Prologue to The End of the Essay by Norbert Elliot

“We would be not only consumers but creators… learning 2.0, school 2.0”

“none of us saw the mediated impact that computers would have”

“I think we were right about media. People were very quick to embrace video… lot of talk about visual literacy”

(available on iTunes)

“The technology became a mediating experience…”

“k-20 this idea that it is one long continuum”

“what’s the rate of change in a k-12 system?” fast, but lots of restrictions

“critical literacies, information literacy, visual literacy”

“hs is still driven by what they think colleges want”

“What drives what colleges are teaching?” the marketplace, but “more conceptual”

“don’t want essays” “a controversial issue”

“I think that is a discourse form that is no longer required.”

“I wonder how much of this is driven by students. I think there’s kind of a grassroots driving of technology, that students are asking things of the teachers…”

“Students are driving the way they want to report.”

“They want to bring sound. They want to bring music…. a more diverse audience…”

“hope would be that folks would listen to these, … blogs, … NCTE…, all places that actively engage the new media”

I don’t know which guy was which. At the beginning the guy in the polo talked the most. At the end the guy in the suit did. It was a very odd juxtaposition of clothing and quite a switch in emphasis as well.

Again, I’m listening to this and not hearing a lot of unexpected things. EXCEPT I’m hearing this from an English teacher and as a rhetorician, I can value literacies, but I’m wondering how we can have multimodal presentations and not drift back into speech communications… Are we going to re-merge the rhetoric departments? Are they suggesting that we are moving to a third kind of rhetoric, a multimodal rhetoric?

It’s an interesting thought, but I am not sure how much of this is a realistic picture of the future for English and how much is a fad. Obviously, I am not technology phobic. I need to do more than I do, but I do fairly well with what I do. I have introduced students with no computer literacy at all to the web and the information on it and brought them into an academic and personal integration of that knowledge.

It is something to think about though.

Ideas for Teaching: Writing

from the National Writing Project

They have thirty, but I am only going to put down the ones I think I might use. Some of them I already use, so those aren’t in here. Examples of that are creating a real-world application of the students’ writing and modeling writing for our students.

Writing about Writing

8. Ask students to reflect on and write about their writing.
Douglas James Joyce, a teacher-consultant with the Denver Writing Project, makes use of what he calls “metawriting” in his college writing classes. He sees metawriting (writing about writing) as a way to help students reduce errors in their academic prose.

Joyce explains one metawriting strategy: After reading each essay, he selects one error that occurs frequently in a student’s work and points out each instance in which the error is made. He instructs the student to write a one page essay, comparing and contrasting three sources that provide guidance on the established use of that particular convention, making sure a variety of sources are available.

“I want the student to dig into the topic as deeply as necessary, to come away with a thorough understanding of the how and why of the usage, and to understand any debate that may surround the particular usage.”

JOYCE, DOUGLAS JAMES. 2002. “On the Use of Metawriting to Learn Grammar and Mechanics.” The Quarterly (24) 4.

I am going to be doing a journal portfolio and an essay portfolio in one set of classes and an essay portfolio in the others. I like the idea of having them write about their writing. Perhaps I could do this as part of their final?

I found a connection between the metawriting and having the students questions.

Students Asking Questions about their Writing

21. Help students ask questions about their writing.
Joni Chancer, teacher-consultant of the South Coast Writing Project (California), has paid a lot of attention to the type of questions she wants her upper elementary students to consider as they re-examine their writing, reflecting on pieces they may make part of their portfolios. Here are some of the questions:

Why did I write this piece? Where did I get my ideas?
Who is the audience and how did it affect this piece?
What skills did I work on in this piece?
Was this piece easy or difficult to write? Why?
What parts did I rework? What were my revisions?
Did I try something new?
What skills did I work on in this piece?
What elements of writer’s craft enhanced my story?
What might I change?
Did something I read influence my writing?
What did I learn or what did I expect the reader to learn?
Where will I go from here? Will I publish it? Share it?
Expand it? Toss it? File it?

Chancer cautions that these questions should not be considered a “reflection checklist,” rather they are questions that seem to be addressed frequently when writers tell the story of a particular piece.

CHANCER, JONI. 2001. “The Teacher’s Role in Portfolio Assessment.” In The Whole Story: Teachers Talk About Portfolios, edited by Mary Ann Smith and Jane Juska. Berkeley, California: National Writing Project.

I like giving the students questions and having them think about them or talk about them. Perhaps this could be part of the preparation for the final?

And maybe I could incorporate this suggestion as well:

Grade persuasion

23. Require students to make a persuasive written argument in support of a final grade.
For a final exam, Sarah Lorenz, a teacher-consultant with the Eastern Michigan Writing Project, asks her high school students to make a written argument for the grade they think they should receive. Drawing on work they have done over the semester, students make a case for how much they have learned in the writing class.

“The key to convincing me,” says Lorenz, “is the use of detail. They can’t simply say they have improved as writers-they have to give examples and even quote their own writing…They can’t just say something was helpful- they have to tell me why they thought it was important, how their thinking changed, or how they applied this learning to everyday life.”

