. But how do we pull them together in a single classroom?

Chickering, A.W., and Gamson, Z.F. (1991). Applying the Seven Principles for Good Practice in Undergraduate Education . New Directions for Teaching and Learning. Number 47, Fall 1991. San Francisco : Jossey-Bass Inc.

The points via Online Journal of Distance Learning Administration, Volume VIII, Number II, Summer 2005
University of West Georgia, Distance Education Center

Learning to Teach: A discussion of a syllabus

I found some useful ideas in Dr. Lauren Scharff’s Spring 2008 Psychology Teaching Seminar.

She recommends that right away you come up with your teaching philosophy.

And she says your personality should be reflected in your syllabus.

I found some useful ideas in Dr. Lauren Scharff’s Spring 2008 Psychology Teaching Seminar.

She recommends that right away you come up with your teaching philosophy.

A teaching philosophy is a personal statement of what you perceive teaching to be. It details the philosophical/research basis for all teaching-related activities. The first thing you will do this semester, is write a teaching philosophy. Please do NOT discuss this among yourselves. This is something that should be very personal and individualized.

What does this mean?

My personal philosophy of teaching presently begins with this:

Learning is one of the greatest joys in my life and I want to pass that love of learning on to my students. As their teacher, it is my responsibility to not only understand and explain the work they are required to do, but also to present it in such a way that they clearly see its relation to the rest of the class, their college coursework, and their lives outside of college.

That is the fundamental guide for my teaching. I love to learn and I want to infect others with my illness. 😉

One of my favorite online education bloggers, Robert Talbert (a math guy, but I don’t hold it against him), has written/grown his philosophy of education online.

Real learning of a subject does not begin until the student has taken enough interest in the subject to form an honest, significant question which renders the subject worthy of attention. Sometimes these questions are practical, sometimes purely aesthetic or asked out of mere curiosity. But learning does not begin unless, and until, those questions are formed in the minds of the student.

How does this translate into teaching? My classes ground themselves in reasonable, interesting questions for which we need the mathematics under study to answer. For example, on the first day of a calculus class, I give an example of two related quantities, such as the price of oil and the price of a gallon of gas. Then I ask: How can we make this relationship precise? How fast is the price of gas changing? By how much can I expect the price of gas to change over a given period? These are questions of interest to the everyday consumer, but they are also questions which motivate the main ideas of calculus (the function, derivative, and integral), and students see why we need these topics.

I think it is true that you need to know what you think teaching is before you can teach. Hopefully, even if it is only a beginning, you have thoughts that can be written down as your Teaching Philosophy.

Dr. Scharff also said:

A syllabus is a reflection of you, both as a person and as a teacher; your personality and style will be clearly demonstrated in this document.

If it is, then recently my personality has become cover-your-butt ugly and very legalistic. We have, in the past ten years or so, come to look at the syllabus as a learning contract. Because of that descriptor, syllabi have come to be stuffed with things that OUGHT to be able to go unsaid and we leave out the fascinating/charming because it doesn’t fit the legal document.

I found a Business Writing syllabus I wrote two decades ago. It has clip art that is relevant to what the class was doing. It was a lively piece of work that set the class up as an entrepeneur-growth house.

I am going back to a syllabus that more accurately reflects my “personality and style.” Do you think the school has antique parchment in hot pink for photocopies?

Tip 3: How to prepare for a new class

If you have been given a new class (either new to you or to your college), it can be overwhelming. There are some things you can do to make it more manageable however.

Hit the internet for other people’s syllabi on the same topic.

When I was first asked to teach Early British Literature I didn’t know what sophomore students at colleges usually studied. I didn’t take that class as a sophomore. So I went to the internet and put in different names of possible courses and “syllabus” into the search engine.

Doing this let me see what other people were teaching and sometimes gave me lesson plans or lecture notes or sample essays.

It also helped me not to feel so lost.

Pick stuff you are interested in.

If there is something you love about a field, make sure you teach it.

I enjoy teaching audience to my freshman composition classes. They learn a lot and I get to show off that PhD that took me twelve years to finish.

I wrote a lot of papers on Sylvia Plath’s poetry, but I no longer care for it. So, even if our anthology has some of her poems, I skip them.

When I first started teaching Early British Literature I included all the Arthur stuff, because I thought the students would be interested. Turns out they weren’t. I learned a lot about it, but then I moved on to other literature that I was more fascinated with.

What this does is
1. make the prep time easier and
2. make the class time more animated.

When you teach what you love, it shows.

Once you have a list of possible topics to cover and a list of those topics that you like, organize it into sections.

With freshman composition, I start with writing a narrative paper, because students are most used to personal expressive writing. This lets their first paper be something they know well, themselves. I use this paper to introduce my grading system and it counts the least. Then I introduce whatever I think they need next.

For Early Brit Lit, I organized the readings into eras. When I figured out I couldn’t get to Shakespeare because I had too many earlier topics, I knew it was an issue.

Once you have the sections, organize the pieces.

One section would be research paper, since most schools require those. Then I work backwards trying to divide that up.

I want a paper and a revision. I need to teach them note taking and how to evaluate websites. I also want to talk about organization. The book has a good chapter on generating ideas and planning. All those things go into a list of sections.

If I’m going to have a compare/contrast paper, I want to introduce both kinds. Then I want to talk about how to synthesize the two together. I have a few websites with good examples they can look at. I want them to write on a particular set of topics. Whatever.

I may not use all the sections I come up with, but at least I have the beginnings of an organization system.

Pedagogical Imperative: Learning to Teach 1

and what does that look like?

How did I learn to teach?

First, I learned to teach by being taught. I learned what I would not do and what I would do.

