English 101: English Composition

Quarter: Summer 2013

Class Meets: M-F, 10 AM to 11:20 AM

Room: HHL 103

Item Number: 1390

Section: D

Instructor: Jennifer Locke Whetham


Office: T Building 304

Office hours: By Appointment

Phone: 360 992 2719

Course Website:

Course Texts and Materials

Required Text

Hacker, Diana. Rules for Writers. 7th ed. Boston, MA. Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2012.

Please be sure you do indeed have the LATEST edition of the textbook.

Other Materials

You will need to have access to a computer with a word processor and an Internet connection. Don’t despair if you don’t own a computer: there are many computer labs at Clark College for student use. If you do own a computer but don’t own Microsoft Word, please investigate some of the free word processors available before you send $200 to Bill Gates! Two very good free word processors are Open Office Writer and Google’s online word processor.

While we’re on the subject, it’s a good idea to save your work in two places (for example, on a thumb drive AND in an email account!): please back up your work frequently, as essays which are erased/virus-infected/eaten by computers are your responsibility.

Finally, you’ll need some kind of paper notebook or folder for day-to-day writing. A single spiral bound notebook should be fine.

Course Description

Writing, at its most basic level, is putting words into minds. We live in a time when the technology has expanded/exploded/transformed both the mediums and the methods by which we perform this act. English 101 will focus on the specific moves academics make to put words into minds— of other academics AND the larger conversation of civilization.

Yes, academic writing and civilization are conversations—conversations composed of a bewildering number of acts of reading and writing—from Youtube videos to Tweets to FB status updates to academic essays written for scholarly journals to John Stewart commenting on Presidential stump speeches. In the discourse community of The University, there are many forms that this conversation can take, including the summary, the critique, the synthesis, and the analysis.

Throughout this quarter, we will practice these forms on the micro (summary/paraphrase/integrating direct quotes using MLA conventions) level and the macro (writing a formal argument, for example) level. We will use a variety of technologies to perform this act of putting words into minds: from pencils to keyboards, from literal white pages (hard-copy-MLA-format-printed-up-and-handed-in) to virtual pages on the computer screen.

Reading and writing are twins—they have a recursive and reciprocal relationship. All reading is writing: all writing is reading. We will explore these complexities (and the multiple acts of recursion (remembering, re thinking, rewriting, rereading . . . anything that begins with “re,” basically)) over the course of the quarter as we re-write ourselves, our lives, and our (multiple) personas (particularly our academic personas).

English 101 is a college level course: that is, students must either be placed into this class by a recommending score on the COMPASS test or by having received a grade of C or better in English 098.

Course Objectives

The English department has laid out the skills that students should be able to perform at the end of each composition class. This list, called the Student Learning Outcomes, provides the framework of our investigation into the academic conversation that goes on 24 hours a day, 7 days a week— that has been going on for centuries of years.

Instructional Methods Used: English 101 is a class best taught by a combination of instructional methods. The methods students will encounter most frequently are

  • in-class writing (our opening freewrites, for example, or an end-of-class Memo to Jen that details something you have learned or have a question about)
  • discussion (small group and large group)
  • out-of class writing and discussion (using the emergent technology of WordPress blogs)
  • workshops (various iterations of the Read Around, Running with Scissors, a highlighter activity)
  • individual F2F conferences with the instructor (Held in her office)

Course Requirements

The bulk of the work for this class will involve reading challenging, college-level essays and articles and then writing in response to them. You will write about your reading in the form of blog entries (which will take on many sizes and shapes and styles) as well as writing three essays that ask you to critique, argue, analyze and synthesize these readings.


All Course assignments total 1000 points. You will keep track of your own grade as I record your grades in the grade book (I use Engrade).

Grade Accounting: 100 points

Participation: 160 points (20 points a week for eight weeks, approx. five points a class)

Blogs: 70 points (10 points a week for seven weeks, beginning Sunday of Week One)

Blog Comments: 70 points (5 points per comment (two a week for seven weeks) beginning Wednesday of Week Two)

Draft Essay #1 (Learning Narrative): 100 points

Draft Essay #2 (Common Assignment Argument): 250 points

Draft Essay #3 (Reflective Essay): 50 points

Final Portfolio (Revisions of Reflective Essay, Essay #1, #2): 200 points

Grade Accounting (10%)

Part of academic success is holding yourself accountable for the work you have done.  Furthermore, while Jen does indeed read blog entries and comments for a multitude of pedagogical purposes (including planning class), your record will help her find your blogs and your comments more efficiently (and help her be accurate in her records).  This account will also empower you to know exactly where you are at any given moment over the course of the quarter—your grade is in your hands as well as Jen’s.  Jen has created a sheet for you to keep track of your progress.  To earn the 10%, this sheet must be filled out completely (including URL’s and word counts).

