Writing Yourself into Your Field
San Francisco State University
To attain the reading, writing and thinking skills required in each student’s field.
Designed for students who need to increase their writing proficiency in preparation for graduate-level work.
Greene, Stuart, and April Lindinsky. From Inquiry to Academic Writing: A Practical Guide. Boston: Bedford / St. Martin’s, 2012.
Azar, Betty. Understanding and Using English Grammar. 4th ed. Pearson Education ESL, 2009.
After completion, students will be able to:
1. read, analytically and critically, complex text representing varied cultural and academic frameworks, integrating multiple perspectives.
2. adopt task-specific strategies for generating ideas, drafting, editing and proofreading, and revise mindfully, refining ways of giving and using feedback.
3. reflect on their own and others’ literacy processes, strategies and habits towards more flexible reading and writing skills.
4. compose rhetorically-aware, complex prose in appropriate genres, matched to purpose, audience and context.
5. employ advanced search strategies to examine, and advanced criteria to evaluate, a wide variety of sources, including library resources, distinguishing scholarly from non-scholarly and primary from secondary information.
6. use evidence from a variety of sources to support a purpose; distinguish adequate from inadequate support; use and cite information properly and ethically.
7. control rhetorical and grammatical features, including style, usage, and conventions, with attention to purpose, audience and genre.
8. inquire into authentic social issues and enter into scholarly conversations, articulating responsible, informed positions.
Gaming System for Grading:
Rather than giving grades (which often feel like a punishment), I will be awarding points, much as in a scoring system of a game. Every score adds to a student’s total, so students should feel that they are constantly moving forward. Only a few things, such as unexcused absences and tardiness, not having the reading materials and using electronic devices for other purposes than contributing to the class, will result in penalties. Some extra credit activities will come up, but students should not rely on them for their final grade. They must complete all the core work and do well on all four papers (receiving at least 70% or higher) in order to pass.
As in gaming, higher numbers are more psychologically satisfying, so I be awarding points by the hundreds. One hundred points is equivalent to 1% of the final grade. 1,000 points is 10%. 10,000 points is a perfect score for the course of 100%.
Class participation 1500 points
Reading forum, research database, wikis and other assignments 1500 points
First Paper: Issues in Education and Language 1500 points
Analysis of Conventions: 3 shorter papers and synthesis paper (750 points each) 3000 points
Final research project 2000 points
Presentation on final project 500 points
You need 7000 points in order to pass the class.
Class Participation: 1500 points
Regular attendance and meaningful participation is essential. Each class missed without a valid excuse will result in 300 points deducted from the course total (since each class represents three). Each late arrival will cost 25 points. Respect for others, regardless of race, class, religion, gender, sexual orientation and physical ability, is required.
Reading Forum, Databases, Wikis and Other Assignments: 1500 points
Homework: All reading and writing assignments listed to the right of a class on the syllabus must be completed after that class and before the next. Students must bring an underlined and annotated copy of all readings in order to refer to the text during discussions. Those who do not bring a copy will lose 25 points for each reading. (Electronic copies are acceptable.)
Reading Forum: Whenever we have a reading assignment,students must post a thoughtful, detailed question. Questions may be about an aspect of the reading that is confusing, unusual, thought-provoking or profound. Students should read other questions before adding their own to ensure they are not repeating. Questions that echo preexisting questions will not get scored. Students should then respond to at least two other students’ questions. Adding more to discussions will increase participation score.
Questions are due by 4 pm on the day we are going to discuss the text (to give me and your classmates time to read your questions) and comments are due by class time. Unfortunately, we may not always be able to discuss every question during class, but even an unanswered question will help students interact with the text, generate ideas, and practice writing.
At the beginning of the semester, questions and responses will be scored for completion. Later in the semester questions will get scored for detail and thoughtfulness. “Detail” implies setting up the question with a quote or summary from the text, and “thoughtful” involves critical thinking. Since this is part of the generative phase of writing — the phase when students are producing ideas — grammar, spelling and punctuation will not be graded, although students should make an effort to produce clean, understandable writing.
Databases and Wikis: At various points, students will be asked to contribute to research forums in order to share their findings. Also, we will create wikis to develop awareness of form and genre, audience and purpose, tone and register (level of formality).
Major Writing Assignments: 7000 points
Issues in Education and Language: 1500 points. The first paper of the semester (8-12 pages) will focus on issues in language and will be a typical argumentative essay discussing two sides of an issue in a balanced, complex manner, but taking a side and encouraging a particular group to change a specific policy or behavior.
