ENGL 1001: First-Year Composition

CSU Stanislaus, Spring 2013

Bizzini 103


Name:   Michael Elkins                                                               Office:  L-195N

Email:                                                    Hours:  M/W  10:45-11:45am


  • They Say/I Say With Readings 2nd ed. by Gerald Graff et al. Norton, 2012. ISBN 978-0-393-91275-3
  • Night of the Living Dead  by George Romero, The Walter Reid Organization, 1968 (out of copyright and available free online)
  • Other assigned readings not on this list will be provided in class or through email.


  • A writing handbook

A course in reading and writing expository essays. In addition to writing essays, students will be expected to demonstrate the ability to write informative summaries of university-level writing. Satisfies G.E. area A2. Prerequisite: EPT score of T147 or above or recommendation from a prebaccalaureate course.


This course provides opportunities to develop  effective written communication skills while also honing our critical thinking and critical reading abilities. Additionally, we will also focus on what makes effective arguments, including how to identify and make different types of appeals. By the end of the course you should have a better understanding of what makes a piece of writing work.  We will learn this by writing our own essays and helping each other revise.

I believe that writing is a process developed with practice. Simply put, there is no way to learn how to write without writing. Because of this belief, you can expect to write and rewrite extensively throughout the course.

I believe that the writer’s workshop offers a unique understanding of how a text is perceived by an audience. Because of this belief, you can expect to spend extensive time in writer’s workshops.

I believe writers should have a  functional understanding of grammar, but the emphasis is on function—an aide to clarity in writing. Because of this belief, we will touch on grammar as needed, but it is not the core of the course.

Finally, I believe that learning to write well will not only help you in college, but will assist you in both your civic and professional lives beyond the university. And that is why we are here.



By the end of the course, enrolled students should:

Demonstrate increased control of Standard Written English.

Understand traditional essay conventions and structure.

Understand the ideas of audience and purpose and demonstrate that understanding in writing.

Demonstrate an increased understanding of functional grammar.

Gain knowledge of writing as a process, which includes pre-writing, writing, and revision.

Better understand the use and understanding of arguments within texts.

Employ arguments and counterarguments in our own texts.

Better understand how to locate and evaluate sources for incorporation into our own work.


Plagiarism is a serious offense. If you include anyone else’s words, phrases, or ideas, in your essay without proper documentation you are guilty of plagiarism, whether your actions were intentional or not. All references must be documented. Regardless of intent, if you are guilty of plagiarism I will notify the college of your infraction, which may result in failure of the class or expulsion from the university.  See the official English Department policy  at the following URL:


The course consists of three essays, a blog that will require a weekly reading response/journal entry, various writing workshops with peers and with the instructor, an in-class essay mid-term and final exam.

The percentage breakdown is as follows:

Personal Narrative: 20%

Critical Analysis: 20%

Research Paper: 25%

Weekly Blog Post 15%

In-Class Essay (Midterm) 7.5%

In-Class Essay (Final) 7.5%

Participation 5%

  • Major Writing Assignments

You will be assigned three formal essays during the course of the semester– A personal narrative, a report of your experience creating and maintaining a personal blog, and a research paper on a topic of your choice.

  • Minor Writing Assignments (Blog Posts/Reading Responses/Journals)

You will be required to create a blog for the class using WordPress. I will walk you through this process during the first few weeks of class. Once the blog is created, you will be responsible for researching a topic of interest and making a minimum of five blog posts related to your topic. Additionally, you will be required to create 10 journals that summarize and reflect on course content.

  • Group work, in-class projects

Throughout the semester in-class exercises will be periodically assigned. Some of these exercises will be assigned as individual in-class work (primarily five minute freewriting at the beginning of class, quizzes, etc.) and some as group work (peer-review, grammar tune-ups, etc.). Your participation in these in-class assignments will be considered in  your overall participation grade.

  • Final

Your final will be a timed, in-class, argumentative essay related to course material. I will provide a list of possible topics prior to the exam, but you won’t know the prompt until the day of the exam. This is largely practice for the WPST and other timed-writing tests that you will have to take throughout your college career.


  • Attendance

Attendance is not optional in this class. If you are not present you will not be able to complete group or in-class assignments, and your work, as well as the work of your classmates, will suffer.  If you exceed four absences (two weeks of class), you will receive 0 participation points (10% of your grade), and six absences or beyond will result in failing the course.

  • Late Assignments

Any work turned in after the due date, including blog posts made after the post deadline, will receive a penalty. In instances of abuse or extreme lateness, I might not accept the work. Do it late at your own risk and to the peril of your grade.


Use of Electronic Devices In Class: Students are permitted to use laptop or tablet computers in class for note-taking or in class writing assignments. Cellphones, MP3 players, or any other similar device is not permitted for in class use. They should be set to off or silent prior to class, and should you need to use your phone during class time,  remove yourself from the classroom. If you are gone longer than 10 minutes, it will be counted as an absence.


Disabilities: If you need accommodations to meet specific challenges associated with a disability, please speak to me directly as soon as possible so the necessary supports can be put into place.

[This syllabus is not a legal document.  Therefore, I reserve the right to alter the direction of the class to better meet your needs and fulfill the course objectives.  There will be additional assignments that are not mentioned on this syllabus that will be explained in class]


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