NYCCT — New York City College of Technology

(“City Tech”) CUNY


SEMESTER: Spring 2017

COURSE: ENG 1121 English Composition II

Section D411 — Room N-420B (Namm Bldg).

T/Th 8:30AM-9:45AM

Professor: Sarah Schmerler


Office Hours: TBA. Please check OpenLab/Online course site for details.

Our Course’s OpenLab Site is located at:


In English 1121 we will continue the work begun in English 1101, only now, we will go deeper. Our theme this semester is “In-Formation.” What we think we know about the world around us is always growing and changing. Sometimes the experience of gathering knowledge is fun and empowering; sometimes it is scary, because it leaves us with an awareness of what we don’t know, and with some very difficult questions. How can we ever be sure about anything—opinions, belief, facts, faith? How can we be able to pinpoint and check the veracity of our sources? How is it that our perceptions, of which we may feel so certain, can change so rapidly? Is any knowledge solid and reliable? Is there more power in questioning and in admitting ignorance than in gathering data?

Sometimes, admitting what we don’t know says as much about our skills and intelligence as what we do know. We aim to get the skills we need to face such challenges – in all our courses, and in our larger life outside of school. What’s more, we aim to articulate the issues and ideas in our hearts and minds clearly to others, so that they can join in the search for knowledge and truth.

Hence, this course aims at improving critical reading and writing skills. We will write in real time, together, in class. We will engage in extensive class discussion in order to further explore rhetoric—the art of discourse—and how it can help fortify, enliven, unite and crystallize our ideas. We will read a variety of texts—including essays, stories, newspaper articles, songs, and poems—to appreciate the incredible immensity of what the written word can communicate, and to learn how to make our own writing more successful. We will learn to read actively and critically in this class, as well as write.

You will be required to write a number of informal responses and short formal responses, as well as one formal research paper. We will embark on this research project to delve deeply into an interesting topic and find something original to say about it. And finally, we will practice revising and editing our own work and the work of our peers to better understand the writing process itself.

Prerequisite: Eng 1101 (3 hours, 3 credits)


Upon completion of English 1121, you will be able to:

Read and listen critically and analytically, including identifying an argument’s major assumptions and assertions and evaluating its supporting evidence.

Write clearly and coherently in varied formats (such as formal essays, research papers, and dialogues) using Standard Written English and appropriate technology to critique and improve one’s own and others’ texts.

Demonstrate research skills using appropriate technology, including gathering, evaluating, and synthesizing primary and secondary sources.

Formulate original ideas and relate them to the ideas of others by employing the conventions of ethical attribution and citation.

Feel confident executing a purposeful revision of your own writing.

Support a thesis with well-reasoned arguments, and communicate persuasively across a variety of contexts, purposes, audiences, and media.

Students will be expected to:

Participate at least one hour a week in THE CONVERSATION during which students will learn how to both professionally and ethically present and respond to writing in a group setting. The Conversation Rules must be followed (given below). Our Conversation time is a safe space for peer review; it is important that we become helpful listeners and mindful critics as well as a confident writers.

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, as well as be assessed on their ability to develop and revise formal writing assignments.

Understand how to apply and use the basic structure and conventions of Standard Written English (SWE) and exhibit basic competency in SWE.

Pass a departmental final exam.

“The Conversation”– Rules:

Our writing lab is a safe space. We do not discuss the personal information we learn here about our fellow writers outside of class. When responding to a fellow writers’ work, we always say something positive, first, before offering criticism. When offering criticism, we strive to be constructive and to the point at hand (in Latin, “ad rem”) not personal or petty or generically critical (“ad hominem” — to the person). Whenever possible, we make eye contact with, and directly address, the writer, taking personal responsibility for our comments and opinions.

Course Requirements:

Textbooks TBA.

Office Supplies and Tech Tools – these are very important to our class:

Access to computer, Internet, and printer

A validated CUNY Library Card (giving you access to the Circulating Collection, the Reserves, and the Databases at the Ursula C. Schwerin Library for supplemental and research materials).

A subscription to the NYTIMES (free to CUNY Students)

A paperback dictionary or Online dictionary app readily available on your phone during class time. A thesaurus (same as above), which you can use easily during class time. (Recommended is a college-level dictionary like the American Heritage Dictionary, or an online dictionary such as

Two bookends – can be purchased from office supply store

Pens and pencils (bring to class every day)

At least three notebooks in which to complete your handwritten assignments: one normal sized, and two more portable sizes for you to take on the subway and keep in your bag.

At least one folder in which to keep your class readings and other handouts – for yourself. Many photocopies will be distributed in class; you will also be asked to download and print materials. This folder will hold this important material.

A three-ring binder with pockets to present your Journal writings that are not contained in your personal notebooks, and other handouts, to present periodically to professor for Journal Check.

Highlighting pens in four colors: Yellow, Blue, Green, Pink

Additional readings will be handed out in hard copy in class, and may also be availably via Online links as well as through Citytech Openlab (

Access to an Online writing guide, such as the Online Writing Lab:

Attendance: Attendance is mandatory in this discussion-based course. Arriving late, leaving during class, or leaving early, depending on the circumstance, can count as an absence. City Tech’s policy states that four or more absences will result in a failing grade. Absence is not an excuse for missing or late work; you must get class notes from a classmate and keep up with your reading and written work. You must also check our site on OpenLab, even if you miss class. If you know that you will be unable to attend a class due to an emergency or illness, please be sure to alert me.

