Professor Jessica Yood
Eng 111: Principles of Effective Writing I
Lehman College, CUNY, Fall 2014, T, Th 2:00pm-3:40pm

Introduction to Course
Welcome to English 111: Writing Today. This is a writing workshop. A workshop is an active-learning environment and an engaging intellectual space. Writing is not something one can get better at just by doing alone, or just by doing for a grade. Writing is the kind of skill that improves when done often and with frequent and pointed response. That’s what we will do here.

Everyone can become effective writers by using language to interact with ideas and people. We will do that by reading in a range of genres and disciplines. But all our reading and writing will seek to answer questions that matter a lot to students and to anyone living in our writing-centered, digital age: where do good ideas come from? How can we use writing to make our good ideas known to ourselves and to an audience? How can writing not just record but generate ideas?

Introduction to the Professor
This is my twentieth time teaching English 111. But never are two classes the same. That is because writing and the teaching of writing are my passions; each time I create a course in writing I think anew about what writing is and means in our time, for this particular group of students. And each time I write and teach I am a little different than I was the last time, just like I imagine you change as you move through classes, interests, jobs, family, life. In addition to teaching writing and literature at Lehman College, I also teach at The Graduate Center, where my emphasis is on rhetoric, cultural studies, and the relationship between writing, literature, and social change. I publish in scholarly journals and on my blog and I’m finishing a book about what it’s like to be a beginner writer in our complex age. I spend a lot of time with my three kids and, when I can, outside running. 

The English department lists these outcomes for the beginning writing course:

  • compose a well-constructed essay that develops a clearly defined claim of interpretation which is supported by close textual reading
  • employ effective rhetorical strategies in order to persuasively present ideas and perspectives
  • utilize terminology, critical methods, and various lenses of interpretation in her/his writing
  • apply the rules of English grammar; adhere to the formatting and documenting conventions of our discipline.

The professor has goals and responsibilities that help students achieve these outcomes. They are:

  • assess where each student is and wants to be as writers and readers 
  • create a culture where reading and writing is understood as essential not only for success in college but for communicating effectively in all pursuits
  • create a culture where reading and writing is meaningful personally to and for each student
  • offer resources for each student to be comfortable with and proficient in writing in academic and popular genres required for life in our digital age
  • offer resources for each student to be comfortable with and proficient in writing academic and short-form web-based essays that cite other texts 
  • offer resources for each student to be comfortable with and proficient in understanding the appropriate rhetorical mode, audience, and language choices for writing tasks 
  • create a community of writers where each class member engages respectfully and critically with each other and with course material.  

Assignments : Where to Find Them, How to Turn Them In
Access our blackboard site here: This is where I post assignments, where you turn in your blog posts and essays, where readings and links to readings are posted. Everyone must be logged into our blackboard site by the second day of classes. The IT center offers assistance with technology. Their site is Each student is responsible for backing up all of their writing, done on blackboard or on another platform, using a thumb drive that you always bring to class. Please turn in all your work, including email correspondence, via blackboard. I do not accept assignments turned in over email. Here is where everything will be on blackboard:

Announcements: Important weekly information about class and assignments. Check this at least three times a week
Content: Where you will find all uploaded “Course Readings.”
Information: Where you will find the syllabus AND all course assignments.  Turn in assignments here, too
Course Tools: Where you will find “Discussion Board” and “Blogs 

Course Materials

  1. Readings come from many blogs and essays that are linked to the blackboard site in “Content.”  You must print out texts and bring to class.
  2. Thumb drive—available at Lehman College bookstore for backing up work
  3. Printer—available at Lehman College IT or Library

Course Assignments

  1. Blackboard weekly assignments + in-person participation, in total: 35% of grade
  2. Two revised essays: 55% of grade (20% for essay 1, 30% for essay 
  3. Final exam: 10% of grade.  Though this is worth only 10% of your final grade, you must PASS this exam if you are to pass this class.

Details about Grading
Please see the rubrics created for each assignment on the blackboard site. 
Discussion board posts are given points. You can earn up to 10 points per post. All of the BB assignments are graded on the BB site. Essay assignments will be the only time I require that you turn in drafts and final on paper. Here I will respond on paper and return to you on paper, with the grade attached.

Course Policies
Because this is a workshop class, attending *every* session is one way you can do well in the class. If you miss more than two classes for any reason your grade drops (from A to A-). Should you come late (more than 5 minutes) more than three times for any reason, your grade drops one increment. If you are absent more than 4 times or late more than 5, you will need to drop this course. I only accept papers via blackboard *not by email*. Please don't be absent on a day a paper is due--it will affect others in class. I do not accept late papers for first drafts. If you need more time for revisions you must talk to me in person.