LORENZ, SARAH. 2001. “Beyond Rhetoric: A Reflective Persuasive Final Exam for the Writing Classroom.” The Quarterly (23) 4.

If I put those three things together, both during the presentation of the final and the final, the students might come out with some excellent final writing pieces about their work and their learning. I think this would be especially useful in the basic writing class.

Despite my personal expectation that students ought to know grammar by the time they get to college, I know that often they don’t. One of the things I do with grammar is assign homework based on the grammar they missed in their papers. I think that it would also be fun to incorporate these next two ideas.

Acting out grammar

19. Make grammar instruction dynamic.
Philip Ireland, teacher-consultant with the San Marcos Writing Project (California), believes in active learning. One of his strategies has been to take his seventh-graders on a “preposition walk” around the school campus. Walking in pairs, they tell each other what they are doing:

I’m stepping off the grass.
I’m talking to my friend.

“Students soon discover that everything they do contains prepositional phrases. I walk among my students prompting answers,” Ireland explains.

“I’m crawling under the tennis net,” Amanda proclaims from her hands and knees. “The prepositional phrase is under the net.”

“The preposition?” I ask.


IRELAND, PHILIP. 2003. “It Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time.” The Quarterly (25) 3.

Another grammar exercise, example, suggestion was

Using real-world examples for grammar

26. Use real world examples to reinforce writing conventions.
Suzanne Cherry, director of the Swamp Fox Writing Project (South Carolina), has her own way of dramatizing the comma splice error. She brings to class two pieces of wire, the last inch of each exposed. She tells her college students “We need to join these pieces of wire together right now if we are to be able to watch our favorite TV show. What can we do? We could use some tape, but that would probably be a mistake as the puppy could easily eat through the connection. By splicing the wires in this way, we are creating a fire hazard.”

A better connection, the students usually suggest, would be to use one of those electrical connectors that look like pen caps.

“Now,” Cherry says (often to the accompaniment of multiple groans), “let’s turn these wires into sentences. If we simply splice them together with a comma, the equivalent of a piece of tape, we create a weak connection, or a comma splice error. What then would be the grammatical equivalent of the electrical connector? Think conjunction – and, but, or. Or try a semicolon. All of these show relationships between sentences in a way that the comma, a device for taping clauses together in a slapdash manner, does not.”

“I’ve been teaching writing for many years,” Cherry says. “And I now realize the more able we are to relate the concepts of writing to ‘real world’ experience, the more successful we will be.”

CHERRY, SUZANNE. “I Am the Comma Splice Queen,” The Voice (9) 1.

I have been trying to think of how we could start the class writing, when I don’t really want to assign another writing assignment. And I think that this might be an interesting punctuation to beginning the courses. I don’t think I would talk about them as a drum and river, but maybe a dripping faucet and a wide open one.

Or maybe a postcard and a novel.

Hmm. Maybe I should actually have the students write postcards. That would be a fun assignment. I could buy a bunch of Houston postcards and get some soldiers’ addresses and have the students write postcards. They would have to have a short, focused thought for that. Maybe as part of the narrative paragraphs. Are we doing that assignment? I think we are.

Sentence Length

20. Ask students to experiment with sentence length.
Kim Stafford, director of the Oregon Writing Project at Lewis and Clark College, wants his students to discard old notions that sentences should be a certain length. He explains to his students that a writer’s command of long and short sentences makes for a “more pliable” writing repertoire. He describes the exercise he uses to help students experiment with sentence length.

“I invite writers to compose a sentence that goes on for at least a page – and no fair cheating with a semicolon. Just use ‘and’ when you have to, or a dash, or make a list, and keep it going.” After years of being told not to, they take pleasure in writing the greatest run-on sentences they can.

“Then we shake out our writing hands, take a blank page, and write from the upper left to the lower right corner again, but this time letting no sentence be longer than four words, but every sentence must have a subject and a verb.”

Stafford compares the first style of sentence construction to a river and the second to a drum. “Writers need both,” he says. “Rivers have long rhythms. Drums roll.”

STAFFORD, KIM. 2003. “Sentence as River and as Drum.” The Quarterly (25) 3.

I like this idea as well, even though I hadn’t thought of it as a way of introducing introductions and conclusions. But I think it might be a good idea. When I am explaining about the five-paragraph essay to my basic writing students, this could be very helpful to them.

25. Encourage the “framing device” as an aid to cohesion in writing.
Romana Hillebrand, a teacher-consultant with the Northwest Inland Writing Project (Idaho), asks her university students to find a literary or historical reference or a personal narrative that can provide a fresh way into and out of their writing, surrounding it much like a window frame surrounds a glass pane.

Hillebrand provides this example:

A student in her research class wrote a paper on the relationship between humans and plants, beginning with a reference to the nursery rhyme, ‘Ring around the rosy, a pocket full of posies…’ She explained the rhymes as originating with the practice of masking the stench of death with flowers during the Black Plague. The student finished the paper with the sentence, “Without plants, life on Earth would cease to exist as we know it; ashes, ashes we all fall down.”