Participation (16%)

I will randomly offer “Participation Points” that total 160 points (approximately 20 points per week over 8 weeks). These points cannot be made up. You must be in class to earn participation points. Sometimes this activity may come at the beginning of class– if you are late, you will miss out on the points. Sometimes the activity will come at the end of class– if you leave early, you will miss out on the points.  Ex.  Closing Memo to Jen, Notes from Small Group Work, Stop/Start/Continue

Blogs (7%)

The blogs (and the resulting discussions with your peers via the comments) serve MULTIPLE purposes in terms of PROCESS. They are

  • Pre-writing for your essays and keeping track of your own learning in the course (i.e. they serve as a personal record of what we actually did in class over the various weeks)
  • Tools to help you re-read the readings– pose and answer questions about the material we are covering.
  • INVENTION for essays (including the final reflective essay that introduces the revisions of the final portfolio)
  • Tools for processing/exploring/going deeper into the core concepts of the course
  • An e-portfolio, of sorts, that contains artifacts of your learning during the course

Because the blogs are tools for your individual learning process (and process is often messy!), you will get full credit for your blog and your blog responses as long as they

  1. meet or exceed the minimum word requirement
  2. are respectful of the course, the instructor, and your peers
  3. ARE IN CONVERSATION with what we are reading and discussing in class (about the readings, about writing process, about the academic essay, etc.)
  4. posted on time

Please use the freedom of the blogs WISELY– use your freewrites (the freewrites we do in class are always related to the ideas we are writing about, writing process in general, or the specific process of the essay we are currently working on), the readings, class discussions, and your thoughts to make these freewrites USEFUL to your learning and your writing process.

I reserve the right to judge whether your blog is “in conversation” with the course materials/discussions.  You may use one blog, if you wish, as a “freebie” (where you freewrite about anything you like (family, friends, life stresses)).

I do not accept late blog posts or responses. Late is defined as one minute past the deadline. Please see “Late Work Policies” for more details. Over the course of the quarter, you will write seven blog entries (and respond to 14 of your peers’ blog entries.) Blog entries are ALWAYS due on Sunday night before midnight. The assignment will always ask you to respond to the same general prompt: write an 800 word blog entry where you expand/question/discuss/hone in on what we read/discussed in class that week. Basically, you will put yourself (your words, your experiences, your questions, your concerns, your “real life” into conversation with the texts (Youtube clips, academic readings from our textbook, the common assignment, etc.)

Please label all your blogs consecutively (i.e. Blog #1: Subtitle.) Please include your word count at the bottom of the page.

Blog Comments (7%)

In addition to the blogs, each week you will comment on TWO of your peers’ blogs. Each response must be 200 words. You must comment on to two blogs OTHER than your own.  Commenting on other people’s comments to your blog, while polite and encouraged by the instructor, does not count for this assignment, as the overarching purpose is for you to READ and COMMENT on OTHER people’s insights and ideas.  You may comment on the blogs written by Jen’s students in English 102 (and you are encouraged to do so).

Your two comments will ALWAYS be due every Thursday before midnight. Each week, you will have the same general prompt: Put YOUR words (your ideas) into conversation with THEIR words (and their ideas) about things we have read/discussed in class.

Please label your Comments consecutively– so “Comment #1,” “Comment#2,” (during Week Two); “Comment #3,” “Comment #4,” (during Week Three), etc. Please include your word count at the bottom of response.

Essay Drafts (40%)

You will receive feedback on your rough drafts of Essay #1 and #2 in the form of a 15 minute conference with Jen in her office in T Building 304. Feedback may consist of any or all of the following: marginal comments, end comments, oral feedback, a discussion of sections of the handbook as they relate to patterns of error and/or misuse of conventions, Jen cutting your paper apart by paragraphs and moving it around to help you identify conceptual and/or technical revisions.

During the conference, Jen will give your essay a “soft” grade using a rubric developed by the English department here at Clark.  You will use Jen’s feedback and the soft grade to revise the essays for your final portfolio.

This method of feedback is intensely labor-intensive for Jen as the instructor. She does this to help you become a better writer (and hopefully produce a better paper– although these two things do not necessarily occur simultaneously). After your conference with Jen, you will re-write the paper using the feedback you received, the rubric, and what you are learning over-all through the process of a truly intensive writing course. You will submit your revisions of Essay #1, #2 in your final portfolio (see below), accompanied by a reflective essay.

