Class meetings: Tues., & Thurs. 11:50-1:05. 205 Embury -- Networked Writing Classroom.
Office hours: Mon. 2:00-4:00, Tues. 10:00-11:00, Thur.. 2:00-5:00: S.W.Bowne 118.
Telephone: Office: x3499. Home: 908-757-1051 (please call between 10 am and 9 pm only!).
E-mail: Office: email@example.com. Home: firstname.lastname@example.org
English 1-A listserve: engl-1A-004@courses.Drew.edu
English 1-A is designed as a writing workshop where you will learn strategies
for writing academic papers and improving your overall writing skills.
You will work on the basic skills of effective college-level writing, especially
how we use style, grammar, and word choice to create specific effects in
written prose. You will work specifically on analyzing arguments and using
what you learn in that analysis to write effective arguments of your own.
In order to do this we will participate in the
Electronic Democracy Project, and you will also write arguments on
a number of other topics. By the end of this course, you will have strengthened
your ability to select and focus a topic, generate ideas, develop a thesis,
plan an argument in support of it, write out that argument, and revise
it. You will also be much more adept at evaluating, critiquing, and responding
to the arguments of others. [To read more about the course structure,
English 1 and English 1-A
English 1-A precedes English 1. When you complete this course you must register for a section of English 1 in the Spring (if you do not, the registrar will automatically register you). The year long writing program (1-A and then 1) will earn you a total of 4 college credits, 2 in the Fall and 2 in the Spring. Placement in English 1-A is based upon a combination of test scores (SAT verbal scores, and any other test scores available to the English department, including writing placement tests) and a personal interview with the director of composition and/or one of the following: the ESOL coordinator, a member of the EOS staff, or the director of the CUE program.
In many ways, 1-A prepares you for English 1, but it also teaches whatever
skills the students in the class need to develop, and a large component
of it is determined by the students who are registered in any given semester.
Each student will be assigned an individual tutor with whom he or she will
meet for an hour each week. Some of the tutors are especially trained to
work with students for whom English is a second or third language; others
can focus on general writing skills, grammar, punctuation, or the development
and structure of papers. The tutors will work closely with the instructors
of the class, and will always know what you are assigned to do and when
it is due.
Our first step will be to explore some of the basic components of argumentation and effective college-level writing, especially how we can use style, grammar, and word choice to create specific effects in written prose. In this section of the course you will practice writing definitions, summaries, classifications, comparisons, and, of course, arguments. We will analyze the prose of others in an effort to identify effective strategies for argumentation, and differentiate them from description, explication, narration, and comparison. Your goal will be to develop the skills to support an argument and recognize a well supported argument when you see one.
In the second section of the course we will focus on specific writing strategies, beginning with what academic writers must do before they begin to write. You will learn how to analyze a topic/assignment, how to use all that you know to best respond to it, how to focus your knowledge and organize your ideas, and how to focus a topic. You will learn different strategies for paragraph development and overall paper organization. This section will end with a debate in which you will work collaboratively with others in the class to convince your audience to support an argument of your design.
In the third section of the course, you will learn how to refine your relationship with your audience and structure an argument, and therefore a paper, accordingly. In this section we will focus on revision and refining prose so that it achieves maximum effectiveness. You will turn the skills you learned in the first part of the course onto your own prose so that you can critique what you have written.
At each stage of this course you will learn how to evaluate your own arguments and those of others, making you a more effective editor and writer. As you become more of an expert writer, you will learn how to understand the writings of others more fully: how to perceive their thesis, analyze the assumptions they make about their audience, and follow their overall patterns of organization. This, in turn, will make you more able to analyze questions and understand what you read. You will also expand your active vocabulary (the words you can actually use rather than just recognize).
The writing you will do will be frequent and varied, ranging from informal e-journal writing, through formal papers to a formal debate, with many revisions and writing work-outs in between. At times I will ask you to save a copy of a piece of writing into a public K:/ Drive folder so that we may evaluate it in class during workshops. In order for you to practice writing in response to a number of different stimuli, I will assign some of the writing topics from the text The Elements of Reasoning, while the focus of others will be collectively determined by the class, and yet others will be of your individual choosing in response to what you have been reading and thinking over the course of the semester. Because students come to college with different levels of preparation, we will work on issues of grammar, style, and general language use both in class in the context of our readings, and in conferences and individual projects. Each student will help me to design an "individual writing program" which will build on areas of strength and develop two specific skills of each student's choosing. Students will work on their program at their own pace, and will be graded on that work as part of the final grade for the course.
To see a detailed description of each paper, click here.
INFORMAL WRITING--Research shows that frequent writing produces stronger, more fluent, and more comfortable writers. Writing is a skill, and all skills need practice, so I would like you to practice writing by keeping an Electronic Writer's Journal (e-journal). Many of you have probably already kept a journal at some point in your lives, but in this class your journal entries will be written on your computer and some will be sent email messages to me. In your e-journal entries you will respond to assignments, the class, and anything else to do with writing, argument, or language use in general.
During the final part of the Electronic Democracy Project (Oct. 10 to Nov. 3) you or another member of your group will also post at least once a day to the class listserve and read and respond to the postings of others.
In addition to all of this, you may send me questions, and comments via e-mail). I will try to reply to each message as soon as possible, although at certain points in the semester I might take up to 24 hours to do so.