Hillebrand concludes that linking the introduction and the conclusion helps unify a paper and satisfy the reader.

HILLEBRAND, ROMANA. 2001. “It’s a Frame Up: Helping Students Devise Beginning and Endings.”The Quarterly (23) 1.

Rhetoric of Science

An article to read later. “Rhetoric of Science, Rhetoric of Inquiry, and Writing in the Disciplines”

Wikipedia has a good introduction, including important works and authors in the field of study.

Another article to read later. Rhetoric, Science, and the Rhetoric of Science: An Exercise in Interdisciplinarity

And yet another article. This one is from The Writing Instructor and was pubilshed in 2007. Science and Rhetoric: A Changing Relationship

Rhetoric, Literature, and Science

I’ve been thinking about this in terms of teaching a course. So while I’m surfing the net, I am going to note some interesting things I’ve found.

A syllabus for a seminar in literature and science

Selzer, Jack (ed). Understanding Scientific Prose. Madison: U of Wisconsin P, 1993. Thirteen critical studies, by separate hands, of a single scientific paper (Stephen Jay Gould & Richard Lewontin, “The Spandrels of San Marco and the Panglossian Paradigm: a Critique of the Adaptationist Programme”). Illustrates a number of approaches to critical study of “the rhetoric of science.”
from a rhetorical analysis syllabus

MIT’s open source syllabus which includes:

We will start with discussions about the nature of science and rhetoric. Then, we will turn our attention to texts written by scientists and use rhetorical theory to analyze those texts. We will look at the professional scientific research articles and other genres of scientific writing. Finally, we’ll investigate the way that rhetoric plays a role in the everyday life of scientists. Throughout the class, we will wrestle with questions, such as:

How is science rhetorical?
What can rhetorical analysis tell us about the ways that scientists use persuasion?
How does rhetorical analysis not help us understand science?

Here are the assignments for the course above and here are the readings.

Found “Strategies for Teaching the Rhetoric of Written English for Science and Technology” but while it’s on JSTOR it’s not on our JSTOR.

Does reading the internet count as reading?

I am not the only one wondering about this. The NYTimes has an overview article.

As teenagers’ scores on standardized reading tests have declined or stagnated, some argue that the hours spent prowling the Internet are the enemy of reading — diminishing literacy, wrecking attention spans and destroying a precious common culture that exists only through the reading of books.

But others say the Internet has created a new kind of reading, one that schools and society should not discount. The Web inspires a teenager like Nadia, who might otherwise spend most of her leisure time watching television, to read and write.

Isn’t what I do on the internet writing? If you are reading it, isn’t it reading?

What do we mean when we say reading books? Often what we mean is reading and analyzing literature. Certainly as an English teacher I think that is a good thing. However, I don’t think that is the end of reading. I often read history and science books. They aren’t always (or usually) stories. They are most often non-fiction, more like essays, more like long blog posts. I don’t think I read less because I read nonfiction. I don’t think I read less because I read online. But many of us in academics do think that.

I think it is the same thing that Faye Halpern called “reading badly” in her article in College English (70.6 (July 2008): 551-577.). “Beginning students read fiction to identify with the characters.” And that matches perfectly with what the NYTimes article goes on to say.

Even accomplished book readers like Zachary Sims, 18, of Old Greenwich, Conn., crave the ability to quickly find different points of view on a subject and converse with others online.

Does the fact that a student wants different views and sees the net as a way of quickly accessing both sides of the question indicate a different kind of reading? If we are talking reading for information, that is far more akin to reading in the sciences than reading literature. We might need to make a differentiation in kinds of reading or in fiction/nonfiction reading. [This might be useful for my TYCASW paper.]

….Clearly, reading in print and on the Internet are different. On paper, text has a predetermined beginning, middle and end, where readers focus for a sustained period on one author’s vision. On the Internet, readers skate through cyberspace at will and, in effect, compose their own beginnings, middles and ends.

Young people “aren’t as troubled as some of us older folks are by reading that doesn’t go in a line,” said Rand J. Spiro, a professor of educational psychology at Michigan State University who is studying reading practices on the Internet. “That’s a good thing because the world doesn’t go in a line, and the world isn’t organized into separate compartments or chapters.”

Literature doesn’t always go from beginning to middle to end. And even the literature that does leaves blanks, taking out parts of a reality that are less essential to the story.

According to Department of Education data cited in the [National Endowment for the Arts reading] report, just over a fifth of 17-year-olds said they read almost every day for fun in 2004, down from nearly a third in 1984. Nineteen percent of 17-year-olds said they never or hardly ever read for fun in 2004, up from 9 percent in 1984. (It was unclear whether they thought of what they did on the Internet as “reading.”)

I would bet they don’t. They know the grownups don’t count it. And sometimes when surfing the net, I’m not really reading. It’s more like I am at the library and pulling books off the shelves, looking at them, and then putting them back. However, many times I do sustained reading on the internet. I looked at the questions for the report and did not see anything I would interpret to count online reading.

“Whatever the benefits of newer electronic media,” Dana Gioia, the chairman of the N.E.A., wrote in the report’s introduction, “they provide no measurable substitute for the intellectual and personal development initiated and sustained by frequent reading.”