Analysis of Writing within Your Discipline: 3000 points. 750 points for each smaller paper and 1500 points for the synthesis paper. Using material drawn from an interview with an informant in your field and further research, students will write two shorter papers analyzing the written forms, conventions, expectations, citation format, and hot issues in their fields, then synthesize them into an 8-10 page paper, which must be a total reinvention of the previous two papers (or it will not get counted as a separate assignment).
Research Paper: 2000 points for paper, 500 for presentation. Write a 10-12 page research paper within your discipline, practicing, exploring and challenging the forms, conventions, questions and content within your field. In the last weeks of class, you will then give a brief 8-10 minute presentation on your research project in order to share your newly-gained knowledge with your colleagues. Presentations will only be graded for completion of the task, but exceptional work will gain extra points.
If you cannot make a deadline, students must contact me before the due date and make new arrangements. All final drafts must be turned in as a hard copy in class, along with previous drafts in a folder. To conserve paper, writings may be printed on both sides of a page or on recycled paper, even in the final draft. Since the purpose of writing is communication, all final versions of papers must be posted on the class iLearn site. You are strongly encouraged to read your classmates’ writing and doing so will add to your participation score.
On each assignment, I will lay out the basic requirements. If a paper does not meet these requirements, I will return the paper without reading it. If the essay meets these specifications, I will read and score the paper. For each paper, I will offer suggestions for superior work, which will receive extra credit points.
Revisions: I am a very tough grader, awarding points only for graduate level writing demonstrating clarity, concision, grammatical accuracy, specificity, organization, carefully-staged argumentation, support, complexity, and citations. With the first paper, I require a substantial revision, and students may do one more optional revision. The analysis of writing papers may each be revised twice, as long as time allows. Such revisions are due one week from the day I return the scored paper to the student. Correction of surface errors will result in a slightly better score. For significant improvement, students must thoroughly revise wording, organization, argumentation, and support. I encourage you to meet with me to discuss your revision plans. Good writing requires revision. Take advantage of this opportunity to improve your writing . . . and your score!
Electronic Devices: I encourage the use of electronic devices in the classroom for academic purposes. Students should look up unfamiliar words, add research to discussion and check facts. (If anyone catches the teacher giving an incorrect fact, the student will get 25 points extra credit.)
Plagiarism: The purpose of the class is to give you the skills you need to frame your own original ideas in effective prose, so plagiarism–copying someone else’s work without giving them credit–is not only stealing someone else’s hard work, but also cheating oneself out of the opportunity to gain the power of the word.
Students with Disabilities Statement: Students with disabilities who need reasonable accommodations are encouraged to contact the instructor. The Disability Program and Resource Center (DPRC) is available to facilitate the reasonable accommodations process. The DPRC is located in the Student Service Building and can be reached by telephone (voice/TTY 415 338-2472) or by email (email@example.com).
Course Schedule (subject to change, most up to date copy may be found on iLearn):
Date of Class
|Unit I: Issues of Language and EducationWeek 1: IntroductionsJanuary 28th, Monday||Introduction to the courseCommunity building exercise: “Two Truths and a Lie”Writing: “I Write the Class” questionnaireThe right word: The foundation of good writing
The color of words: Connotation
In-class essay: “What are the Benefits of Writing Well?”
|Writing: Create a profile (with picture) on iLearn and introduce yourself on the first week forum entitled “Introducing Yourself,” telling us a little about your background and future plans (by 4 pm Monday, February 4th) and respond to the posts of other students.
Reading: Underline and annotate From Inquiry to Academic Writing, Chapter 1 “Starting with Inquiry (Post a question on one essay from the chapter and respond to two other students’ questions, one of which must be a response to the other essay.)
Writing: Informally answer the questions on page 27, number 1 (handwritten or typed). You will not turn this in, so don’t worry too much about correct grammar and spelling, although you should try to practice good writing. Make an effort, however, to choose the right word and think about the connotations of the words you choose.
|Week 2: Literacy NarrativesFebruary 4th, Monday||Community building exercise: Student quizThe Backbone of the sentence: Identifying subjects and verbsPronoun agreementOverview of Main Points: Chapter 1, “Starting with Inquiry”
Reading discussion: “Scholarship Boy” by Richard Rodriguez and “Disliking Books” by Gerald Graff
Writing Conversation: Your history of literacy
1st Paper: Issues of language and education
|Exercise: Pronoun agreement
Reading: Underline and annotate From Inquiry to Academic Writing, Chapter 2 “From Reading as a Writer to Writing as a Reader” (Take notes on Preface to Cultural Literacy by E.D. Hirsch, Jr. and “Hirsch’s Desire for a National Curriculum” by Eugene F. Provenzo. Jr. for next week’s debate. No reading forum this week.)
