Finding Your Voice

For… October 6th (!!!)

Because of a lot of breaks due to the Jewish Holy Days, our class does not meet until Thursday October 6th.  THERE ARE COLLEGE CLASSES on many days in between now and then, just not ours.  You should be aware of the following school schedules:

Sept 26-27 no classes

Sept 29 (Thursday) Classes follow a Monday Schedule

Oct 4-5 No classes.


READ: For our October 6 class, please read “A Talk to Teachers” by James Baldwin.

WRITE:  Blog Post (at least 300 words) In “A Talk to Teachers,” James Baldwin writes:  

I would try to make [the student] know that just as American history is longer, larger, more various, more beautiful and more terrible than anything anyone has ever said about it, so is the world larger, more daring, more beautiful and more terrible, but principally larger – and that it belongs to him. I would teach him that he doesn’t have to be bound by the expediencies of any given administration, any given policy, any given morality; that he has the right and the necessity to examine everything. 

First of all, what do you think of what James Baldwin was saying in his speech? What stood out the most to you? 

Secondly, what do you think you have the “necessity” to examine, or the obligation to learn more about? To put it another way: what do you wish had been taught to you in school that wasn’t? Why do you want to know about these topics? 

Category: Unit 2! 


I will grade your essays within the next week.  I will post your grades and comments privately in the comments on your essay post.  I will send an email to the class when all essays are graded. 

For Tuesday

First draft meme

Hi everyone!

First of all, if you weren’t able to upload or email your vocab videos to me, please do so (either use Open Lab or my email: chall@citytech.cuny.edu).  These are AMAZING, by the way. (if you post to OL use category: Unit One)

Second of all, rough drafts of Unit One are due on Tuesday by 8 AM.  Please post to Open Lab.  If you write yours by hand, please bring it to class! Remember, the most important thing about a rough draft is getting anything down on the page, good or bad. These should be at least 800 words (final draft 1000).

Email me (chall@citytech.cuny.edu) with any questions.

Category: Unit 1 Rough Draft

In-class info for Thursday:

Teaching yourself (and other people) vocab!

Goals: 1, To learn how to learn vocabulary on your own. 2. To start thinking about the best ways of teaching lessons to others (you’ll have to do this all throughout this class/ college/ work/ life)

Here is the link to a New York Times article on learning vocabulary.  Many helpful tips!

The most useful way to learn vocabulary is unequivocally by reading– as much as you can (and things you want to read!) These things should be published– not just some rando’s blog on the internet, but they can be song lyrics, magazine articles, whatever.  The more you read, the more vocabulary you’ll learn.

Hip hop is a genre of music that just has a LOT of vocabulary. It’s part of the genre to play with words.  This chart shows you which lyricists have the biggest vocabularies, often inventing their own words.  But hip hop, of course, isn’t the only genre of music you can learn vocab from.  Find the songs you love, whatever genre it’s in, and pick a word you want to know more about.

In-class exercise:

Another good way to learn something is by explaining it to someone else.

(adjectives starting at 1:40) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tzThOYEk76k

Make a video like the ones above defining a word. It does not need to be in “standard written English” (it can be slang.) In fact, it doesn’t need to be in English at all.

We’re going to do this in class. You can work with one other person if you want. This doesn’t have to be fancy, of course.  I just want you to think about some interesting way to explain the word!  You don’t need to show your face if you prefer not to.  These should be short. 20 seconds, tops!

You can either:

  • define a word that is new to you (some places to look below) or:
  • define a word that you know that you think other people don’t know (but they need to).

Don’t define a word that everybody already knows. What’s the point in that, right?

So where do I look for a word I don’t know? 

And yes, you CAN use the dictionary!

When you are done, post them on the Open Lab.  If you’re having a hard time posting them, you can email them to me at: chall@citytech.edu.  You just have today’s class period to finish!


For Thursday

Long time writing an email feels like this - meme

Hello everyone!  Your homework for Thursday is simply to write me an email (chall@citytech.cuny.edu).  You can make it about anything– but if you have any actual questions for me, now is a good time to ask them. Please use the “formula” for a formal email we talked about in class.  Please don’t worry if you’ve sent me an email before this that didn’t follow this formula.  You didn’t know!

Category: Unit One

Remember that your rough drafts for Unit One are due on Tuesday, Sept 20 and your final drafts are due on Sept 22. Make sure to familiarize yourself with the Unit One assignment. If you have questions, feel free to email me about them 🙂

Here is a book of education narratives from one of my past classes (reprinted with permission). Take a look!  And here is an education narrative that was published in our school literary journal, the City Tech Reader.

For Tuesday

THINK: Think of one specific incident that changed your views on education. Picture the scene 

REVIEW : Please review the slideshow we watched in class about what paragraphs are. You can find it HERE.

WRITE: a blog post of 2-3 distinct paragraphs describing one specific incident that changed your views on education using Concrete, Significant detail. The incident you described in class will be a great place to start. You can change your topic if you like!!

To clarify: You’re basically polishing up what we did in class, but two things are different:

  1. Make sure there are 2-3 distinct paragraphs (not just one big long blurb.)
  2. You can change the topic if you don’t like what you wrote in class!

Note: you do not necessarily need to use PIE paragraphs here, but each paragraph needs a point (and PIE is a good guideline if you’re feeling lost!) Here’s a good guideline: if you’re trying to describe a scene (“this is what happened on September 11 in my grade school”), you don’t need PIE. If you’re trying to make a claim (“I was terrible at school”) you do. That said, each paragraph still makes a particular point. 

Pro tip: if you’re feeling lost, think about your audience and purpose. Who are you trying to reach and what are you trying to get them to do? Are you trying to support students in a rut? Are you trying to sing your own  praises for a job application? Are you trying to get educators or politicians to change educational policy? 

Category: Unit One


Due Thursday by 8 am!

READ AND ANNOTATE : “Maybe I Could Save Myself by Writing” 

READ AND ANNOTATE: “The Fourth of July” by Audre Lorde 

WRITE: (250 Words)  So far in this unit, we have read (and heard) three examples from the genre of the “education narrative.”  Your first essay assignment in this class will be to write in this genre yourself.  So in this discussion forum, I’d like us to have a conversation about what the features of this genre are. Please discuss some of the following:

  • What, from what you’ve seen so far, are the “ingredients” (also known as “conventions”) of the education narrative genre?
  • What do you think might be a place to get started with your own education narrative?
  • What are your questions or concerns about writing an education narrative of your own?
  • If you like, you can also feel free to share an educational experience you had and ask for feedback from your colleagues (and me) to see if we think that might be a solid place to begin writing.

Category: Unit One! 

I will also be collecting your readings– we’re going to look at annotation more 

Homework for Tuesday, Sept 6 (8 AM)

READ and ANNOTATE: “How to Read Like a Writer” by Mike Bunn. Remember the annotation skills we discussed in class (we watched the video).

WRITE:  On the website, write a post of at least 300 words discussing the following questions: 

  • In his article, Mike Bunn writes “You are already an author.” He’s talking to you.  What do you think he means by this? What are some of the things you write already?  (Hint: “Nothing” is not an acceptable answer.) Think of all of the ways you already use words in your everyday life. That’s authorship! How will that existing expertise help you in your college reading and writing career?
  • Was there anything you noticed in Bunn’s article that you would like to try to do in your own writing? What, in particular? Please be specific!

Category: Intro

Homework for Thursday

In class we watched Un/Learning my Name by Mohammad Hassan and you talked a little bit about your name with your colleagues.

WRITE:  write a new post responding to this video. You can do it in whatever way you want! You can talk about how your name or your language makes you who you are, or gives people “permission” to treat you a certain way even though that’s so wrong! 

You can also think through how a group has helped define you. As part of it, you can add images or links to videos… whatever you think will help us get to know you and your experiences better. You can even add a link to a video. Or record an audio file and link to it. Or draw something and upload the image. Whatever you want. Remember: we’re all about composing in the 21st century, so feel free to do what you think would be interesting for us to see/hear/learn about. The idea is to get you thinking about how those issues affect you. How they’ve helped shape who you are and who you’re becoming.

At least 200 words. Use category: Intro.

Welcome, Students!

Our class, English 1101-D171 meets in Namm 517, Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10-11:40 AM. The first day of class is Thurs Aug 25!

Please sign up for this site. Instructions below

Please take some time to explore this OpenLab course site. Use the top menu bar to explore the course information, activities, and help. Scroll through the sidebar to find additional information about the materials shared here. As the course progresses, you will be adding your own work to the student work section.

Join this Course

If you don’t have a City Tech Email Click this link

Login to your OpenLab account and follow these instructions to join this course.

If you’re new to the OpenLab, follow these instructions to create an account and then join the course.

Here is some info on how to post a blog on Open Lab! 


If you have any questions, reach out via email or in Office Hours. If you need help on the OpenLab, you can consult OpenLab Help or contact the OpenLab Community Team.

Hi! And welcome to our first day of class!

Homework! (Due by 8 am Tuesday, Aug 30.)

Note: HW is due by 8 so I have time to review it before class! 



Being a student can be intimidating, confusing, and just plain difficult!

So for these first few days, you get to vent about it! No kidding. Share your concerns with each other. Maybe give each other some advice or just a good old bit of support. Believe me — instructors have many of the same worries you do, even if we’ve been teaching for a while. I also promise not to hijack the conversations, either! 

