September 2010 Archives

Assigned Text:

SFW 11b-d: Rhythm

It is not too early to start thinking about the middle of term -- and, of course, Fall Break.

As we approach the middle of the semester, what new observations / challenges / successes have presented themselves, that you weren't aware of when you started the ILP process?

Length: About 150 words.
Format: You may answer informally, in a short list. Please provide specific examples, but there is no need to tell a story or SHOW through dialogue. You can just provide the information I'm asking for, so that I can get a sense of how your individual plan is going.

Reflect on these general areas:

  1. MyCompLab
    Recall that MyCompLab accounts for about 20% of your grade. Does the time you are putting into this part of the course match its importance to your grade?
  2. Time-management
    What challenges and successes have you encountered, as you work to meet deadlines and manage your other obligations?
  3. Resources
    How effectively have you made use of the resources available to you (including the writing center, the textbook, and your instuctor)?
  4. Learning Assessment
    What is one thing you can do (or stop doing) that will make the biggest difference in what you achieve in this course?
  5. Instruction Assessment
    What is one thing that I have done so far that has been a big help? What is something that you'd like me to do (or stop doing)?
Due Today:

Essay 2 Draft

Note: The slot in has not been opened yet, because before you submit I am asking you to do a brief blueprinting exercise in class.

In an essay of 2 to 3 pages, made up of several paragraphs, explain something that needs explanation. Choose a topic that is sufficiently complex that two intelligent people could disagree on it.  I am not asking for a set of instructions, such as "How to change the oil in your car," but "Why I won't be buying a battery-powered car any time soon" would probably work.

Due Today:

Essay 1 Revision

Upload your revised Essay 1 in the proper slot in
Assigned Text:

SFW 11a: Style

Due Today:

P4: My Secret

In a 200-word paragraph, SHOW me a side of yourself that you think most people wouldn't know otherwise. Upload to

Points to keep in mind:

  • Show, Don't (Just) Tell
  • Rather than including a list, or describing the kind of thing that "usually" or "sometimes" happens, choose a specific event, and bring me along with you on that event, SHOWING through details that let me live the experience through your senses.
  • Rather than stating "Many people would be surprised to learn that I am the kind of person who does X," which TELLS me that people are surprised, actually try to surprise me.
As I mentioned in class Thursday, it's common practice for writing teachers to cancel class and schedule office visits instead.

As it happens, I have a raining meeting to attend starting at 11:30, so this is a good time to schedule office visits.

Other due dates are still as scheduled.

In-class Activity

Essay 2 Prewriting

In-class Activity

Essay 1 Revision

You will have time in class to revise your essay.



Sign up for an individual conference.

Wednesday afternoon, I emailed a message that follows up on a few course activities and notes that a few assignments have been rearranged.  The current course schedule is up to date.

I won't always post e-mail announcements to this web page, but because Thursday's syllabus mentioned a few assignments that I've moved, and are no longer due on Thursday, I wanted to post word of the change here.
Assigned Text:

SFW 10b: Reduce Wordiness

Due Today:

Essay 1 Reflection

Assigned Text:

SFW 10a: Active Sentences

Due Today:

ILP Revision

I asked you to bring a draft to class last week, and I have spoken with each of you about your progress so far.  Since the draft was due, you have visited the writing center and submitted your first draft of a full-length paper.  How might your ILP change in order to reflect these recent experiences?

Update your ILP, and submit it in the slot on

The requirements for the ILP draft have not changed. I'm repeating them here, for your convenience.

