Because I believe that growth as a reader and writer stems from consistent practice, I have designed this course to reward both the quality of your finished writing and thoughtful, steady work over the course of the semester.

Semester Grade

You will earn letter grades on the final versions of your two main essays for this course. You will also earn a cumulative letter grade for your process writings, as well as for your attendance and participation in class. Here is how I will tabulate your final grade:

  • Essay One:      30%
  • Essay Two:      40%
  • Process:           20%
  • Attendance:    10%


I will assign a letter grade to the final draft of each of your two essays. This grade  will reflect my sense of the ambition, interest, and quality of your writing.  While I can’t reduce this professional judgement to a simple numerical scale, I can say that, in grading your essays,  I will consider your

  • Project: your goal or aim in writing
  • Materials: your use of other texts
  • Voice: the clarity and interest of your prose
  • Editing and Design: the final form of your document

I will use this form in assigning and explaining your grade. We’ll go over it later this semester. But don’t fixate on it. Your task is to write an ambitious and interesting essay in a voice that feels your own. Do that, and you will do fine.


I will ask you to develop each of your essays through a series of plans and drafts. These early drafts are marked on the schedule with a p (for process) or d (for draft). They will be graded with a √  or √ –.

√        2 points    Good
√ –     1 point      Hurried, incomplete, or wildly off the mark
Ø        0                Missing or late

Your cumulative letter grade for all 11 process writings will be determined as follows:

A        22 points
A-       21
B+      20
B        19
C+      18
C        17
D +    16
D       15

Deadlines are firm. To earn a √, your work must be on time, thoughtful, and edited with care.

Attendance and Participation

I expect you to be an active participant in this class. There will be 27 meetings of this class, including required conferences. I will use the following system to track your participation.

√        2 points    Present, exit ticket submitted
√ –     1 point      Present (or excused absence), no exit ticket
Ø        0               Absent, no exit ticket

Your cumulative letter grade for all 27 class meetings will be determined as follows:

A       52 points
A-      50
B+      48
B        46
C+      44
C        42
D +     40
D        38

See What to Expect for more about exit tickets.

Cell Phone Bonus

I realize that it can be hard to resist checking your phone for texts and other messages. But I think it’s crucial that we focus in class on the work we are doing together. I therefore offer you the following deal: If you agree to silence your phone and put it away for each class this semester, I will raise your final grade for this course by one step. (For example, if your final grade averages out to a B, I will give you a B+.) If I notice you checking your phone in class, I will give you one warning. After that, the deal is off.

Missed Work and Plagiarism

I expect you to complete all the work assigned for this course. Missing assignments will count as a zero or F. And I of course expect that all the work you do will be your own. If you plagiarize any of your work for this course, the penalty will be an F for the assignment, and possibly for the course. I am also obligated to report serious cases of plagiarism to the Office of Student Conduct.