I would not:
only read the book aloud (various)
drone on solely about my personal life (7th grade math)
insult anyone’s parent (7th grade homeroom)
have too little work (8th grade math)
require knowledge levels that couldn’t be reasonably expected (7th grade science)
be nebulous about what I wanted (history teacher in college)
assume students understood my expectations (various)
assume students can read literature without helps (college English major lit courses)
think my area was the only one of importance (9th grade science)

I would:
be passionate about my subject
encourage others
give second chances
add value to a subject, a class, or an assignment
be on time
be prepared
return papers promptly
provide as clear a grading system as possible
be clear about expectations

By the time I was teaching, I had spent twelve years in K-12 and college. I had lots of excellent teachers and a few bummers.

So I knew what a good classroom situation looked like, but how did I know how to get prepared?

Tip 1: Keep Notes on Your Syllabus

Keep one copy of your syllabus for your use. Write notes on it as you go along. Write down what worked or didn’t. Write how long X took, if it turned out to be longer or shorter than you expected. If you think of a way to present something that you hadn’t thought of before, write that down. If a website comes up that is useful, or a student asks a good question, write those down.

Do this throughout the semester.

At the end of the semester, copy the notes into a version of the syllabus for next year or next semester.

Summer of 2006 I began my course with the research paper, thinking it would be best to get it done and let the rest of the summer session be easier. Instead it was frustrating to the students because there was so much they didn’t know about what I expected out of their writing and how I graded. So I wrote that down and the next summer we started class with a narrative paper.

Homework: Write a narration of an important event in your life, the turning point of your life, or the most exciting/unusual experience you’ve ever had. This should be one and a half to two and a half pages long, no longer please. (For help in writing this, read McCuen-Metherell and Winkler 195-99. For an example, read McCuen-Metherell and Winkler 199-204.)
The purpose of this paper is to help me to get to know you better and to help you transition from high school, which is usually focused on narrative papers like this one, into college level writing.

Another example:
Students kept asking how I determined their grade. I have a formula for that, so I told them. Then they wanted to know how much each error counted. Those differ. Eventually I started keeping a record (in fiction writing called a bible) of what errors were worth what points and, conversely, which things I gave extra points on. When I had graded about three sets of papers, I was able to take this and compile a grading rubric. It is way too detailed for most people’s interest, but it does make absolutely clear what I look for in terms of grammar and content.

A final example:
After reviewing the “model teacher” syllabus from one of my colleges, I added journaling to my course. I did not think through this idea as well as I should have and my students ended up writing an additional twenty not-quite-full-length essays. I noted which journals got the most thoughtful answers and which I thought were extraneous and I dropped the journal requirements significantly. (I also dropped the lowest journal grade and added three points to everyone’s final average, because they really did a lot more work than anyone else.)

Additional advantage:
If you keep the written on syllabi in one place, you will have a record of your evolving teaching style and you can write this up for your teaching portfolio. This can be a strong section and shows that you have a long term investment in upgrading your teaching quality.

Sample syllabus: Freshman Comp

English 1301: Composition and Rhetoric I

English 1301.21026 CLB 125 MWF 8 am

English 1301.21005 CLB 125 MWF 9:05 am

English 1301.21011 CLB 125 MWF 11:15 am


Dr. Davis Adjunct Instructor of English (This means I am part-time.)

Mailbox CLA 113

Department telephone: xxx xxx xxxx

Office hrs. by appointment (Since I am part-time, I do not have an office or scheduled office hours.)

email address here


Department Chair: Name Office: LIB 202 Phone: xxx xxx xxxx

Chair is available to answer questions and deal with difficulties. It is usual and expected that if there is a problem, you will discuss it with me first.




Placement by testing or completion of English 0307 or 0326 and English 0305 or 0316.

To be considered “college ready”


for ENGL 1301, students should be able to

  • Write thesis statements that advance the writer’s purpose.
  • Use appropriate organizing principles to govern the structure of the essay and of individual paragraphs, such as logical, chronological, spatial, and emphatic.
  • Begin an essay with a paragraph that introduces the main idea, and end the essay with a paragraph that creates a sense of closure.
  • Provide adequate support for statements.
  • Use appropriate devices to achieve coherence throughout the essay, such as transitions or repetition of key words.
  • Acknowledge borrowed ideas if external sources are used.
  • Write sentences using varied sentence structures.
  • Use mature, appropriate diction.
  • Edit irrelevant material from sentences, paragraphs, and essays.
  • Edit to avoid major errors in sentence structure: fragment, comma splice, run-on.
  • Recognize and edit for mechanical errors such as subject-verb agreement; pronoun reference; illogical shifts in person, point of view, and tense; and punctuation errors such as commas and apostrophes.
  • Use a variety of tools to recognize and edit for the correct spelling of common words and commonly confused words.
  • Work and communicate well with others, respecting different points of view.

Catalog course description:

A multi-paragraph composition course, including language study and the mechanics of writing, with examples from selected readings. Students may be required to achieve a departmentally approved score on a proficiency test before credit for the course may be awarded.

This is a three hour course.

As a successful student, you expect that two to three hours homework per hour in class is an average for college classes and will be prepared for that amount of homework.

Learning outcomes: At the end of the semester, the student will be able to

  • Analyze a text according to purpose, audience, and other rhetorical concerns.
  • Respond logically, rather than react emotionally, to texts that reflect the writers’diverse backgrounds and values.
  • Demonstrate an ability to use and analyze an effective individual writing process.
  • Focus a topic appropriate to the audience, purpose, voice, and length of assignment.
  • Formulate clear and concise thesis statement, main point, focus, or claim.
  • Develop, evaluate, and use evidence to support a claim.
  • Use effective organization strategies in support of a thesis, focus, main point, or claim.
  • Write an essay that demonstrates a command of unity, coherence, continuity, and development.
  • Write clear, correct, and appropriate sentences and paragraphs avoiding major grammatical and semantic problems.
  • Incorporate appropriate oral and/or written media such as books, articles, interviews, visuals, and government documents.
  • Avoid plagiarism when incorporating quotations, paraphrases, and ideas.
  • Follow standard guidelines in documenting resources.

