Instructor: Jacquelyn Blain                                               Email:

Meeting time (via Zoom): MW 2-3:40                           

Class meeting Zoom link: Co 

Office Hours: M 1-2 and by appt

OpenLab course site:

Write Out Loud!


Welcome to City Tech and English 1101. We are living through a very difficult time in our city, country, and world, and we’re all trying to adapt. In our class, we will prioritize intellectual nourishment, community, and humanity… and writing. If you have any concerns about the course or college, or if there is any situation preventing you from participating, please reach out to me – I’m easy to find (as you’ll learn). Know that I am here to work with you, no matter what crazy things happen.

Course Description:

A course in effective essay writing and basic research techniques including use of the library. Demanding readings assigned for classroom discussion and as a basis for essay writing.

AND as part of a First Year Learning Community with COMM1330, you’ll be doing research for and writing a 3-5 minute TEDTalk about a topic that matters to you and which you’ll turn into a video-recorded speech in the COMM class.

So what in the world does all of that mean? It means you write. All the time. On your phones. At work. In your classes. And you have opinions about writing, too (I hate it, I love it, I’m terrible at it because some said so…). In this course, you’ll take a look at what writing actually means for you – where those opinions came from, what your own process looks like, how to really figure out what other people are saying when they compose, how “writing” looks like in the 21st century.

For me, writing is a way to discover what I don’t know. And it’s a way to communicate with other people. I write, therefore I am (with apologies to the philosopher Descartes who wrote “I think, therefore I am.”).

So let’s write. And read. And watch. And discuss. And create (you’re going to like that part!). And get ready to do a TEDTalk!


CUNY proficiency in reading and writing

Course Meetings:

We’re a synchronous class, which means we meet twice a week online for an hour and fifteen minutes on Zoom. The link is here, on Blackboard, in an initial email I sent everybody… but if you still can’t find it, email me and I’ll send it along. These meetings are required.

One thing about homework – it’s all about sharing (I think I said that already), but it’s also how you brainstorm ideas and try new stuff out. There’s no “wrong” to the homework unless a) you don’t do it or b) you don’t give it enough care to actually do something meaningful. We’ll talk about what that looks like in class. And yes, it’s all required (participation grades – see below) for a good reason: don’t do the homework, get lost, do poorly on the major assignments. And… you can’t make up homework once we’ve left the unit where it’s assigned (more about that below, too).

Course Website:

This is the heart of the class. Everything will be here, including:

  • Announcements page – I post on this all the time! It’s the home page, and it’s always got something for you to look at and be reminded about (class stuff, CityTech info and deadlines, etc.).
  • Course Info (this syllabus, a tentative schedule, my contact information, the Zoom link for class meetings and office hours/conferences)
  • Class blog (homework and other stuff)
  • Google Drive (this is the link to our class Drive where you’ll upload all your assignments)
  • Tutorials, Help & Resources (how-to videos for creating a Post on OpenLaba; using Slack; working with the Google Drive; annotating with Perusall. There are also links to the library, Open Lab tech help, The Writing Center, etc.)
  • Grade book
  • Search (so you can find things on the blog)
  • Member list (click on their/your name, and everything you post in the blog will show up)

Course Tools and Required Materials :

  • Perusall: This is where the course readings and videos live, and where we’ll do annotations and have discussions about them. To register, go to, click on Register (it’s at the bottom), register (any email address will work just fine). Then check your email to get the link to join. Then join using “I’m a student” and this course code: BLAIN-V36UF.
  • Slack: I’ve set us up a Slack Workspace (I sent invitations the same day I sent the Welcome letter, so if you didn’t get it, let me know). If you know Discord, it’s pretty much the same, just a little more “professional,” and it’s been very successful for my classes. In the Workspace are several channels: #from-prof-blain, #general-comments-questions, and #go-wild-and-random (for silly stuff, like fun pics, memes, recommendations for books or movies or video games). Best of all, you can DM me or another member (or members) of your class. You can also attach files, links, images, connect to our Google Folder, whatever you want. I respond between 9am and 9pm, so it’s easy to find me.
  • Google Drive: The link is on the main OpenLab menu. There’s a set of folders to upload your work. We’ll also use it for in-class activities occasionally.
  • The New York Times (create a free Academic Pass account with your City Tech email.)


What you should expect from me (and you should hold me to it!):

  • 24 hour turnaround time for emails. If you don’t hear from me within 24 hours, try again (or let me know via Slack). Sometimes emails don’t go through.
  • 12 hour turnaround time for Slack texts. I’ll probably get back to you within an hour or so if not immediately since I have my notifications on from 9 am to 9 pm. You can text me any time, but I do need some sleep!
  • One week turnaround for drafts. Sometimes it’s faster, sometimes life interferes and I’m a little late, but I promise I’ll keep you posted.
  • Regular posts on the Announcements page in OpenLab and the #from-prof-blain channel on Slack. This includes everything from reminders about assignments to information from CityTech to summaries of what we’ve been doing.
  • Respect for your personal situation and willingness to listen patiently. I mentioned this already, but I’ll do my best to take everybody’s individual situation into account about things like family situations, technology issues, etc.
  • Respect for diversity. (I borrowed this from the University of Iowa but that’s because it’s so well written and I totally agree with it.)

