ENG 101.0805

Composition I: Words Matter

LaGuardia Community College, The City University of New York
Fall I 2018

Professor: Dr. J. Elizabeth Clark

Office: E-103H

Office hours: Click here to access the sign up sheet for a reserved appointment. New appointments are available beginning each Sunday. 

Phone: 718.482.5665 (Liz’s office)

email: lclark@lagcc.cuny.edu 

Quick Links:

Link to English 101 Course Calendar

Link to Writing Experiments


Welcome to English 101 at Fiorello H. LaGuardia Community College! I hope you are looking forward to a semester of challenging work that will help you to develop your college-level writing skills through formal and informal writing exercises, writing projects, readings, classroom discussion, and showcase work published in your ePortfolio!

This course is designed to help you become a better, more confident writer. You are responsible for making sure that this course meets your needs as a student by attending class, being an active participant, meeting with me in office hours, and making sure I know how I can best help you in your goals this semester. I hope that you will work enthusiastically with me to create a stimulating, intellectual community of writers. 

This semester, we will encounter many new ideas as we read, write, and explore new subjects. Now, you might be thinking, “Hey! I thought this was a writing course. Why are we reading?” Good writers are also good readers. The best writing comes from dialogue—with yourself, with other writers, and with your readers. We’re not just going to learn how to write this semester: we’re going to be writers. That means that you will be practicing what it means to be a writer in the world. In this course, we will learn how to be in dialogue, how to craft interesting and powerful arguments, how to present those arguments to others, and how to respond to other people’s reactions to our ideas. Being a good writer, a good critical reader, and a strong analytic thinker are all keys to success. 


In this course, students write coherent essays in varied academic formats, both in and out of class, responding to culturally diverse materials and using appropriate technology. Students focus on critical and analytical skills through reading and listening and study aspects of argumentation including formulating theses; researching and identifying sources; evaluating and documenting sources; and communicating persuasively across contexts, purposes, and media.


Each section of English 101 has a different theme or topic. In this section of English 101, we are going to focus on one of the essentials of being a good writer: words matter. From Black Lives Matter to Time's Up to Never Again, words serve as a conduit to connect personal experiences to the larger, social collective. We'll study the history of rhetoric: how effective writing is shaped and how that shape has changed over time. We're going to look at historic and classic models of rhetoric. And then we'll fast forward to today's world and consider how words matter in our society. You'll choose an issue that is important to you and research how that issue is portrayed, through rhetoric, in our contemporary society.

Through all of our reading and writing, you will be exploring the habits and routines of writers, considering what works best for you in your own writing. We will write in class everyday: sometimes small things, sometimes larger assignments. In general, you should expect to read and write a lot. Think of our section as a laboratory for writing. We'll mix things together, try different combinations, and evaluate our results. Our writing will be experimental, as we push your writing to the next level. Welcome! 


Class: Mondays, 2:15 p.m. - 4:15 p.m. in E-228
Class: Thursdays, 2:15 p.m. - 4:15 p.m. in M-135


  1. Laptop, Notebook, personal flash drive or cloud credentials for saving material;

  2. A designated notebook for our experiment notebook (*cannot be the same as your regular notebook).

  3. Course Materials (Syllabus, Assignments, and Course Calendar);

  4. College credentials for email, Blackboard, and the My LaGuardia portal;

  5. A digital portfolio with your collected work;

  6. Textbook: Understanding Rhetoric: A Graphic Guide to Writing (2nd Edition) by Losh/Alexander/Cannon (ISBN: 9781319042139)

Additional materials for our course will be located in three places: Liz’s website, Blackboard, and your own individual portfolio.


We will spend much of our time this semester on the computer, learning to use digital platforms for writing. As you know, the world is increasingly wired. You need to know how to write and how to use the digital tools available to you. If you are uncomfortable with technology, please do not worry. I will help you. You’ll be surprised how quickly you will feel comfortable with the technology. If you are already comfortable with technology, I will ask you to help out in class, teaching others to use technology proficiently. Much of my own scholarly work is about teaching with technology. If you are interested in this, let me know and I will share some of the articles I’ve written.     