Equal Opportunity Statement:

Lone Star College is committed to the principle of equal opportunity in education and employment. Lone Star does not discriminate against individuals on the basis of race, color, sex, religion, disability, age, veteran status, nationality or ethnicity in the administration of its educational policies, admission policies, employment policies, scholarship and loan programs, and other District or College administered programs and activities.


Philosophy of education:

I believe that practice makes, if not perfect, at least more competent; therefore I give lots of writing assignments. The positive aspect of this is two-fold: the student is learning by doing and if the student messes up a single assignment, or even a few of the homeworks, they will not have substantially lowered their grade.

In addition, for the first few major papers, I offer the opportunity to rewrite. This is a way for the student to learn what is wrong with their particular paper and, hopefully, how to correct it so that they will not repeat their mistakes with the next paper.

Because I know that the writing is practice, and that some students have never written essays of any type before, I offer a way to improve the students’

averages through additional writing. This will vary from semester to semester, but includes, at least, an opportunity to write a letter or additional paper for extra credit.

I also believe that work should be spaced throughout the semester so that the research papers are due, and at least one graded, before the drop date. When other classes have their crunch time at the end of the semester, we are taking it easy.

I do not think that a holiday is an opportunity to assign extra work, so the break assignment is no longer than a usual assignment.


Texts: The Bedford Guide for College Writers 8th Edition

We use the book often in class. Please bring the textbook each day unless otherwise noted.



Grading Scale:

90 – 100 earns an A;

80 – 89 earns a B;

70 – 79 earns a C;

60 – 69 earns a D;

0 – 59 earns an F



Grading weight:

20% Average of quizzes, in-class work, research pre-writing, homework, and attendance

This consists of at least 2,000 points, including points for attendance.

As a successful student, you will not use this large number to skip an assignment, but will know that an illness in the semester or a misunderstood assignment will not destroy the final grade.

50% Major papers (blogging posts, description, compare/contrast, definition/illustration, literary analysis)

This consists of four papers and the posts.

As a successful student, you recognize that doing your best on each one is important, but know that even a low grade on one will not destroy the final grade.

As a successful student, you also know that doing the rewrites (either required or optional) will improve the grade.

If the student has a 95 average going into the final, they are excused from the final.

20% Library paper (argument persuasion, 5 paragraphs, plus works cited and outline)

This consists of a long research paper.

As a successful student you realize that this paper must be done well and will do it to the best of their ability, consulting the teacher with questions, working on the project as per the schedule, and perhaps even completing the writing early and requesting a review of the project before it is due.

Also as a successful student you know that doing the rewrite will improve the grade.

If the library paper is not passed, the student will fail the course.

10% Journal

The journal is not a diary of your daily activities. It is a place to respond to assigned questions on readings or assignments. Students are responsible for completing, in complete sentences and paragraphs, these journaling assignments.

The journal will be graded both in progress, for the work which is done as we go along, and in total, for all the work done. Therefore even if you made a zero on a journal grade, you should still do the work. If you do not, it will impact your final journal grade.

Total 100%

Finally all students should understand that the amounts of work are not onerous, but are intended to have the student write regularly all semester in an attempt to make them comfortable with writing, to improve their writing, and to make sure that they are adequately prepared for any normal college writing assignment.

As a successful student you take responsibility for your own grades, do your best, seek help when it is needed, and make a grade you can be proud of. A grade of C can be a good grade, if you have done your best. (I have a C on my undergrad transcript that I am very proud of.)


Grading overview:

In order to receive a passing grade for an essay written in English 1301, students must be able to write essays which conform to the following standards:

Grammar and Mechanics

A. The essay will be largely free of such technical errors as

  1. The incorrect use of the apostrophe or of the possessive
  2. The omission of necessary commas or the insertion of unnecessary commas
  3. The consistent misspelling of common words
  4. The use of the second person
  5. Inadequate pronoun reference
  6. The consistent use of non-standard word for or order
  7. The repeated use of any construction that would lead to misreading

An essay containing more than twelve (12) errors of this type will not receive a passing grade. (See the grading rubric for other 2-point errors.)


B. The essay will largely be free of such major errors as

  1. The fragment
  2. The comma splice
  3. The fused (run-on) sentence
  4. Subject-verb disagreement
  5. Pronoun-antecedent disagreement
  6. Not starting a new paragraph when should have (a backwards C with 2 lines through it)
  7. Problem with a quote being too long, needs to be a block quote (line down the page next to the quote, block quote written next to it)


An essay containing any six (6) errors as outlined above will automatically fail.

An essay that contains six technical errors and three major errors, or a like combination, will automatically fail.


Content and Organization

  1. A well-organized and adequately developed essay should contain at least five paragraphs, including an introduction, at least three developmental paragraphs, and a conclusion.
  2. In the first paragraph, the essay should contain a clearly stated thesis that responds to the assigned topic.
  3. Each developing paragraph should contain a topic sentence that supports the thesis.
  4. Each developing paragraph should effectively support and develop the controlling idea of the paragraph.

Grading Rubric: Grammar

100 points assumed

Please note that twelve 2-point errors are sufficient to fail a paper.