Participation: To meet course goals, you must participate in each class. Come prepared, bring any required books or materials, and contribute to the day’s activity. Your physical presence is not enough! If you do not contribute to the discussion, workshop, or small group activity, I will assume you are unprepared. Please be respectful of other viewpoints or opinions in class and Online.

Writing: You will be writing constantly in this class, both inside and outside of the classroom (and particularly during your CONVERSATION time). There will be due dates for drafts and for finished copies of assignments, but you will be responsible for pacing your work and completing drafts. Formal assignments should be submitted in a reasonable 12-point font with one-inch margins on all sides—further details will be provided on the assignment description—unless otherwise noted. If you believe you have a legitimate reason for requesting an extension for an assignment, do so at least 24 hours before the due date. Assignments submitted late but without an extension will automatically receive a lower grade. In-class writing will contribute to your essay assignments, and will affect your essay grade, your in-class writing grade, and your participation grade. These pieces of informal writing must be kept in a writing folder and or journal, since we will return to texts, themes, and ideas throughout the semester.

Revisions: Revisions are essential to good writing, and we will be practicing revision throughout the semester. If you would like help with this process outside of the assignments and exercises given during class time, you would best visit me during my Office Hour so that I may give you my full attention. If you would like to revise your assignment after I have graded it, you must get approval from me prior to that revision, and we will proceed, as above.

Reading: The best way to learn how to write is to read — actively, and voraciously — using both an open and a critical mind. Throughout this course, we will be reading a variety of texts together. You will also be doing more reading, independently, for your research essays. It is crucial that you keep up with the reading to be able to fully participate in class activities and discussions. Get into the habit of annotating (taking notes) in the margins of, and separately from, all your reading. We will discuss the best and most effective ways to annotate throughout the semester.

Homework: Assignments, whether for reading or writing, are due at the start of class. Please be attentive to additional assignments that will be given at the end of each class or communicated via email. Please keep digital copies of your work until you receive a letter grade for it. We recommend using the cloud, such as in DropBox, Google Docs, et al, as well as keeping digital copies on your personal hard drive or computer. Printer issues or malfunctions will not constitute an excuse for late or missing papers. Maintain active files, please. If the Instructor allows you to submit an assignment electronically, be sure it is in a revisable format like WORD, not a PDF. Google Docs links to professor’s email are not an acceptable format.

Course site: In addition to our class meetings, this class will either have access to a virtual community on the OpenLab ( or start its own, dedicated class blog. At times, we may discuss topics as well as respond to questions on the course site. You will need your City Tech email account to create an account on the OpenLab.

Grading: Your course grade will be calculated based on the following Grading Rubric; missing any component will result in a lower grade. Passing ENG 1101 is contingent upon attendance, satisfactory class participation, the successful completion of assignments, and the final exam.

Grading Rubric:

Class Participation (This includes: all written journal entries; meaningful contribution to formal Conversation circle time – both presenting and commenting on the presentations of others; short take-home assignments; completing and discussing all assigned readings; meaningful and PROACTIVE contribution to class in general; attendance without tardiness): 20%

A UNIT of THREE SHORT ESSAYS, worth a total of 30%, broken down as follows*:

500-word short essay #1: 10%

500-word short essay # 2: 10%

500-word short essay/presentation #3: 10%

Midterm Exam (completed in class in essay form): 15%

Final Research Project (app. 2,000 words): 20% — Note: a First Draft of this paper must be submitted prior for grade. You will not be given a grade without an acceptable and timely first draft submission.

Final Exam: 15%

Support: Please do not hesitate to speak with me during my office hours or by appointment—this is one of the most direct and effective ways to improve your work, seek advice, and alert me to any issues, concerns, or questions. There are many other avenues of support at City Tech, including your Learning Community peer advisor, the College Learning Center, the Academic Advisement Center, and the Counseling Service Center. Students with disabilities should consult with the Student Support Services Program for documentation and support, and should speak with me privately to coordinate appropriate accommodations.

The Conversation — Configuration and Format: student chairs will be reconfigured into a circle, such that all sightlines to our fellow students are clear. The Instructor, who is the facilitator of the The Conversation, has veto power and helms the circle. The Conversation/circle is the your time; use it for improving your skills, creating a nurturing and supportive peer environment, facing down any writing issues you may harbor, and developing your voice. Remember that during this time we also acquire the means to become respectful readers, listeners, and responders – in many facets of our lives.

Academic Integrity:

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.” Plagiarism, the act of presenting another person’s ideas, research, or writing as your own, whether intentionally or unintentionally, is not tolerated at City Tech. Using proper documentation (and thorough textual analysis will help you avoid plagiarism. Any cases of plagiarism or other forms of academic dishonesty will result in a grade of zero and appropriate measures taken. Please familiarize yourself with City Tech’s academic honesty policies: If you are confused or have any questions about what plagiarism is and how you might avoid it, please contact me before your assignment is due.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *