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Robert Bini, English Instructor

English 79: Preparatory English Syllabus


 Instructor: Robert Bini

 

Required Textbooks:

  • The Pact by Drs. Sampson Davis, George Jenkins, and Rameck Hunt, Riverhead Books, 2012 (Call Number in Library: R695.D38 2002);
  • We Were Here  by Matt De La Pena, Ember Books, Random House, 2011 (Call Number in Library: PZ7.P3725 WE 2009);
  • Wild  by Cheryl Strayed, Vintage Books, Random House, 2013 (Call Number in Library: PS3619.T744 Z46 2013B).

These books are available in the Mountain House Library for two-hour periods in the library only.

 

Office Hours:

MW @ Mountain House. 12:30—1:20 pm

TTH @ Stockton: Locke 415. 12:30 pm—1:20 am

and by appointment

Friday online office hours: 9:00 am – 10:00 am

Email address: rbini@deltacollege.edu

Phone: (209) 954-5455

 

Attendance:

According to school policy, students must be dropped for missing one of the first three class sessions. Students may also be dropped when their absences become excessive. Students who accumulate more than two absences by the ninth week of the semester will be dropped from the class. Students who do not pass this course and who have not dropped this course before the “W” date will most likely receive an "F." The “W” date for this course is the ninth week of the semester. It is the individual student's responsibility to complete the paperwork to drop the course by the above deadline. It is not the teacher's responsibility. Two late arrivals or early departures from class will be counted as an absence.

 

 

2002 Delta Winds Cover

Course Description:

English 79 is for students who have scored Level II on the composition portion of the assessment test. Primary attention of the course will be towards learning how to write a basic essay—a group of paragraphs focused on one main idea. In the fifteenth week of the semester, students will reveal their skill level through the mastery examination, which will test the students' ability to write complete and clear essays within ninety minutes. The object of the course work is to prepare students to pass the mastery examination. In English 79, students have a considerable amount of reading and writing to do. With the extensive reading that will be required in this course, students’ writing abilities should improve. Once students have passed English 79, they automatically reach Level III for composition and are qualified to take English 1A.

 

To pass English 79, students must pass the mastery exam AND must accumulate enough points from the following course components:

 

Explanation of Grading Criteria:

Participation                    5%

Handouts                         5%

Quizzes                            20%

Midterm                           5%

Midterm                           5%

Essays                  15%

Mastery Exam    40%

Final Exam                      5%

 

NOTE: This is extremely important. The above method of evaluation will be used only for students who pass the mastery exam. The above method of evaluation will not be used for students who do not pass the mastery exam. Students who do not pass the mastery exam probably will not pass the course. Even if students have 700 points in the course, they most likely will not pass the course if they do not pass the mastery exam. However, students who do not pass the mastery may have a second chance to pass the course through the portfolio process, but the portfolio process is only available under the following conditions. If the student has been maintaining an A/B average on all previous essays and if the student has completed all of the assignments prior to the mastery exam, the student may be able to pass the course by submitting a portfolio of assignments from this class. A board of English 79 instructors must then approve the portfolio. The results of the Portfolio Reading will not be known until finals week. The students involved in the portfolio process will be notified of the results through email. It is vital that students keep all of their work in this class just in case the work is needed for the portfolio.

 

Note:

Using cell phones is a convenient way to communicate with others, to receive emergency updates, and to find entertainment. However, these electronic devices are not welcome in this class. Students who anticipate using cell phones during class this semester are encouraged to drop this class right away. There are many students who wish to enroll in this course, and there are a limited number of seats. The reasons for this class policy are based on my observations and on information provided by past students. Using cell phones distracts individuals in the classroom, and students who get distracted from the work tend to receive failing scores. Students who use electronic devices during class time will be marked as absent. Each class is worth five points for participation.

