Basic Writing I
|Dr. Chip Rogers
Web address: www.chipspage.com
Baird Hall 104
The RSU 2005-2006 Bulletin notes that English 0003 "is for students who need to review basic grammar rules and mechanics. Included within the course is intensive instruction in grammar, mechanics, and paragraph structure. The course also provides instruction in essay writing, editing, and proofreading" (120). Simply put, my aim in the class is to help you identify specific areas needing improvement in your writing at the sentence and paragraph level and to help you become a stronger writer. Whatever your present abilities, I guarantee that if you engage with the material and work diligently, this course will improve your writing substantially and give you a solid foundation for success in more advanced college writing.
Texts and Materials
Discovery: An Introduction to Writing, William J. Kelly and Deborah L. Lawton, 3rd ed.
"Handouts" from my website (www.chipspage.com).
Two theme folders with pockets or clasps to secure exercises, paragraphs, and essays.
Participation in class discussion.
8 paragraph assignments.
2 essays of 4-5 paragraphs.
Peer response writings on selected paragraphs and essays.
Corrections of paragraphs and essays.
Writing exercises on grammar and mechanics.
Two hours per week minimum in the writing lab.
Four unit tests.
Pretest and final exam.
Attendance: Each class is important, so it is crucial that you be in class on time every day. I record attendance daily, and absences do affect your grade. Note that I make no distinctions between "excused" and "unexcused" absences. Students with more than two absences will receive an automatic F for the course, regardless of the reasons for any of the absences. I understand that "stuff happens," and not every student will be able to attend every class meeting. I will try to work with you on any major assignments you happen to miss (i.e. any assignments other than in-class exercises), especially when you let me know about the absence missing class: feel free to call me at home or send email any time you know you will not be in class.
Late work: Daily exercises may not be turned in late. Paragraphs, essays, and corrections will be penalized two letter grades for each class day the assignment is late and will receive no credit if turned in more than two days late.
Bare minimum course requirements: Regardless of your overall grade average, to be eligible to pass the course you must turn in all eight paragraphs, both essays, and all sets of corrections. The pretest, unit tests, and final exam are also mandatory.
Plagiarism: Except for assignments expressly calling for collaborative effort, all written work must be your own. Any unacknowledged borrowing from the writings of others will be considered plagiarism, a serious breach of academic integrity. I will submit any cases of plagiarism or other academic dishonesty for review by the Vice President for Academic Affairs. Penalties for plagiarism are severe, ranging from an F for the course to expulsion from RSU. For more on plagiarism, follow the "On Plagiarism" link on my website.
Class discussion: Most class periods will involve open discussion of readings from our text with comparatively little lecture. Your participation in discussion is mandatory. I will call on reticent or "quiet" students frequently, and class participation does factor into your semester grade.
Paragraph assignments: brief writings of approximately 150 words on a variety of topics. Paragraphs must be typed and formatted according to MLA guidelines (see "Simple Stuff" at chipspage.com); paragraphs are turned in with drafts and prewriting materials in folders.
Essays are carefully structured, sustained, unified writings of at least four or five paragraphs (500-750 words) on topics arising from our readings and discussions. I will post detailed options and instructions for each essay on the web. As with the paragraph assignments, essays must be typed and formatted according to MLA guidelines and turned in with drafts and prewriting materials in folders. You must turn in both essays printed on paper in "hard copy" and also electronically, either as email attachments or on PC-compatible floppy disks.
Peer responses involve close reading of classmates' paragraphs and essays and written criticism and advice on how to improve them. I will provide handouts to help focus your criticism for each peer response.
Corrections: After I grade and hand back paragraph assignments and essays, you will 1) identify and record all marked errors on corrections worksheets, and 2) hand in corrected drafts with all changes indicated in bold type or underlined or highlighted. For specifics, see corrections instructions.
Writing exercises: generally brief assignments either in our Discovery text or on my website, sometimes collaborative, focusing primarily on grammar and mechanics.
Lab time: For a minimum of two hours each week, you work in the writing lab either on Skillsbank exercises or meeting with a tutor for help with paragraph assignments, essays, or corrections. To receive credit for lab time you must fill out lab visit reports and have tutors sign them.
Unit tests: exams typically covering five or six chapters in the Discovery text.
Conferences: Conferences are not mandatory, but I strongly recommend them at any stage of the paragraph- and essay-writing processprewriting, drafting, revising, editing, or rewriting. My aim in writing conferences is to head off potential problems in your work by offering helpful, critical feedback before you submit it for grading. I am happy to see you during office hours or by appointment to discuss any other course matters as well, so if you struggle with any material at any time throughout the semester, I hope you will feel free to see me outside of class for one-on-one help.
The final exam: The exam consists of two parts, a multiple choice test on the grammar and mechanics we have covered throughout the entire semester and a brief in-class essay.
"Rewrites": You may rewrite and resubmit graded paragraph assignments and essays for re-grading (only after you have turned in the corrections and gotten them back from me). For paragraph assignments, you can improve your grade up to a maximum of two letter grades, meaning, for example, that you can rewrite a "D" paragraph and replace the grade with a "C" or "B." For essays, rewrite grades replace original grades completely. Note that rewriting involves far more substantial revision than correcting grammatical errors: rewrites should also address larger problems in focus, structure, content, and style. The starting point for revision is my typed or handwritten comments at the end of your graded work; rewrites should also address comments and questions written in the margins of the original graded assignments.
You will keep all exercises in one "Exercise Folder" folder throughout the semester. In a separate folder you will keep drafts, prewriting materials, final drafts, and corrections of all eight paragraph assignments and both essays in a "Writing Folder"all drafts of each paragraph assignment and essay should remain in this folder throughout the semester.
As you will see, I believe in using the Internet as a teaching tool. Many handouts and out-of-class assignments will be posted on my website rather than being distributed as "hard copy" in classyou are responsible for printing and reading these web-page "handouts" before we discuss them in class. Most handouts are indicated as linked pages on the online schedule of readings and assignments. I may occasionally contact you through email also, and I encourage you to email me with questions on any course matters large or small.
Final grade breakdown
You should track your grades throughout the semester by keeping a "Scorecard." You can also track grades and find your cumulative average (overall course grade) by downloading and filling in the "grade calculator" for this class from my website. Feel free to see me any time throughout the semester to check your cumulative gradeI keep grades on computer spreadsheets that are updated weekly.
note on note-taking: The most successful students
take copious notes in every class they attend, even in classes where the
professor simply repeats what has already been stated in a textbook or
when their classmates do more "discussing" than the professor
does. It's a strange but true fact that we learn material more permanently
and completely when we write things down than when we simply read or listen
without taking notes. In our class you would do well to take notes on
everything we talk about in class, and if you do not actually take notes
on the readings, you would also do well at least to underline, highlight,
or otherwise mark all significant passages in our readings.
The Bottom Line: I hope every member of this class gets an A, and I will do everything I can to make this happen. Don't get me wrongthe standards for "A" work are high, and I make no exceptions in course policies on absences, missed assignments, plagiarism, or late work. But I guarantee you have one of the most accessible instructors at Rogers State: ask for help outside of class, and I'll do my level best to deliver.