ENG 101 Syllabus for ALL T/R sections, F 2013

Prof. K. McGovern
Office Tech. #8304 (inside #8320)                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Office Hrs: T/R, 12:30-1:30 PM and Wed, 12:30-3:30 PM                                                                   RCC Phone#: 845-574-4353                                                                                                                      RCC Email:  kmcgover@sunyrockland.edu

ENG 101, #026, T/R, 11:00-12:15 PM                                                                                                       ENG 207, #004, T/R, 1:30-2:45 PM (Short Story)                                                                              ENG 101, #037, T/R, 3:00-4:15 PM                                                                                                         ENG 101, #073, T/R, 5:00-6:15 PM

Academic Calendar for Fall 2013 Semester

Friday, September 6             Classes Begin at 4 pm

Friday, September 13            No Evening Classes (Yom Kippur)

Saturday, September 14         No Day or Evening Classes (Yom Kippur)

Monday, October 14               Hold Classes on Columbus Day, Offices Open

Monday, November 11            Hold Classes on Veteran’s Day, Offices Open

Th, Nov 28 – Sun, Dec. 1        Thanksgiving Holiday (classes will not meet)

Sunday, December 22            Classes end for Fall 2013

        In these sections of ENG 101, we will first examine the elements of good writing. I will also outline some of the standard expectations for college level composition in class through lecture, discussion of the English Department’s guidelines and other hand outs. Since good writing is contingent upon unity, clarity, coherence, development, and style and mechanics (among other qualities), students will also need to demonstrate mastery of basic grammar skills.Ideas and Details Chapter 17 offers a “Handbook of English” (a solid review of grammar rules) and we will use Writing Nature as the primary reader for formal papers. Please purchase both books right away; students will need them to complete all class assignments. If you obtain copies from an online book dealer, please check the copyright date.

M. Garrett Bauman, Ideas and Details, 7th Edition
© 2010, 2007, Wadsworth.
Carolyn Ross, Ed., Writing Nature: An Ecological Reader for Writers
©1995, St. Martin’s Press.

Please also bring a non-spiral notebook and pens/pencils to class, and come prepared to discuss the assigned readings; students should also bring both books to every class. Please also keep duplicate copies or digital copies of all of the work you submit to Professor McGovern during this semester.

Using Ideas and Details
We will use Ideas and Details together–-at times in class or as homework–-on an individual and group basis. If you repeatedly make the same grammatical error(s), please use the “Handbook of English” (Chapter 17) to look it up, correct it, and go on to make new ones! That may sound strange, but the best way to learn anything is to teach it to yourself and to practice, practice, practice.  By writing and reading well, students also become more powerful speakers and thinkers. In this ENG 101, we will not only be discussing contemporary, and, at times, controversial subjects, we will also place an emphasis upon “the grammar, punctuation, and usage skills that you most need to know to write clearly and effectively” (Smith and Goldstein 1). Please remember that form and structure are as important as content; I will read and edit your work when I assess it. I also expect that all ENG 101 students will reread and edit their OWN work. As a class, you will also reread, edit, and complete peer critique for one another. If you are not comfortable with the idea of presenting your written drafts and responses with other students, then this may not be the right section for you. Please also be aware that each student EARNS his/her grade in this class. Grades are not given as “gifts;” students earn the grades they attain at the end of any term. If you do not complete the assignments, if you do not come to class, if you do not engage with the subject matter, participate in class, or read and write without seriousness of purpose, then you may not be equipped to manage this section or to pass this class.

If you have not noticed yet, it is worth mentioning here: I take my work seriously. I expect students to do the same. I have been teaching at the college level for more than twenty years because I love to learn. I hope to share this love of learning with you. Reading and writing assignments happen frequently and are demanding. Also, all work must be typed: in short, this will be a labor-intensive course. If you are working many hours on or off of campus, if you are taking more than the normal semester credit hour load, or if you have unusual work or familial obligations, I welcome you to speak with me to determine whether or not this section of ENG 101 is right for you. Please talk to me today.

Classroom Decorum and Plagiarism          

Please be aware that punctuality and attendance in ENG 101 will have a bearing on your final grade.  Also, reasonable language and decent classroom comportment are expected.  Any student who violates class policy regarding language and/or behavior may be asked to leave the room.  Again, although students pay tuition for classes, grades are earned. Any student who speaks to me or to another peer in an inappropriate manner (e.g., swearing) runs the risk of being dismissed from class.  Inappropriate classroom behaviors include speaking while another person is expressing his/her ideas, being habitually late for class, texting and talking on cellphones.  Generally, students MUST SHUT OFF cellphones when they ENTER the CLASSROOM. The ring of a phone interrupts and distracts from the work we have before us.  Please be courteous to one another and to me.

