CSULA Department of English | Composition Resources

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English 101: Composition I

Catalog Description

Composition I:  Reflective and Expository Writing

Prerequisite:  English Placement Test or completion of ENGL 096.  Reading and writing to develop and communicate ideas.  Instruction in basic strategies for planning, composing, and revising college writing.  Use of authorities, examples, arguments and facts.  Graded A,B,C/NC.   GE A1

Learning Objectives

Learn fundamental rhetorical strategies used to produce university-level expository prose, especially

o modify content and form according to purpose and audience

o appropriately use authorities, examples, facts, etc. to support an argument or position

o vary stylistic options to achieve different effects

Develop effective reading and writing skills

Use reading and writing critically as a means of generating and exploring ideas

Articulate an individual perspective through organizing and developing their ideas into a coherent essay

Practice strategies for meaningful revision

Develop an effective individual writing process

Incorporate textual evidence through quotation and paraphrase into their essays and appropriately cite their sources

Critique their own work and that of peers using the conceptual and stylistic conventions of academic discourse

Edit final drafts to minimize mechanical/grammatical errors and to improve clarity of style


English Department policy states that composition students must attend the first two classes of the quarter to retain their place in the class. Any student who is absent either the first or second class meeting will be dropped and the space given to another student who is trying to add.

Regular attendance is essential. Failure to attend class or arriving to class late will seriously damage your chances of passing this course. The English Department has a firm policy that states that no student may miss more than 20 percent of the class meetings. If you are more than 20 minutes late, consider yourself absent. If you must miss a class for a valid reason, please call the department number or email me and leave a message that includes how I can reach you so that we can make sure you don't fall behind the rest of the class.

Required Work

There will be weekly reading and writing assignments in this class. You will need to plan ahead carefully in order to complete the following tasks on time:

Read assigned texts critically and analytically in preparation for writing assignments

Actively participate in prewriting and revision activities as well as in other activities that encourage conceptual development and an enhanced sense of audience

Draft and revise four formal essays (3-4 typed pages each) in response to selected readings

Attend a minimum of 80% of the scheduled class sessions

One final exam essay

A reading journal in which you will summarize and respond to the assigned reading. (See handout for more on the reading journal.)

Please note that all assignments (the readings, the essays, and the journal entries) are required. I will not accept a portfolio from anyone who has failed to complete all of the assignments.

Texts, Supplies and Other Helpful Advice

Textbooks: These texts should be available in the campus bookstore.

Rereading America: Cultural Contexts for Critical Thinking and Writing, 7th edition (2007), edited by Gary Colombo, Robert Cullen, and Bonnie Lisle.

They Say, I Say (2005) by Gerald Graff and Cathy Birkenstein.

The writing handbook recommended by the English Department is Diana Hacker’s A Pocket Style Manual, 4th ed. (Bedford/St. Martin’s).

Supplies: Some regular, lined notebook (8.5 x 11) paper, some dark-ink pens (blue or black), and at least two standard-sized (8.5 x 11) bluebooks (exam books) to use for your reading journals. (These supplies should be available in the campus bookstore.)

Helpful Advice:

If you do not already own one, it is a very good idea to purchase a decent American language dictionary in addition.

Throw nothing away, and bring paper, our text, and your journals to class every time.

In conjunction with regular attendance, you must keep up with the work. Late work is not acceptable and a missing assignment is counted as an absence.


Attendance: Attendance is mandatory. I will take attendance at the start of every class. If you are not present I will mark you absent. Arriving late will count as half of an absence. You are allowed one absence without penalty. If you miss more than four classes you will be disqualified from taking the final and therefore will fail the class.

Grading Policy: The distribution of points for the individual assignments in this course is listed below.





Essay #1: Rough Draft (5 points), Final Draft (25 points)


Essay #2: Rough Draft (5 points), Final Draft (25 points)


Essay #3: Rough Draft (5 points), Final Draft (30 points)


Essay #4: Rough Draft (5 points), Final Draft (30 points)


Final Exam


Reading Journal


Attendance and Class Participation

For the quarter, 200 points are possible, and course grades are based on standard percentages (i.e. 90% and greater is some version of an A, 80-89% is some version of a B, and so on). Plus and minus grades are used in the class.

Please note that these percentages are used when all work is attempted. In order to pass this course the papers, presentation, responses and final all must be legitimately attempted. Plagiarism does NOT constitute a legitimate attempt of the assignment.