  1. A brief introduction, articulating your goals in this class (beyond "getting a good grade" or "doing it because I have to").
  2. A brief explanation of your strengths as a writer (refer to comments from me or other teachers, motivation in the form of career goals or work experience, and/or guidelines you find in the textbook).
  3. A brief list of 3-5 specific areas you want to work on this term. (I want to see a list, such as "I want to work on A, B, and C.  I will work on A because... I will work on B because... I will work on C because... ")
    1. This list must include some major grammar issues (as identified by your MyCompLab pre-test).
    2. This list may also other issues such as time-management, or personal attitude towards writing.
  4. Promises that will help you to meet your goals. This section
    1. must include a statement about how many MyCompLab exercises you plan to complete and what score you want to reach
    2. may also include promises such as "Attend every class" or "not update Facebook during class" or "submit every assignment on time" or "spend at least 3 hours studying the night before each class" or "make appointment to talk with professor once a month" or "bring rough drafts of every assignment to the writing center."








Insightful, personalized, precise

Informative, productive, clear

Helpful, useful, relevant

Some attempt at utility

Vague or mechanical

2. Strengths

Insightful and convincingly supported

Informative and usefully supported

Useful, with some support

Some attempt to explain strengths

No explanations of stated strengths


Work Areas

3-5, with insightful reasons

3-5, with effective reasoning

At least 3, with partial reasoning

Some attempt to specify and reason

No specific work areas or reasons stated.

4. Promises

Ambitious & precise; integrating MyCompLab goals.

Significant & clear; including MyCompLab goals.

Reasonable, clear; some reference to MyCompLab goals.

Some attempt at useful promises.

Vague; no clear effort shown.

Due Today:

Essay 1 Peer Review

Due Today:

P3: My Passion

Start with a photo that illustrates your passion. (If you took it yourself, or you are in it, great; if not, that's OK, too.)
  • Use this photo as a starting point, to focus your creative energies.  Your paragraph should SHOW your passions; to help you get started, I'll ask you a few questions, but I don't want your paragraph simply to answer these questions.
    • How does the photo illustrate your passion?
    • What feelings does it invoke, what information does it convey?
    • What information or feelings are obvious from the photo, and what would somebody have to guess?
  • I'm not interested in reading a paragraph that simply describes the photo -- I already know you can do that sort of thing, because you have successfully graduated from high school.
  • If your photo was taken in a studio, you don't have to describe what it was like posing for the photo. (I"m thinking of senior graduation photos, where people pose with sports equipment or other props.) But if you feel the photo does accurately convey your passion, use it as a starting point to SHOW me why that passion is important to you.
  • Include your photo with your submission to  (On the MacBook, the Word command is Insert -> Picture -? From File.) 
Show me your passion, in a paragraph of 200 words -- but do it without actually writing a sentence that comes right out and tells me that "My passion is ____."

Example: A dry paragraph would just come right out and TELL the reader, "I am passionate about teaching." But in this video, the speaker SHOWS his passion for teaching through specific examples that make us see his passion, even though he never uses the words "I am passionate about teaching." 

Suggestion: Don't actually name the specific thing that you present as your passion. SHOW me a scene in which you are actively engaged in that passion, and demonstrate your ability to choose details that teach me something about what that passion means to you. (If it feels too awkward to completely hide the name of the thing you are passionate about, then go ahead and use the name. My suggestion is to get you to think about how you can SHOW your point with evidence, making me see and believe it for myself.)

See "Show, Don' t (Just) Tell."

Key Concept:

active verbs

Active verbs form more efficient and more powerful sentences than passive verbs. Readers are more likely to say a sentence with active verbs is clear and persuasive.
  • The subject of an active sentence performs the action of the verb:  "I throw the ball."
  • The subject of a passive sentence is still the main character of the sentence, but something else performs the action: "The ball is thrown by me."
Further references
  1. "Active and Passive Verbs"
  2. Troy Sterling and the Active & Passive Verbs
  3. Grammar Girl on Active Voice Versus Passive Voice
Assigned Text:

SFW 8: Language Choices

Due Today:

Essay 1 Draft

Upload to by noon.

Write a personal essay, 2-3 pages (about 500-750 words) long, on a topic of your choice. Your goal is to demonstrate that you can write in depth on a single, specific topic.