“It is my intent that students from all diverse backgrounds and perspectives be well served by this course, that students’ learning needs be addressed both in and out of class, and that the diversity that students bring to this class be viewed as a resource, strength and benefit. It is my intent to present materials and activities that are respectful of diversity: gender, sexuality, disability, age, socioeconomic status, ethnicity, race, and culture. Your suggestions are encouraged and appreciated. Please let me know ways to improve the effectiveness of the course for you personally or for other students or student groups. In addition, if any of our class meetings conflict with your religious events, please let me know so that we can make arrangements for you.”

What I expect from you:

  • Stay in touch with me. As I said, I’m easy to find, so don’t be shy.
  • Respect each other. I’m very easy-going most of the time, but the one thing that I get seriously upset about is someone being disrespectful to their fellow students. If I get a sense that someone’s being mean, or someone complains (and please do let me know if someone is making you uncomfortable), I reserve the right to have a private chat with that person and see what’s going on.
  • Give it your best effort. Be creative, be professional, be yourself, jump in.

Grading Breakdown :

Unit 1 – Education Narrative (10%)

Draft of Education Narrative (10 pts)

[Participation (5 pts)]

Unit 2 – Researching and Writing a TEDTalk (10%)

Draft of Reflective Annotated Bibliography (5 points)

TEDTalk (5 pts)

[Participation (5 pts)]

Unit 3 – Writing in a New Genre (10%)

Project (8 pts)

Artist’s Statement (5 pts)

[Participation/Attendance (2 pts)]

Final Participation Grade (20%)

Calculated at end of course from combined unit participation points plus 5 points for doing the introductory posts the first week.    

Final Portfolio (50%)

Revisions of Unit 1 and Unit 2 (20 pts)

Final Course Reflection (30 pts)

Let’s break this down a little more:

  • Unit Grade: You’ll see I’ve called it a “draft” and there’s a reason for that. I know you’ll hate this, but those of us who write for a living know that writing is actually re-writing: start with garbage, get feedback, re-think, move things around, re-think, complain a lot, get more feedback, tweak things, edit for sentences to make sense, get more feedback, proofread. It’s called the writing process for a reason! The Unit Grade is for step one: the initial draft and getting the process started. The Final Revision goes in the Final Portfolio at the end of the term, and the Unit Grade can (and usually does) change based on that final revision. Up to then, you have the chance to revise all you want.
    • WARNING: You must turn in a draft of some kind the day it’s due for each unit; simply doing everything at the end of the term and submitting it in the Final Portfolio won’t work. No draft = 0 points as a Unit Grade, and that won’t change even if the draft you submit as part of the Final Portfolio is brilliant.
  • Participation: It’s worth 20% of your grade in this class, which is a lot. What does it mean? How is it calculated?
    • A large part of what you’ll be doing is what we call “low-stakes writing” – stuff we do in class or as daily homework. That means you have to be in class to get credit for some of it, and you have to keep up with the rest of it. In fact, once we get through a unit, you can’t go back and “make up” homework.
    • Why is this important? Because you’re not learning how to write one particular paper (one “product”) or how to do one particular thing. You’re learning about the process of reading and writing and researching and thinking and all of that other behind-the-scenes stuff that leads to that product. You skip those steps, and your final “product” is likely to be pretty awful. You have to run dribbling practice before you can be Kevin Durant.
    • How is all of this low-stakes stuff graded? Mostly it’s based on whether you do it or not. But you also have to do it thoroughly and thoughtfully, and in a timely manner. I’ve built in lots of places for simple fun writing, so it’s not all serious and fraught with danger. We’ll also talk about what it means to do “good” work on things like annotations and giving each other supportive feedback, so you’ll have plenty of practice.
    • Final note: writing is largely about discipline and routine… just like any job you’ll ever have. But it also means getting involved in the life of the class. I know – we’re on Zoom. Black boxes and silence. But there will be plenty of opportunities to get to know each other even with Zoom. Take advantage of them, and that will also help your participation grade (because it will show in the work!).

Late Paper Policy:

Major essays are due before class begins on the due date. I know things happen, especially in the world we’re navigating our way through right now. So if you’re having trouble – technical or otherwise – just get in touch with me via Slack or email, and we’ll work it out. That said, if I don’t hear anything from you, I tend to get grouchy: chronically turning things in late without talking to me about your situation first is really not fair to other students who have done their work on time. Your grade will reflect that. So get in touch!

