New York City College of Technology

English 1101 – Fall, 2018

Colleen Birchett, Ph.D.



In the News: Researching and Writing about Current Events

The syllabus is a guide to the semester. It begins with goals and objectives. That is, what a student can expect to achieve by the end of the semester. It provides a calendar of course content, descriptions of assignments and resources needed to successfully complete assignments.The course is divided into five units. The first is introductory, the second through fifth focus on composing four types of essays. The sixth unit prepares the student to succeed on the final examination. Within each unit are lists of assigned articles and videos needed to complete various assignments. Being familiar with the syllabus is especially helpful for staying on schedule in the event of absence. Feel free to print out this entire syllabus for convenience and future use.


  • Read and listen critically and analytically, to identify an argument’s major assumptions and assertions and to evaluate its supporting evidence.
  • Write clearly and coherently in varied, academic formats (such as formal essays, research papers, and reports) using standard English and using appropriate technology to critique and improve one’s own and others’ texts.
  • Demonstrate research skills using appropriate technology in order to gather, evaluate and synthesize primary and secondary sources.
  • Support a thesis with well-reasoned arguments, and communicate the thesis 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.

Specific Objectives

Upon completion of this course, participants can expect to be able to:

  • critically respond in writing to published articles;
  • react to an article, and defend the reaction with supportive evidence and examples;
  • react to an article and defend the reaction, using research from academic journal articles;
  • revise essays in response to feedback from peers and from the instructor;
  • edit essays, at the sentence level, for mechanical errors;
  • avoid plagiarizing by summarizing, paraphrasing and quoting;
  • employ the MLA format to cite sources.

Range of Activities

To achieve the above objectives, participants will:

  • Draft and revise a range of formal and informal writing assignments and writing projects both in-class and outside-of-class. The student will use academic inquiry as a basis for composing essays in a variety of rhetorical modes in order to achieve specific purposes. The resulting essays, taken together, should total a minimum of 2500 words.  Two or more of these assignments or projects must include the use of thesis statements and incorporate the ideas and words of other writers as exhibited through the use of textual evidence, summarizing, paraphrasing, and quoting.
  • Draft and revise a researched writing assignment or project that includes the incorporation of material from library resources and databases and includes the use of methods of citation and attribution appropriate to a specific discipline.
  • Read, analyze, and interpret essays and texts across a variety of genres, disciplines, and media for the purposes of academic inquiry, rhetorical and textual analysis, and understanding, improving, and critiquing writing processes and reading strategies.
  • Submit drafts of work for instructor and peer-review so students can be introduced to the various stages of writing and revising as a process, and can be accessed based on their ability to develop and revise formal writing assignments.
  • Apply and use the basic structure and conventions of Standard Written English (SWE).
  • Take a departmental final exam.

Course Organization

At the beginning of the term, students select, from the following list, a general theme that becomes the focus of their individual writing assignments for the term.

  • Environmentalism
  • Immigration
  • Racism
  • Entertainment and mass media
  • Technology
  • Women’s Issues

Based on theme selection, six small working groups will form. Within these groups, students will collaborate, giving and receiving feedback throughout the planning stages of various essays. Students will compose the following types of essays: problem-solution, comparison/contrast, cause/effect and literary analysis.


Birchett, Colleen, In the News: Writing and Researching about Current Events

Handouts and Videos Available through Open Lab and distributed in class.

Class Participation

To succeed, students must:

  • complete worksheets;.
  • submit typed essays, using appropriate MLA style;
  • submit essays as attachments to emails;
  • interact with peers in small groups, making meaningful contributions.

All potentially distracting electronic devices (cell phones, IPODs, laptops, etc.) must be turned off completely and put away during class time. No texting is allowed so that  full attention can be given to class activities.

Absences and tardinesses are considered lack of class participation. The following behaviors are also considered to be disrupting to others. Therefore they reduce the class participation score that ultimately becomes 20% of the student’s final grade.

  • walking in and out of class while class is in session;
  • conducting ongoing side conversations;
  • bringing smelly food to class;
  • having to be asked to shut down electronic equipment;
  • consistently entering class late, making it necessary for the instructor to repeat instructions and other information;
  • asking the instructor to repeat information because the student was not listening.


Other than through appointments and office hours, all communications outside of class will be handled through email and Open Lab. Therefore, it is necessary to have a CUNY email account and to be connected with the Open Lab.  Students are expected to be alert for all announcements that are sent through CUNY email.


A WU is assigned to students who stop attending class. It is the equivalent of an “F”.  Students who are late sign on the reverse side of the attendance sheet. Students who enter the class more than five minutes after it begins are considered tardy. The instance of walking in and out of the class while it is in session is considered a tardiness, as is leaving early. Moreover, even though the total number of absences and tardiness may not reach the level of receiving a “WU”, tardiness and excessive absences will be considered a part of the class participation score, to be computed into the terminal class participation score that becomes 20% of the course grade.

Class Calendar

8/29               Class Begins

9/3-4              No Classes

9/5                 Labor Day, No Classes

10/2-4            No Classes

10/6 (Th)        Classes follow a Monday Schedule

10/10              No Classes

10/10-12         No Classes

10/31              Mid-term Grades

11/24-27         No Classes

12/13              Reading Day, No Classes

12/13-20         Final Examinations

Writing Assignment Due Dates

There are four essay assignments, with the option of revising the first two essays for a higher grade. The length of each essay is to be three to five pages in length (Double-Spaced, 12pte font, one inch margins). The essays are to be sent as email attachments. They are due by midnight of the due date.