Also note that in order to receive credit for this course, you must earn a grade of C or better (73% or higher). A grade of C- or below (72% and below) is a No Credit grade. If you receive a NC grade, you will have to take English 101 again.


ADA Accommodations: Reasonable accommodation will be provided to any student who is registered with the Office of Students with Disabilities and requests needed accommodation.

Cell Phones and Pagers: Please turn off all cell phones, pagers, portable radios, televisions, computers, MP3/CD/Disc/Mini-disc players, and any other electronic communication and/or entertainment devices before coming to class.

Preparing for Class: Please read the assigned texts before class. Often I will offer some guidelines about future reading assignments in class. For example, I might tell you to focus on a particular character or scene for the next class meeting. If you are absent, you are responsible for getting the assignment from a classmate.

Academic Dishonesty/Cheating: Collaborating with others is encouraged when you are planning your papers, reviewing each other’s work, preparing for presentations or for exams. Study or reading groups can be effective ways to study and learn. However, when you write your papers, the text needs to be your own.

You must carefully observe the standard rules for acknowledging the sources of words and ideas. If you make use of a phrase or a quote or if you paraphrase another writer’s words or ideas, you must acknowledge the source of these words or ideas telling us the source of these materials. APA and MLA style differ on the exact format of this attribution, but the simple version is the name of the author and the page number (if appropriate) in parentheses at the end of the sentence containing the use of the source material. (We will work on properly acknowledging sources this quarter.)

If you plagiarize or otherwise misrepresent the source of your work, you will receive a zero on the assignment and be reported to the Student Disciplinary Officer.

If you panic and are tempted to plagiarize or cheat, DO NOT. Contact me and we can negotiate a solution. Once you cheat, it is too late for you to negotiate anything.




Class Activity

Reading Due

Writing Due

Wk 1-1


Introduction to course


Wk 1-2


In-class Essay #1

Wk 2-1


Discuss Readings

Devor, "Becoming Members of Society" (383-392); Kincaid, "Girl" (381-383); Cofer, "The Story of My Body" (393-402)

Reading Journal #1 (on assigned readings) due

Wk 2-2


Discuss Readings

Developing An Essay


Assign Revised Essay #1

Wk 3-1


Discuss They Say, I Say

Peer Review Training

They Say, I Say, Introduction

Revised Essay #1 Due

Wk 3-2


Discuss Readings

Rose, "I Just Wanna Be Average" (161-173); Bambara, "The Lesson" (270-278); Garland, "Good Noise: Cora Tucker" (358-369)

Reading Journal #2 (on assigned readings) due

Assign Essay #2

Wk 4-1


Handback Essay #1

Discuss Readings

Using Text

They Say, I Say, 15-47 (to be discussed next meeting)


Wk 4-2


Discuss They Say, I Say

Peer Review Essay #2


Rough Draft of Essay #2 Due

Wk 5-1


Discuss Readings

Gatto, "Against School" (152-161); Anyon, "Social Class and the Hidden Curriculum of Work" (173-189); Kozol, "Still Separate, Still Unequal" (239-256)

Reading Journal #3 (on assigned readings) due

Wk 5-2


Discuss Readings

Some Very Common Problems


Essay #2 Due

Assign Essay #3

Wk 6-1


Thinking and Writing in Modules

Discuss They Say, I Say

They Say, I Say, 51-97


Wk 6-2


Peer Review Essay #3

Handback Essay #2


Rough Draft of Essay #3 Due

Wk 7-1


Style Workshop

They Say, I Say, 101-135


Wk 7-2


Style Workshop


Essay #3 Due

Wk 8-1


Discuss Readings

Terkel, "Stephen Cruz" (353-358); Ehrenreich, "Serving in Florida" (294-307); Mantsios, "Class in America—2003" (307-324)

Reading Journal #4 (on assigned readings) due

Assign Essay #4

Wk 8-2


Handback Essay #3

Discuss Readings


Wk 9-1


Peer Review Essay #4


Rough Draft of Essay #4 Due

Wk 9-2


Style Workshop


Wk 10-1


Student Evaluations

Discuss final exam reading


Essay #4 Due

Wk 10-2


Discuss Final Exam

Hughes, "Let America Be America Again" (848-851)




Handback Essay #4

Final Exam