Syllabus – ENG 1121

Spring 2021 – O449

Instructor: Jacquelyn Blain                                                   


Meeting time (via Zoom): T/Th 11:30-12:45                        

Office Hours: M 11-12 and by appointment                                                                                         

Writing in Context(s)

Course Description:

As the second semester course in City Tech’s first-year writing program sequence, we’ll deepen our analytical understanding of writing and rhetoric by considering more rigorously how authors produce texts in response to a variety of situations and contexts. We’ll build awareness about how communities create their own discourses, explore how research of all kinds can help you build credibility and put texts into a conversation, and offer you opportunities to write in a variety of genres and forms across a wide array of situations. Throughout this journey, we’ll offer you tools to become more successful in your writing process, and more aware of why we make the choices we make when we write. The ultimate goal of ENG 1101 and ENG 1121 at City Tech is to provide you with the rhetorical awareness and tools to transfer your writing skills to any type of situation that requires a written response. So we’ll explore situations even beyond the scope of this class, and look outward at how you can become a successful writer throughout your college career and life beyond the academy.

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. It also means you write different things depending on the situation. Texts. Flyers for organizations. Essays for class. Because you’re not just one thing, and you communicate in lots of different ways.

You write for yourself, and you write for the world. Inward and outward. And the outward part is what we’re going to concentrate on this term.

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!).

Prerequisite:  CUNY proficiency in reading and writing

Learning Outcomes: It is expected that at a minimum, students in ENG 1121 will:

1.   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.

2. 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.

3. 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.).

4. 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.

5. 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.

6. 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.

And what does all of that mean? It means there’s more to writing than college essays. It means that people speak in more than one way. It means that communication relies on a whole bunch of stuff. And mostly it means we’re in the 21st century, for goodness sake, so let’s look at what that means and how to do it better.

Course Texts: all online in Open Lab in the Course Readings section.

CityTech Writing Center: If you want some extra help, or if I suggest it, CityTech has its own Writing Center which is free for all students. The tutors can help you with assignments from any course, not just English, as well as application letters for things like jobs or scholarships. The WC is open every weekday, and it’s building and growing to meet everybody’s needs. Check out the OpenLab site to make an appointment and to find a lot of good materials that you can use on your own.

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, please contact the Center for Student Accessibility at 300 Jay Street room L-237, 718 260 5143 or

Academic Integrity and Plagiarism Statement

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 at New York City College of Technology and is punishable by penalties, including failing grades, suspension, and expulsion. In the Resources tab on our OpenLab site, you’ll find an Academic Integrity Pledge which the College would like you to read.

Sanctions for Academic Integrity Violations

In accordance with the CUNY Policy on Academic Integrity, NYCCT empowers its Academic Integrity Committee and Academic Integrity Officer to process violations of the CUNY Academic Integrity Policy. As stated in the student handbook, all instructors must report all instances of academic dishonesty to the Academic Integrity Officer.

Course Policies

Attendance: This is what’s called a synchronous class, meaning we have set meeting times. And we’ll be using Zoom. Yes, Zoom. There’s a link in the Communications section of the OpenLab site. If you’re having technology problems or life has interfered with you getting there, just email me or send me a text on Slack, and we’ll work it out. For me, attendance really means you’re mostly here, and if you’re often late or missing, it will have an impact on the work you do. I find that lots of missed class meetings usually translates into poor grades, so come to the sessions or be in contact with me as soon as something happens so I can make a note and we can work out how to deal with in-class materials.

Missed Work and Late Papers: Pretty simple: don’t. Honestly, if you fall behind, you’ll likely never catch up. And I won’t read things that are posted/uploaded late, just because I don’t have time either! One word of caution: you really can’t miss most of the class meetings and/or due dates, and expect to pass the class. It’s not about turning things in; it’s about being part of the life of the class, and if you’re not a part of it, I can’t give you any feedback or help you with the course materials. Again, if you’re having problems, let me know as soon as possible so we can figure things out.

Participation: Why does participation matter? Why do we give grades and feedback about it? Every instructor has their own reasons. But mine are because I truly believe that the more involved you get with the life of the class, the more you’ll take away from it and be able to use it in other classes and in your life. I also believe that people “participate” in their own way, and “talking” isn’t the only way — I was the shyest person in every class when I was an undergrad. By the time I got to grad school, I had been through a lot and just couldn’t shut up! – especially since you don’t have to turn on your cameras in this online situation.

So what does good attendance look like? First, each unit has its own attendance/participation grade, and I’ll leave you feedback in the Grade Book about how well I think you’re doing and give you some suggestions for doing better if you need them. Beyond that —

  1. Do the homework on time. This can be anything from small things, like posting something on a Padlet wall or doing an EdPuzzle video, to larger posts/responses in the class blog.
  2. Be thoughtful in your class blog posts. We won’t do these a lot, but when we do, go beyond the expected in what you post – add a new idea, drop in a provocative question, add a link or video or image that you think adds to the conversation – and be sure to respond to other people – they’re interesting!
  3. Jump in when we do in-class activities. I’ll try to make the class sessions as interactive as I can, so it’s your job to, well, interact! That just means actually doing what everybody else is doing, helping each other if it’s a group activity, and giving it your best effort. It would be great if you turn on your mics once in a while…
  4. Give workshops a chance. I do things a little differently with “peer review” (which is a term I hate), so try it out, help each other, and participate with your workshop group.
  5. Show up if you and I have a one-on-one conference. That’s just polite.