Criteria (full rubric to be posted shortly)

20%  Format (length and MLA style)
20%  Accuracy (punctuation and words)
20%  Clarity (phrases and sentences)
20%  Organization (paragraphs and transitions)
20%  Ideas (focus, creativity, depth)

For further details, please consult the assigned chapters in the SF Writer.

Show, Don't (Just) Tell

Rather than giving a list of the kinds of emotions you experienced or the kinds of events that usually happen, focus on one specific event. While I'm not absolutely requiring your whole essay to describe only events that happened within a particular 24-hour time period, I am asking that you focus on a single specific event, and make me feel as if you are bringing me along with you to that event, rather than simply listing what happened,

Personal Essays: How to Write Them
I won't grade you on how much you loved your deceased family member, how wonderfully you played in the big game, or how narrowly you escaped death.  I want you to use a personal story to practice your ability to focus on one specific incident -- even a routine happening -- and tell it in an engaging way. Your essay should generate, in me, the emotions that you experienced on a noteworthy occasion, but "noteworthy" does not have to mean life-threatening or life-changing..



In-class Activity

Writing Center Visit

At 11:50, we will head up to the 5th floor of Admin, to visit the writing center.
Due Today:

P2: I, Writer

In about 200 carefully chosen words, teach me who you are as a writer. Use vivid examples that unite to illustrate a single main idea. Do it all in a single, well-crafted paragraph.

Bring an electronic version of your assignment to class. (Bring your iPad or your MacBook -- whichever you wish.)

Your objectives are to demonstrate your ability to
  • focus on a single subject, and
  • craft a well-organized paragraph with a topic sentence, supporting details, and a conclusion.

This assignment is advance work on your "Individual Learning Plan" (ILP). Bring an electronic copy of your ILP draft to class. You will share it with your peers, and I will circulate through the room and discuss it with each of you

Below you will find questions that are designed to get you thinking about the issues that will be important to your ILP.  When fully developed over the course of several related assignments, your ILP will be a brief personal essay, that emphasizes the goals and strategies that are most important to you, with evidence to provide justification for your choices, and promises (to yourself) about what you will do this term to reach those goals.

Assigned Text:

Show, Don't (Just) Tell

Due Today:

MyCompLab Exercises

Complete the three MyCompLab exercises that you chose for yourself the previous class period. (I am not asking for a printout.)


1) In class, sign up for an individual conference, so that we can discuss your MyCompLab pretest results, and your plans for using what you learned from the feedback you received after taking the test. (The sheet will go outside my office door after today.)

2) Bring this printout with you to your consultation.

Rubric for ILP Draft and Conference:

Student: ___________________________

Conference Day and Time: ___________________________

Come ready to discuss your ILP. In addition, what else would you like to discuss?

Attended Conference

Yes No
(Attendance is required for me to report any grade but zero)

Brought Copy of ILP Draft (digital or print -- either one is fine)
Yes No

(You must bring a copy in order for me to report any grade above C-)

ILP Draft contains specific references to MyCompLab results

Yes No

ILP Draft demonstrates willingness to take full advantage of resources available to LA100 students

Yes No

ILP Draft contains specific promises to yourself, regarding your learning strategy

Yes No

ILP Draft follows MLA style.

Yes No

0 of the above: D
1 of the above: C-
2 of the above: C+
3 of the above: B
4 of the above: A

In-class Activity

ILP Workshop

We will discuss the Individual Learning Plan (ILP), an important multi-stage assignment that accounts for 15% of your grade, and lays the groundwork for the final self-assessment paper, which is worth another 10%.

Use the information you gathered from your MyCompLab pretest (see "MyCompLab Pretest: Using Your Results" in the handouts section of GriffinGate).

Why are we doing this assignment?

  • Now that you have taken the diagnostic pretest, MyCompLab can provide you with a personalized study plan, and immediate feedback that will help you learn and practice the basic rules of punctuation and grammar.
  • Your MyCompLab work, altogether, is worth 20% of your final grade. This assignment will help you make the first steps in getting those points.
  • You will also discuss and reflect on your MyCompLab work as part of your Individual Learning Plan (ILP), which is worth another 15% of your grade. (We'll talk about the ILP a little later; all you need to know now is that this self-analysis exercise will feed directly into your ILP.)
  • Regardless of the score you got on your pretest, I will record full marks for you, once you have completed this exercise.