 

Students with Learning Disabilities

I encourage students with disabilities—including non-visible disabilities such as chronic diseases, learning disabilities, head injury and attention deficit/hyperactive disorder—to talk with me after class or during my office hour. Any student with a documented disability needing academic adjustments or accommodations is requested to speak with your instructor as soon as possible. All discussions will remain confidential. If you have not already done so, please register with the Disabled Support Programs and Services in the DeRicco Student Services Building. This office is responsible for coordinating accommodations and services for students with disabilities.

 

Course Components:

To pass English 79, students must pass the mastery exam and must accumulate at least 700 points from the following course components:

 

Participation

Participation is worth 5% of your grade. You can earn a maximum of 50 points. At the end of the semester, participation points can make the difference between a C or a B. Various writing exercises are considered part of your participation. Be on time for class and be prepared to write on the readings for the day. Students who use electronic devices during class time will be counted as absent. Students who are late two times are counted as absent, and students who leave class early two times are counted as absent. By the way, in a work setting, this type of behavior is considered rude and inappropriate. During this semester, your instructor hopes to model positive types of social skills that apply to work settings.

 

Handouts

Handouts will be worth 5% of your grade. You can earn a maximum of 50 points by completing handouts on grammar exercises and sentence combining strategies. 

 

Quizzes

Quizzes are the key to the course. Quizzes will be worth 20% of your grade. Each quiz is worth ten points. The quizzes check for your understanding of the readings. As soon as class starts, you should be prepared to identify words or phrases from the texts. No discussion is allowed. Just write down your answers and hand in the quiz. Expect a quiz every class on approximately fifty pages of out-of-class reading. To succeed in this class, you have to do well on the quizzes. If you are late, you will not be allowed to take the quiz since I need to collect the quizzes as soon as possible to start our class discussion.

 

Midterm 1

For the first midterm, which is worth 5% of your grade, you will have to write five pages on an essay topic related to The Pact.

 

Midterm 2

For the second midterm, which is worth 5% of your grade, you will have to write five pages on an essay topic related to We Were Here.

 

Essays

The essays are worth 15% of your grade. Each essay assignment is worth a maximum of 50 points. Two of the essays are timed first drafts. You have a limited amount of time—one hour and thirty minutes—to write each of these essays. The last essay assignment is a rewrite of one of your first drafts. Do not rewrite your essay until your first draft has been returned to you and you have read the comments on your first draft. After reading over the sample essays in the English 79 Mastery Essay Information Packet, you should have some familiarity with writing an essay in response to a reading passage. The packet is available on the English Department web site under Student Resources.

 

—First Drafts

Essay assignments One and Two consist of first drafts. You have to write a complete essay in one hour and thirty minutes. This method of writing only a first draft prepares you for the mastery exam, which cannot be revised and which must be written in ninety minutes. See the rubric for specific information on the scores for these essays. The grade you earn for the first draft is the final grade for your essay. While writing, you can have in front of you a copy of the essay or article you are responding to.

 

You can also use paper dictionaries (only paper dictionaries) for your writing, but I would not recommend using them until you are finished writing a complete essay. If you have finished the main writing of your essay and you still have some more time, then take out your dictionary and check for words you have in question. In general, spelling points are not as critical as points for development of ideas and organization.

 

—Rewrite

This essay assignment consists of two parts--the first draft and the rewrite. Choose one of your first drafts to rewrite. Your rewrite is required to be 1000 words. You can earn from 32 to 50 points for completing the rewrite of one of your first drafts.

 

After you have completed the first drafts, your instructor will read them and provide some comments for feedback. Be sure to read these comments before you begin rewriting your first draft. Highlight any words and sentences that you add in the rewrite.

 

Make changes in the organization, in the development of your ideas, in your transitions, in your sentence variety, and in your word choice. You have time to make the essay look the way you want. Good writing usually takes much time and effort. Be prepared to spend considerable time revising your essay.

