Professor Belli | Fall 2022 | City Tech

Unit 1: Education Narrative Assignment

This week we’ll be reviewing the Unit 1: Education Narrative assignment and discussing it in more detail as you work on your first drafts.

Before you go any further, go back and re-read the assignment, to refresh your memory on what its purpose and expectations are. After you’ve finished that, keep on reading here …

If you’ve been keeping up with the homework, you’ve already done a ton of work on this assignment (perhaps without even realizing it!). You’ve read/annotated/discussed a number of examples of Education Narratives and started drafting your own by recalling and describing an educational experience from your past that was meaningful to you in some way.

Now it’s time to expand that work into a complete first draft of the assignment. You can use the material you posted last week for your Education Narrative blog, but you can also change the incident if you decide a different one would be more effective and appropriate for this assignment. Continuing to freewrite on your own is a great way to expand your existing material — from there, you can shape this content into a fully formed first draft.

*Pro tip! A key to a successful essay for Unit 1 is to strike a good balance between the two required components (see the gray box section of the assignment, that highlights these two tasks): narrating the event and then discussing its significance. Devote sufficient time to each, rather than spending the majority of the essay describing the event and then tacking on one short (general) paragraph at the end about its impact. Be specific throughout, and make sure to help your readers understand how/why the event you’re discussing influenced you, and what that specific influence is.

Examples: Below are examples of student work (provided by the First Year Writing office, with permission of the students):

Details for this first draft, along with the Dropbox link for its submission, are on the Schedule page. Please make sure to follow the instructions for submission: file type (Microsoft Word), naming conventions, and the deadline.

*Details for the Final Draft (including information about the Reflective Cover Letter) + a new Dropbox link will be posted with the Week 5 materials next Monday.

A few friendly reminders:

  • Deadlines are not arbitrary or suggestions. As per the Syllabus, I don’t accept late work unless you have discussed with me (ideally ahead of time) and received my approval.
  • The Dropbox links are the only way that I will be collecting formal assignments, so don’t post your work to the OpenLab or email it to me. These links will be closed (and won’t accept further submissions) after the deadline passes, so please make sure to submit your work in advance of the deadline.
  • More details about the logistics of formal assignments (Unit 1 is one of these!) are in the new resource I posted, Assignments: Formatting, Guidelines, and Submission.
  • Plagiarism is unacceptable and will not be tolerated. If you have any questions about plagiarism (or what constitutes it), please see me to discuss.

Feedback & Revision

Later this week you’ll be peer-reviewing one another’s first drafts in small groups. More details about how this will work (and what’s expected of you) will be posted on Wednesday after first drafts are submitted.

If you don’t turn in a first draft by the deadline (12pm on W 9/14), you won’t receive the benefit of feedback from your classmates during Peer Review (or feedback from me).

Let’s Discuss!

Here is the space to ask any & all questions about the assignment, and where I will also be posting holistic (class) feedback and tips for revision. As always, review all materials (and click all links) before asking questions, as you may find the answer you’re looking for there. But if not, ask away!


  1. Lizbeth

    when is the second draft due?

    • Jill Belli

      Thanks Lizbeth for your question. You are submitting two drafts for this assignment — the first draft (due today, W 9/14, by noon), and the final draft, due Friday, 9/23 by noon (this due date is listed on the assignment).

      First drafts need to be submitted and will get the benefit of peer review and feedback (but these are ungraded); final drafts will receive a formal grade from me.

  2. Jill Belli

    Happy Wednesday everyone, and thanks to those of you who have already submitted your first drafts!

    A friendly reminder that the deadline to submit first drafts of Unit 1 is 12pm (noon) today, W 9/14, via Dropbox. The link is on the Schedule. The Dropbox link will close then, so make sure to submit your work on time (don’t wait until 11:59am to submit, in case you encounter technical difficulties!).