Here’s what you’ll do:

  1. PLAY with the website. You can’t break it. Honestly. I’ve tried. Click around on all the tabs. See what’s there! We’ll be doing a great deal of work here this semester, so make yourself familiar with the room. 
  2. READ/ WATCH: these two short “Tips” pieces
  1. WRITE: a new post: Start with one word that describes how you’re feeling about this course as we get started. No need to explain, but you can if you want to. 
  • Talk about your worries, concerns, reactions to the readings and/ or to being a new student… whatever you want to. (At least 100 words) 


  • Add a picture that means something to you, and explain why you chose it — why does it mean something to you?
  • Check back in and comment on your peers’ work!

Use Category: Intro

Here is some info on how to post a blog on Open Lab! 

Oct 6th homework

In James Baldwin’s speech he was saying things, people don’t think about. He went into detail about how it is to see this white world in an African American boy’s eyes. who spoke on things I never really realized and was kind of eye-opening. What truly spoke out to me was the line on page 2 that said “ but children are very different. Children, not yet aware that it is dangerous to look too deeply at anything. Look at everything , look at, each other, and draw their own conclusion. They don’t have the vocabulary to express what they see, and we, their elders, know how to intimidate them very easily and very soon”. That line spoke to me because I kinda mentioned this in my essay. I brought up the fact that most trauma students experience in the education system is when their young because they don’t know what’s happening is wrong and are to scared because their teachers intimidate them. I found it nice that it isn’t just me that sees this kind of act towards children.

As silly it may sound I always wanted to learn how to write cursive. I know when my sister where younger it was something that was prioritized but not anymore. I truly wanted to learned and begged my teachers from the 6th grade up until the 8th to teach me even if its on my free time. I have OCD when it comes to my writing i don’t like when it looks sloppy and I’ve rewritten assignments just because i don’t like how it looks. I thought if i learned script it wouldn’t be such an issue anymore. Anyways, my teachers never took the time to teach me. So now i took it upon myself to learn when i have free time i draw over some sheets I downloaded onto my IPad.  I started small like learning how to write  my first name and now I’m working on learning how to write my last. It’s not really a topic but its something I’ve always been interested to learn but never did.

Homework for October 6th

In the text “A talk to teacher” by James Baldwin, he basically states how America has been through a lot of ups and downs. For instance, in the text it states “that just as American history is longer, larger, more various, more beautiful and more terrible than anything anyone has ever said about it, so is the world larger, more daring, more beautiful and more terrible.” This demonstrates that America has been through good and difficult situations. What stood out to me most was the part where he stated “that he has the right and the necessity to examine everything,” because I strongly agree that one should be able to have the right to explore their own interests. What I wasn’t taught in school but wished to learn is dealing with your typical teenage mental health. Furthermore, how to have a more positive mind set and how to deal with negativity among people because I feel like teenagers go through a lot that isn’t really talked about. Secondly, I wished I was taught more life tips such as taxes, finances, or anything that will come up in everyone’s life eventually. I feel like that would help way more than learning about y=mx+b in math because I haven’t used y=mx+b in my life at all and I don’t think that will ever become necessary in one’s life. Being taught finances can be beneficial to one because one can learn how to budget their money, and be smart with it or even learn how stocks work so maybe one can become financially successful. Finances can also be beneficial to learn because everyone is going to eventually pay taxes and learning the process would help a lot throughout one’s life because when it’s their turn to pay taxes, they would have no problem dealing with it or understanding it.

HW for October 6.

In the text “A talk to teacher” by James Baldwin he covered mostly that educators are responsible for combating racism in America and giving Black children the tools they need to continue the battle for justice.  Which he feels like the goal or tools that they should be using of education is to equip students with the skills necessary to think critically, make independent decision, and also decide for themselves whether something is black or white.  From my reading and coming to an understanding he claims that in order to effectively combat the issue of racism in America, students must raise their level of consciousness and struggle for equality. Because he feels like as if like we are not being thought the way we’re suppose to, which is very cruel because people learn very different than other’s, and us not being thought the right way is selfish. Because we are learning about certain things and not everything, basically like gate kipping.  In my reading something that really stood out to me when he said “No society is actually eager to have that kind of individual around; what societies really, desire is a populace that will just respect the laws of the society.” This line really stood out to me because, one thing I am realizing while reading this line is that in most case the society in general think of us as toys. People who don’t/can’t stand for themselves and will never say no, where they just follows order and accept everything as it is, is actually what society desires/looking for.  According to him, he thinks if everyone were just to take good responsibility and challenge society, some things or most things would’ve changed for once. In my opinion I think we need to revolt against society in order to change it. Because most likely listening to the society thoughts would only make things worst, we cannot let society keep us quiet.

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