 

Some of you may be unclear about the meaning of revising. First of all, if you just copy the draft and do not change it, you are not revising your work. That would just be copying. Second, you may think revising means just adding a new paragraph to the end of the essay. This is also not revising.

 

Revising involves making many changes throughout the essay, not just at the end. Revising requires taking a step away from your own creation to look at it critically. Try to be objective. Remember that even though an idea is clear in your own mind, the idea may not be clear in the reader's mind, so to make your writing clear for others, check every little phrase and sentence. And develop every point with more information than you think is necessary. In general, the more details you provide the better. When you are nearly completed with the revisions, check to be sure that you have revised the areas mentioned in the comments to your first draft.

 

Mastery Exam

The Mastery Exam is worth 40% of your grade. Every English 79 course at Delta College is required to count the mastery exam as 40% of the course grade. For the mastery exam, students have one hour and thirty minutes to complete an essay in response to a reading passage. For more information on the mastery exam, read the English 79 Mastery Essay Information Packet, which will be in print late in the semester and which will be for sale in the Bookstore. An electronic version of the handbook is available under the English Department web site under Student Resources. The handbook for this semester includes the reading passage to be used for the mastery exam, sample exams, the grading procedure, and more information about the English program. The actual topics for this semester’s mastery essay will not be in the handbook and will not be provided before the exam. On the day of the mastery exam, you will be given two topics to choose from for your mastery exam essay.

 

As required for all English 79 courses, the mastery exam will be read and graded by two English instructors. These English instructors will not provide any written comments on your mastery exams, so you will not be given specific reasons for the score your mastery exam receives. The readers give scores from 1 to 3, depending on the quality of your work. Three is the highest score, and 1 is the lowest. The score of 2 and above is passing. The two scores are averaged to determine a final score. A 2 and a 3 score results in a 2.5. Another possibility is a 1 and a 2 score. In this situation, one reader views the exam as passing, and the other reader views the exam as not passing. When this occurs, a third reader is brought in to evaluate the exam and to cast the vote that determines the outcome. See the rubric for more details. The reading of the mastery exams occurs the week after the mastery examination.

 

Final Examination

The Final Examination is worth 5% of your grade. The final examination will cover Wild.

 

Course Educational Objectives:

All of the students who successfully complete the course work for English 79 will be able to express themselves in the basic essay format and will show an understanding of the rules of Standard Written English. The students will be able to develop paragraphs to support a thesis in an organized essay. Students will have sufficient writing skills to complete college writing tasks successfully.

 

Supplementary Material:

In addition to the textbooks, students in any English 79 course are required to obtain the English 79: Mastery Essay Information Packet, Fall 2013. Instead of buying this packet, students in this class may access a version of the packet online by going to the English Department home page under Student Resources.

 

Scoring of Assignments

There are 1000 points possible in the course.

 

Course Grades:

              A=900—1000 total points

              B=800—899 total points

              C=700—799 total points

              D=500—699 total points

              F=0—499 total points

 

This chart shows the number of points for particular scores on the mastery examination:

For Mastery Exam—400 points possible:

              3.0=400

              2.5=350

              2.0=300

              1.0=200

 

Explanation of Procedures:

 You are expected to complete your work within the scheduled dates. I recommend that you keep up with these writing activities. Completing all of the work before the mastery exam is essential because you need to write your best work for the mastery and you will not be able to make up out-of-class work after “W” Day.

 

Any student who hands in writing that has not been written by the student is plagiarizing. Any assignment using plagiarism will result in 0 points for the assignment. If this occurs, the student will most likely not pass the course due to a lack of points. Refer to the English Department’s Plagiarism Policy in this packet.

 

If you hand in an assignment late, do not expect to receive any marks or comments. If you wish to receive marks and comments, hand in your work on time. Please keep me informed through email or talk to me before or after class if you wish to tell me something or if you’d like to arrange a meeting.

 

I will keep all copies of quizzes and midterms. Also, the mastery exam will not be returned to students.