This semester we will:

  • Read and learn about rhetoric by reading Understanding Rhetoric;

  • Write everyday in our "experiment" notebook, trying out new things and practicing writing;

  • Learn how to take detailed research notes;

  • Work as writers learning processes and habits of a writing life;

  • Compose low-stakes assignments that assist in developing larger writing projects;

  • Compose 3 staged writing projects;

  • Write a traditional in-class, mid-term essay;

  • Revise 2 projects and document the revision process;

  • Compose an in-class, final reflective project;

  • Share our writing with the class;

  • Participate actively in rigorous and engaged class discussion;

  • Prepare for ENG 102.


The writing projects for the course will be the central part of your grade because they will demonstrate how you are mastering the skills for this course and preparing for English 102. You will have the opportunity to revise each of these projects.

You’ll note that I use the word “project.” What we mean by writing today is shifting and changing because of the interactive potential of media and the many different ways to shape and share information. For each project, you will have the option to present your work in a variety of formats. You will always have a traditional, written component that I evaluate. 

Project One: Writing to Share a Personal Story

Goals: To demonstrate basic academic essay structure and to share your initial ideas on the course material.

Project Two: Writing to Discover

Goals: To independently conduct research; to evaluate and include appropriate sources for evidence; to include at least 2 outside sources using proper citation strategies; to sustain a detailed, researched argument.

Mid-Term Essay: Writing to Support An Argument

Goals: To demonstrate mastery of the basic academic essay structure in a timed setting (2 hours), to include 2 outside references, and to effectively prove a thesis.

Project Three: Writing to Share Information 

Goals: To write in a genre of your choice to demonstrate mastery audience and context; to independently conduct research; to evaluate and include appropriate sources for evidence; to include multiple outside references using proper citation strategies; to prepare research for public presentation for a public audience. 

Writing to Revise, 1

Goals: To effectively revise one project to demonstrate mastery over key skills; to demonstrate the ability to work as a writer by responding to critiques and suggestions for revision; to present carefully revised, edited, and polished work that shows readiness for English 102. 

Writing To Revise, 2: Writing for the Public

Goals: To effectively revise one project to demonstrate mastery over key skills; to demonstrate the ability to work as a writer by responding to critiques and suggestions for revision; to present carefully revised, edited, and polished work that shows readiness for English 102. 

Final Reflective Essay

Goals: To demonstrate readiness for ENG 102 by evaluating your writing this semester and showing what you've learned. 

You will receive a detailed handout for each project when it is assigned including the grading rubric for that assignment, detailed project expectations, and model student work for comparison.

Experiment Notebook:

Get a cool notebook where you can keep your daily writing prompts. I'll collect these twice: midterm and at the end. You'll also be asked to choose some of these pieces for your digital portfolio. If a digital notebook works best for you, that's fine too. I use a physical notebook for my thoughts & ideas. I use a digital notebook for notes & research. 


Here is the basic break down for grades in this course. You will also receive rubrics for formal, written work.

Students who pass the course will receive a letter grade (A to D–) reflecting overall performance in the course. There are no R or I grades in this course. A grade of F will be given to a student who makes no progress (or cheats) or who does not fulfill the course requirements. Excessive absences will negatively impact your course grade, including possible failure of the class. Uninspired participation will also negatively impact your course grade. On the other hand, engaged work and a focus on improving your writing will significantly improve your grade. 

Attendance/Participation: 10%

Chapter Quizzes on Understanding Rhetoric: 10%

Homework: 10%

Mid-Term Experiment Notebook: 5%

Final Experiment Notebook: 5%

Project #1: 10%

Project #2: 10%

Project #3: 10%

Mid-term Essay: 5%

Revised Project #1: 10%

Revised Project #2: 10%

Final Reflective Essay: 5%

Class Requirements: Let's pretend that you are on an epic quest for... an A Grade.

The Quest for an A: What do you need to do?
Class Rules & Strategies for The Best Grade!

Quicksand is a huge danger in heroic quests. Any good hero knows, if you aren’t in the right place at the right time, you may face unexpected dangers. How do we avoid quicksand? Well, the first way to ensure that you are not sucked into a horrible mire of wet and sucking sand is to be where you’re supposed to be. In short, be here, be on time, and be ready to go. Have your work with you, prepared ahead of time. 