2 pts off for

  • The incorrect use of the apostrophe (apos)
  • Inadequate pronoun reference (missing pro)
  • The consistent use of non-standard word for or order (ooo)
  • The repeated use of any construction that would lead to misreading
  • Word missing (wm)
  • Write out (wo)
  • Word choice (wc)
  • Spelling (sp)
  • Space needed (space, little loop drawn)
  • Spaces in inappropriate places (circle drawn in the space)
  • Hyphen needed (hyphen and line drawn under it)
  • Comma where not needed (x on comma)
  • No comma where needed (comma drawn, sometimes also underlined or circled)
  • Tense change (verb circled and marked tense)
  • Parallelism (marked with two slanting lines which are parallel, or the word parallelism- sometimes I will underline the words or phrases that are the problem.)
  • Capitalization- includes caps when shouldn’t be and lack of caps (three lines underneath)
  • Awkward phrasing- not just inelegant, but hard to understand- depending on cause, may
  • be in grammar or content
  • Quotation marks missing on a short story or poem title (quote marks drawn)
  • Book title missing underlining (underlined)
  • Subject and verb do not agree in case or number, ex. “he are”(s-v agr)
  • Pronoun and antecedent do not agree, ex. “My sister Sue said when he was a girl”(p-a
  • agr)
  • The word should be possessive. (poss)
  • Underlining/italicizing missing (underlined)
  • Unnecessary word or information (crossed through)
  • A person should be who not that (circle around “that”with who written next to it)
  • Two words should be one (lines drawn on top and bottom in arcs connecting the two)
  • Should have been past tense and ends in –ed (ed at end of word)
  • Words need to be switched around (arrows pointing at both words)
  • Repetitious- when words, phrases, or ideas are repeated unnecessarily (rep)
  • Unnecessary or inappropriate use of the second person pronoun, “you” or “your” – outside of the introductory or concluding paragraphs, or when such a thing could clearly not apply to the instructor, ex. “When you are unhappy with your wife…”(circling the word you or your)
  • The period and the quotation mark should be on opposite sides (an elongated s drawn between them)
  • The comma and the quotation mark should be on opposite sides (an elongated s drawn between them)
  • Referent is unclear (referent)


Any combination of six (6) of the following errors will result in a failing grade for the paper.

10 pts off for

  • Fragments (frag)
  • Run-ons (run-on)
  • Comma splice- a comma where a period or semi-colon should be (cs)

5 pts off for

  • Not starting a new paragraph when should have (a backwards C with 2 lines through it)
  • Problem with a quote being too long, needs to be a block quote (line down the page next to the quote, block quote written next to it

20 pts off for

  • A single late paper- one class period late only (After that, late papers are not accepted.)
  • If you single space a paper, rather than double space it.


Grading Rubric: Content/Following Directions

100 points assumed

2 pts off for

  • Last name not on top of pages 2 and following (line drawn where it goes)
  • Page numbers not on top of pages 2 and following (line drawn where it goes)
  • A single part of the heading being missing on page 1
  • Awkward phrasing- not just inelegant, but hard to understand- depending on cause, may
  • be in grammar or content
  • Any question that I ask on the side- Who? How? Why not x? which can be answered with a few words.
  • Transition- two unclearly related statements, missing a bridging sentence in the middle
  • (transition or trans or bridge)
  • Unclear- sense of sentence is not readily understandable (unclear)
  • Wrong information (No.)
  • Underlining, bolding, or italicizing the title (circled)
  • Cliché (cliché)

5 pts off for

  • Concluding sentence being absent in a paragraph- not always necessary, but if the points range far afield, include it (concl sen)
  • Topic sentence being absent- necessary for all body paragraphs (Topic sen)
  • Needing another example (ex or need another example)
  • Title of work cannot be the title of paper (title of work)
  • Out of order (ooo) if the information belongs within the same paragraph
  • Any question that I ask on the side that requires a full sentence to answer.
  • Title of paper and title on outline don’t match. (Doesn’t match, with the title circled.)

10 pts off for

  • Missing thesis sentence (Thesis or thesis sen)
  • Missing heading on page 1 (usually a box drawn in place with -10 in it)
  • Development lacking in a particular paragraph (more dev or dev needed)
  • Out of order (ooo) if the information belongs in another paragraph
  • Using wrong font- must be a serif font like Times New Roman (wrong font)

20 pts off for

  • Missing paragraph or too little information- does not meet length requirement (too short)
  • First statement not properly cited (-20 source)
  • Single spacing
  • Using a title page (big X through it)
  • A single late paper- one class period late only

50 pts off for

  • Essay of wrong type (requirement was descriptive, paper was process)


Grading Rubric: Late

20 pts off

It will only be accepted at the start of class the next class day. 20 points will be deducted from both parts of the paper that was due on Monday or Wednesday.

30 pts off

A paper will only be accepted one day late. If it was due on Friday and is turned in Monday, thirty points will be deducted from both parts of the paper.

Grading Rubric: Extra points

5 pts added

  • An exceptional job of development of a single section of your paper, without losing anything from the other sections

2 pts added

  • If your paper gives me a learning experience, either a new vocabulary word or information I had not previously known
  • If you make me laugh (will be marked with a smiley face). 🙂


Grading Rubric: Rewrites

Points off are doubled for the rewrite if you did not correct marked errors.

Points off are NOT doubled if

  • you attempted to correct the error but did not succeed.
  • I did not note an error in the previous version.


Grading expectations:

Graded essays will be returned promptly, usually no later than two weeks after they are due.


The essays and any handouts related to them must be kept by the student and collected in a folder. This folder will be required to be complete and must be turned in before finals in order to pass the class.