 

RUBRIC

 

Participation

5% of total grade. 50 points possible.

 

A Level=45-50 points

--The student has excellent attendance (0-1 absences)

--The student does not use cell phones during class.

--The student consistently prepares for class by reading and studying the reading selections and completing exercises from the text.

--The student interacts regularly with fellow students in group-work.

--Writing activities show careful thought and attention to the readings.

 

B Level=40-44 points

--The student has very good attendance (2 absences)

--The student does not use cell phones during class.

--The student frequently prepares for class by reading and studying the reading selections and completing exercises from the text.

--The student interacts with fellow students in group-work.

--Writing activities show careful thought and attention to the readings.

 

C Level=35-39 points

--The student has fair attendance (3—4 absences)

--The student does not use cell phones during class.

--The student sometimes prepares for class by reading and studying the reading selections and completing exercises from the text.

--The student interacts with fellow students in group-work.

--Writing activities show careful thought and attention to the readings.

 

D Level=20-34 points

--The student has poor attendance (5—6 absences)

--The student uses cell phones during class.

--The student rarely prepares for discussion by reading and studying the reading selections and the discussion topics from the text.

--The student seldom interacts with fellow students in group-work.

--Writing activities lack careful thought and attention to the readings.

 

F Level=0-20 points

--The student has very poor attendance (more than 6 absences)

--The student uses cell phones during class.

--The student does not prepare for discussion by reading and studying the reading selections and the discussion topics from the text.

--The student does not interact with fellow students in group-work.

--Writing activities lack careful thought and attention to the readings.

 

Handouts

5% of total grade. 50 points possible.

There will be many handouts during the semester. Some of these handouts will be graded and included in the course gradebook. Also, complete the sentence crafting and sentence combining handouts.

 

Quizzes

20% of total grade. 200 points possible.

There are twenty quizzes worth a total of 200 points. Each quiz is worth a maximum of 10 points. No make up quizzes will be allowed. The quizzes will be on The Pact, We Were Here, and Wild.

 

Midterm 1

5% of total grade. 50 points possible.

The midterm will be based on The Pact.

 

Midterm 2

5% of total grade. 50 points possible.

The midterm will be based on We Were Here.

Essays

15% of total grade. 150 points possible.

For all levels, essays are expected to be appropriate to the course. There are three essay assignments worth a total of 150 points. Each essay is worth a maximum of 50 points.

 

A Level=47-50 points

-- The essay is organized and focused on one main idea. The essay uses separate paragraphs and contains an introduction, body, and conclusion.

--The essay is extremely clear. Varied logical transitions are used to make connections between ideas. Specific and original word usage is used to make points easily understood and memorable.

--The essay is developed. The main ideas are supported with considerable length. The supporting sentences contain vivid details and examples.

--The essay uses sentence variety. The sentences show a mastery of various, complex sentence patterns. The sentences are complete and not fragmented or run on.

--The essay addresses the writing topic. The essay shows a thorough understanding of the topic and any related reading prompt and directions.

--The essay may, but most likely does not, contain minimal errors in grammar, mechanics, and word order.

 

B Level=42-44 points

-- The essay is organized and focused on one main idea. The essay uses separate paragraphs and contains an introduction, body, and conclusion.

--The essay is clear. Varied logical transitions are used to make connections between ideas. Specific word usage is used to make points easily understood.

--The essay is developed. The main ideas are supported with considerable length. The supporting sentences contain vivid details and examples.

--The essay uses sentence variety. The sentences show a strong understanding of various sentence patterns. The sentences are complete and not fragmented or run on.

--The essay addresses the writing topic. The essay shows a clear understanding of the topic and any related reading prompt and directions.

--The essay contains minimal errors in grammar, mechanics, and word order.

 

C Level=37-39 points

-- The essay is organized and focused on one main idea. The essay uses separate paragraphs and contains an introduction, body, and conclusion.