COLLABORATIVE WRITING--in the world of the work place, and in many academic disciplines too, collaboration is the name of the game. Corporations organize workers into teams responsible for conducting necessary research, identifying problems, brainstorming solutions, and then writing up what they find. For Folder #4 you will work with your team to compile a candidate log and a collaboratively written introduction to the log tracing the themes and patterns the log reveals. At first you may not like this kind of writing, and with some cause because it involves cooperation, trust, and some loss of ego--things we have learned to avoid if possible. Yet these team skills are also the very things that will make you successful in the workplace and, more important to me, in college. There are a number of ways to work collaboratively, and you will learn them in this class. There are also strategies to make it less painful, and you'll learn those too. The end result will be worth it. Carefully produced, collaborative research, planning, and writing are better than any of the individuals in the team could have achieved alone.
FOLDERS--Each time you hand me a paper you will include a number of other things, too. You'll find those things listed on the syllabus on the day the paper is due. The work MUST be handed to me in a plain manila file folder (available from the book store for about 15c). On the day the paper is due, your e-journal entries since the last folder are also due (print them out and put them into the folder). I WILL NOT GRADE INCOMPLETE FOLDERS.
MIDTERM PORTFOLIO (your two best essays, two revised journal entries,
FINAL PORTFOLIO (your three best essays, three revised journal entries, and a
preface/self analysis--paper #8) Due Dec. 8
The Electronic Writer's Journal (e-journal):
Because extensive research has shown that writing every day has the same impact on a person's writing as working out has on his or her body, every student will keep a Writer's Journal as part of this class. Because you will be typing all of your college papers, you also need practice at word processing, using the K:/ Drive, and so on, so your Writer's Journal will be electronic rather than hand-written. You will be required to write in your e-journal five days a week (just try--I know it isn't always realistic, but on those days when you are overwhelmed with work, write a sentence explaining why you can't write that day). While you will not be graded on the content of the e-journal, you will be graded on the seriousness with which you address the issues raised and the frequency with which you write (I will give extra consideration to people who write an entry every day). Therefore it is important that you read the following instructions carefully, and ask questions if they are not clear.
An e-journal is not a daily record of events--I do not want to know about parties, dates, heart-throbs, arguments, gossip, or other things that might prevent you from running for political office in later life. Instead, an e-journal is a Writer's Journal: a place for you to practice thinking-in-writing, which is the fundamental skill demanded of members of the academic community. Your entries should quite literally be mental work-outs, and, like physical work-outs they demand that you do them when you are awake. If you try to write when you are tired you will not help yourself, nor will you produce an interesting entry. If you try to do a week's worth of entries at once, you will be wasting your time (just as doing 5 hours of exercise one day a week does not help your body as much as doing 30-45 minutes a day). You might fool me, but ultimately you will be the fool because you will waste the opportunity to become a better writer . . .
Sometimes I will require that you write an e-journal entry on a specific issue as homework for the class, and I my ask you to send me those journal entries by e-mail before the next class session. These entries will generally take the form of a continuation of discussion started in class, a topic we did not cover in class, or an issue raised in class but not discussed. I may also ask you to consider a particular topic in writing to prepare you for discussion the next day or in response to an assignment. At other times I will leave you to come up with a topic for the day. You'll see that on the syllabus I have listed some topics that I'd like you to write about, but the rest of the time you'll need to come up with your own topic. You might select a story from a newspaper and summarize, analyze, and respond to it; or you might do the same for some event that occurred during the day, a conversation you overheard, a discussion from another class, etc. You might decide to practice the reasoning skills described in Elements of Reasoning by reasoning about a situation, news item, or topic from another class. e-journal entries may be written in response to an event, discussion, reading, film, or conversation--in short, anything that inspired, angered, or otherwise aroused your interest. You may analyze and respond, or summarize and respond; however, you may not simply summarize or narrate a story--you must say something ABOUT the issue you raise (preferably something that you have not already worked out and drawn conclusions about). If you are stuck about what to say, remember the stasis questions Corbett and Eberly propose (p.21):
You may revise journal entries as part of your individual writing program,
and you will be asked to revise five entries for inclusion in your two
A seminar is only as strong as its laziest member, so it is essential that each member of the seminar accepts her or his responsibility to the other members. Thus:
1) You will be expected to attend every class prepared to participate and share your ideas and writing with your writing colleagues. If you are unprepared, the workshop will not work, your colleagues will suffer, and you will be marked as absent. More than three unexplained absences will result in your final grade being lowered by one letter;
2) You must respect your fellow writers. This means that you must take them and their ideas and writing seriously and comment constructively with sensitivity to their feelings. Failure to do this will result in a collapse of the trust necessary for a workshop and you will be asked to leave (and marked as absent). Lack of respect ranges from discriminating comments (homophobia, racism, sexism, etc.), to yawns, the pulling of faces, drumming fingers, laughter, asides to other members of the seminar, and so on.
The grades for this course are assigned on the basis of the distance each writer travels during the semester in addition to the place each person has reached by the end of the course. Specifically, grades will be based on the following:
Please buy the following:
This class meets in a computer networked seminar room for good reason. Classes will be spent writing and workshopping or discussing writing, writing assignments and examples of writing produced by writers from a variety of discourse situations, including this class. In some class periods we will be using material from the LAN and/or the internet in class. You must bring your computer and network cable when the syllabus tells you to do so.
Drew is blessed with an excellent Writing Center and individual tutors. Both are free, so there is no excuse for not using them except your own folly. Professors ask other people to read drafts of their papers and articles; books are edited by professional editors before being published; and graduate students regularly take papers to the Writing Center. Some foolish undergraduates think they "don't need any help." Don't be one of them. Think smart: get a second opinion!!