Why can online reading not offer the same level of personal development? I agree that it often doesn’t, but it could. That’s more an education process. How do they decide what is legit? How do they determine credibility? Those are good rhetorical concerns that could be addressed by reading teachers, if they understood the answers themselves.

I think to some extent that we don’t teach these skills because we don’t have these skills. Many of our students have abilities we do not. And we need to examine the skills involved in online reading and incorporate their use into the academic classroom because they are reading on the internet far more than in the classroom.

Children are clearly spending more time on the Internet. In a study of 2,032 representative 8- to 18-year-olds, the Kaiser Family Foundation found that nearly half used the Internet on a typical day in 2004, up from just under a quarter in 1999. The average time these children spent online on a typical day rose to one hour and 41 minutes in 2004, from 46 minutes in 1999.
The simplest argument for why children should read in their leisure time is that it makes them better readers. According to federal statistics, students who say they read for fun once a day score significantly higher on reading tests than those who say they never do.

Reading skills are also valued by employers. A 2006 survey by the Conference Board, which conducts research for business leaders, found that nearly 90 percent of employers rated “reading comprehension” as “very important” for workers with bachelor’s degrees. Department of Education statistics also show that those who score higher on reading tests tend to earn higher incomes.
Literacy specialists are just beginning to investigate how reading on the Internet affects reading skills. A recent study of more than 700 low-income, mostly Hispanic and black sixth through 10th graders in Detroit found that those students read more on the Web than in any other medium, though they also read books. The only kind of reading that related to higher academic performance was frequent novel reading, which predicted better grades in English class and higher overall grade point averages.

Elizabeth Birr Moje, a professor at the University of Michigan who led the study, said novel reading was similar to what schools demand already. But on the Internet, she said, students are developing new reading skills that are neither taught nor evaluated in school.

One early study showed that giving home Internet access to low-income students appeared to improve standardized reading test scores and school grades. “These were kids who would typically not be reading in their free time,” said Linda A. Jackson, a psychology professor at Michigan State who led the research. “Once they’re on the Internet, they’re reading.”
Some scientists worry that the fractured experience typical of the Internet could rob developing readers of crucial skills. “Reading a book, and taking the time to ruminate and make inferences and engage the imaginational processing, is more cognitively enriching, without doubt, than the short little bits that you might get if you’re into the 30-second digital mode,” said Ken Pugh, a cognitive neuroscientist at Yale who has studied brain scans of children reading.

I would think it would not be impossible, or even that hard, to find online work which could be cognitive enriching. Would it be that hard to present the tools for literary analysis and let the students go to their favorite fan fiction site and examine a story there with the tools to see if it is really a decent story?

There are plenty of times that reading on the internet requires sustained reading, such as this post, and even serial sustained reading, such as when you are looking at multiple sites for information on a single subject.

Web readers are persistently weak at judging whether information is trustworthy. In one study, Donald J. Leu, who researches literacy and technology at the University of Connecticut, asked 48 students to look at a spoof Web site ( about a mythical species known as the “Pacific Northwest tree octopus.” Nearly 90 percent of them missed the joke and deemed the site a reliable source.

This is an example of the kind of skills we could give our students which would make their reading of the internet cognitively enriching. Cornell offers help for evaluating web sites. And New Mexico State University offers a good checklist of things to look for to determine usefulness and credibility. We as teachers wouldn’t even have to know the issues to use these lists. They are good for nonfiction online.

Still we would have to deal with fiction online, but there, I believe, the literary tools would be useful.

I found this via The Constructive Curmudgeon.

Sample syllabus: developmental writing

Course Syllabus

ENGL 1303: Basic Grammar and Composition

Fall 2008

Department of Languages

Course Description

A prerequisite course for enrollment in ENGL 1313 (see next section for criteria). ENGL 1303 is an introduction to the principles of composition accomplished through the study of grammar, standard English usage, and rhetorical techniques and strategies. This course emphasizes basic grammar and composition and focuses on sentence structure and on organizing and developing the short essay. ENGL 1303 does not meet the Smith College requirements for either the BA or the BS degree but does carry elective credit.



ENGL 1303 is a prerequisite for ENGL 1313 if the student does not meet at least one of the four eligibility requirements.

  • A score of at least 500 on the Writing section of the SAT.
  • A score of at least 22 on the ACT English test.
  • A combined score of at least 8 (4 or more from each of the two graders) on the SAT essay.
  • A satisfactory score on the in-class diagnostic essay in ENGL 1313


COURSE OBJECTIVES (Overview/ purpose of the course)

ENGL 1303 introduces students to the basic principles of composition and usage. Students analyze essays that illustrate these principles and write essays that demonstrate their understanding of these models. This course combines instruction on six types of essays, grammar exercises and tests, and readings. Its aim is to prepare the student for ENGL 1313.