To avoid plagiarism, please review MLA rules at the Purdue Owl site: (link below) http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/747/02/

By providing students with the resource(s) to avoid plagiarizing, there will be no excuse for “accidental” cheating.  Plagiarism is a combination of stealing and lying; copying another author’s words is also counterproductive to the learning process.  Please be conscientious and careful when you cite or quote an other author; even in your Formal Papers, cite the author and page when you borrow a quotation.  For the most part, students in ENG 101 will be asked to analyze (and to think critically about) the non-fiction, prose essays in Writing Nature and Ideas and Details.

Special Circumstances:  Learning needs and real life

If a student happens to work with a local EMT or fire department, or if there are any active duty soldiers in class, please let me know about those circumstances on the index card today.  In some cases, there are emergency reasons for a student to communicate via a cellphone.  For example, if you care for a senior family member or if you have children, I will make an exception if there is an EMERGENCY NEED for a brief call.  Overall, however, the progress of this class will not suffer disruptions from cellphones, texting, Facebook updates or any other invasive social/electronic media.  Although we are in a “smart” classroom, there will be occasions during which we will need to engage in large group discussions.  For students who are a bit shy, or for any student who may have any specific learning needs, please disclose that information about yourself on the index card.  today.  Students offer this information on a voluntary basis; the information is optional and completely confidential.

Critical Reading and Writing

Critical thinking requires asking questions rather than summarizing or just repeating the same material. In college, it is as important for a student to be able to comprehend what s/he reads as it is for the student to think through, interpret, analyze, evaluate, and respond to each reading. Critical thinkers are also, simultaneously, open to and critical of the new material they read. Becoming a critical thinker–across the academic disciplines– implies the capacity to challenge cliché ways of seeing and imagining solutions for different problems through the process of careful reasoning and problem-solving.

We will be reading contemporary nonfiction essays and articles by professional writers, journalists, and some college students. Please do not refer to the works collected inPresent Tense as “stories.” The only time the word “story” is applied to nonfiction is in the case of news stories. This semester, both of the textbooks assigned to your class are quite new: notice the 2010 copyright dates. Because both books refer to subjects that are contemporary and, sometimes controversial, I expect that the classroom conversations will be lively. Reading and writing in this class might also challenge you to rethink some preconceived notions and myths about US society and our present culture. As you read and write, make an effort to ask questions about each essay/ article: what do you believe? Upon what values are your opinions based? Do you agree or disagree with the author’s point of view? One useful technique is to ask and answer WHY. When we ask why then try to answer that question, critical reading and writing begins to occur. Finally, if you have had some difficulty with reading comprehension in the past, rather than listening passively as the writer “talks,” please attempt instead to react and to respond with questions and comments of your own. While you read, please make an effort to take notes and to highlight important quotations. Those are just two effective prewriting strategies. Students should also be aware: READING IS CRUCIAL for success in ENG 101. If students do not read the homework assigned, the professor may feel compelled to give quizzes during every class. Class discussions are much more interesting when each student has something to contribute. There really is no way to pass ENG 101 without reading the work assigned; furthermore, writing is a process that begins with critical thinking and careful reading. When you pre-write (or draft) for a paper, try not to worry as much about style/mechanics as the ideas in the essay; technical errors can and should be corrected by the time you complete your final draft.

Formal Papers, Drafts, and Peer Critique

Each time a reading is assigned, students will prepare a four-hundred to five-hundred word draft (i.e., about 2 pages typed, double-spaced). Please also use 14 font as default — it is easier on your English professor’s eyes. Both the reading and the draft must be completed outside of class. Again, all drafts and formal papers must be typed. In class, we will discuss the readings; then we will also discuss the best approaches for writing about the assignments; last, we will complete peer critique. On peer critique days, students will bring their drafts to class, and we will complete peer review; during those same sessions, I will also collect, read, and make brief comments upon each student’s thesis. This means that when a draft is due, each student should also have his/her thesis ready to submit, written on a separate sheet of paper. Peer critique sessions are very important: if students are adequately prepared, they will have the most essential part of the work done. Once papers are critiqued in class, students will then have 1-2 more classes to review their work, edit the same draft, and then submit the essay. All Formal Papers will be drawn directly from the readings assigned to our class.  Note:If a student attends a peer critique session WITHOUT his/her DRAFT, he/she will be counted as absent, and s/he risks losing up to ten points on the Formal Paper itself. Please be careful with this rule. Sharing ideas along with an open attitude towards writing as a public activity is a fundamental component to RCC’s ENG 101 pedagogy; this system works well, as long as all of the students in class are upholding their responsibilities to one another and to the course.