Remember that a multiple-choice test doesn't actually test your ability as a writer, it simply tests your ability to take a multiple-choice test on grammar and punctuation. Nevertheless, the comprehensive grammar diagnostic exercise will help MyCompLab know where you stand at the beginning of the course. This exercise is designed to help you start using the feedback from MyCompLab.


1) Log in to MyCompLab and print out a copy of your Comprehensive Grammar Diagnostic 1 results. (See the screenshots in the handout for a reminder.) The page you want to print will look like this:


1A) Sign your printout.

1B) Circle the score of three areas that you did your best. What is your reaction to doing well in these areas? (Write a brief note on the back of the page.)

1C) Circle the score of three areas where you could improve the most. What is your reaction to learning this information? (Write a brief note on the back of the page.)

2) Print out the list of exercises MyCompLab recommends for you. That list will look like this:


2A) Sign this printout.

2B) Circle three recommendations that would help you improve the low scores you circled in 1C.

2C) Complete at least one of the recommended activities, and print out the results page.

2D) What is your reaction to MyCompLab so far? (Add to the same page where you answered 1B and 1C.)

Bring your (signed) printouts to class today (07 September).

We will discuss the Individual Learning Plan (ILP), an important multi-stage assignment that is responsible for 15% of your grade, and helps lay the groundwork for the final self-assessment paper, which is worth another 10%.
Due Today:

P1: I, Reader

In about 200 carefully chosen words, teach me who you are as a reader. Use vivid examples that unite to illustrate a single main idea. Do it all in a single, well-crafted paragraph.

Upload to

Your objectives are to demonstrate your ability to
  • focus on a single subject, and
  • craft a well-organized paragraph with a topic sentence, supporting details, and a conclusion.
I am not asking you to summarize the plot of your favorite book.

Instead, pick a single incident from your life -- one specific day -- when reading played a major role. Bring me along with you, so that I experience that important event through your senses.

Evaluation Rubric
100 Excellent Good Acceptable Attempted Unacceptable
20 18.5 15 12 8
Length Within 5% Within 10% Within 15% Within 25% 25-50%
MLA format Perfect MLA style headings and layout MLA headings, with trivial layout lapses Mostly follows MLA layout and headings Some attempt at MLA layout and headings MLA formatting not present
Punctuation & Words Perfect Minor issues don't impact main ideas Some errors, ideas mostly unaffected Some accuracy at the punct & word level Significant errors damage flow of ideas
Phrases & Sentences Perfect A few minor issues, but all ideas are clear Some errors, but ideas are mostly clear Some attempt at accuracy in sentence phrasing Significant errors damage flow of ideas
Focus A single idea, with apt details that offer depth A single idea,  explored with relevant detail A single idea,  connected to useful detail Some attempt to relate detail to main idea Several ideas compete for central focus


No Class

Opening Liturgy and Book Discussion

1 2 3 4 5 6 7
8 9 10 11 12 13 14
15 16 17 18 19 20 21
22 23 24 25 26 27 28
29 30 31        
      1 02 3 4
5 6 07 8 09 10 11
12 13 14 15 16 17 18
19 20 21 22 23 24 25
26 27 28 29 30    
          1 2
3 4 05 6 07 8 9
10 11 12 13 14 15 16
17 18 19 20 21 22 23
24 25 26 27 28 29 30
  1 02 3 04 5 6
7 8 09 10 11 12 13
14 15 16 17 18 19 20
21 22 23 24 25 26 27
28 29 30        
      1 02 3 4
5 6 07 8 9 10 11
12 13 14 15 16 17 18
19 20 21 22 23 24 25
26 27 28 29 30 31