Shelley Reid


English 101.062  --  Composition: 
Course Policy Packet

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Fall 2004  --  TTh 1:30-2:45  --  ST 112
Professor E. Shelley Reid

Contact Points:


Robinson A420

Office Phone:


Office Hours:

M 10:30-12:20, Tu 3:00-4:00, Th 11:30-1:20


Robinson A 487

Course Goals

This is a course in improving your abilities to read, reconsider, analyze, plan, draft, evaluate, and revise a variety of American Academic Essays.  This course also aims to prepare you find ways to value the writing you do as a tool for learning or expression, and to be your own best writing instructor so that you can continue to improve your writing skills and strategies as you move into other courses and situations.


Everybody can write -- and everybody can write better than they do now.

Writing requires us to learn to balance our search for our own unique voices with our willingness to respond to our audience's expectations, perceptions, and interests.

Writers read actively, responding to texts as they do to people, questioning facts and assumptions, testing their own preferences and knowledge against those of the author.


Good revisers make good writers: a good piece of writing does not happen out of the blue, and writers must anticipate responses and consult with their readers as they revise. 

Writing makes a personal connection: writers are often at their best writing "from home," finding or creating a link to their lives, and writing directly to and/or with other people.



TextsCreating America (Moser & Watters), Writing Worth Reading (Packer & Timpane), and a good handbook like A Pocket Style Manual (Hacker), all at the Campus Bookstore.

Other:  Please buy 2-3 basic pocket folders to keep your essays in.

Note:  Plan to print early and often, and back-up your computer files regularly to a second disk.  Don't risk losing the work you spent so much time on.


Instruction and Classwork Overview

The interlinked skills of active reading, drafting, revising, and analyzing are best learned through repeated cycles of instruction, practice, feedback, and reflection.  Most class sessions will be highly interactive and involve a significant amount of focused student discussion and writing.  Students will be encouraged to find ways to link class assignments with their other interests and activities, and will be asked to carry some responsibility for working on particular aspects of their writing that they wish to improve.

This course also has an online component, to provide students with peer and instructor support when they are not in the classroom and to prepare them for online and other public writing tasks beyond the 101 classroom.

Good writing is more frequently a result of time and patience than of inborn talent.  Students who attend regularly, keep up with the small assignments, and block off extra time each week for thoughtful drafting and focused revising usually succeed in this class.

Basic Grading Outline


25 points

Essay 1 Folder: Writer Essay


75 points

Essay 2 Folder: Text Essay


100 points

Essay 3 Folder: Topic Essay


50 points

Essay 4 Folder: Write for Real Project


25 points

Essay 5:  In-class timed writing


75 points

Writer's Workout Assignments


75 points

Reader's Blog Posts


75 points

Quizzes, Class Asgts., Participation

A grade of "C" or better (350/500 points) is required to earn credit in this class.  See the Points Breakout Sheet later in this packet for complete information on grades.

Folder Assignments:  Because learning how to write is as important as producing strong writing at the end of the process, in addition to earning points for the essay drafts themselves, you will earn points based upon your efforts in the drafting process, for the assignments that lead up to the essay drafts, for reflective analyses of your own essays, and for the assistance you give others.  (See the Points Breakout Sheet.)

Completion Policy:  All final essays must be accompanied by a draft, and must demonstrate significant revisions from early to final draft(s).  You must complete all four take-home drafts and essays to pass the class.

Participation:  This is a hands-on, minds-on, laboratory-like class, with time devoted each day to collaborative discussion and practice.  Your regular and active participation is considered as part of your final grade (see Space-Time Policies later in this packet).

Academic Integrity:  Although you will frequently consult with others during the writing process, you must turn in writing that primarily results from your own thought and effort.


University and Composition Program Policies

Midterm Grades

In English 101, students receive a midterm letter grade based on the work of the first seven weeks of the course.  The purpose of this grade is to help students find out how well they are doing in the first half of the course in order to make any adjustments necessary for success in the course as a whole.  Instructors calculate letter grades based on the completed course assignments as weighted on the syllabus through the seventh week.  The work in the second half of the semester may be weighted more heavily, and so the midterm grade is not meant to predict the final course grade. Students may view their grade online at WebGMU.

