City Tech, Fall 2016

Category: Announcements

Wrapping Up the Semester

We made it! A few things to keep in mind as we wrap up this semester:

Final Draft of Write-Up +Reflection
Due 11:59pm on Mo 12/19. Remember, you need to submit two ways: 1) create an OpenLab post with the revised abstract in the post and the Essay (with Cover Letter as first pages of the file) as a PDF (label correctly!) … this is a public document! 2) Dropbox as a Microsoft Word document (label correctly!)

Final Course Reflections
Individual Final Course Reflection is due by 4pm on Tu 12/20 (this is a mandatory–not optional–assignment). You will be submitting the reflection privately (only I will see it) via Dropbox, as a Microsoft Word document (correctly labeled). Refer to the Final Course Reflection page on our site for details on this assignment.

Final Project Grades / Final Course Grades

The deadline for professors to submit final course grades for the Fall 2016 semester is Tu 12/27 at midnight. Please wait to view your course grade online through CUNYfirst (I will not be giving out final course grades via e-mail).

Final grades are non-negotiable, though I am always more than happy to discuss them/your work with you at any point in person. If you would like to discuss any of your grades/receive additional feedback on your Project (project grades will be posted as a “private” comment to your Final Project posts on our OpenLab site), feel free to e-mail me to do so (we can always also schedule an appointment to discuss your work in-person when we return to campus at the end of January, when the new semester starts up).

Thank you, & stay in touch!
Finally, it was a pleasure to work with you all this semester. I wish you the best of luck wrapping up the semester and on your final exams, and in your future endeavors at City Tech, & beyond. You all worked incredibly hard this semester, and I really appreciate your consistent effort and good cheer each week. I hope you enjoyed yourselves and learned a lot about science fiction and critical thinking / reading / writing / reflection. There will be some exciting developments at the college related to Science Fiction in coming semesters, so do be on the look out for announcements about them! Have a wonderful winter break & happy holiday season (best of luck in 2017!), & don’t hesitate to be in touch /stop by my office in future semesters to discuss your work in this course/beyond (or chat science fiction in general!), and/or to just say hi  :)


Class Today in Library: Visit to the City Tech Science Fiction Archive

Hi everyone! Just a friendly reminder that today, as a class, we are visiting the City Tech Science Fiction Archive. Therefore, we won’t be meeting in our normal classroom (M305); instead, we will meet outside the library, 4th floor of the Atrium. Please make sure that you are there no later than 4pm, so that we can do an introduction to the archive there and then head into the library together. If you have any questions, please “reply” to this post & someone will answer.

See you all soon 🙂

Today is the City Tech Science Fiction Symposium!

Poster designed by Marlon Palmer

Poster designed by Marlon Palmer

Hi everyone:

Don’t forget that today, from 9am-5pm, is City Tech’s Science Fiction Symposium! Stop by for any or all of it, and get extra credit for attending/blogging about your reflections of it & what you learned there (see Schedule for details about the extra credit).

The Symposium presentation schedule and other information is here. A number of students in our class (Joselin, Rino, Alex, Shiasja, Moises, Cody) are presenting on the student roundtable at 3pm, so come cheer them on 🙂

Symposium on Amazing Stories: Inspiration, Learning, and Adventure in Science Fiction, Tues. Nov. 29, 9am-5pm, Namm 119, Schedule



Strategies for Drafting + Revising Essays

These are some notes reflecting on Essay 1, and strategies for you as you work on Essay 2. The goal is to get you thinking about the drafting & revision process holistically, and to understand the different components (argument, structure, etc.) that go into creating an effective thesis-driven essay.

I also strongly encourage everyone to review the Essay Assignment & the requirements/expectations, before submitting your final draft. You may also want to review the Writing Resources I provided. And remember, your final draft should be fully revised, and that you should include a reflective (also fully revised) Cover Letter that should be one full page single-spaced.

As you work on Essay 2, you should pay particular attention to:

  • The focus/sophistication/clarify/persuasiveness of your argument (both in your opening paragraph and in its development throughout the body of the essay).
  • The quality and incorporation of textual evidence (using a mix of summary, paraphrase, quotations, signal phrases, introducing/contextualizing this textual evidence)
  • Correct/complete citations (both in-text and Work Cited)
  • Sentence-level issues, including proofreading. Nobody should be turning in a final draft with any typos or other similar errors in it. You should revise your draft thoroughly, including reading it out loud to catch any mistakes.