Upon completion of this course:

  • Students should be able to write a competent essay for 1313.
  • Students demonstrate proficiency in reading through discussing and writings about the assigned textbook readings.
  • Students demonstrate critical thinking and analytical ability through the discussion of reading and writing assignments.
  • Students demonstrate proficiency in written communication through writing a number of coherent paragraphs and essays.
  • Students demonstrate proficiency in oral communication through class discussion.
  • Students are able to use technology to access information for the preparation and completion of assignments.


Name:  Office Location:  Office Hours: 


Learning Resources

Course Text(s): Langan, John. College Writing Skills with Readings. 7th Ed. New York: McGraw Hill

Supplementary Text(s): College-level dictionary and thesaurus

Other Required Materials: Paper, pen, folder with brads


The undergraduate curriculum is characterized by a strong emphasis on the arts and sciences. The University seeks to provide physical resources and a campus environment that acknowledge the uniqueness of the individual and encourage the development of the whole person.


The COAH mission is to develop intellectual, moral, and aesthetic growth in its students. In accordance with College and Department goals, this course fosters intellectual ability and judgment through the study of language and rhetoric and through writing and other means of assessment.


One of the purposes of the department is to provide instruction in writing and rhetorical skills. In this course, students demonstrate effective communication through the development of writing and rhetorical skills.




August 26:

Introduction to teacher, course, and classmates.

Review of syllabus.


Bring a signed copy of the Student Contract portion of the syllabus back to the next class.



August 28:

Essay writing, pp. 4-50

Ch. 23, pp. 450-454

Ch. 24, pp. 455-468

Hwk: Review test 3, page 468

Students not on roll by Friday, 8/29 cannot attend class.



September 2:

Essay writing, pp. 51-78

Ch. 25, pp. 469-481

Hwk: Choose a physical object that is important to you. Do some significant form of prewriting.



September 4:

Description pp. 178-201 Description: art pictures

Introduction to riddles Group work: Exeter riddles


1. Write a riddle about your physical object. It should be half a page.

You want the reader to be able to figure it out by the end, but not to give it away too early nor be too ambiguous.

2. A passing certificate for the Academic Integrity tutorial from Blackboard brought in will add points to your homework grade. It is due October 2.



September 9:

Essay writing, pp. 80-104

Ch. 34, pp. 533-535 (Manuscripts)

Ch. 26, pp. 482-490

Hwk: Out-of-class essay. Bring two copies of this to class.


September 11:

Peer review of out-of-class essay.


Ch. 27, pp. 492-497

Hwk: Revise out-of-class essay



September 16: HURRICANE IKE



September 18: HURRICANE IKE


September 23:

Out-of-class essay due.

Johnson, pp. 683-693 “The Professor is a Dropout” about Guadalupe Quintanilla

Narration, pp. 202-221

Hwk: Dr. Mom’

s Guide to College at

Read three sections and take notes.



September 25:


Ch. 28, pp. 498-502

Hwk: Narration paragraphs



September 30:

Out-of-class essay returned.

Review descriptive essay.

Narration paragraph practice

Ch. 29 pages 503-8

Hwk: Prewriting exercises for narrative essay

Rewrite your descriptive essay. Fix the errors. Turn both copies in.


October 2:

Academic Integrity certificate due.

In-class narrative essay

Hwk: As assigned.



October 7:


Comparison or contrast, pp. 287-294

Hwk: As assigned.




October 9:

Discuss the rhetorical triangle with visuals. (Writer, subject, reader)

Comparison or contrast, pp. 294-306

Ch. 31 pages 516ff

Hwk: As assigned.



October 14:

Class is only 50 minutes today due to Spirit Week.

11:00-12:15 TR class period will meet from 10:00-10:50

Comparison or contrast activity

Discuss narrative essay.

Hwk: Prewriting for comparison or contrast.



October 16:

Peer review of out-of-class essay.

Hwk: Out-of –

class essay revision.




October 21

Compare/contrast essay due.

Introduce the definition/exemplification essay. (5 paragraphs: definition, illustration #1, illustration #2, illustration #3, conclusion)

Prewriting in class.

Definition, pp. 311-31

Hwk: As assigned.



October 23:

Definition, pp. 316-323

Reading professional essay and answer questions.

Grammar, ch. 32

Hwk: Choose an abstract noun. Get online definitions and quotes.

Write your definition for this topic. Write your definition paragraph.



October 28:

Exemplification, pp. 222-242

Hwk: Write an example paragraph. Email it to Dr. Davis.

dr davis @ teaching college english . com (take out spaces)


October 30:

Dr. Davis will be out of town.

Sherry, pp. 761-766

Answer the “Reading Comprehension”


questions, numbers 1-10.

Answer the “Structure and Technique”


questions 1-4.



November 4:

In class exemplification paragraphs.

Ch. 36, pp. 544-547

Hwk: Write a complete outline for your definition/exemplification essay.


November 6:

In class definition/exemplification essay.

Hwk: Go to “Opposing Viewpoints”

database. Read two articles, one on each side, of the assigned argument topic. You will be assigned which ones you need to read. Please read those specific ones. Take notes or highlight the articles.


How do you find them?