Writing: A one-page typed and double spaced rhetorical analysis of either “Agency” by Sidonie Smith and Julia Watson or “Cultural Baggage” by Barbara Ehrenreich (100 points. Scored for exactness of wording, sentence focus, thoroughness of analysis, organization and grammatical accuracy.)
|Week 3: Cultural LiteracyFebruary 11th, Monday||Community Building Exercise: 5 things in commonBrainstorming: Issues of language and education you might want to write about for the first paperClustergraph: Points you may want to discuss in the first paper regarding the issue of language or education you have selectedPronoun agreement: Follow up to exercise
Strengthening the backbone: Sentence focus
Overview of Main Points: Chapter 2, “From Reading as a Writer to Writing as a Reader”
Debate: Preface to Cultural Literacy by E.D. Hirsch, Jr. and “Hirsch’s Desire for a National Curriculum” by Eugene F. Provenzo. Jr.
|Reading: Underline and annotate From Inquiry to Academic Writing, Chapter 3 “From Identifying Claims to Analyzing Arguments” and Chapter 4, “From Identifying Issues to Forming Questions” (You don’t have to read every essay, just the principle essays of Chapter 3 “Hidden Lessons” by Myra Sadker and David Sadker, “Grade Inflation Gone Wild” by Stuart Rojstaczer, or “Doesn’t Anybody Get a C Anymore?” by Phil Primack. You don’t have to read “The End of the World May be Nigh” or either essay from Chapter 4. Post a question on one of the three essays from Chapter 3 and respond to two other students’ questions about the other two essays.)
Writing: Informally respond (handwritten or typed) to questions 1, 2, 4 and 5 on pages 84 and 85 and questions 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 on pages 89 and 90) in preparation for the first essay. I will check to make sure you have done this, but you do not have to turn them in, so you should not worry too much about grammar, punctuation or organization.
|Week 4: Arguments and IssuesFebruary 18th,
|Freewriting: The issue you have selected for the first paperSetting Up Interview for next paperThe Muscle of the Sentence: Making verbs activeOverview of Main Points: Chapter 3, “From Identifying Claims to Analyzing Arguments” and Chapter 4, “From Identifying Issues to Forming Questions”
Practice Sequence: Identifying claims
Writing Conversation: Answers to questions 1, 2, 4 and 5 on pages 84 and 85 and questions 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 on pages 89 and 90
Reading discussion: “Hidden Lessons” by Myra Sadker and David Sadker, “Grade Inflation Gone Wild” by Stuart Rojstaczer, or “Doesn’t Anybody Get a C Anymore?” by Phil Primack.
|Reading: From Inquiry to Academic Writing, Chapter 7, “From Summary to Synthesis” (Read all essays except “A Greener Approach to Groceries”) and Chapter 9, “From Introductions to Conclusions” (Just glance over the excerpts, but read the essay.)
(Post a question on one of the essays from chapter 7 and respond to two other students’ questions.)
Writing: Rough draft for 1st paper: Issues of Language and Education, including summary, paraphrase, and quotes from source materials.
|Week 5: New LiteraciesFebruary 25th, Monday||Making verbs active: Follow-up to exerciseSubject-Verb AgreementOverview of Main Points: Chapter 7, “From Summary to Synthesis” and Chapter 9, “From Introductions to Conclusions”Writing Conversation: Introduction (page 253) and Conclusion (page 272)
Reading discussion: “The New Literacy” by Cynthia Haven, “Studies Explore Whether the Internet Makes Students Better Writers” by Josh Keller, “Political Blogs” by Dan Kennedy, “Don’t Fear Twitter” by John Dickerson, and “YouTube: The Flattening of Politics” by Steve Grove
|Reading: From Inquiry to Academic Writing, Chapter 5, “From Formulating to Developing a Thesis” and Chapter 10, “From Revising to Editing” (Just glance over the essays. Question and responses are extra credit.)