Here are some more helpful thoughts about drafting / revising:

  • Your thesis should be the final sentence of your first paragraph, but you should spend the entire Introduction developing/working up to this final claim (think of it as a “thesis-paragraph,” rather than a thesis “sentence”). Make sure that your Introduction (thesis paragraph) provides an outline (a road map) of your essay/argument. Introduce/define any central key terms/concepts here as well. This first paragraph – the thesis paragraph is key: don’t start with generalities about technology or machines (etc.) or a basic summary of your broad topic or text. The purpose of this paragraph is to introduce readers to your focused/specific argument in relation to the novel. So, here, you should provide only the specific information readers will need to understand your argument in this essay.
  • Everyone needs to think about your readers’ expectations. You should assume they have read but not thought carefully about the novel. You need to provide information to guide them through the presentation/discussion/analysis of your argument (don’t just jump right into the middle of things). What information do your readers need, in what order, to understand and be convinced of your thesis?
  • Use your topic sentences to lead with your claims (and their significance) instead of just listing a detail/fact from a source. You don’t want your essay to stay in the same place (horizontal); instead you want it to grow and build with each new paragraph. It is crucial that you use transitions, reflect on the links between your various sentences, ideas, sources (etc.), and then connect the dots for your readers (don’t leave them guessing). You need to bring something new to your topic (not just re-presenting back facts/observations from the text/s). I know that this can seem like a daunting task for an essay, but remember that synthesizing/integrating all of the information you have found and weaving it together is already a work of intellectual effort (which involves analysis, evaluation, narrative/story-telling, etc.). You want to provide argument and analysis, not merely describe facts.
  • Use transitions to connect your ideas. Don’t have ideas jumbled in the same paragraph or merely string quotes together. Evidence (quotes, examples from the text/s) must be clearly introduced, explained, and analyzed. You have to connect the dots for your readers. Clearly explain the significance of your points (it’s like baking – you might have all the ingredients on the table, but if you don’t know what to do with them, you can’t bake the cake!). Really think about the argument/structure of your essay: what do your various paragraphs (and ideas) have to do with each other, other than the fact that they are dealing with the same text or broad general topic? What other deeper, less superficial connections can you highlight for your readers?
  • In general, you need to make sure that whatever you write serves a particular purpose in your essay. There are many places where you might make general statements (e.g., humans and machines are similar to each other) or hint at some larger point but don’t actually take the statement to its logical conclusion (ex: technology can be a good or bad thing … ok … but how/why?). These sections take up precious space but don’t add anything significant to the essay. You have to get to the point you faster,  try to completely cut the fluff and then draw out the significance of your points (this is where the “so what?” comes in). Try to avoid fluff, wordiness, repetition, and generality: saying the same thing over and over again in different ways or talking around the text. When you quote, you should comment on/analyze the text rather than merely describing it (move beyond simply providing evidence).
  • This assignment is a close reading of one text (don’t bring in outside information or spend time discussing the “real world” or “our society”). Therefore, you will need to return to the novel repeatedly as you revise. Why are the parts of the text you chose to discuss in your essay (the evidence) important? Grapple with the ideas. Beware of absolutes/over-simplifications – nuances and complexity are interesting. Remember, you don’t have have to make a one-sided/absolute argument. What does your approach offer the reader in terms of seeing these text in a new light? Work on presenting a complex, nuanced argument.
  • Mostly everyone will need to spend extra time drafting/revising his/her introduction. But in order to figure out what you are (or are not, in some cases!) saying, you need to go back to the body paragraphs. Then get your argument and put it up front. Then go back and make sure each body paragraph supports this main point with evidence and analysis. Then re-write the conclusion. In fact, if you are having trouble clarifying your argument, look to your conclusion (often things come together there in a first draft, as it is the natural place where everything culminates), but part of your work in revising is to bring that material forward and integrate it throughout (to work on structure). Then check to see (by looking at all of your claims isolated together) if there is development and it makes logical sense. Then revise. Etc. You get it. Writing is recursive, revision, a process. It is ongoing, difficult work. But you can do it


Happy National Day on Writing!

Today, Thursday, October 20, 2016, is National Day on Writing! You can more about this on NCTE’s new website for the day. A primary way this day is being celebrated / organized is through the use of a hashtag: #WhyIWrite. As the website states,

“You see, people tend to think of writing in terms of pencil-and-paper assignments, but no matter who you are, writing is part of your life. It’s part of how you work, how you learn, how you remember, and how you communicate. It gives voice to who you are and enables you to give voice to the things that matter to you.

For the past 8 years, we’ve seen thousands of people share their responses and engage in activities around the theme of #WhyIWrite. Their collective voices are raising the volume on this issue.”

You can follow this live conversation unfolding on Twitter, and participate there if you want.

This is an opportunity to consider why you write, the role it has in your life, and perhaps even how your writing is expanding in new media composing environments (digital writing, blogging, videos, etc.) or in relation to science fiction. Anyone who wants to do so may post for extra credit (post by Su 10/23 at 11:59pm). This is an optional post, and can be approached any way you feel would be most appropriate (you can browse the national conversation happening online to get inspiration) … feel to be as creative as you’d like! And feel free to include images, videos, links, etc. [anything that will help us to understand why you write and what writing means to you]

*As you know, extra credit blogs will replace missing blogs (or count as additional credit if you’ve done all of them already). There are only two grades for these extra credit blogs (100 and 0). If you write a thoughtful #WhyIWrite post, you will receive 100% (an “A”) for the assignment. If you choose note to post (or if it is too short/not fulfilling the purposes of this task), you will receive a “0.”