You can’t slay a dragon if you’re not paying attention. When you are in class, I hope that you will be fully engaged with your ideas, with your peers, and with me. Our time together is for ACTIVE discussion and work. No sitting in the back row. No texting instead of talking. No sleeping. I want you ready for action! 



Make your own bow & arrow, or lightsaber. You are going to create in this class. Throughout the semester, our readings, homework assignments, and class participation will help you in the formal work for the course. We will compose low-stakes assignments that assist in developing our larger writing projects; several staged writing projects; an in-class, traditional academic essay; a digital portfolio of revised work demonstrating the editing and revision process; and an in-class, final reflective project. We'll also keep an "experiment" notebook for writing daily reflective prompts. 


Detours are often the most informative parts of a journey. Any hero knows, checking out a cool cave or getting stuck on an asteroid just MIGHT give you tools or information you need for a later part of your journey. So, as part of our work in this course, you may go on a few detours to enhance your learning. These are assignments which will take you beyond the classroom and introduce you more fully to LaGuardia, writing, and being a writer in the world. 


Do you prefer a bag? A satchel? A battered suitcase? A spaceship? Whatever your preferred method of collection, in this class we’ll be collecting your work and your assignments in your portfolio. You may have started an ePortfolio as a record of your journey during your time at LaGuardia. This portfolio will demonstrate your progress with writing during the semester, showing how you improve your writing over time. We'll discuss many different examples and options for collecting your work.  


No one makes movies about silent heroes. This will be a very interactive, discussion-based class, and I want to know what you’re thinking! It’s important to create an atmosphere where all students are comfortable expressing their views at all times. So this means respecting each other even when our views differ and being generous with each other.


Absent heroes aren’t heroes. They’re casualties. Attendance is not optional. I expect that you will be in class unless there is a serious emergency or illness. If you miss class, you will need to make up the work. Excessive absences will lead to failure of the course. This is non-negotiable. If you’re not in class, then you’re not really taking the class, are you?



Technology is cool and helps a hero, but I expect you to apply it selectively. Texting, checking social media, and generally using technology for play rather than the work and focus of our course will count against your participation grade.



This ENGLISH 101 course will enable you to:

1.    Demonstrate understanding of writing as a process by using such strategies as pre-writing, drafting, revising, editing, and proofreading.

2.    Demonstrate critical thinking skills, analyze texts, and employ such rhetorical strategies as comparison/contrast and argument in writing well-developed essays of varying lengths (between 600 + 1500 words).

3.    Write essays demonstrating an understanding of audience, voice, purpose, and a variety of writing contexts.

4.    Write essays demonstrating an understanding of audience, voice, purpose, and a variety of writing contexts.

5.    Carry out the stages of the research process: including locating, evaluating, analyzing, and integrating sources.

6.    Write essays that include quotations, summations, paraphrases, and citations in your essays and avoid plagiarism.

7.    Write essays that conform to standard U.S. English and reflect developed editing skills. 



The short version: Absence counts. A lot. Come to class on time. Three late arrivals will equal one absence. I assume you want to be in school and you want to learn. So, you’ll want to be in class to do those things! 

The extended version: Attendance at class meetings is required and will play a significant role in my evaluation of your performance. While college is more than just showing up (you can’t pass the class by JUST showing up), showing up is a start. All instructors are required to keep an official record of student attendance. Absences are counted from the first class meeting even if these are a result of late registration or change of program.

The maximum number of absences allowed by the department of English is the equivalent of two weeks or 8 hours for this course. It's worth noting that just because you can have 8 hours of absence doesn't mean you should use all of those hours. Being in class and being present is an important marker of success, motivation, and focus in your work. Significant attendance issues will negatively impact your overall grade. After 8 hours or more of absence, you will fail the course. Remember, late arrival counts towards those 8 hours. Tick tick tick. Don’t let the clock work against you.


The College has established an Academic Integrity Policy that describes procedures and penalties for students who are suspected of academic dishonesty. Academic dishonesty is prohibited in the City University of New York and is punishable by penalties ranging from a grade of F on a given test, research paper or assignment, to an F in the course or suspension or expulsion from the College. Academic dishonesty includes cheating, plagiarism, Internet plagiarism, obtaining unfair advantages, falsification of records and official documents, and misconduct in internship. Students who violate the Academic Integrity Policy in this course will fail the course. 


