Course Grades, How to Keep Writing, and Other Questions Students Ask


We began this work together in the midst of wintery weather and in the midst of a pandemic surge with the Omicron variant, and now we end with summer-like days and a new surge in COVID rates in addition to everything else that is going on in this beautiful and difficult world.

It’s a challenging time to be a college student. You’ve all hung in there, written a lot, and worked hard. My students impress me every semester. Reading your reflections this week on your own  writing and your writing process allowed me to experience that once again this semester. As several of you mentioned in reflections, the peer review process in creative writing is one way to find community, and right now, that is more important than ever.

Here are a few answers to questions  students often ask me, so I’m leaving them here collectively:

When will I get my course grade?

I’ve graded all final reflections and revisions of the memoir essay and will soon tabulate final grades. After I submit them, you will see them on CUNYfirst, which is where official grades are posted. Final course grades will not be on Blackboard. I will send a notification when they have been posted.

How will you tabulate the course grade?

The overall course breakdown is on the syllabus: ENG 1141 Course Grades and Assessment

But, in a nutshell, here is what you will find there

Poetry Assignment:               20%
Fiction Assignment:              20%
Memoir Assignment:            20%
3 Reading Quizzes:                  15%
Final Reflection Activity: 5%
Participation/Attendance:    20%

How can I continue studying Creative Writing at City Tech?

Please keep writing! City Tech offers several creative writing options. We have a semester-long Introduction to Poetry Writing (ENG 1142) and a semester-long Writing for Stage and Screen (ENG 1143).

As you read in the Creative Writing Survey, we are trying to develop a minor in Creative Writing, but this is in the works. In the meantime, sign up for other creative writing classes at City Tech. We have 1142: Introduction to Poetry Writing and ENG 1143: Writing for Stage and Screen.

How can I continue my creative writing on my own?

Please keep writing! (I know I’ve just said this above, but I mean it!) I’ve made a separate posts on resources to continue writing here:

Keep Writing: Resources for Continuing Journaling and Writing
Keep Writing: Read! And then….re-read!
Keep Writing: Places to Submit Your Work
Keep Writing: Take More Creative Writing Classes
Keep Writing: Start a Writing Group
Keep Writing: Don’t Write Alone (from Catapult)

Take care, everyone. I’ve been teaching a while, but these recent semesters, with all of their challenges and strangeness will be ones I will remember. You are an impressive bunch of writers and students.

Write on!

Prof. Sears


Finals Week Reminders


We are at the end of the semester! Here is a list of three items  to complete:

  1. Final Reflection Activity: see the folder in Major Assignments on Blackboard. This writing activity is open until the end of the day on Friday, May 20. Like the quizzes, this is worth 5% of your course grade and will also count for your attendance for Thursday, May 19.
  2. Memoir (Late Papers and Revisions): The Memoir Assignment is also open in the Major Assignments folder and will remain open until the end of the day on Sunday, May 22. The Memoir assignment is worth 20% of your grade. See this post for information: Instructions for Memoir Revisions (and Late Assignments)
  3. Creative Writing Survey: this short survey asks questions about Creative Writing course and a Creative Writing Minor we are trying to create. This is in a folder in the Quizzes and Surveys folder on Blackboard and also available HERE. This survey will not affect your course grade BUT will count for attendance for Tuesday, May 24.

As always, I’m available on email for questions: jsears@citytech.cuny.edu or during my office hours on ZOOM, Tuesdays and Thursdays: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/82754062261 .

Write on!

Paid Internship Opportunity in the Cultural Arts


This is not a course requirement. I just wanted to let you all know of a paid opportunity for those interested in learning about and working in the arts. Deadline for applications is June 3.

June 3rd Cultural Corps Flyer 8.5x11

Also from the organization’s informational site:

  • Are you an Artist or are you interested in Arts Administration and would love to work behind the scenes at a Museum?
  • Are you into finance but also have an interest in dance?
  • Are you not sure what to do with your major and need some experience on your resume?

Whatever the reason, the Cultural Corps program has something in store for you!

Apply here to become part of the CUNY Cultural Corps 2022-23 Academic Year Internship! CUNY Cultural Corps is a paid career development program that places CUNY students at cultural arts institutions in the city.

If you have participated in CUNY Service Corps before, you can still apply to CUNY Cultural Corps. However, previous CUNY Cultural Corps alumni may NOT apply. Our program may offer virtual/hybrid opportunities as well as in-person opportunities contingent on COVID regulations and guidelines.

For more information about eligibility requirements and the application process overall, please checkout our FAQ page.If you still have questions, email us at culturalcorps@cuny.edu
Applications are due by the extended deadline of June 3rd 2022.

Session 28: Follow Up Post with Finals Week Information

Thanks for reading in today’s class everyone. It was good to hear your words and to hear which writing assignments produced your favorite pieces. There were excerpts of poetry, fiction, and memoir, and one free write. We’ve done a lot of work this semester!