Special Note on Essay #2: To facilitate large-scale assessment of the Student Learning Outcomes for English 101, the Clark College English department has created a policy that this essay, called the Common Assignment, must constitute 25% of your grade.

While you will still receive a “soft” grade on your draft, you will not earn full points simply for submission. Rather, I will assess your draft using the rubric and then record the score you earn.

When you submit this essay in your final portfolio, you will have the opportunity to discuss your improvements in the reflective essay (based on your feedback from Jen and the rubric). If you receive a higher grade in the portfolio revision, Jen will change your grade for that 25%.

Final Portfolio (20%)

The final portfolio is due on the last day of the quarter. The final portfolio consists of your final revisions of Essay #1, Essay #2 (the point of all those conferences with Jen and the “soft” grades) and a final reflective essay.


92-100%=A 82-87.5%=B 72-77.5%= C 62-67.5%=D

90-91.5%=A- 80-81.5%=B- C 70-71.5%=C- 60-61.5%=D-

88-89.5%=B+ 78-79.5%=C+ 68-69.5%=D+ less than 60%=F

Students who receive a grade of C or can move on to English 102 or English 109 next quarter. Those who receive a grade of C- or lower will need to retake English 101.

Late Work Policies

No late blog posts or responses will be accepted. Late is defined as one minute after the specified deadline.

Drafts and Revisions of Essay #1, #2, #3, and the final portfolio will be docked 10% each day they are late (again, late is defined as one minute after the specified deadline.) If you turn in an essay in an inappropriate form (i.e. an electronic copy when a paper copy is specified) it is counted as late until it has been submitted appropriately. An absence on the day the paper is due does not constitute an extension.

Class Policies

Attendance: Please come to class and be on time. While I am happy to work with students who must miss a class because of a genuine emergency, students simply will not do well in the course if they make a habit of missing class. A pattern of absence is missing class per week: a pattern of late arrivals or early departures is also once a week.

Remember, a good share of your final grade corresponds to work we will be doing in class. Being in class is an experience, and it cannot be replicated in a hasty five or ten minute conversation before or after class. I will post notes on the class blog, but again, these are the bare bones of what we actually covered.

To ensure regular attendance and active participation, I collect, twice a week, participation points. These will always consist of informal in- class writing (individual and/or group.) These small assignments take multiple forms: small group notes, individual memos to the instructor, Stop/Start/Continue, etc. You cannot make up these assignments: students are only given PARTICIPATION points for days they were actually there to participate in class (hence the term Participation grade).

In short, you need to be here regularly if you want to do well.

I reserve the right to withhold or dock your participation points for the day, even if you were present and in class, if you are distracted and/or distracting others. This includes, but is not limited to, texting in class, using your computer for something other than coursework, doing work for other classes, or distracting your group by going off topic.

Class Courtesy: Having a safe and civil atmosphere for learning depends on all of us. When we speak with one another, especially when disagreeing, it is vital that we do so with mutual respect. Students who are disruptive or abusive towards others may be asked to leave the class.

Cell Phones/iPads/Laptops: On a related note, it is both disruptive and rude to leave your cell phone on in the classroom– let alone use it in class. Please set your phone to “vibrate” mode or turn it off when you come to class. If you use your phone in class for texting and/or other inappropriate use, I will ask you to leave the classroom. It is not only distracting for you– it is distracting to others around you.

Plagiarism: Students who copy the words or ideas of any other writer without acknowledging the original author of those words or ideas are engaging in plagiarism. Plagiarism is grounds for failing this course. One of the goals of this course is to understand how to use information effectively and ethically in your writing. Once those concepts have been introduced, any instances of plagiarism will result in severe grade penalties for the student. In most cases, these penalties lead to failure of the class.

For more information about the English department’s plagiarism policy, please read this.

Americans with Disabilities Act Accommodations: If you have, or think you have, a disability which interferes with your performance in this course, you are invited to speak with the Disability Support Services office in Gaiser Hall or at 992-2580 for assistance.

The Academic Early Warning System: I use the Academic Early Warning (AEW) system in this course to let you know if I have concerns about your academic performance early enough to give you time to improve. If I have concerns, Clark College will send a letter to your home along with a list of free campus services that can assist you. Please note that not all instructors will use AEW, so it is your responsibility to be aware of how you are progressing in your classes.

Weather Closures and Instructor Illness: Students now have the ability to check on line each day to be sure that their classes are meeting. To access this information go to the Clark College website and click on Quick Links, then on Classes Today. It will show any classes that have been cancelled for that day only.


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  1. Pingback: What is Learning? | Jennifer Whetham's Summer Courses at Clark 2013

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