    I cannot accept late submissions or submissions via email. Please also make sure to submit with the correct file name and as a Word document (not as a PDF file). If you need a copy of Microsoft Word, note that all CUNY students have access to Office 365 Education (using their CUNY credentials): [scroll down to find the Office 365 section]

    After the deadline passes and I have a chance to go through the drafts, I will be posting the Peer Review groups and instructions this afternoon, so stay tuned for another post then.

    Thanks all, and looking forward to seeing your first drafts 🙂

  3. Jill Belli

    Heads-up that details for the Peer Review are now posted (check the Schedule and the newest Writing Workshop post I made, and note the deadline extension … you’re welcome!). If you have any questions about Peer Review, ask them as a comment on that Peer Review post.

  4. Jill Belli

    This information is on the Schedule for Week 5 (that’s this week!), but I just want to highlight here as well. As always, comment here if you have any questions.

    DUE: Unit 1: Education Narrative (Final Draft) with Cover Letter (see below for instructions)

    *Submit Cover Letter + Education Narrative together as one Word document file, clearly labeled (e.g., Jill Belli, Education Narrative, Final Draft) via this Dropbox link

    *The Dropbox submission link will automatically close at 12pm. Please submit your work on time.

    *Review the Assignments; Formatting, Guidelines, & Submission page before you submit.

    Cover Letter

    An important component of any writing is your reflection on it. This Reflection is your Cover Letter.

    • Your Cover Letter should be 2-3 paragraphs, single-spaced (note: this letter does not count toward the minimum length of your essay
    • Address it to your reader (that’s me! e.g., Dear Professor Belli …)
    • Write in first person (it can be informal/personal)
    • Include the Cover Letter as the first page of your Dropbox submission file
    • Essays without Reflective Cover letters will not be accepted & will receive no credit

    This Cover Letter presents the process behind your essay, and therefore doesn’t restate what your essay claims (the product) but rather discusses your drafting/revising process for this essay.

    Even though this is your Final Draft submission to me, you should have gone through a number of steps (pre-drafts such as brainstorming, freewriting, outlining, peer review, first drafts, conferences with me and Writing Center tutors–if you wish, editing, proofreading) before you hand it in. This Cover Letter shows how your essay has changed along the way.

    Respond to the questions below — but holistically, in paragraph form (not in bullets, or in any particular order). But also feel free to add any other questions/concerns you have about your essay or the writing process.

    • What do you see as your main point (argument), and how has it changed from first draft to this final draft?
    • Describe your drafting and revision process. What was most challenging? How did you approach those challenges? How did Peer Review help you with these revisions? What about any discussions with me in my Office Hours or with a tutor at the Writing Center?
    • What’s the number one question about your essay–its argument, structure, use of evidence, persuasiveness, style, and so on–that you most would like to get feedback on, and why?
    • Choose two elements of your essay–one that you think works well, and one that feels less successful–and describe why.
    • What would you continue to work on in further revision?
  5. Jill Belli

    I’m really looking forward to reading all of your Education Narratives soon! It’s so wonderful to learn about the experiences that have shaped the way you view your learning.

    A friendly reminder about the deadline for the final draft: I’ve extended it to Saturday, 9/24 at 11:59pm.

    One last pro-tip! Just when you think you’re done with the assignment, go back and read through your writing one more time to proofread and do final editing (remember, editing is a different stage than revising). Something that has always worked for me (and that I always encourage my students to do!) is to read your writing out loud (yes, to yourself!) slowly. This helps to catch typos and other sentence-level mistakes, as well as to get a sense of the flow of our writing and the language we choose. So go ahead and give it a try — it really will help your writing to be more polished. The “Revising Drafts” handout (UNC Writing Center) from this week’s reading also suggests this strategy.

    And speaking of that reading, you may want to check out the “Editing and Proofreading” handout (also from the UNC Writing Center), linked from there: You may have already clicked through and read it (it’s always a good idea to click on / read through all links in the assignment material!), but if not, I encourage you to do so now, before turning in your final draft.

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