Major Units/Projects and Assignments

I’ll have a more detailed assignment sheet for each project, but here’s a brief overview:

Unit One: Portrait of a Word

We’re all part of a lot of different communities (family, sports, profession, church) that have both spoken and unspoken rules about how to join and how to act. And there’s even jargon  (specialized language) that specific to that DC. For the major assignment you’ll investigate and do a report on a word that’s important to a discourse community that you belong to.

Unit Two: Inquiry-based Research

I know what it says, but… this is not a research paper! This is not a research paper! This is not a research paper! Or at least it’s not the kind of research you’re used to. What we’re doing in this unit is to write an article for a publication about an issue that’s important to your DC, one that you hope will have an impact on a wider audience. In other words, you’ll become a freelance writer, and use some research to help make your article as impactful as you can.

Unit Three: Documenting Your Life with New Media

This has been an incredibly challenging year – protests for racial justice, a pandemic, a contentious election, just to name a few of the things that will help define your generation. Of course, we experience them by way of how they impact our everyday lives. So this assignment will give you a chance to create a multimedia/multimodal project that tells us what you have to say about what’s going on.  

Final Portfolio

This class uses Portfolio-based grading. That means your final grade depends not just on homework (although that’s part of your Unit grade as you’ll see below). Most of the final grade depends on what you submit as your Final Portfolio. There are two parts to it: Final Revisions of your work in Unit1 and in Unit 2, and a long Final Reflection where you get to think back over what you’ve learned in the class. You can also put other things in your Portfolio, too – favorite blog posts, your multimodal project, in-class work.

There’s also an Introductory Unit which is mostly introducing yourselves to each other and to me, and learning how to play with Open Lab.

Using the other Course Tools


We aren’t actually using Blackboard. That said, I’m putting up some videos on the Announcements/Home page before the term starts that will show you how to join OpenLab, which is where everything happens.  


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.).
  • Unit descriptions, assignments & schedules
  • Course Info (my contact information, the Zoom link for class meetings)
  • Class blog (homework and other stuff)
  • Resources (how-to videos on using Slack; working with the Google Drive; posting, replying and finding posts. Also links to the library, tech help, The Writing Center)
  • 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)
  • Link to the class Google Drive

You do have to do some work to get there, however. On Blackboard and in the Welcome Letter I sent before the term starts, you’ll find links to how to join Open Lab (you need your CityTech email to be up and running) and how to find a Course once you’re a member.


Yes, I know. But it’s still the easiest and one that everybody knows. We’ll use it for class sessions as well as office hours and individual conferences. The Meeting ID and password are on OpenLab under Info -> Communication.

Google Drive Class Folders:

The link is on the main OpenLab menu. I’ve got a whole set of folders for you to 1) post drafts of the main writing assignments, 2) work with each other on your drafts, 3) do group in-class activities, 4) find links to the Padlets we’re using, and whatever else comes up. We don’t have Google Classroom at CityTech, so this is the closest I can get.


This is where we’ll do annotations about class readings as well as have some informal discussions about them. We’ll go over how to set this up and use it. Here’s the class code and course information you’ll need to sign up once you go to ENG1121 – O449 BLAIN-CMWCM


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 the Discord app, 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: #announcements, #assignmentquestions, #generalquestions, #sillystuff (Mandalorian memes, anyone?), #unitprogressreports. 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.


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 have my notifications on from 9 am to 9 pm, so if I’m not otherwise in class or meetings or tutoring, I’ll probably get back to you within an hour or so if not immediately. Of course, you can text me any time; it’s just that I reserve a few hours for my own 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.
  • Weekly Overview at the beginning of each week: what we’re doing that week, the weekly schedule, other information. I’ll post that on Sunday
  • Weekly summary of class activities (on OpenLab Announcements) and wrap-up of any blog posts/discussions.
  • Respect for diversity. (I borrowed this from the University of Iowa but that’s because it’s so well written. But 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.”

  • 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.

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 Policy

Grading Procedure: The grade calculation is below. Even though this is a portfolio class and the only grade that really counts is the one that reflects whatever revisions are submitted as part of the Final Portfolio, I’ll give you an “if I were really giving you a grade on this, here’s what it would be” grade just so you can decide what kind of/how much revision work to do. A really good revision will make that Unit grade go up at the end of the term, by the way.

A word about the Participation/Attendance grade: As you’ll see below, the three main Units are each worth 10 points: 8 for the major written assignment and 2 for attendance/participation (the Introductory Activities are a little different and the grade is based more on whether you did them, and how much you care you took to do them). Again, for participation, what I do is keep track of how much you contributed to the Workshops (in the Google Drive folders) and the Class Blog, as well as on the homework posts on Padlet, “quizzes” on EdPuzzle, and in-class activities: was it thoughtful, did it contribute to the class as whole, was it done on time.


Introductory Unit (10)

Blog posts (5 pts)

Participation/Attendance (5 pts)

Unit 1 – Portrait of a Word (10)

Draft of major assignment (8 pts)

Participation/Attendance (2 pts)

Unit 2 – Inquiry-based Research Project & Article (10)

Draft of Annotated bibliography (2 pts)

Draft of Article (6 pts)

Participation/Attendance (2 pts)

Unit 3 – New Media project (10)

Multimodal Project (4 pts)

Post-presentation reflection (2 pts)

Participation/Attendance (2 pts)

Final Portfolio  (60)

Revisions of Unit 1 and Unit 2 (30 pts)

Final Course Reflection (30 pts)

TOTAL  (100)

New York City College of Technology’s official grading scale will be used: 93-100% (A), 90-92.9% (A-), 87- 89.9% (B+), 83-86.9% (B), 80-82.9% (B-), 77-79.9% (C+), 70-76.9% (C), 60-69.9% (D), 59.9% and below (F). … The complete text of the College policy on Academic Integrity may be found in the catalog.

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