This Week: Essay #1 and ‘Do Android Dream of Electric Sheep?”

I hope everyone is doing well. It’s been a long time since we’ve met, and hopefully everyone has been using their time productively, working on Essay #1 and reading through our next novel. I look forward to seeing you all in class on Thursday and Friday (CUNY Tuesday) 🙂

Essay #1 is due by the start of class on Th 10/13. You must bring a printed copy to class as well as submit it to Dropbox. Please makes sure to read through the Essay #1 Assignment & the general assignment guidelines. All essays must have a Cover Letter, and be thoroughly revised/proofread (I suggest reading your essay out loud, once you’re at the final stages, to catch your mistakes).

We’re also beginning our discussion of Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? this week, so make sure you come to class on Thursday having read/annotated chapters 1-5. Response blogs are due, as always, the night before class, and you should be reading/commenting on your classmates’ blogs as well.

Finally, thanks to those of you who did the extra credit blogs on the movie versions of Brave New World. Those blogs (along with all other blogs from the semester) have been graded, and you can always check your blog grades in your “Dashboard” under “Posts.” Grades are private (no one else can see them), and correspond to the Blogging Rubric/Guidelines. As always, I’m happy to discuss individual blogs with anyone during my office hours.

If you have any questions, feel free to comment on this post (or to email me, if it is a private matter).

Paid Student Blogger Position: The Buzz on the OpenLab is Hiring!

The Buzz is hiring! The Buzz  is an Openlab student project dedicated to all things City Tech, where students blog about themselves and/or topics of their choice. The OpenLab Team seeks enthusiastic student bloggers to join The Buzz and create conversation, community, and engagement on the OpenLab and strengthen the intellectual and social life of the college community.

Why join the OpenLab student blogging team?

  • Publish your work on the OpenLab and develop a public portfolio of professional writing
  • Learn best practices for managing an online presence, social media writing professionally, and developing a personal brand
  • Build your resume and get paid $500/semester

Application deadline is this Monday, 10/12 at 12pm (noon). Full details about the position and the application materials can be found here.

Two Extra Credit Opportunities: Movie Versions of ‘Brave New World’

I am offering two extra credit blogs based on two different movie versions of Brave New World (please categorize appropriately). For each blog, you should provide a response based on a comparative analysis of the novel and the particular film (this response can also include your thoughts on/opinions of/reactions to the film).  You may choose to write just one blog or both, but all blogs are due Tu 10/6 by 4pm, should be a minimum of 500 words.

Here are links to the two versions of the movie:

As you watch the film(s) and draft your response(s), you should definitely take stock of similarities and differences between the novel and the film, but this is only a first (pre-draft) step. Your response blog should not only note key similarities and/or differences but also (and this is the crucial part!) discuss the significance of these similarities and/or differences.  Putting two texts in dialogue with each other allows you to create a more nuanced argument about them. Remember, your goal is not to simply list your observations (for example: these are the things than are different in the film) but to critically analyze these differences (how do omitted/added/revised characters, plot details, conflicts, etc. change our understanding of the text?).

Extra credit blogs will replace missing blogs (or count as additional credit if you’ve done all of them already). There are only two grades for these extra credit blogs (100 and 0). If you watch the films & blog your responses/reflections completely (in terms of length and content) and thoughtfully, you will receive 100% (an “A”) for the assignment. If you do not turn in the assignment (or if it is too short/not fulfilling the purposes of the assignment), you will receive a “0.” Don’t forget to take notes during the films, so you can include concrete details from the events in your blogs.

This Sunday: Science Fiction Event at Brooklyn Book Festival (extra credit opportunity!)

This Sunday (9/18) is the Brooklyn Book Festival, and there is an exciting & super-relevant event happening at 5pm that day: “Not So Generic: Diversity in Science Fiction” (presented by the Center for Fiction). The event is local, free, & no tickets are required. Visit the link above for full details.

This is a totally optional thing, but I encourage you to attend this talk if you can and to share what you’ve learned with the class. If you attend & blog in response by start of class on Tu 9/20, you will get extra credit (yay!). This extra credit will replace a missing blog if you missed some blogs, or it will count as extra credit if already you did all of your blogs (bonus points). Please note that there are only two grades for this extra credit blog: 100 and 0. If you attend the event and blog your responses/reflections thoughtfully and comprehensively, you will receive 100% (otherwise,  you will receive no credit). Don’t forget to take notes at the event, so you can include concrete details in your blog.

Please categorize your blog as “Diversity in Science Fiction (Brooklyn Book Festival)”.