9/10     Essay ONE Due

9/17     Return of Essay ONE

9/26     Essay ONE Revision Due

10/10   Essay TWO Due

10/17   Return of Essay TWO

10/24   Essay TWO Revision Due

11/23   Essay THREE Due

11/30   Return of Essay THREE

12/5     Practice for Final Exam

12/10   Essay FOUR Due

12/20   Final Exam


#1        The Exploratory essay (3-5 pages) involves selecting an issue related to a current public affair. This will involve using the internet, locating relevant statistics and consulting at least one article from a professional journal, located via the NYCCT library databases.

#2        The Comparison/Contrast essay (3-5 pages) involves comparing and contrasting two opinions about a problem or issue. The issue should relate to the theme selected at the beginning of the term.The essay must incorporate information from outside readings and from online sources such as published interviews, debates, documentaries, the New York Times articles, political party platforms and fact-checking websites. [Examples: FAIR ( ) and (

#3      The  Cause and Effect essay (3-5 pages) involves identifying causes and effects of a problem. The problem relate to the general theme selected at the beginning of the term. The essay must include concrete supportive examples and referenes to supportive published research.

#4        The Literary Analysis Essay requires using the information from the above research along with other sources to analyze a short story. The stories being analyzed will relate to themes selected at the beginning of the term.

Grading Weights

Essays                                                             60 %

Final Exam                                                       20 %n th

Class Participation                                           20 %


New York City College of Technology Policy on 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. In this course, if an essay is plagiarized the author of it cannot be given credit for the essay.

Unit Schedules

Links are provided within the following table for easily accessing  articles, short stories and videos mentioned throughout the table.

Unit One – Introduction

8/27 Introductions


Term Assignments,

Class Participation

Introduction to OER

Review the course syllabus
9/3 Problem-Solution Essays;

Identifying and Exploring a Problem;

Parsing Problems

Gevirtz, Leslie, “Puerto Ricans Fight for Right to Vote”

Problem-Solution Worksheet

9/5 Thesis Statements,

Five Paragraph Essays

Sample Essay Outlines,

Fact Checking

Editing and Proofreading







Unit Two – Writing Process

Date Topics Assignments
9/12 The Writing Process




9/17 Selecting a Topic

Narrowing the Focus

Sources for Narrowing Topics

Small Group Collaboration

The Sentencing Project, “Felony Disenfrancisement: A Primer”

Problem-Solution Worksheet

9/24 Audience Audience


Small Group Collaborations on Planning Essays Problem-Solution Essay Planning Worksheet


10/1 MLA Citation

Unit Summary

Essay ONE Due

Sample Works Cited Page

In-text Citations

Essay ONE Due 10/6

Unit Three – Comparison/Contrast

10/3 Comparison/Contrast Essays

Small Group Collaborations

Catton, Bruce, “Grant and Lee, A Study in Contrasts”

Staples, Brent, “Donald Trump and Reconstruction Era Politics”

Comparison/Contrast Worksheet

10/10 Small Group Collaborations Comparison/Contrast Essay Planning Worksheet
10/15 Library Visit Completed Comparison/Contrast Worksheet
10/17 Small Group Collaborations Hazika, Robert, “Refugees Want Empowerment, Not Handouts

Queenan, Joe, “New York Observed: Eight Reasons New York is Better”

10/22 Summary of Unit Essay Two Due 10/27

Unit Four – Cause and Effect

Date Topics Assignment
10/24 Cause and Effect Essays Cause and Effect Essays

Staples, Brent, “Just Walk on By: A Black Man Ponders His Ability to Alter Public Space”

Cause/Effect Worksheet

10/29 Drawing Inferences

Inductive Reasoning (Data)

Miller, Yvonne, “Making Inferences”

CNN, “China Stock Market Crash”

China Market Effects on U.S. Stocks

Cause/Effect Worksheet

10/31 Small Group Collaborations Cause/Effect Essay Planning Worksheet

Essay Three Due

Unit Five – Literary Analysis

Dates Topic Assignment
11/5 Theme and Purpose Review “Theme” and “Purpose” in  Literary Terms;

Desani, Rajeev, “A Day’s Work

Lemon, Kerith, “A Social Life”


11/7 Setting and Historical Context D.W. Griffith, “The Painted Lady”

Review Setting and Historical Context in  Literary Terms;

11/12 Characterization Sanger, Erin, “The Bombshell
11/14 Plot Kampenhout, William, “The Surface”

DUST, “Seam”

Review Plot in  Literary Terms;

11/15 Small Group Collaborations Complete the Literary Analysis Worksheet for the short story assigned to the student’s small group, based on themes selected at the beginning of the term.
11/19 Writing the Literary Analysis Review Literary Analysis Essays
11/21 Summary of Unit Literary Analysis Essay Due, 12/5

Unit Six – Final Examination

12/3 Review for Final Exam  
12/5 Practice Final Exam  
12/17 Final Examination  


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