Important College Information
Accommodating Disabilities
Lehman College is committed to providing access to all programs and curricula to all students. Students with disabilities who may need classroom accommodations are encouraged to register with the Office of Student Disability Services. For more information, please contact the Office of Student Disability Services, Shuster Hall, Room 238, phone number, 718-960-8441.

The Academic Center for Excellence (ACE) and the Science Learning Center (SLC) Lehman College has two tutoring centers on campus. The ACE provides appointment based and drop-in tutoring in the humanities, social sciences, and writing, as well as general writing skills and test preparation workshops for the CPE. The SCL provides drop-in tutoring for natural and computer science courses. To obtain more information about the ACE and the SLC, please visit their website at, or please call the ACE at 718-960-8175, and the SLC at 718-960-7707. Please sign up for your tutoring appointments right away –they get very busy (because the tutors are so good).

Having your work read by the excellent tutors at the Writing Center is one of the very best ways to improve your writing and your grade. Sign up early as these tutoring slots are very popular.

Plagiarism is taken very seriously. If you are having trouble with any aspect of this course, please see me. All writing is put through a plagiarism detector (via blackboard). Students who plagiarize face serious consequences. We will discuss what constitutes plagiarism in class. All writing is checked by the plagiarism website “Turn It In.”

Calendar and Due Dates for Each Class Session
Under each date you will find the semester broken down into themes, each one pertaining to the kind of writing focused on for that section. Please note that most writing is due on Thursday though there are exceptions. All DB assignments are turned in via BB. The only assignments turned in with paper are drafts one and two of essays 1 and 2 (nothing gets turned in by email). Between the Thursday class and the following Tuesday the homework will be to comment on the work that was due Tuesday. Some weeks, you will comment on your own writing, most weeks you will be given instructions on how to comment on others’ writing. Comments are due before class meets on THURSDAY of each week. All work is uploaded onto “Course Readings” on BB unless indicated otherwise. 

Week One: Introduction: Welcome to Writing Today
Th 8/28
Reading due: WPA (Writing Program Administrator) Guidelines for College Writers and “The Writing Revolution”        

Week Two    
Tu 9/2        
Reading due: Course syllabus; same readings as 8/28

Th 9/4    
Reading due: Steven Johnson blogs (1 of his posts); Zadie Smith “Joy” [BB]
Writing due: Discussion Board 1: Letter to class    

Week Three
Tu 9/9        
Reading due: Steven Johnson blogs (1 new post); Zadie Smith “Joy”

Th 9/11
Reading due: same as Tu 9/9
Writing due: Discussion Board 2: Summary

Week Four: Writing with and about Media
Tu 9/16    
Reading due: Smith, “The House that Hova Built”; blog TBA

Th 9/18
Reading due: Upload one short digital essay on ANY media (music, tv, video games, social media, movies, etc)
Writing due: Discussion Board 3: Summary and argument

Week Five
Tu 9/23
Reading due: Uploaded essays from students

Th 9/25 No Class, Lehman College Closed
Writing due: Discussion Board 4: Summary and argument

Week Six
Tu 9/30
Writing due: First draft of short digital essay about media (“essay 1”)

Th 10/2 Conferences held instead of class (Carman 387, please schedule)    

Week Seven: Academic Writing and Writing about the Academy
Tu 10/7
Reading due: Elbow, “The Believing and Doubting Game”; TBA

Th 10/9
Writing due: Discussion Board 5: Summary and argument

Week Eight
Tu 10/14

Th 10/16 No Class Held
Writing due: Final draft of short digital essay about media (“essay 1”)

Week Nine
Tu 10/21
Reading due: Kynard, Lu

Th 10/23
Writing due: First draft of academic essay (“essay 2”)

Week 10
Tu 10/28  Midterm Exam: Practice for final

Th 10/30 Review of Midterm Exam
Writing due: Discussion Board 6

Week 11
Tu 11/4

Th 11/6 Conferences instead of class today

Week 12:  Writing in your Discipline/Profession/Interest: Research & Publishing
Tu 11/11 
Reading due: TBA
Writing due: Final draft of academic essay (“essay 2”)

Th 11/13

Week 13
Tu 11/18

Th 11/20

Week 14
Tu 11/25

Th 11/27 No Class, Lehman College Closed
Writing due: Revision of two DB posts

Week 15: Return to Writing with Media and Academia
Tu 12/2  Writing Group Meetings and Professor Conferences

Th 12/4 Writing Group Meetings and Professor Conferences

Week 16: Final Exam and Closing
Tu 12/9 College-wide English 111 Final Exam

Th 12/11 Last day of class