Revision Policy:

I talked about this already. Just making sure you’re paying attention! Remember: you must turn in a first draft when it’s due so that the grade on your final revision can replace it. No rough draft, no time to get feedback or do revisions, no change in grade at the end because the Final Revision will only be a rough draft! This course is designed to give you as much feedback and time to revise as you want, so take advantage of it.

University Policies:

Accessibility Statement:

City Tech is committed to supporting the educational goals of enrolled students with disabilities in the areas of enrollment, academic advisement, tutoring, assistive technologies, and testing accommodations. If you have or think you may have a disability, you may be eligible for reasonable accommodations or academic adjustments as provided under applicable federal, state and city laws. You may also request services for temporary conditions or medical issues under certain circumstances. If you have questions about your eligibility or would like to seek accommodation services or academic adjustments, you can leave a voicemail at 718-260-5143, send an email to:, or visit the Center’s website at for more information.

Academic Integrity:

Students and all others who work with information, ideas, texts, images, music, inventions, and other intellectual property owe their audience and sources accuracy and honesty in using, crediting, and citing sources. As a community of intellectual and professional workers, the College recognizes its responsibility for providing instruction in information literacy and academic integrity, offering models of good practice, and responding vigilantly and appropriately to infractions of academic integrity. Accordingly, academic dishonesty is prohibited in The City University of New York and at New York City College of Technology and is punishable by penalties, including failing grades, suspension, and expulsion. The complete text of the College policy on Academic Integrity may be found in the catalog.[9]

Support Resources:

College Writing Center:

Online writing tutoring is available through the Writing Center at City Tech! I encourage you to utilize their services. Keep in mind you’ll need to make an appointment ahead of time. It’s unlikely they’ll be able to squeeze you in at the last minute, especially during busy times, so plan ahead!


The transition to college is challenging for everyone. It is helpful to periodically reflect on how you are doing in your classes, and how your anticipated area of study (major) is progressing, as well as to plan next steps.Once advisement begins, you will be assigned a faculty advisor. During this period, if you have not been emailed and/or you do not see your advisor/appointment on CUNY First, go to your major’s homepage; there, you will find advisement details that will include contact information, as well as dates and times.

English 1101 Learning Outcomes:

Departmental Learning Outcomes:

It is expected that at a minimum, students in ENG 1101 will:

Read and listen critically and analytically in a variety of genres and rhetorical situations: Identify and evaluate exigencies, purposes, claims, supporting evidence, and underlying assumptions in a variety of texts, genres, and media.

Adapt to and compose in a variety of genres: Adapt writing conventions in ways that are suitable to different exigencies and purposes in a variety of contexts, including academic, workplace, and civic audiences. When appropriate, repurpose prior work to new genres, audiences, and media by adjusting delivery, design, tone, organization, and language.

Use research as a process of inquiry and engagement with multiple perspectives: Learn to focus on a topic and develop research questions that lead to propositions and claims that can be supported with well-reasoned arguments. Persuasively communicate and repurpose research projects across a variety of contexts, purposes, audiences, and media. Demonstrate research skills through attribution and citation gathering, evaluating, and synthesizing both primary and secondary sources. Learn how to use appropriate citation styles depending on disciplinary and situational requirements (MLA, APA, Chicago, etc.).

Use reflection and other metacognitive processes to revise prior assumptions about reading and writing and transfer acquired knowledge into new writing situations. Students write reflections of their own reading and writing process from the beginning and throughout the semester with the intention to transfer their acquired knowledge about genre and composing practices into new writing situations.

Demonstrate the social and ethical responsibilities and consequences of writing: Recognize that first-year writing includes academic, workplace, and civic contexts, all of which require careful deliberation concerning the ethical and social ramifications concerning fairness, inclusivity, and respect for diversity. Write and revise for academic and broader, public audiences accordingly.

Compose in 21st– Century Environments: Learn to choose among the most current and effective delivery methods for different composing situations. Students learn to compose in new media environments, including alphabetic texts, still and moving images, sonic, and mixed media compositions. Use digital media platforms appropriate to audience and purpose.

CUNY Pathways Learning Outcomes:

A course in this area must meet all of the following learning outcomes. A student will:

  • Read and listen critically and analytically, including identifying an argument’s major assumptions and assertions and evaluating its supporting evidence.
  • Write clearly and coherently in varied, academic formats (such as formal essays, research papers, and reports) using standard English and appropriate technology to critique and improve one’s own and others’ texts.
  • Demonstrate research skills using appropriate technology, including gathering, evaluating, and synthesizing primary and secondary sources.
  • Support a thesis with well-reasoned arguments, and communicate persuasively across a variety of contexts, purposes, audiences, and media.
  • Formulate original ideas and relate them to the ideas of others by employing the conventions of ethical attribution and citation.
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