Moody Library website

left hand side bar “Electronic Research Tools”

left hand side bar “All Indexes and Databases J-Z”

scroll down to Opposing Viewpoints Resource Center

on the right hand side are a list of topics

Click on Global Warming

find the articles that match your numbers




November 11:

Argument, pp. 349-368

Hwk:Write a paragraph each on an argument that is strong from the two sides.




November 13:

Class debates.

Out-of-class essay assigned.

Hwk:Write out-of-class argument essay.




November 18:

Peer review of out-of-class essay.

Ch. 37, pp. 550-556

Hwk: Revise out-of-class essay.




November 20:

Out-of-class essay due.

Russell, pp. 640-645

Ch. 38, pp. 557-564

Hwk: As assigned.

November 25:

Banas, pp. 700-705

Ch. 39, pp. 588-596

Hwk: As assigned.




December 2:

Argument essay returned.

Grammar test.

Hwk:As assigned.



December 4:

Discussion of final

Classification paper.

Read for an explanation.

Use the Scientific American handout as your animals to classify.

Hwk: Prepare for the final.



Final exams: December 9-12 Hwk: Have a great break and a wonderful life.


The content of this outline and the attached schedule are subject to change at the discretion of the professor.


Strategies may include any or all of the following: analyses of texts; organization of material; focus and development of ideas; editing and revising material.

Professors may use any or all of the following methods: lectures; class discussions; small group activities; journals; computer-assisted instruction research; conferences; quizzes; tests; revision exercises; Learning Center tutorials.

There may be some controversial material covered within the class. There will be some when we study argument. The teacher and the students will be respectful of differing opinions. Respect and tolerance will be required. Agreement will not.



Course requirements

Essays must be in five paragraphs and about 500-750 words. Out of class essays must be typed, double-spaced, and follow MLA format.

The grammar test grade is the average of the instructor’s choice of review tests and editing tests from the grammar section (Chapters 23-41) of the book. There will be no make-up exams for grammar or editing tests.


Grading standards

3 out-of-class essays (descriptive, compare/contrast, argument) 10% each 30%

2 in-class essays (narrative, definition/exemplification) 15% each 30%

Grammar tests 10%

Homework, attendance, and participation 15%

Final exam (in-class classification essay) 15%



In order to receive a passing grade for an essay written in English 1303, students must be able to write essays which conform to the following standards:

A. Content and Organization

a. A well-organized and adequately developed essay should contain at least five paragraphs, including an introduction, at least three developmental paragraphs, and a conclusion.

b. In the first paragraph, the essay should contain a clearly stated thesis that responds to the assigned topic.

c. Each developing paragraph should contain a topic sentence that supports the thesis.

d. Each developing paragraph should effectively support and develop the controlling idea of the paragraph.

Grammar and Mechanics

The essay will be largely free of such technical errors as

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

An essay containing more than twelve (12) errors as outlined above will not receive a passing grade.


The essay will largely be free of such major errors as

  • The fragment
  • The comma splice
  • The fused (run-on) sentence
  • Subject-verb disagreement
  • Pronoun-antecedent disagreement

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.

NOTE: The grading standards not specifically mentioned in this syllabus will adhere to the general policy on grade as stated in the University Catalog.


Grading expectations:

Graded essays will be returned 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.


Student appraisal: Faculty will administer the University’


s Student Evaluation Form.


Academic honesty

Any proof of plagiarism will result in investigation. Any proof of plagiarism will result in a failing grade for the course and possible disciplinary action by the university. Plagiarism will be discussed in detail in class.

A tutorial has been created that explains behaviors you may engage in but do not recognize as unethical. Its purpose is to inform and educate you to identify these practices and, therefore, avoid them. You will find the tutorial in a Blackboard class named Academic Integrity, and you are encouraged to complete the tutorial before priority registration for the next semester. You will earn one CLW point upon its completion.


Grievance procedures

Students should discuss all grievances related to the course with the instructor of the course. If students are not satisfied with the resolution, they may take their grievances first to the department chair, then to the College Dean, and finally to the College Grievance Committee.


Absence and tardy policies

Attendance: You should arrive in the class on time and be prepared.

If it is necessary to be absent due to school activities, please inform me before the event so that missed class work may be assigned and turned in before you leave. Any work must be completed and turned in before it is due.

Each absence will effect your grade, since points are given for being in class.

Three tardies will count as an absence. Tardies will also effect your grade.

If you miss ten 10 class periods or have 30 tardies or a combination which is equivalent, you will receive an F for your grade. Please withdraw from the course officially if you meet this absence limit.


Late work

Late work will not be accepted.


Missed tests

Make-up exams, second sitting for in-class essays, or extensions for papers will only be given for students with legitimate excuses (i.e. serious illness, death of close family member). These excuses must be verified by appropriate documentation; otherwise the grades for those exams will be zero.


Learning disabilities; describe documentation required

If you have a learning disability and need special accommodations, consult first with Lisa McNerney at 281-649-3240. She will provide information and schedule an appointment with Dr. Verna Peterson, who will write the appropriate accommodations. The Letter of Accommodations will then be sent to the professors of record for that specific quarter. The student will also be given a copy of the Accommodations Letters. This process must be repeated each quarter.