Class policies and expectations:

Attendance: Attendance is obviously important at any time. And it is important to me. You will receive points for each day you are in class.

If you are late or leave early or use your phone during class, you will lose attendance points. The more this happens, the more points you will lose.

If my phone rings during class, unless there is an emergency, the whole class will receive a bonus of ten points to their homework average.


Dropping: If you are failing on the class day before the last day to withdraw, I will drop you from class. If you do not wish to be dropped, you must handwrite a note stating that and sign it.


Note: A new Texas law only allows six drops per student. After that, students will receive the grade they earned in the course.

Do not waste those drops!


Due dates: You are responsible for keeping up with all due dates.


Late paper policy: Papers should be turned in at the beginning of class on the due date. A late paper will be accepted only up to one class period after it was due. Late papers due on Monday or Wednesday will have 20 points deducted off each portion of the paper (grammar and content/directions). Late papers due on Friday will have 30 points deducted off each portion of the paper.


Make-up policy: Make-up work is not available.


Extra credit: There are some extra credit opportunities each semester. Take advantage of these.

They are of differing difficulty and so are weighted differently.


Preparation: You will need to be prepared ahead of time with the readings and you need to facilitate class discussions. I will give unscheduled quiz grades for class discussion. I will not tell you that I am doing this.

You are expected to know and follow appropriate behavior guidelines.


Out-of-class papers: All papers should be double-spaced, 12 point font, Palatino or Times New Roman. They should follow MLA guidelines.


GPT requirement: It is a departmental policy that every student must pass the Grammar Proficiency Test (GPT) with the minimum grade of 26 in order to pass the course. If you fail the test the first time, you still have two additional chances to retake it and succeed on it later on your own in the lab.

I recommend taking and passing this test before the drop date. You do not want to have to find out I will be required to fail you after that time. Quiz grades are given for the secondary and tertiary deadlines.


Help available: The Lab is located in SFA 200. There are files of handouts there (on apostrophes, comma splices, etc.). There are also tutors available.


Plagiarized material will receive a 0. Plagiarism includes using someone else’

s ideas or their words, without appropriate documentation. Studying with someone is fine, but writing out the answers to the questions together is not fine. For a single lack of citation or false citation, 20 points will be deducted. For a second, the paper will receive a 0.

If a majority of the paper is plagiarized, the student will fail the course.

The second paper which receives a 0 for plagiarism will result in failure for the class.

I reserve the right to “recall”

papers which I have already graded.


Academic Integrity: Academic integrity is expected by the college and by me. Academic dishonesty is representing another’s work as one’s own, helping in such falsification, or violating test conditions. Plagiarism is stealing and passing of the ideas and words of another as one’s own or using the work of another without crediting the source. Plagiarism includes writing facts, opinions or quotations you get from someone else or from books, magazines, newspapers, journals, movies, television, tapes or the web as if they were your own and without identifying the source or identifying a false source.

Consequences for academic dishonesty, as the college website says, can include having additional class requirements imposed, receiving a grade of zero or “F” for an exam or assignment, receiving a grade of “F”

for the course, being withdrawn from the course or program, or being expelled from the college district.

Rewards: If you have a 95 average, you are excused from the final paper.

Success: I want you to do well in this class. I will help you as much as I can. However, your success in this class will depend on the success of your hard work. (There are no guaranteed As or Fs. Every grade must be earned by work within the class.)


Syllabus: The syllabus is an evolving class description that changes regularly. The syllabus may change, as the semester progresses.

Week 1:

August 25, 27, 29


Meet and greet

Writing 8-19 (14, 17, 18 writing)

Grammar Proficiency Test

Introduction to blogging.

Log into and register using an alias. Choose the name you go by and your last initial.


25. Journaling:

Log into Davis English and do a single blog post.

If you do not know how to register or log on, go to and follow the Jing(s) on the first page.

(1) Make a list: 10 things I am good at

And another list: 10 groups I am a part of

Write one paragraph discussing the most interesting thing or group, in terms of “uniqueness.”

Choose a unique title, too. We don’t want to have 60 “Ten Things” blog posts.

(2) Read the “About Dr. Davis” page, found at the top of Davis English.

Don’t forget to bring a sharpened pencil and a quarter to class next time for the GPT.


27. Fill in the “about me”


Read the syllabus and fill in the “Student Contract.”


29. Read 55-70. You may take notes and use any notes you take on the quiz.

If you do not have a library card from our library, you need to obtain one.

Extra credit: Read

Write down three that you have experience with. Write a one paragraph description of your experience with each.

This extra credit will add to your homework average.

It needs to be posted at


Week 2:

September 3, 5


Interviewing 87-129

Come up with possible interview questions.

Reading 21-32 Thinking 32-49

Dr. Mom’

s site- introduction to college


3. Journaling:

(2) Read

Respond to it in terms of how well you match what he recommends, whether you think it is possible to implement his recommendations, and how you could implement some or all of his suggestions. Be specific about your history and your future.


5. Grammar exercises from the Bedford Guide:

Fragments 33- 1 561, 124

Tense change 33-9 146, 306

Run-ons, comma splices 33-2 562, 563

Extra credit:

Schedule an interview with a teacher or someone who works in your major area. Call to get an appointment. The interview must be completed within two weeks. Keep the appointment, ask the questions, listen, take notes, tape, or videotape the interview, and write up the interview. You may turn in a video or podcast (five minutes maximum) as part of the assignment, but there must be a written component. This was due September 29 due to Hurricane Ike.

It will add a possible 25 points to your journal grade.


Week 3:

September 8, 10, 12

Quiz over chapter 1.


