A WI-Certified Fantasy Syllabus

Some sentiments I want to express about writing and how important it is for your life*

By Laura Malhotra

Disclaimer

This course is WI-Certified through the WAC Program at City Tech. This means that I am fully qualified and equipped to coach you on all aspects of your written communication skills and help you along the never-ending path to becoming a better writer. YES! This is important for you even if you are majoring in a STEM subject. And YES! It will be fun.

Course description

This course will focus on developing your skills in close reading, critical thinking, and critical writing. No matter where you go from here – what major you choose or where you end up working – knowing how to express yourself in writing is a crucial and valuable skill. My aim as your instructor is to help you grasp and internalize the core concepts of (insert discipline/topic here). However, this work is of little value if you cannot express what you have learned effectively through writing!

Hence my other, equally important aim as your instructor is to make you a confident writer, and arm you with the ability to critically engage with and respond to other people’s writing. We will achieve this through short in-class writing exercises, writing workshops, peer review sessions, written responses at home, and by completing two assessed papers.

Course objectives/goals

With special emphasis on close reading and analytical writing, this course is intended to develop in students the analytical and interpretive skills necessary for both written and verbal critical response to core materials that is firmly grounded in the text. It equips students with the vocabulary and techniques for describing and analyzing core concepts, with an emphasis on developing critical writing skills specific to (insert discipline/topic here). In addition, this course develops in students an appreciation for and understanding of the aesthetic qualities of writing, as well as the awareness that written communication skills are a lasting part of what makes our society civilized, and part of a larger ongoing cultural, social, and historical dialogue that informs, influences, and inspires our experiences. I.e. YES! Even in 2019, it is still imperative to know how to write suitably, and at length, on any topic you can imagine. And YES! This will make your social media posts more compelling and effective.

By the end of the semester, students should be able to:

  1. Write thesis-driven analytical essays of 3-5 pages on any topic of their choosing, that incorporate evidence from scholarly texts and demonstrate close reading skills.
  2. Write an analytical research paper of at least 5-7 pages that demonstrates close reading skills and the appropriate use of evidence from academic texts; the ability to create a clear thesis statement; and the ability to incorporate and engage scholarly critical sources as part of a well-organized, thesis-driven argument.
  3. Discuss any of the core concepts of (insert topic here) verbally through the use of close reading skills and, where appropriate, discipline-specific terminology..
  4. Establish a journaling practice that encourages freewriting exercises both inside and outside of the classroom, pertaining to studies or otherwise (the point is to write and write as much as you can – writers improve through more writing!).
  5. Write better Instagram captions and Twitter responses.

Note: “Better” writing is of course subjective, depending on who and where and what. So in an academic and professional setting, knowing how to use proper grammar and adhere to the conventions of your discipline will go a long way. BUT! This training should not stifle your style of individual expression linguistically (a.k.a. your idiolect) in other settings or on other platforms. So be free to explore the many possibilities of representation and expression that writing can open up to you!!

Materials/textbooks

Bean, John C. Engaging Ideas: The Professor’s Guide to Integrating Writing, Critical Thinking, and Active Learning in the Classroom (I will provide electronic copies)

Birkenstein, Cathy, et al. “They Say/I Say”: The Moves that Matter in Academic Writing, with Readings. W.W. Norton, 2015.

Miller, Susan. The Norton Book of Composition Studies. W.W. Norton & Co, 2009.

Course Anthology – printed by me (to save you $$$) more details to come!

Evaluation/Grading

Criteria for evaluating core concepts will be discussed in class. Criteria for evaluating your writing will follow the “Higher vs. Lower Order Concerns” course rubric printed on the back of this syllabus. You will also be evaluated on low stakes assignments throughout the semester (a.k.a. Scaffolding – your new best friend) to prepare you for your assessed papers. This will allow time to practice concepts and techniques and to become comfortable with course content.

To ensure your success, I pledge to:

Design effective assignments​;

Establish clear grading criteria (see above)​;

Hold a class discussion about all assessed papers​ (with options for brainstorming sessions);

Meet with students (one-on-one or if necessary in groups);

Show examples of past students’ work;

Conduct peer reviews that we will discuss during class time.

Plagiarism and academic misconduct

Plagiarism usually happens as a result of one (or more) of the following: time management, lack of self-confidence as a writer, bad paraphrasing, and improper citations. But really there is no excuse for plagiarism, because everyone – YES! You! – has something interesting to say about a text or topic if they put in the work.

As your WI-certified instructor, I will take the necessary steps to ensure that you understand plagiarism and the many forms it can take. I will also teach you how to document your sources properly and use paraphrasing to avoid plagiarism altogether.

The best way to contact the instructor

Speak to her immediately before or after class. Your other option — attend my office hours because I love to talk to students one-on-one and I’m honestly happy to help with ANY questions and concerns – IF! You can adequately put it in writing first 😉

Email: writingacrossdisciplines_isthewayforward@gmail.com

 

*Idea adapted from the recent, hilarious (and equally relevant) article by Julie Schumacher for The New York Times titled, “An Adjunct Instructor’s Final Syllabus”. Web. Jan 29, 2019.

(Original link: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/01/18/opinion/sunday/adjunct-instructor-syllabus.html)