Class Discussions and Decorum

Our discussions will be vital to understanding each topic more fully, and they will be used, in part, to measure students’ participation grades. Success in this class requires careful reading. Because students are expected to complete all of the reading and writing assigned, each person should have at least one or two interesting comments to add during any given class discussion. For those of you who tend to be somewhat shy, please take our class meetings as an opportunity to practice public speaking skills. Although I can not coerce any student to speak up in class, I know that fluid, intelligent conversations during class meetings help to foster the learning and writing processes. Each person has a voice in this classroom; therefore, I insist that we regard one another’s independent ideas with courtesy and respect. This section of ENG 101 will encourage polite reflection, intellectual creativity, honesty, and civility. Slang, vulgarity, and “hate speech” are not welcome here.

The Documented Essay

The documented essay is a research essay writing requirement for all ENG 101 students at SUNY RCC. The idea for this five to seven page research paper will be generated by any one of the readings that we do as a class together or based upon one of your Formal Papers; the 5-7 page limit does NOT include the title page, the outline, or the required bibliography or the works cited page. The prewriting assignments, drafts, and Formal Papers are, therefore, all important because any one among them might provide the basis for your final, substantive, analytical and argumentative research paper. The documented essay topic is yours to explore; however, these research essays must be argumentative or persuasive in nature.

Successful topics for the documented essay, in the past, have included but are not restricted to: a critique of public (K-12) education, in regard to how much US students learn about nature/biology/science/ecosystems; suggestions about some ways to improve environmental dangers to species or to regions (such as the polar ice caps), a discussion of the ways in which the Internet may function to distance people from Nature. Also,one or more of you might also want to tackle the subject of global warming (its causes and potential solutions), an exploration about gender roles in science/biology.  There is currently a debate  about the wages of fast food workers: how do fast food restaurants manage to serve such inexpensive food?  Is it healthy?  Are young people in the US guided to proper nutritional habits?  When individuals need to decide upon their topics, please heed this piece of advice: select a topic about which you have a SINCERE interest, one about which you truly want to learn more. If, for example, you are a student of Biology (environment, ecology) a research paper that investigates a topic such as global warming or the reasons to develop plant-based “fuel” sources may be useful to in your future studies.

There are several research topics that I ask students to avoid. Although one might write a decent argument about one of these issues, for the most part, the topics are hackneyed (i.e., made trite by overuse). I will not accept or encourage research writing about gun control, euthanasia, capital punishment, the legalization of illicit drug, steroids, eating disorders, the negative effects of television on children, or inquiries about extraterrestrial life. Also, we are all already aware that there are scores of purchasable papers floating around (online, on campus, etc.).  Plagiarism of any sort on any assignment will result in automatic failure for the assignment and potentially failure for the entire semester. In order to pass ENG 101, students need to successfully demonstrate they understand and can apply the rules of MLA research: all research papers will require in-text citations and a Works Cited page. If either citations or the Works Cites Page is missing, the student will fail for the semester (and, thus, need to repeat ENG 101).

Please be exceptionally cautious about citing direct quotations (even if you are only quoting one or two words); facts and statistics and ideas that are unique must also be cited. We will speak in great detail during the preparation period for the documented essay about MLA rules for citations and assembling a proper works cited/bibliography. Until then, if you are curious about the the rules, I welcome you to peruse RCC’s Guide to the Documented Essay (specifically, MLA format) so that you can begin to put the rules into practice earlier on in the semester.

When the documented essays are due in December, I will be collecting all of the following materials from all ENG 101 students. Please keep all prewriting work, note cards, drafts, peer critiques, and so on.


1. Invention–all pages of rough, unpolished notes, outlines, preliminary working thesis, and note cards (keep everything for the Documented Essay in order to stay organized.)

2. Drafts:  at least two rough drafts; please be sure that these are legible since your classmates will be reading them as well.  Note: I usually only collect drafts for the documented essay, but to be on the safe side, try to keep a hard copy of your drafts for your own records. (There is nothing more frustrating that working hard on an essay and then having it disappear into the ether.)

3. Peer Response: we will complete three or four critiques during the time that you are writing your documented essays.  Please be sure to keep hold of your peers’ responses.