Final Grades

Students in ENGL101 receive a final grade of A+ (4.0), A (4.0), A- (3.67), B+ (3.33), B (3.0), B- (2.67), C+ (2.33), C (2.0), or NC (no credit).  No Incompletes will be given.


Plagiarism means using the exact words, opinions, or factual information from another source without giving that source credit.  Writers give credit through the use of accepted documentation styles, such as parenthetical citation, footnotes, or end notes; a simple listing of books, articles, and websites is not sufficient.  Plagiarism is the equivalent of intellectual robbery and cannot be tolerated in an academic setting.

Student writers are often confused as to what should be cited.  Some think that only direct quotations need to be credited.  While direct quotations do need citations, so do paraphrases and summaries of opinions or factual information formerly unknown to the writers or which the writers did not discover themselves.  Exceptions to this include factual information which can be obtained from a variety of sources, the writers' own insights or findings from their own field research -- what has been called common knowledge. What constitutes common knowledge can sometimes be precarious; what is common knowledge for one audience may be so for another. In such situations, it is helpful to keep the reader in mind and to think of citations as being "reader friendly."

In other words, writers provide a citation for any piece of information that they think their readers might want to investigate further. Not only is this attitude considerate of readers, it will almost certainly ensure that writers will not be guilty of plagiarism.  Consult the George Mason Honor Code for more information.

Students with disabilities

Students with documented disabilities are legally entitled to certain accommodations in the classroom.  Students requesting such accommodation must present faculty with a contact sheet from the Disability Resource Center(703-993-2474).  This contact sheet is issued after a process of evaluation which determines the appropriate accommodations for the student.  Referral protects this process from abuse, puts students in contact with a support system, and assures that they will receive appropriate accommodation.  I will be happy to work with students and the DRC to arrange fair access and support.


Specific Grading Information

Exploration Draft and Complete Early Draft scores are advisory.  They carry a low grade-weight, and serve to alert you to general strengths or weaknesses.  They are meant to be relative indicators of the quality of work that has already been done and the revision work that lies ahead.  A "4" is not the same thing as a "B–", nor is a "2" equivalent to an "F."  Improvement is expected and possible in all cases.

Complete Early Draft scores

5, 4  --  Drafts receiving these scores have a clear focus; they have sufficient specific evidence to support their claims; they have intelligently analyzed the issue at hand; they flow smoothly and have coherent organization.  They have few major errors, and do not make the reader do additional work to guess at their meaning or progression.  They will nearly always still benefit from revision:  revisions will focus on further developing ideas, polishing organization or style, or fine-tuning the voice or interaction with readers.

3  --  Many early drafts will earn this score.  They generally meet the assignment requirements:  they demonstrate significant attention to focus, evidence, analysis, and organization.  Often they will need significant revisions in one or more fundamental areas of the essay assignment:  the author may not yet have settled on a single focus, may have misinterpreted the assigned reading or provided description rather than analysis, may have relied on too-little or too-general evidence throughout, and/or may not chosen a clear organizational path.  Essays with persistent grammatical errors may also earn this score.  These essays usually make clear what was originally intended if not yet achieved by its author; revisions will involve significant changes in the essay's structure and approach in order to live up to the author's intentions.

2, 1  --  When an author's intentions are not clear or his/her arguments are too thin or disorganized to support the essay's purpose, a draft will earn a lower score.  Such drafts are difficult to read, lacking focus or relying entirely on vague generalizations that require the reader to guess at meanings; they may have serious, distracting grammatical errors.  The author may have misunderstood the assignment, misread of one or more of the assigned texts, invested minimal time in the essay drafting process, and/or have had some confusion about the expectations of a university-level academic audience.  Aconference with the professor before revising is strongly recommended; substantial changes may be necessary for the final essay to earn a passing score.

