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

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
Applications are due by the extended deadline of June 3rd 2022.

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: or during my office hours on ZOOM, Tuesdays and Thursdays: .

Write on!

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:

ENG 1141: Memoir Quiz and Today’s In-class Workshop


  • This is a reminder that your Memoir Reading quiz is live on Blackboard and will close at noon today, Tuesday, May 10. Get it in!
  • We have our first Memoir Workshop in class today. Bring writing to share with your peers and be ready to read their work. Printed work is easiest to hand around, but if you only have a screen version, please make sure it’s on a device you don’t mind handing around.

See you soon!

Prof. Sears

ENG 1141 Session 25: IMPORTANT Follow-Up Links


In these last weeks of the semester, it can seem hard to focus, but we have some more work to do before we end our semester together. Here are some important links and topics reviewed in today’s class:

  • The end-of-the-semester agenda is here: ENG 1141 End of Semester Agenda
  • Remember, the Memoir Reading Quiz (5% of your grade) on Blackboard from Monday, May 9, noon to Tuesday, May 10, at noon. Here is the information on that: Readings for the Memoir Quiz
  • The overview of the Memoir Assignment is here: ENG 1141 Memoir Assignment. The topics to choose from with prompts are listed here: Memoir Review: Topics (with Prompts)
  • Our first workshop for the Memoir Assignment is this coming Tuesday, May 10, in class. Please print out a draft of your assignment for your peers.  The second in-class workshop is on Thursday, May 12.

As always, you can talk to me. Feel free to email me with questions about assignments or other course issues: I also have my ZOOM office hour on Tuesdays and Thursdays, 4-5 pm:

Write on,
Prof. Sears


ENG 1141 End of Semester Agenda

      • Today, May 5: Writing the Braided Essay and Memoir Assignment
      • Monday, May 9, noon to noon on Tuesday, May 10 (Blackboard): Memoir Quiz
      • Tuesday, May 10: In-class Memoir Workshop 1:
      • Thursday, May 12: In-class Memoir Workshop 2
      • Sunday, May 15, end of day: Memoir due on Blackboard for a grade
      • Tuesday, May 17: In-class readings (fun!)
      • Thursday, Final:  reflective writing on Blackboard

ENG 1141 Reminder: Memoir 1 Discussion Board

This is a quick reminder to post on our discussion board before tomorrow’s class.  A couple of you have posted your letters to Money, which is one of the options. There are instructions directly on the discussion board HERE.

Tomorrow, we will discuss writing about the story of our names. For this, we have two readings that are also on the upcoming Memoir Reading Quiz:

  1. Việt Thanh Nguyen, “America Say My Name (May 3 class session)
  2. Beth Nguyễn “America Ruined My Name for Me” (May 3 class session)

The end of the semester is just a few weeks away! Let’s stay focused until then. Email with questions if you have them and remember, I have ZOOM office hours on Tuesday and Thursdays, 4-5 pm:

Write on,
Prof. Sears


ENG 1141: Welcome back from Spring Break!

I hope you had some down time over the spring break. We are back in the classroom tomorrow, so I am providing these reminders to keep you on track:

  1. Fiction Assignment-Late papers and revisions. Please remember the folder will open tomorrow (April 26) and will close at the end of the day on Thursday, (April 28). The fiction assignment is worth 20% of the course grade and this is your last chance to get it in. Note the following:
      • If you are turning in a first draft, make sure to review the assignment and note the page length requirements in this post: Fiction Assignment
      • If you are turning in a revision, make sure to include a Revision Note if you want me to consider raising the grade. Instructions for the Revision Note and for revising strategies in general are here: Fiction Revision Instructions and Revision Note
  1. We are continuing tomorrow (April 26) with our memoir writing module. We will discuss a strategy that discusses how to write about your life in chapters. On Thursday, (April 28) we will write about our relationship with money. For Thursday’s class, please read in advance Junot Diaz’s short memoir “The Money” and look through a few posts in the Money Diaries, which model one form of memoir you might pursue for your future memoir assignment.
  2. Lastly, as was announced before spring break, the Memoir Reading Quiz will be on Blackboard on Monday, May 9.  The review post for that is here: Readings for the Memoir Quiz

As always, email with questions if you have them: See you in class tomorrow! Write on…..