4. Final Version: this is the complete, revised and edited copy of the research essay.

5. Last, a letter from you to me: in the note (which may be handwritten), each student has the opportunity to tell me what worked best for during the research period, what did not, and which parts of the essay they feel are particularly strong or weak with explanation. In short, the letter provides you with a way to tell me what you learned from the assignment, and to excuse any minor errors, before I even begin to evaluate it. During the preparation for writing the Documented Essay, students will also have the opportunity to attain 40 points towards a total 100 used for the final grade on the required research essays. Please be sure to complete all assignments on time and to attend those important sessions come December.
Regarding ENG 101 final grades, participation includes each student’s preparation of drafts, oral participation in class, and participation in peer critique sessions. In a typical studio Art course, students are required to exhibit their painting, sculpture, photos, and so on. Please think about writing for this class in a similar fashion.
6.  Writing is a public form of art as well as being a deeply personal expression. My hope is that the peer critique sessions will give you greater confidence and poise in the realm of public academic writing.

Grading Policy
Formal Papers (3) x 20 = 60%

Documented Essay = 30%

Participation and Attendance = 10%

Attendance and Punctuality

Many people in the United States would like to enroll in college, but they cannot afford to do so. You or a person who loves you is paying RCC tuition. Please do not waste any of your valuable time or money by missing class. I recognize that cars break down, people become ill, and there are sudden emergencies. Overall, I think each student is entitled to one or two EXCUSED absences during the course of the term. An excused absence occurs when a student notifies the professor BEFORE class meets. For example, if you need to miss a class, you can send an email BEFORE the class is supposed to meet, you can leave a note in the mailbox next to my office (8304 in the Suite 8320) BEFORE the class meets, or you can leave a voice message on my RCC phone extension (574-4353) BEFORE the class meets. Unexcused absences occur when you do not come to class and you do not provide an excuse for your absence. I also consider tardiness a disruption to our class’ progress, so if you are chronically late, bear in mind that three late arrivals will constitute ONE unexcused absence. In addition to that rule, the following policy will be in effect as of this week:

2-3 unexcused absences = grade lowered by half (e.g., B to B-)
4-5 unexcused absences = grade lowered by whole letter (e.g., C to D) 5 or more unexcused absences = failure for the semester

Email to contact Professor McGovern: Kmcgover@sunyrockland.edu

Schedule of Assignments–ENG 101, Fall 2013

9/10      Introduction to class and to one another
9/12      Please read Chapter One in Ideas and Details and answer #14 on p.15. Then read Chapter 17 (grammar/style review) in Ideas and Details (take notes). We will discuss both chapters in class; today, we will also discuss grading criteria for Formal Papers (unity, coherence,clarity, development, and style and mechanics).

9/17     Please read Chapter Two, Ideas and Details (pp. 23-46). Answer #1 on p.46. Gender roles in Disney films might be the subject for your first draft for FP #1 9/19 Please also read “Brute Neighbors from Walden” (Thoreau) in Writing Nature (pp.93-97). We will discuss the essay in class. Students may select either Thoreau’s essay (“Brute Neighbors…”) or “What Disney Movies Really Teach Children” (by A. Seager) for the first formal response: FP #1.

9/24      Please read Ideas and Details, Chapter 5 (99-115) and bring a 400-500 word draft w/you to class today: it should be based upon either Thoreau’s essay or
“What Disney Films Really Teach…”.  We will briefly review both readings; then we will try our first in class peer critique. Please have your thesis written on a separate sheet of paper; also bring the handout from the first class(Questions for Peer Critique–attached to this syllabus).

9/26     Please read Ideas and Details pp.71-96 (begin w/”Roadblocks”). This chapter in Ideas and Details should help with the final preparations for Formal Paper #1.

10/1      Formal Paper #1 is due in class today; late papers will not be accepted. Please also submit you peer critiques. Then go on to read “Ponds” by Lewis Thomas (pp. 107-111) and “Basin and Range” by John McPhee (111-117). We will discuss the readings in class.

10/3      Please read “A Very Warm Mountain” by Ursula Le Guin (117-125). Before coming to class, please answer (from “Considerations…”) either question #1 or #2.

10/8     View from the four-part series by Ken Burns, The National Parks:  America’s Best Idea (PBS documentary).  Revised! Please be ON TIME!  The documentary will take the full class period.  Please also take notes.

10/10   Please read “Two Creation Stories” — Genesis 1-3 and “Marumda and Kuksu Make the World” (343-352) in Writing Nature. What are the major differences in each culture’s creation story? Do you notice any similarities in symbols or themes? Take notes; we will discuss the readings in class today

10/17–Professor McGovern was sick.  Please continue w/assignments as directed below.

10/22     Please read Henry Bibb’s Section XI from Narrative of the Life and Adventure of Henry Bibb, An American Slave (210-217). Take notes about the many plot details and events in the life of Mr. Bibb and his family; how does his portrait of nature differ from the Pomo Creation myth?

