Well, first off and of most importance—keep up with the reading and writing. Since each discussion and assignment will grow from the preceding one, it is important that you attend class regularly and come prepared to share your ideas.
Papers: You will be writing four papers—one 2-3 page personal essay, two 5-6 page critical papers on class texts, and one 8-10 page research paper. In addition, you will write a number of short in-class and take home assignments. I will provide more information on the requirements for each of these papers as the due dates approach. If you are unable to attend class the day a paper is due, please make sure someone brings your paper to class or puts it in my mailbox.
All writing in the course will be revised at least twice, and my comments as well as your peers' comments will provide reader response that leads to revision. Since I am concerned with the process you move through to reach your final version, I am asking you to attach to your completed work all preliminary notes, drafts, diagrams, and outlines leading to your final copy. You should date all such material.
In addition to your essays, each of you will be responsible for peer reviews of other students’ papers. Much of the class time will be spent working in groups, giving and getting feedback from your peers. I will be looking at these peer reviews for enthusiastic, honest, and constructive criticism. We will be discussing helpful ways in which to do this in class.
Attendance: Because of our workshop format, attendance is extremely important. Three absences from class can be tolerated--no effect on your grade and no questions asked. More than three absences will affect your final grade. (In extraordinary cases of proven emergency, this provision will be modified). Whether or not you are absent, you are still responsible for the work covered and essays are still due on the date requested. Chronic lateness will also affect your grade.
Conferences: Three or four times during the semester. classes will be cancelled and each of you will meet with me for a conference. These conferences will provide individual time for each of you to discuss your writing. A missed conference is considered an absence.
Evalution: In assessing your writing I look for the following qualities: (1) Competence: how thoroughly you introduced your topic, and developed and supported your ideas; (2) Creativity: how much you exerted yourself in being inventive, in taking a risk and trying something new or difficult, in approaching the assignment as more than just an assignment, in making what you write interesting to your readers; (3) Clarity: how clearly you were able to get your ideas across to your readers by focusing your topic and using effective organization, sentences, and words: (4) Correctness: how well you followed grammatical and mechanical conventions (punctuation, syntax, spelling), and how clearly you documented your footnotes and bibliography; (5) Care: how well you incorporated suggestions and comments from your colleagues and instructor, and to what extent you presented a neat, readable paper.
Don't let this overwhelm you. I guarantee that it is not as much as it sounds. The writings will be fun, thought-provoking, and even entertaining. And, in addition to our class’s community of writers and readers, you have two other great sources for help: check out the Writer's Block, and also look up Marlboro's writing page on the web at www.marlboro.edu/~jsheehy/writing.