Under Section 504 of the Federal Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, LaGuardia Community College has an implicit responsibility to ensure that students with disabilities have equal access to its programs and services, and that the rights of students with disabilities are not denied. The Office for Students with Disabilities (OSD) provides advocacy to ensure access to all college programs and facilitates the transition to college life for students with disabilities. All students are required to register with supporting documentation. Appropriate accommodations and services are determined and include: 
•    academic, career and personal counseling
•    priority registration
•    academic advisement
•    support services such as assistive technology and tutors; proctoring exams for students.


LaGuardia Community College embraces diversity. We respect each other regardless of race, culture, ethnicity, gender, religion, age, sexual orientation, disability and social class. I expect that you will want to work with me to create a classroom climate comfortable for all students as spelled out in the college’s Declaration of Pluralism, which can be found in the college catalog.

(Training, Equipment, and Advice)

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The Yes List


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YES! Read For Class!

Please come prepared, having completed the reading for each class and any assignments by the required due date. 


All classes will be conducted in seminar format meaning you should be prepared and ready to talk, participate, and share your ideas. I want to hear what you have to say! Your classmates want to hear what you have to say!

YES! Ask Questions!

Not sure about something? Want to explore it further? Confused? Stop the clock! Ask your questions! We ALWAYS have time for questions!

YES! Outside Research!

Always feel free to bring in other ideas, other perspectives, and information you have found outside of class!

YES! Be Creative!

Have another idea for an assignment? Want to come at it a different way? Want to propose something different? It's your education! Talk to me and we'll figure it out! There is ALWAYS space for creativity here!

YES! Make It FUN!

Learning can be a challenge. But, it can also be fun. Let's make it fun (and challenging). 

YES! Make Time!

You've committed to this class and to your semester. So, let's make time. Make time to do your work well and be proud of what you're accomplishing. Make time to read, to write, to think, to question. Need help with your schedule? Swing by office hours and I'll help you hack your schedule!

YES! Class = Space (And Time)

Our time together is sacred. What I mean by that is: it's set aside. We've made space in our schedules to come together to learn together. So, let's honor that space. The classroom is a space where we can temporarily shut out our worries, our concerns, our other responsibilities. Let's make the most of this space by being in it together fully and mindfully. 

YES! Ask For Help!

I'm here to guide, coach, and help. If you need something, just holler. Let me know how I can help you be successful!

YES! Revisions!

Sometimes, we don't get it right the first time. 2 Revisions are built into the course calendar!

YES! Growth And Change!

If you're the same person at the end of the semester, with no new ideas, no new thoughts, and no new information, I didn't do my job. Let's all grow and learn together!


The Nope List.

Nope. Nope. Nope.


Nope: Cell Phones / Digital Distraction / Music

Please turn off all cell phones and electronic devices and put them away when you come into class unless we are specifically using them for a part of class. 

Nope: Absences

Don't miss more than 8 hours of class or you will fail due to attendance. Attendance issues will negatively impact your grade. Three “lates” equal one absence.

Nope: Lateness

Our class meets for 4 hours a week! If you're even 10 minutes late, you've already missed a significant amount of time. If you do come in late, slip into your seat, focus on what's going on, and don't distract the flow of your classmates' work or our group discussion. 

Nope: Skipping Assignments / Late Assignments

Please complete all the assignments and actively participate in the class to earn a passing grade for this course. Late projects and assignments will be penalized 1/3 of a letter grade per day. Late drafts are not eligible for revisions because you already took extra time

Nope: I'm Not Reteaching A Class Just For You

If you miss a class, please check Blackboard or the course schedule. Class doesn’t stop just because you’re absent, so please stay on top of assignments. You can also get notes from a class member. 

Nope: Plagiarism

Not your work? Then you didn't earn a passing grade. 

Nope: Packing Up Early

Please do not pack up before class is over.

Nope: Rudeness

This is a special space where we get to exchange ideas and consider how to form and share our ideas. Please don't be rude to one another (or to me!). 

Link to English 101 Course Calendar

Link to Writing Experiments