10/24    Please read Silko’s “Landscape, History, and the Pueblo Imagination” (381-393). The reading is a bit longer than average, so allow yourself extra time; then also answer “Considerations” question EITHER #1 OR #4 on p. 393.  Enjoy!  Leslie M. Silko is a wonderful writer of Pueblo-Laguna and Navajo origin.

10/29  Please read Noel Perrin’s “Forever Virgin: American Views of America” (369-381).  Please also answer question #2 (“Considerations”) or #2 in “Possibilities for Writing.” Looking back upon the other essays by men and women of color, how does the Anglo-American understanding of nature differ? Does it?  Is there a noticeable philosophical divide? What are they and the consequences? We will discuss in clas

10/31     Peer critique for FP #2 — please bring your 400-500 word typed draft to class today; we will complete peer critique in class.  Students may write FP #2 about any one essay in the month of October (from 10/3 to 10/29).

11/5      FP #2 is DUE at the start of class today; please be sure to submit your peer critiques as well. Then please go on to read Alice Walker’s essay, “Am I Blue?” (242-247). Since FP #2 is DUE today, please just look at the question’s following Ms. Walker’s essay.

11/7     Please read Peter Mathiessen’s excerpt for The Snow Leopard, pp. 46-57. Try to complete the exercise described, #1 in “Possibilities for Writing.” To complete such an observational reflection, I suggest students base an original ethnography on a single campus locations such as the cafeteria or game room.

11/12     Please read “May’s Lion” by Ursula K. LeGuin (pp. 306-314) and Barry Lopez’s excerpt for Crow and Weasel (pp.314-319). On page 313 (“May’s Lion”) answer question #4 (“Considerations”) OR try question #4 0r #5 on p. 318 for Lopez.  We’ll discuss the essays and your ideas in class.

11/14    Please read “The Face of a Spider” (235-241) and “Animal Rights and Beyond…” (548-555). Both essays are by David Quammen; after completing the two readings, answer EITHER #3 on p. 235 OR #5 on p. 554. Discussion to follow. (Warning: Quammen uses some language now considered offensive to people w/different abilities or handicaps. Were you bothered by that language? Why/why not?)

11/19   Please read “When Are Animal Experiments Justifiable” by Peter Singer (541-548).  Attempt to answer questions #1 & 2 (“Considerations”) at the top of p. 547.    I anticipate a lively discussion today! Please write out your answers and bring both the book and your answer to class.

11/21:     Peer critique for Formal Paper #3 (FP #3 can be about any reading we completed between 11/5 and 11/19).  If any student has a 90% average or above, the paper will be optional.  All other students must write FP #3 w/the intention to improve previous grades.  Good luck!  Also remember to use the Writing Center (Rm. 8349) as a resource for additional help.

11/26:   FP #3 is due today; we will also begin the discussion for your final research papers; as such, this is a very important class.  SUNY (in general) and RCC (specifically) both require all ENG 101 students to complete the research essay with a C or better in order to pass ENG 101. Do take notes, and pay careful attention. Review of MLA rules; please read Ideas & Details: Chapter 15, pp. 337-389. This may be the most important chapter in Bauman’s book; students should rely upon Chapter 15 (in Ideas and Details) whenever they have questions about research techniques and how to write entries for the Works Cited page.

11/28      No classes — Happy Thanksgiving!

12/3      Notecards and outline for documented essay are due today; bring work to class w/you. Together, they are worth 10 prewriting points.  Individual conferences will also be scheduled today; please come to class on time w/the work that is due.

12/5      Draft #1 (first 2 pages, 500 words) of your documented essay is due; students who fail to use citations will receive ZERO prewriting points. Be sure to have roughly the right length and your citations in place. (Worth 15 prewriting points.)

12/10     Individual conferences–as needed; these may also spill over into my office hours if necessary.

12/12      Individual conferences (see above)

12/17      Final peer critique of ENTIRE research essay: 4-6 pages, citations included, Works Cited on a separate, final page.  All of these are required today for students to earn the maximum prewriting points (worth final 15 points of 40 total).  Please do not lose points:  they are meant to be an incentive to complete this project successfully.

12/19      Final research essay is due ON TIME; final class. No late work will be accepted.   RCC faculty must submit grades quickly, so I need the time to read each essay.  Plagiarism:   a lack of citations, quotation marks (even for a few words or one sentence) AND/OR a missing Works Cited page is grounds for FAILURE. Do be careful  to research and cite ethically.  

Good luck everyone and thanks for a wonderful semester!

Enjoy the winter holiday and Happy 2014!

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