--The essay is clear. A minimal number of logical transitions are used to make connections between ideas. Word usage is understandable.

--The essay is developed. The main ideas are supported with sufficient length. The supporting sentences contain details and examples.

--The essay uses sentence variety. The sentences show a control of various sentence patterns. The sentences are almost always complete and not fragmented or run on.

--The essay addresses the writing topic. The essay shows an understanding of the topic and any related reading prompt and directions.

--The essay may contain some errors in grammar, mechanics, and word order.

 

D Level=32-34 points

-- The essay is not organized and focused on one main idea. The essay uses separate paragraphs but does not contain an introduction, body, and conclusion.

--The essay is not clear. Logical transitions are not used sufficiently to make connections between ideas. Word usage is not understandable.

--The essay is not adequately developed. The main ideas are not supported with sufficient length. The supporting sentences do not contain details and examples.

--The essay does not use sentence variety. The sentences do not show a control of various sentence patterns. The sentences are not complete and are fragmented or run on.

--The essay does not address the writing topic. The essay does not show a clear understanding of the topic and any related reading prompt and directions.

--The essay contains considerable errors in grammar, mechanics, and word order.

 

Mastery Exam

40% of total grade. 400 points possible.

The following information is taken from the English Department's Scoring Guide for the Mastery Exam.

 

Score of 3: DISTINGUISHED

In addition to meeting the PASS criteria, an excellent essay displays sentence variety, exceptional vocabulary, and an extended discussion of the topic. It is free of all major grammatical errors, though it may have a few minor errors.

 

Score of 2: PASSING

A passing essay

  • addresses the writing task (Answers the topic question in the thesis sentence or in the totality of the essay).
  • demonstrates adequate organization: clear thesis, unified paragraphs, obvious plan of development (introduction, body, conclusion), stated or implied topic sentences.
  • contains an extended example, multiple short examples, logical reasons, or some combination of these in body paragraphs to support the thesis.
  • Demonstrates adequate sentence construction, word usage, and grammar. It contains very few sentence-level errors (comma splices, fragments, run-on sentences, predication errors) and few verb form errors. It may accumulate several minor errors, but not to the extent that it distracts the reader.

Score of 1: FAILING

If an essay fails to meet minimum competency in any of the four areas listed in PASS, it should fail.

A third reader reads splits of 1 and 2. Splits of 2 and 3 are given a score of 2.5.

 

A Level=400 points

This is for a score of 3.

 

B Level=350 points

This is for a score of 2.5.

 

C Level=300 points

This is for a score of 2.

 

D Level=200 points

This is for a score of 1.

 

Final Exam

5% of total grade. 50 points possible.

The final exam will be on Wild.

 

PLAGIARISM POLICY

 

One of the most important principles of a college education is intellectual honesty. In preparing for successful careers and rewarding private lives, you should be aware that nothing is more important than establishing and maintaining your own integrity. As a student, you demonstrate integrity by doing your own work and by giving credit to others whose words, facts, or ideas help you.

 

Plagiarism is a fundamental violation of intellectual honesty. It is the act of using another writer’s words, facts, or ideas without giving credit to that writer by using proper methods of documentation. In other words, plagiarism is a form of stealing. It is a very serious intellectual crime, and it is severely punishable. A student who submits plagiarized work in a college class may receive an "F" on the plagiarized assignment and an "F" as the final grade in the course in which the assignment is submitted; furthermore, an instructor who receives a plagiarized essay may petition to have the student who submitted the essay dismissed from the college entirely, even in the middle of a semester. The result in such a case can be that a student who submits one plagiarized paper in one class loses credit for a whole semester’s work in all of his or her classes. Therefore, it is important for every student to learn to use proper documentation methods and to take very seriously the responsibility to give credit to other writers.