Children in classroom

Children do not belong in a college classroom. If there is an emergency and you need to bring your child with you, you may do so if your child is not ill and does not disturb the class. If your child disturbs the class, you will need to leave so that the rest of the class can learn. Your child may not attend the class on a regular basis.


All major papers for this course will be submitted to the plagiarism prevention software, on or before a paper’


s due date. No paper will be graded without meeting this requirement beforehand. A separate handout will be provided to give detailed instructions on this process which needs to include the class identification number and class password.

In accordance with FERPA, and to best protect the students’ privacy, no personal identification (e.g., name, social security number, H number) should be uploaded with the text of student papers. However, Turnitin will ask for the student’s name and e-mail address when setting up a personal account. This identifying information will be used by the professor to evaluate the student’


s paper and cannot be viewed by other faculty or students. To further increase confidentiality, the student may choose to use a pseudonym (false name) when setting up his or her personal Turnitin account.

If a pseudonym is used for Turnitin, the student must provide this identifier next to his/her typed name on the paper copy which is submitted to the professor. Five (5) points will be deducted if the professor is unable to easily match the paper copy to the Turnitin submission of the student’


s paper.


Classroom Behavior Expectations

Students are full partners in fostering a classroom environment which is conducive to learning. In order to assure that all students have the opportunity to gain from the time spent in class, students are expected to demonstrate civil behavior in the classroom. Unless otherwise approved by the instructor, students are prohibited from engaging in any form of behavior that detracts from the learning experience of fellow students. Inappropriate behavior in the classroom may result in a request for the offending student to leave the classroom.

Classroom behaviors that disturb the teaching-learning experiences include the following behaviors: activated cellular phone or other device, demands for special treatment, frequent episodes of leaving and then returning to the class, excessive tardiness, leaving class early, making offensive remarks or disrespectful comments or gestures to the teacher or other students, missing deadlines, prolonged chattering, reading newspapers during class, sleeping, arriving late to class, dominating discussions, shuffling backpacks or notebooks, disruption of group work, and overt inattentiveness.”



Early Alert

As an instructor, I am committed to your success, not only in this class, but in all aspects of HBU life . To ensure that every student takes full advantage of the educational and learning opportunities, HBU has implemented an Academic Early Alert Referral System (EARS). If I think you would benefit from some of these special programs or services available to you, I will make the appropriate referral. You, in turn, will be expected to take advantage of the help offered to you.

Email Policy

All university and class email communication will be sent to your HBU email account. You are responsible for checking this frequently. If you choose, you may reroute your HBU email to another email address. Your emails should be in a professional format with correct spelling, capitalization, and grammar.


English Faculty





This course is one which makes sure that you are prepared for your college level courses. College requires a lot of writing and this course will help you improve your writing fluency.

I am not expecting that you are an expert writer, but that you are willing to learn. Consider yourself an apprentice in this writing class.

My 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 students are learning by doing and if the students mess up a single assignment, they will not have substantially lowered their grade.

In addition, for the first major paper, 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 one letter or additional paper for extra credit.

I also believe that work should be spaced throughout the semester so that the papers are due, and at least one graded and returned, 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.

Citations available for pictures.

Dr. Davis 8/23/08

Chapter 32 pages523ff

Ch. 33. pages 526ff

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.



“Who are we but the stories we tell about ourselves?”

It is a question from the novel Ordinary Heroes. It is a good question. It’s also a very post-modern question. We invent ourselves, according to the book, through the stories we tell about ourselves.

And it makes me wonder what stories I tell about myself and how well I tell them.

My sisters and my sons both grew up on my alien stories. (I’m really an alien, I told them.) None of them believed me and it isn’t true. I didn’t socially construct myself into alienness through telling those stories. I did have a lot of fun though.

How well do we invent the professor persona who inhabits our classroom? Is our success in these stories the rubric by which our students understand education or listen to our advice?


Writing for Learning has some interesting points. (Of course it ought to. It’s by Peter Elbow, big name important rhetorician.)

1. In class writing. I have some of this that I don’t count as my 18 pieces of writing required for my course. They write to answer questions, to show that they get it, to tell me what they are doing.

2. Journal writing. In 1990 I required 5 journal writings. In this semester’s syllabus I have 11. Some are responsive, to a reading. One is “tell me what you think is going on” with the research paper.

3. Think pieces. I think that some of these, at least, are in my journal writing. I know I don’t require any other than those.

4. Essays that count. I have four of those. I used to have seven in the semester. (Like last spring.) But then I didn’t have the journal writing.

5. Term papers. Now Elbow doesn’t like these. He calls them “terminal.” He says they’re not picked up, because they’re at the end of the course and the students don’t learn from them. I have a couple of things that I do to avoid this. First of all, the research papers aren’t the last paper in the class. They’re due at least before Thanksgiving. (This semester the first is due next week.) Second, I let the students rewrite them, fixing the problems in each. Then I grade the rewrite and give them the average of the two grades. I carefully explain to them that the better the first paper is the better the average. … This usually motivates them.