Writing: 2nd draft of 1st essay. Bring in three copies for workshopping.
|Week 6: What’s Your Point?March 4th, Monday||Warmer: Crazy storyVerb tense overviewOverview of Main Points: Chapter 5, “From Formulating to Developing a Thesis”Practice Sequence: Identifying Types of Theses and Building a Thesis
Overview of Main Points: Chapter 10, “From Revising to Editing”
Peer Editing (including questions of page 280, 283, 284, and 288)
|Exercise: Verb tenses
Reading: From Inquiry to Academic Writing, Chapter 8, “From Ethos to Logos,” pages 199-222 (Post a question on “The Land of Opportunity” by James W. Loewen and respond to two other questions.)
Writing: Thoroughly revise first paper according to feedback. Bring hard copy with previous drafts in a folder. Post revised paper on the writing forum on iLearn and read your colleagues’ papers.
|Unit II: Writing in Your FieldWeek 7: Appealing to feeling, ethics and logicMarch 11th, Wednesday||Writing Experiments: Fattening and SlimmingVerb tenses: Follow-up to exerciseThe next paper: “Analysis of Writing in Your Discipline”Overview of Main Points: Chapter 8, “From Ethos to Logos”
Reading discussion: The Land of Opportunity” by James W. Loewen
Practice Sequence: Appealing to Ethos and Pathos
|Verb tense exercise: Depending on individual need
Reading: From Inquiry to Academic Writing, Chapter 6, “From Finding to Evaluating Sources” (No question or responses.)
Textual research on writing conventions in your field
Writing: A 4-5 page paper describing, analyzing and responding to conventions within your field related either to textual research. Bring in three copies for workshopping
|Week 8: Doing ResearchMarch 18th, Monday||Conversation: Building a thesisQuestions about verb tensesVerb tenses: Further practiceWord Order
Overview of Main Points: Chapter 6, “From Finding to Evaluating Sources”
Workshops: Teacher-led, then student-student
|Exercise: Word order
Reading: From Inquiry to Academic Writing, Chapter 11, “Other Methods of Inquiry” (Just glance over the essays. Question and responses are extra credit.)
Writing: Thoroughly revise Textual Research paper. Bring in hard copy with previous drafts in a folder. Post on iLearn and read colleagues’ papers.
Interview with an Informant in your field
Writing: A 4-5 page paper describing, analyzing and responding to conventions within your field related to the interview. Bring in three copies for workshopping.
|Spring RecessNo classes!|
|April 1st, Monday||Cesar Chavez DayNo classes!|
|Week 9: Other Methods of InquiryApril 8th,
|Word Order: Follow-up to grammar exercisesConnecting wordsOverview of Main Points: Chapter 11, “Other Methods of Inquiry: Interviews and Focus Groups”The Final Research Project
Brainstorm: Ideas for final project
Workshops: Teacher-led, then student-student
|Writing: Proposal for final project with a list of three research sources. Email to Ron by Friday, April 12th.
Writing: Revise interview paper according to feedback. Bring in hard copy with previous drafts in a folder. Post on iLearn and read colleagues’ papers
Writing: Synthesis paper of 2 short papers about writing in your field. Synthesis paper must interweave the two previous papers in an entirely new way with at least 85% of sentences rewritten.
|Week 10: Writing ExperimentsApril 15th, Monday||Connecting words: Follow-up to exerciseParallelismWriting experiments: Final paperWorkshops: Teacher-led, then student-student||Writing: Thoroughly revise analysis of writing in your field synthesis paper. Bring in hard copy with previous drafts in a folder. Post on iLearn and read colleagues’ papers.
Reading: Individual research materials for final project.
Writing: Three annotations of research materials. Bring in hard copies and post on iLearn.
|Week 11: The Writing ProcessApril 22nd, Monday||Sentence BoundariesAnnotationsWriting experiments: Final paper||Writing: Final research project. Bring in three copies for workshopping.|
|Week 12: Presenting ResearchApril 29th,
|Sentence VarietyPresentations: Structure, standard phrases and styleWorkshops: Teacher-led, then student-student||Writing: Final draft of research project due in class on Monday, May 6th.
|Week 13: Sharing
ResearchMay 6th, Monday
|Presentations on Research Project|
|Week 14: Moving ForwardMay 13th, Monday||Presentations on Research Project||Good luck in your schooling and careers!|