 

The first step in giving credit to another writer is to use quotation marks around any words, with the exception of an indented quotation, that are taken directly from another text.  Use of these quotation marks is the most basic way of telling the reader that you did not write these words yourself. For example, you might quote this sentence from Richard Rodriguez’s essay, "The Achievement of Desire": "After years spent unwilling to admit its attractions, I gestured nostalgically toward the past." If you use these words without the quotation marks, this is plagiarism. If you change a few words but keep the same idea, that is also plagiarism. For example, if the writer says, "After a period of time unwilling to admit its attractions, I thought nostalgically of the past," this is plagiarism. Changing "years" to "a period of time" and "gestured" to "thought" is not enough to be a real paraphrase. You would be relying too much on the author and not enough on yourself. Also, the idea of the nostalgic gesture to the past belongs to Rodriquez and must be credited to him.

 

A second step in giving credit to another writer is to use signal phrases, source notes, and bibliography entries to identify the source of the words, facts, or ideas that you are borrowing. A signal phrase identifies the author and/or the title within the structure of your sentence. For example, you might say,

 

Richard Rodriquez observes in "The Achievement of Desire" that he "gestured nostalgically to the past" (29).

 

In Modern Language Association (MLA) style, a source note is placed in parentheses after the borrowed words, facts, or ideas. A complete listing of the source, with the author’s full name, the title, and the date and place of publication, is included in the Works Cited page at the end of the essay. In the example cited above, the page number appears in parentheses by itself because the author’s name is already stated in the sentence; if the author’s name is not identified previously in the sentence, the quotation and source note will appear like this:

 

"After years spent unwilling to admit its attractions, I gestured nostalgically toward the past" (Rodriguez  29).

 

At the end of the essay, an entry in the Works Cited page will appear like this:

 

Rodriguez, Richard. "The Achievement of Desire." Rpt. in The Critical Reader,Thinker, and Writer. Eds. W. Ross Winterowd and Geoffrey R. Winterowd. Mountain View, CA: Mayfield, 1992. 12-32.

 

Instructors in some classes do not want students to use MLA documentation style, but it is still important for students to show where their information came from. Students should learn to use whatever documentation style the instructor requests.  Footnotes (raised numbers in your text and an explanatory note at the bottom of the page or at the end of the essay, along with a bibliography at the end of the essay) may be preferred by some instructors.

 

One mistake that student writers often make is to assume that putting a source note in parentheses after quoted words is enough to show that the words are not your own. Quotation marks and a source note are needed to give proper credit to your source. When you are quoting, you must use the exact words of the author and you must put them in quotation marks, unless you indent a long quotation, in which case the indentation replaces the quotation marks to show what you have borrowed.

 

A second mistake that student writers often make is to paraphrase too closely to the original source. If you find yourself tempted to use the words, phrases, and sentence structures of the writer from whom you are borrowing, you may find it helpful to put the source aside before you begin to paraphrase. Read a passage carefully, think about it, and then write a summary, an explanation, or an interpretation of what you have read in your own words.

 

A third mistake that is causing problems for many student writers is the assumption that information taken from online sources can be "cut and pasted" into essays without worrying about proper documentation. This assumption is completely wrong. All of the rules of documentation for standard printed sources apply to online sources as well, with the addition that you must also include documentation of the date the information was posted, the date of your access, and the electronic source path.  An example of a Works Cited entry for an online source follows:

 

Gill, Brian. Home page. 22 Apr. 2002. 28 June 2002.

< http://www.acs.ucalgary.ca/bgill >

 

There are many websites offering to supply ready-made essays for students, but the use of these essays is dishonest and a blatant form of plagiarism. Faculty members have access to sophisticated software programs that identify plagiarized passages from virtually any online source. Whenever you use online sources, take pains first to evaluate the credibility of the source, and then follow the documentation procedures outlined here to make sure that you give proper credit for any words, facts, or ideas that you have borrowed.

 

(The above statement was written by Dr. Phil Hutcheon, English Department, San Joaquin Delta College.)