Of course, it motivates the students who stay in the class. This last week, the second week of preparing for the paper, I had 35 of 65 students in class. Does this mean they are dropping? A lot of them probably are. Of course some of them haven’t done any of the work yet. Some people would say that I should do the research paper later, when they have more grades and are more committed to the class through their time investment. (That’s certainly the way I have usually done it.) But, then again, if they’re going to drop anyway, maybe I should have it earlier so I have to do less grading?

6. Portfolios. I’m not sure how I would grade these, but I like the idea.

Students usually get much more out of a course when they are asked to go through all their writing and other projects and make a portfolio out of the best and most interesting pieces. (I always ask for a few selections from private or journal writing, some think pieces, and some essays. I want a range of types. I always ask for an “interesting failure.”) The most important part of the portfolio is an essay that introduces, explores, and explains the pieces in the portfolio and talks about what the student has learned from these pieces of work. This self-reflexive writing provides a kind of meta- discourse that leads to new understanding and enriches fragile, incipient insights.

If I don’t have this in the syllabus, how would I include it? Could I make it a substantial extra credit project? Or could I let them do it to replace a low grade? Or maybe I can change one of the later journal assignments to this? I’ll have to think about it. Yes. I could have it in place of Journal 11. But I like the idea of Journal 11. Maybe I could give them a choice? Or maybe I could skip one of the other journals? No, I think the others are necessary.

Hmm. That’s probably why I came up with them as assignments.

College Students Writing: Two Perspectives

As a homeschooling mom and as a college teacher, I was interested to see A Constrained Vision’s post “Joe College and Writing.”

One thing that came up is the idea that English classes teach literature rather than writing.

I have found that to be true, at least partially. It is one of the reasons my sons, in our homeschool, had multiple “English” classes. We separated out grammar, vocabulary/spelling, literature and writing. Because they know the grammar and have a vocabulary beyond the 12th grade books, we no longer have formal grammar and vocabulary classes. But my eldest, who is in college taking a writing class, will still have a literature class at home this year.

I have been teaching at a community college for four or more years. (I don’t remember anymore!) This summer, however, I have had more students get As than in any class in years. My Brit Lit class was all students who had passed freshman composition and so should have been able to write. And they could! (It was so refreshing.)

In freshman comp this summer I started with 23 students and ended with 14. That’s a bit better than average for my classes. And I had a bunch of As. (Yeah!)

I also had two Ds. (But no Fs.)

One D was because a student didn’t turn in 15% of the work. She forgot. (Really. She had it. I’d even pregraded it for her so she could fix errors. But she didn’t turn it in.)

The other student received a D because she has trouble forming correct English sentences. She knows the material, but her grammar is defiantly problematic. I expected her to fail, actually. But she did all the work, all the re-writes, all the extra credit. And she made a D.

Of those who finished the class, two students, including one who made a C, had strong grammar problems. The student with a C had trouble with subject-verb agreement (the men is) and apparently did not know that the past tense exists in English. This lack of grammar education is a problem. By the time a student is in a college freshman level course there is no more time for grammar remediation within the classroom setting.

I try to do a bit of personal remediation. I give everyone some help by marking their first three papers and allowing them to re-write. That way students who are on the ball will not continue to make the same mistakes– or at least they will recognize them for mistakes when they are pointed out. If we were writing those papers by hand, it would be more worthwhile for the students. Then they would have to write the sentence correctly to start with. But…

Hmm. Maybe I could require them to handwrite all the sentences with grammatical errors after they have corrected them. That would enforce the correct usage. I like it.

Anyway, my emphasis in English is always writing. My PhD is in English with a major in “Rhetoric and Composition.” I like to read, but I don’t love literature. At least, not all literature.

I do love Old and Middle English stuff. That’s why I liked the Brit Lit class so much. But even in that class, three weeks long, the students had four papers to write. Each paper was two or three pages long, typewritten, which isn’t too long, but it did require them to organize their thoughts. And two of the exams were essay exams. So they had a lot of writing.

In my “writing about literature” course, second semester of freshman composition, I require four papers. One is two pages, about poetry. Two are three to four pages, about short stories and plays. And one is a four to six page research paper with eight sources.

What about freshman comp itself? I usually have seven papers with four rewrites, for a total of eleven papers. This summer we had five papers required, with one optional one, and three required rewrites, again with an optional addition. However, I also required about twenty pages of additional writing on the readings we were covering in class. And we had a final exam, which was essays, with a practice exam (also essays). So my summer class did about as much writing as a regular class, but I spread it around in more bite-size pieces.

I’m going to continue the bite-sized pieces thing. I think it helped me get to know my students’ writing abilities more and they had to write more often.

Do I think that students are less able to write now than, say, twenty years ago when I started teaching college? In a way, yes. In a way, no. I think twenty years ago people still read more and, therefore, their writing was richer than most students’ writing now. But there were still people then who needed remediation and who, even after getting it, still had trouble writing coherent English sentences and paragraphs. I would say that there is not a lot of difference in their ability to write grammatically, but there is some discernible difference in the quality of their presentation of ideas.

I’m going to keep teaching literature to my sons and add more writing to their life.