In-class discussion of narration

Prewriting on narrative




8. Go to Davis English and post a six-word autobiography and a one-paragraph explanation.


10. Go read and post a substantive comment on four different classmates’ autobiographies.

12. Write your narrative paper.


Week 4:

September 15, 17, 19

Narrative paper due.  Peer editing of narrative paper.

Revision of narrative paper due.

15. Revise narrative paper.



Week 5:

September 22, 24, 26

Extra credit interview paper was due next week due to Hurricane Ike.

Research paper introduction- catch attention, give background



Research paper 587-629

Library database introduction

Evaluating sources 650-662

Evaluating sources checklist


22. Look online at different controversial topics. Choose one that interests you.

Print out a list of the articles that are available on those topics.


24. Journaling (3) Write a two page paper saying why you are interested in the topic, what information you expected to find in the articles, which ones had articles with titles you weren’

t expecting and what makes those angles different, and what your position is on the topic. It needs to discuss your interest in the topic and describe your stance on the topic, but the other information can differ based on what article titles you printed out.



26. Find six good sources for side you agree with and four good sources for side you disagree with. You need to print out a total of ten articles from both sides of your topic. Print these sources out. Bring them to class all of next week.



Week 6:

September 29, October 1, 3

The extra credit interview paper is due on Friday.

Discussion of how to take notes

Integrating sources 663-76

Paraphrasing and quoting: OWL Purdue

Citing 686ff “Article Titles”

Book Titles

Works Cited in class


29. Notes on two sources on one side.


1. Notes on two sources for other side.


3. Create the Works Cited for a paper using those four sources.


Week 7:

October 6, 8, 10

Writing 677ff

Compare/contrast 104-20

Peer review.



6. Homework as assigned.

8. Write a compare/contrast paper on the arguments of the two sides.

Use at least one direct quote.

Bring three copies to class.

10. Revise the compare/contrast paper.

Submit the paper to

Bring the sources for this paper and a paper copy of the work.


Week 8:

October 13, 15, 17

Compare/contrast paper due.


Reading to Write “E-Technology” 529ff

In class discussions

Compare/contrast paper returned.

This is the midpoint of the semester.



13. Outline for side you agree with


15. Works Cited for side you agree with


17. Begin writing your research paper.

This paper will contain between fifty and seventy (50-70) sentences. (Fifty is the absolute minimum.)

Present the three best arguments. Include an introduction and conclusion.

Cite at least five sources. Use at least one direct quote. Use no more than twenty percent direct quotes.

The paper is due October 29. You will need three copies.


Week 9:

October 20, 22, 24


Art postcards

Exeter riddles



20. 22. 24. Work on research paper. Think about the descriptive paper.

Extra credit: Pick a good argument on the side you agree with. State the argument in on or two sentences. Then refute the argument; that is, tell why the argument is problematic. In other words, why might the argument not convince someone? (1.5-2 pages) This is due Nov. 7.

This will add up to twenty points to your research paper grade, before it is averaged.



Week 10:

October 27, 29


On the 27th, in-class descriptive paper.

On the 29th, both the research paper and the sources must be turned in at the start of class. You need a total of three copies of the research paper.

Peer review of research paper.


27. Finish your research paper.

29, 31.

Reading to Write “Men and Women”


Answer questions as assigned.

Revise your research paper.

Turn the paper in to before class and check it for % quotes and plagiarism.


Week 11:

November 3, 5, 7

Nov. 5 Revised version of your research paper is due with sources.

A hard copy must be given to the teacher and it must be turned in through as well.

Peer review over research paper.

Teacher evaluation in class- This is a quiz grade. Get a print out.


Read “Worst-Case Scenarios”


Test taking strategies.

How to take a multiple choice test.

How to take a short answer test.

How to take an essay exam.

There will be a practice exam.

Drop date looming. Drop anyone failing as of the 5th, unless receive a signed note.



3. Finish your research paper.

5. No homework.

7. Journaling:

(4) Think of an educational goal you have. Write it down. Write down the steps you have already taken to reach that goal. Write down the steps you must take if you want to reach that goal.


Week 12:

November 10, 12, 14

Reading to Write “Popular Culture”

In class discussion


10. Homework as assigned.


12. Blog post


14. Read and write a substantive comment on four classmates’

posts. That means several (3+) sentences.


Week 13:

November 17, 19, 21

Research papers returned and discussed.

Definition/illustration discussion.

Lexical, practical, precising definitions.


Definitions Examples from Real Life

Look up web definitions for three abstract words. Choose one to write paper on. Create your own definition or choose one to use.

Look up quotes on your choice of abstract nouns. Pick the best and write a works cited for it.

Write example paragraphs. (Three.)


17. Write a blog post at Davis English giving your word, your definition, and the quote you think is the best, with a link to the source.

19. Write a definition paragraph. This will be the first paragraph in the def/illus paper.

Example from a student, love

Another example, beauty

21. Revise your research paper. Only one copy of the revision will be necessary. Turn in both the marked version and the revision.

Week 14:

November 24, 26


  • Revision of research paper with original
  • Definition/illustration paper

In class reading. Bring book.

For 26th, Links’ post. This should be done at home. It must be done by 12:01 am December 1.

Look at this post for a description of how to write the HTML if you forgot.

Examples that look like what I want:

Kay Chap’s

Feed the Hunger

Leila’s Photoshop Tips


24. If necessary, look up examples.


26. Enjoy the holiday.



Week 15:

December 1, 3, 5

Literary Analysis 236-262

Literary analysis handout

Writing about literature: “short stories”


In class discussion.


1. Go to your posts in Manage and make sure that all your posts are public or deleted. Also make sure that your posts are listed as “Freshman Composition: students” instead of general info or Dr. Davis.