Process Bonus Assignments:

Because learning the processes and strategies of being a good writer & reviser is crucial to your success, many CED assignments will incorporate Process Bonus Assignments.  Completing one or more optional PBAs could simultaneously help you improve as a writer while lessening some of the grade-induced stress of turning in an early draft.

Final Essay Scores and Folder Total Scores will have letter-grade equivalents; you can divide points-earned by points-possible and use standard 90%-80%-70% breakdowns to see how you stand.  Generally,

A "C" level grade (70-79% of possible points) denotes average college-level writing and achievement.  The essay is a competent response to the assignment:  it meets, to some degree, all the assignment requirements, and demonstrates that the author has put significant time and effort into communicating his/her ideas to his/her targeted audience.  It has a thesis, presents some support, moves from point to point in an orderly fashion, and contributes to the classroom conversations on the topic. 

A "B" level grade (80-90%) highlights a strong example of college writing and thinking.  In addition to meeting the "C" level requirements, such an essay demonstrates some insight into the "gray areas" of the topic, provides original or very thorough support that is tightly woven into the overall argument, reads smoothly at both the sentence and paragraph levels, and/or exhibits a personal "voice" or style.  It has few if any errors.

An "A" level grade (90-100%) marks an essay that is a delight for the reader.  Even more than in a "B" essay, its author anticipates and responds to possible reader questions, uses a wide range of supporting evidence, engages the reader in a provocative conversation, provides unexpected insights, and/or uses language with care and facility.

"D" and "F" level essays do not meet the basic expectations of the assignment.  They should be revised after consulting with the professor.

Optional Revision Policy: 

Essays #1, #2, & #3 may be re-revised for a possible new "Final Essay" score (lateness penalties or incomplete folder assignments cannot be changed through essay revision). 

1.  Before completing an Optional Revision, you must schedule a Revision Conference with the professor.  You should come to this conference prepared to explain and ask questions about your plan for your revisions.

2.  Optional Revisions must themselves demonstrate substantial change to the focus, support, approach, or organization of the essay in addition to comprehensive error correction, or they will be returned with no grade change.  Substantial change may be thought of as change to at least 15-20% of the essay's text; the author must address widespread problems as well as providing small fixes.  Revised essays must, however, retain the original text's topic and approach; revision does not mean "write a new essay."

3.  Optional Revisions must be completed within two weeks of the essay's return to you. 

4.  Optional Revisions should be resubmitted in a folder with all earlier essay parts and a new Post Script.


English 101 and the Space–Time Continuum:
Participation and Late-Work

Space: When you listen to other views, write notes to yourself about new topics, work with others' writing, and voice your reactions and analyses for others to learn from, you increase your own depth and breadth of learning.  In a collaborative, workshop-based class, as with band practice or team sports, being herein body and mind is crucial.

Activities in each class meeting will be recorded and valued at 1-2 points per class.  More-interactive classes such as peer workshop days will be valued more highly.  Students who miss a class are responsible for turning in any required work, but will not be able to "make up" the missed participation in order to earn that day's point(s).

Please plan to be on time for each class.  If you are frequently late, you may lose class-participation points.  However, in an emergency I would rather have you come late than not at all; if you have a bad day but you can get here 20 minutes late, please try to come.

You should also be actively present.  This implies brain awareness as well as the basic courtesies of formal social gatherings.  Students who are sleeping, reading the newspaper, carrying on private conversations, answering cell phones, or working on assignments for other classes (etc.) are not wholly, actively present and thus may lose class participation points.  If you are seriously unprepared for class or group work -- having absolutely no draft for a draft workshop, for example -- you may lose class participation points.  Any serious breach of good classroom conduct may cause you to lose all participation points.


Time:  Lateness is allowed for, but as in most places in our society, it will not be without consequences.  The quickest way to come to hate a writing class is to fall behind in it.

Late assignments are those arriving any time after class on the due date.  If you need to, you can email me a copy before class to avoid the grade penalty.

Late Essay Drafts or Folder Assignments will lose 5% of their points for each calendar day that they are late.  Penalties for other late assignments are described elsewhere.