As was discussed in class, you have three things coming up this week:

  1. Final Reflective Activity: on Blackboard, Thursday, May 19 in the early am through end of the day on Friday. (48 hours) This last assignment, which is worth 5% of your course grade. This is not a test of the readings. It will ask you to review the work you’ve done this semester with questions and answers of 1-2 paragraphs. We were originally going to do this in class, but I felt that doing the assignment online will make this less of “timed” test and more of the actual reflective process.
  2. Creative Writing Survey:  This very short survey asks about student interest in several creative writing courses that are in development in the English department. This activity will constitute the way I take attendance for Tuesday, May 24. Make sure to input your City Tech email so I know who you are. Link is now live HERE: https://forms.gle/xzANwg7hUXPrMCg4A
  3. Memoir Revisions and Late Assignments: The Memoir Folder will open on Thursday, May 19 and close at the end of the day on Sunday, May 22. For information on the Revision Note that must be included with revisions and other details see this post: Instructions for Memoir Revisions (and Late Assignments)

As always, I’m available on email for questions: jsears@citytech.cuny.edu or during my office hours on ZOOM. Office hours are Tuesdays and Thursdays on ZOOM: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/82754062261 .

Write on and good luck during finals week,
Prof. Sears

ENG 1141 Reminder: In-Class Readings Today (Bring your words!)

This is a reminder that we have short in-class readings today, so bring words to share. We need to get through everyone today, so you will have a short time, about 3-4 minutes, to share the work that you think has been most rewarding for you to write in this semester’s class.

You can read from your poetry, your fiction, or your memoir. Choose a paragraph or two to read along with the title of the work. This is related to the reflective writing assignment that serves as our final during this finals week.

We will also talk about the Reflective Writing Assignment. Today is important! Every day is important. However, as this is finals week, I’m certain you are all working hard in all of your classes.

I’ll see you soon at 2:30 pm today in our classroom!
Prof. Sears

Instructions for Memoir Revisions (and Late Assignments)


Nice work on the Memoir Assignments. The first round has been graded. Check for your grades on Blackboard.

There were some strong A papers and many B range papers. One issue that has  come up: the instructions and the grading rubric we looked at during class time specifically require that you respond to one of four categories we specifically discussed and practiced in class: writing to un-silence the silences; writing about your relationship with money; writing about your life in chapters; or writing about your relationship with your name.  In some way, your memoir must address one of these three categories.

This rest of this post offers instructions for your memoir assignment revisions and the required  Note to the Reader.

Please note that:

  • Revisions are optional and not required (unless you did not turn in an assignment for a grade yet).
  • See my notes on your work on the rubric and the text on Blackboard
  • All revisions must include a two paragraph revision note at the top–see  the instructions below on this same post.
  • Revisions and late papers must be turned in on Blackboard between Thursday, May 19  and the end of the day on Sunday, May 22, 11:59 pm.
  • No revisions or late papers  will be considered after that date and time.

Instructions for the Revision Note

  • At the top of your revision, write a two paragraph reflection titled Letter to Reader. (Revisions submitted without this note will not be considered for a higher grade.)
  1. In the first paragraph of the letter, tell the reader what you intend the memoir to do for its readers. You might answer the following: Why did you choose this particular category (names, money, or unsilencing the silences)? What do you want the reader to understand most clearly about your life after reading this memoir? (This helps me understand  your overall purpose or intention.)
  2. In the second paragraph of the letter, let the reader know what changes you made on this revision and why you made them.  

After you’ve drafted this letter, think about whether the changes you mention in the letter match up with the revision that follows. Will I be able to see the changes that your letter suggests? If not, then use the letter as a revising tool to make a few more adjustments to your revision.

Then, turn in the revision and the Revision Note on time in the Major Assignments folder on Blackboard.

As always, email with questions: jsears@citytech.cuny.edu

ENG 1141 Session 27 Follow Up Information


Nice job on the workshop today. I heard some thoughtful and sincere comments floating around the room! Just a reminder of two pressing items:

      • Remember to turn in the Memoir Assignment to Blackboard by the end of the day on Sunday, May 15.
      • Prepare a short reading for Tuesday’s class.

You can always email me if you have questions: jsears@citytech.cuny.edu

I’m also available during office hours:

Tuesdays and Thursdays, 4-5 pm:

Write on,
Prof. Sears


Session 26: Follow Up Links

Memoir is both challenging and rewarding to read and also takes courage to share. You all did well in today’s workshop. We’ll have one more round of workshops on Thursday, May 12. You’ll be grouped with new readers.

In the meantime, here are two informational links:

You can also email me anytime or visit me during office hours on Tuesdays and Thursdays, 4-5 pm:

Write on,
Prof. Sears

ENG 1141: Agenda for the remaining days of the semester

  • Thursday, May 12: In-class Memoir Workshop 2
  • Tuesday, May 17: In-class readings (fun!)
  • Thursday, May 19: Final: Reflective Writing Activity on Blackboard

Memoir Assignment: the folder will open after class on Thursday, May 12 and remain open until the end of the day on Sunday, May 15. Those who get assignments in on time will have a chance to revise their work.

Email with questions: jsears@citytech.cuny.edu

Tips for Revising Memoir

As you work on these with critique and advice from your peers, keep in mind the following revision techniques:

Read the whole version out loud and ask yourself:

  • Does the memoir have the overall effect I am seeking from my audience? Is there a section that needs more dimension or detail?
  • Description: how has at least one character changed through the course of the memoir? Can I add details about the setting?
  • Language: where is the language unclear? Are there paragraphs?
  • What do you like most about your memoir? How can you emphasize these strengths even  more?

You can also draw ideas for revision using these questions from memoir materials on Purdue OWL:

  1. Why was this event of particular significance?
  2. What did it mean?
  3. Why is it important?

Memoir is power! You are giving shape to your own life story. As we discussed in our session on Writing Your Life in Chapters, writing memoir has been shown to improve self-esteem because you are giving yourself agency over your own, growing life story.

You also send me questions by email if you have them: jsears@citytech.cuny.edu