Read through posts from the month of November and make three comments on different posts. (Don’t leave them all on the first three posts to come up.)


Make notes from a fairy tale about two sections of a possible literary analysis.

Write a paragraph using one of those two sets of notes.

3. Read assigned fairy tales.



Make notes from another story about two additional sections of a possible literary analysis.

Write a paragraph using one of those two sets of notes.

5. Prepare for final.


Week 16:

Final exam:

Turn in your literary analysis over one of the fairy tales or your story.


How to Create a Syllabus

You have to know what you want to do. If you have had the class, you can use that as a launch point. You can also go online and search for syllabi for your class or a similar class.

However, you need to be careful what school the syllabus is from. If you teach at an inner city community college (like my CC2) a freshman composition syllabus from Yale is going to frustrate you and possibly give you unreasonable expectations.

The best thing to do is find similar syllabi from teachers at similar schools.

Ask for copies of other instructor’s syllabi at your college.

Because of accreditation these get kept now for years. The college might even have duplicate copies for new teachers at hand (CC1 does.) and all you need to do is ask for them.

They don’t even have to be for the course you are teaching (although that is significantly more useful), because even for a different course you can learn things about the department, the school, and the teachers. You might learn that while the department requires seven papers, other teachers require only four with a re-write.

Getting other syllabi will help you keep your expectations in line with the other teachers’.

Then you can start working on yours.

What if yours is the first class of that type at your school?

If there are no expectations, for instance this is a new class for your college (like Developmental Writing at my SLAC), then you need to think about the things you think ought to be in there. This is a great time to get in touch with friends from grad school. Ask them what their schools are doing. Again look for similar schools and syllabi on the net. If there is a school near where you are that has a similar demographic, call and see if you can set up an appointment with their chair or the head of Developmental Writing. Get feedback.

Don’t be afraid of this. Most teachers like to teach. They will be thrilled to share their knowledge with you. Offering to buy them lunch, usually somewhere off campus with reasonable food, is good if you can afford that. But make it after the discussion time, because you want them to be able to pull things out of their files as they think of them.

It’s also good, if you have to come up with the syllabus on your own, to know what level of student you are going to have. My first class of Developmental Writing was for students who did not know that sentences started with capital letters and ended with periods. If I had started that class with the five paragraph essay, we would all have been in a world of hurt.

Make sure that everything that your department/college requires is included.

For my college this means:
course description
number of hours
complete number of the course
dates and times of class meetings
policies on absence, late work, make-up work, plagiarism

But it could include a non-discrimination statement or other things. Ask your department secretary (if they’ve been there a while they know everything), your chair, or a strong teacher.

Then put those things in. You might be surprised at what you forget to include if you don’t start building the syllabus right away.

I batch the things the school requires together, so that I can easily copy and paste from one syllabus to another. This is also often the part of the syllabus I gloss over in my presentation time. It’s there. They need to have it.

However, if this is something particular to me, for instance my late policy, then I have all those together as well and I go over them very carefully. Sometimes students hear from friends about other teacher’s policies and assume those are departmental or school policies. I try to make an end run around that problem by emphasizing my unique policies.

Add in caveats.

If this class is new to you, you will not know exactly what you can get done. I prefer to plan too much and reduce the work if it overfills the time we have.

I put this caveat into my Early Brit lit syllabus:

This syllabus may be revised as the term progresses. No additional reading will be added. Some readings may be deleted or shortened in the interest of sufficient coverage.

For my freshman composition classes and my composition and literature classes, I always put in “This syllabus is subject to change.” I usually intend for this to mean I take something out, but every once in a while, I will find the perfect reading online or a great exercise that was not in the syllabus which I think will enrich their classroom experience. So I do add that in.

Put in a class calendar.

I have seen syllabi which read “Week 1: Intro to class and paper. Week 2: Revision and discussion.”

I personally do not find those very helpful. So, while you may have to start out with that, since you may not yet know what you are doing, I would recommend getting beyond that quickly.

Once you have the calendar, you will need to fill it.

Start with what you know.

If your college requires seven papers, but that includes three rewrites, then you know you need four papers and three rewrites. If the college requires a research paper, then you know you need to schedule a library tour, research time, discussion (at least) of how to read, take notes, and write the paper.

If your college has a required textbook, then look through that to see what the text covers the best. I often switch papers based on how good the text is on different subjects.

What goes in the syllabus for your class schedule.

At least have every day listed and the topic that will be covered that day, with relevant page numbers.

I usually have a list of what we will be doing in class, including relevant page numbers, and the specific homework. For example, from my three week Early British lit course, the first day says:

begin class, present self, introduce students, hand out syllabus.
Students discuss:
What is a hero? Define courage. What qualities should a good leader possess?
Why is generosity important? Why is loyalty important? Why is reputation important?
English history timeline- geography of British Isles, Viking homelands
presentation on the history, background, language of the poem.
Introduction to Beowulf
5 declensions and 7 conjugations, epic, kenning, scop, wergild, comitatus
Beowulf 34-46 -get to Grendel’s Fight.
For homework:
Read pages 46-72, up to “Beowulf Returns Home.”
Answer 22 questions. (The question in italics is optional for extra points.)
Note: All homework other than essays may be used on the final exam. So do them well.

And I do that for every day of the class.

What if I don’t know all that we are going to do?


Fill in what you know.

When I have had a new course at a new college with a new text, I have had no trouble at all creating a three week schedule. I figure the first three weeks will let me get to know the students and gauge the class. Then I can work on the rest of the schedule when I understand more what can be done.

Do not let this be an excuse to put off your syllabus though.