Lateness due to Rare, Uncontrollable Natural Disasters will not usually incur penalties; it is your responsibility to provide explanation/documentation of such occurrences.  (The flu is not rare, and a lack of parking spots is not a natural disaster.)

Computer Crises are neither Rare nor Natural, and most of them can be avoided or controlled with good advance preparation.  Assignments which are late due to electronic disasters will earn sympathy but will also earn the grade penalty.  Back up your files, print often while in process, and print final assignments before the Last Minute.

Three-Day-Pass Policy for Late Work: For any one assignment you may be up to three days late without penalty -- or you may be one day late on three separate assignments.  To qualify, you must state in writing at the top of the first page of any late assignment that you are using some or all of your Three-Day pass; it cannot be taken back to be used for another assignment.  (I won't automatically give late work a pass.)


Revising Your Writing

Revising a piece of your own writing is more than just fixing the errors that were marked on your essay draft -- that's editing, which you should do after you revise. 

Revising involves re-seeing your essay from the eyes of a reader who can't read your mind, knowing you won't rest satisfied that you were as clear and as thorough as possible.

Revising also requires you to think on a large scale, to extrapolate:  if a reader remarked that you didn't have enough evidence in paragraph three, you should also take a close look at paragraphs two and four to be sure that you also provide substantial evidence for their claims.

Most importantly, being a good reviser lowers your stress during the first draft:  if you know you can catch problems later, you don't have to worry about getting it right the very first time.

An edit might be..

A similar Revision might be. . .

Significant Revision might include. . .


Adding a comma before a quote

Explaining one quotation better where a reader didn't understand


Explaining several quotations better, to improve the essay overall

Streamlining your thesis; cutting out unnecessary words

Adding a "because. . . " statement to your thesis sentence to express your "so, what?" up at the front


Changing every body paragraph so that each uses the same basic argument  as the new thesis

Adding "In addition," to a paragraph

Changing a parag. first-sentence from summary to argument, from "Anthony says. . . " to "What Anthony says helps show that ___ ."


Changing all first-sentences (and some last-sentences) so that they show your argument

Shortening a long quote & working it into your sentence

Choosing a better quotation that gives a more specific or relevant idea; explaining exactly how that quote (which words?) uses pathos or supports your claim


Adding second-example quotes to several paragraphs; working quotes from Author A into paragraphs with quotes from Author B & drawing connections

Taking out a word that doesn't fit a sentence very well

Taking out or moving a few sentences that don't fit one paragraph; moving a good thesis sent. to the end of the first parag.


Deleting chunks of summary; combining a paragraph of quotes with a parag. that gives your argument

Adding a sentence to fill out a paragraph

Splitting a too-long paragraph into two separate ones, each with a new starting & finishing sentence

Moving beyond the "thesis with three main points" or "five paragraph" essay to a four-point or seven-parag. or "chunk" structure


Fixing apostrophe errors in your conclusion parag.

Revising your conclusion by connecting ideas from 2-3 authors at once; tying your conclusion to your introductory images/ideas

Going "out on a limb" in the concl. to get the "big picture" implications then adding some of that info back into ends of body paragraphs


How to Avoid Citation Errors when Working With Sources

If a sentence in one of your sources -- electronic, audio, video, or print -- by an author named Shelley Reid goes like this . . .

Citation rules are intricate and convoluted,
but breaking them can bring appalling consequences.

YOU MAY use it in your essay in any of the following ways (citation style shown is "MLA" print style; for "APA" style, or for non-print sources, check your handbook):

1.  Full Quotation With Correct In-Text Citation: 

Reid says, "Citation rules are intricate and convoluted, but breaking them can bring appalling consequences" (15). 

2.  Partial Quotation with Paraphrase of General Ideas and Citation:

The guidelines for proper citation, says Reid, "are intricate and convoluted" (15).

3.  Partial Quotation; Author's Name Not Given in Sentence but Cited:

Some people argue that plagiarism "can bring appalling consequences" (Reid 15).

4. Paraphrase In Your Own Words of This Author's Copyrighted Ideas; Citation:

It has been said that breaking complex citation rules can cause serious problems (Reid 15).

5.  Statement of Known Fact or Common Knowledge -- General Information not Unique to This Author:

Citation has lots of rules.  (no citation needed)


YOU MAY NOT use information in any of the following ways:

1.  Direct, Unacknowledged Use of Author's Ideas and Phrasing:

It is clear that citation rules are intricate and convoluted. (needs quotes+citation)

2.  Citation of Author Without Acknowledgment of Borrowed Language:

Reid argues that citation rules are intricate and convoluted (15). (needs quotation marks)

3.  Borrowing "Just A Few Words" that are Unique to This Author:

In some cases, it can be said that plagiarism brings appalling consequences. (needs quotation marks & citation)

4.  Borrowing "Just A Few Words" Without Full Quotation and Citation:

Reid feels that plagiarism results in appalling consequences (15).  (needs quotation marks)

5.  "Lazy Paraphrase":  Borrowing Unique Ideas and/or Sentence Structure:

Some people think that citation guides are involved and complex, and that not following them causes terrible effects. (Don't just switch in synonyms: reword, restructure, and cite)

6.  Rearranging Words To Mis-Represent the Author's True Ideas:

Reid notes that "citation is. . . appalling" (15).  (needs to reflect the author’s actual argument)


Quotation Basics

Quotations need to be used with care:  remember, your ideas and words must remain the focus of your writing.  Don't let someone else dictate your ideas or write your essay!

Follow these 5 steps to help you stay in control of your words and ideas: S-L-I-C-E like a surgeon!

1.  Select the best quotation.  Be sure it matches exactly what you want to say, or shows exactly what you want to argue against.  Consider: do you want to show the author's own example, or are you looking for a statement of his/her general argument?  Do you want to show the author's style or the author's idea?

A poorly chosen quotation can take your reader's attention away from your own ideas, or suggest that you don't really know what you mean.  Don't just choose what you highlighted!

2.  Limit your best quotation to the minimum effective size.  Think about having a 10-word limit (this is a suggestion, not a rule!):  given the general point an outside author is making, which phrase or idea is most original, most provocative, most unexpected, most well-written?

Short quotations are easier to integrate into your own sentence structure, so that your reader skims smoothly along from word to word. They let you remain in control of the essay.

3.  Integrate your quotation into your own sentence:  avoid Unidentified Flying Quotations (UFQs).  You should clearly identify whose language you're borrowing; you may also want to explain to your reader something about the outside author's expertise, just to help show how powerful your new evidence is.

A.  Use a short "tag phrase" with a comma.  
Douglass writes, "____."
or   According to Douglass, "___." or  Frederick Douglass, drawing on his former life as a slave, argues, "____." (Don't forget your citation!)

B.  Use a longer explanatory phrase with a colon
Kennedy argues that citizens need to take responsibility for their country:  "_____." (Don't forget your citation!)

C.  Work the author's words directly into your own sentence. (Hint: it should read as smoothly without the quotation marks as with them).  Standing Bear critiques Europeans' "blind worship of written history" (118).  He argues that "all this must not perish" (120).

4.  Cite all quoted material on the spot.  In many college classes, the Modern Language Association ("MLA") format will be accepted: the author's last name and the page number appear in parentheses.  If you give the author's name in the tag phrase, you need only give the page number. Check the punctuation to get it exactly right!

She also explains that "there is no she or her in the tax laws"  (Anthony  391).

5.  Explain how the quotation is connected to your idea.  You know that words and ideas can be quoted out of context and can be interpreted to mean many different things.  Is the glass half empty or half full?

Standing Bear writes, "the Indian wants to dance!" (120).  His short exclamation is effective because it conveys the passion of a frustrated people.  It helps his audience see that Indians don't just dance for rituals like war-making, but also dance just because they want to express themselves.


His surprising exclamation, "And the Indian wants to dance!" is poorly chosen and trivializes the other rights he is arguing for (Standing Bear 120).  Instead of making his point for Indians' civil rights, he reinforces a negative stereotype that all Indians dance around all day.






Last updated August 2005.Email Shelley Reid