I can spend one hundred hours on a new syllabus for a course. I don’t want to have to be fitting that in on a weekend. Of course, one hundred hours is pretty intense. Most syllabi can be put together in quite a bit less time than that. You don’t want to find out that your syllabus can’t, though.

I try to have a strong plan for what I want to do and work around the reality to get as much of that done as I can.

What if I put in too much?

Students are happy to take things out of a syllabus. They just are not too thrilled to add things in. So it is better to put in too much and have to take things out than to have to add work for the students.

What if I put in too little?

I have additional information which I bring to class in case I put too little work on the syllabus.

For instance, in that class I did a significant introduction to the difference in status of women between the Old English and the Middle English period. This presentation was not on my syllabus because I had changed the syllabus and did not know if I would have time for it. But I had several places it could have been used and one of those days I had too little work scheduled. So I was able to use it there.

What this does for my class is two things. One, it makes sure my students get the value of their time recognized. They paid for the class and they ought to have their money’s worth. (Yes, even when they’d rather just get out quickly.) Two, it gives “value added.” The presentation I gave helped them on a later paper. If I had not had the presentation, their later work would have been more difficult. Because of the presentation though, assuming they took good notes and were involved in the discussion, that later work will be easier.

5 Teaching Tips for Responsible Learning

1. Get your students to read the text before class without overloading yourself with grading. Make questions on the text to be turned in before the discussion. Randomize your electronic grade book each time and grade the top five. Call on the top five in class to give their responses.

2. Get your students to think more deeply. In class help your students analyze a familiar story, such as a fairy tale, using Bloom’s Taxonomy. Use a Bloom checklist as part of a rubric for grading written work.

3. Get your students to attend classes regularly and on time. Make a point system that has serious consequences for failure to attend and for being late to class as part of your syllabus and refer to it in class.

4. Make it safe to be creative in your class. Attack perfectionism head on!! Make at least one assignment where you ask students to make the worst mistakes they possibly can on purpose. Read their examples in class, thanking individual students for making the mistakes as an opportunity for learning for everyone. Ask the class first what is right about the example, and then how they would correct the errors. Be sure to very clearly and sincerely thank the person who gave the example in front of the whole class. In subsequent classes, refer to mistakes as learning opportunities.

5. Help students clearly see their own progress or lack thereof. Many students have a fragmented, distorted and fatalistic view of their school experiences. Try grading by portfolio for a more integrated and realistic view. Have the students collect their work over time in one place and present it to you. Provide checklists and rubrics so students will be clear on your expectations. Provide frequent opportunities for students to update portfolios and re-submit poor work. Retain the poor work with the better work as part of the portfolio. Randomize names and grade the top 5 frequently to keep students sharp and yourself sane.

from Sza again.

Survey Says: 4 differences in college and high school expectations

From the Chronicle of Higher Education comes some interesting statistics on college faculty versus high school teachers.

Writing papers in general:

More than 70 percent expect students to at least occasionally write papers of more than five pages. That is true of just 39 percent of high-school teachers. Sixty-one percent of teachers never ask students to write papers of more than five pages. That is true of only 28 percent of faculty members.

Writing papers in English:

Twenty-five percent of English teachers never assign longer papers, as compared with just 6 percent of their college counterparts.

Let me just say that I know why our students are failing college, if high school doesn’t require papers.

Writing short papers:

More than 80 percent of both college and high-school instructors require papers of one to five pages from time to time, and 40 percent of faculty members and 33 percent of teachers assign short papers at least a few times a month.

Of course, I’m not sure how often I assign a six page paper. The research paper. So once or twice a semester, depending. I don’t see what good there would be in requiring more long papers. Then the quality of both the research and the writing would plummet.

Taking quizzes:

An English professor at a public university in Ohio says that “when I give reading quizzes, they frequently complain that the questions are too difficult. Several years ago, students were more likely to say that the quizzes were too easy.”

I haven’t really encountered this.

The Mindset of Today’s Students

 Computers are not just “technology”
This is true for middle class students and above. I found my lower socioeconomic students needed help integrating computers into their lives. (Or just learning to type.)

 The Internet is better than TV
I would agree with them here. The internet is available whenever I am.

 Reality is no longer “real”
This is not a mindset of students but a result of postmodern philosophy. I disagree with it and I argue against it in my classroom.

 Doing is more important that knowing
Some things are more important to do than to know. It certainly doesn’t help the person choking if I know the Heimlich maneuver and don’t do anything.

 Learning resembles Nintendo more than logic
Hmm. Fun, fast, involving… I certainly would prefer that they thought that.

 Multitasking is a way of life
This I doubt. I had students (high school, but still) within the last five years who complained because we had literature and grammar and vocabulary all in the same class on the same day. It was too many disparate subjects. They couldn’t handle it.

 Typing is preferred to handwriting
Since up to 20% of a grade can be lost due to poor handwriting, I would certainly agree with them. And as a teacher, it is far easier to grade typed papers than handwritten ones.

 Staying connected is essential
To what or whom? Tinto says that students need to be connected to the university/college in order to stay in school. So I would think getting our students connected and them staying connected would be good.

 There is zero tolerance for delays
Er, no. I think they have plenty of tolerance for their own delays. They just don’t want anyone else to be slow. True? True.

 Consumer and creator lines are blurring
I can buy, therefore I can make? Hmm. Ron was talking today about designers. He said there are three levels. The highest can create. The second highest can appreciate, even things they don’t like themselves. The third can appreciate what they like. BUT the second group tries to become the first. Perhaps this is what he means?

(Jason L. Frand, “The Information-Age Mindset: Changes in Students and Implications for Higher Education,” Educause Review 35(5): 14-24, Sept.-Oct. 2000.)

Via Danielle Mihram’s Creating an Objective-Based Syllabus.