Sample Course Outline

Faculty teaching English 125 have some flexibility in developing their particular sections. Still, English 125 is largely about close reading, the integration of multiple sources into several papers, and the development of a position or argument that engages with sources.

What follows are some suggestions about how you might organize your course.

UNIT I. Reading to Write (Weeks 1-4)

  • In-class writing #1: Diagnostic essay (program-wide, Blackboard).

  • Foundations of Research component #1: MLA documentation style

  • Formal, revised essay #1: emphasizes close reading and analysis of a given analytical / expository text or texts.

Week 1: Introduction to the Course: Reading, Writing, and Thinking About Contemporary Culture

Introduction to course, academic writing, and citation conventions

Diagnostic essay submitted through Blackboard

Learn how to use The Bedford Handbook

Reading and Writing Assignments for Week Two :

Read Jonathan Rowe’s “Reach Out and Annoy Someone” (23-28). Answer Question # 2 of the “Questions on Rhetorical Strategy and Style.” This article presents an extended argument against cell phone use in public. In discussing the prevalence of cell phones on trains, Rowe argues that the rights of cell phone users to talk in public should not prevail over the rights of non-users to have peace and quiet. Write a paragraph expanding Rowe’s discussion of the rights of non-users.

Following instructions on page 2 under BLACKBOARD COURSE SITE, register for a CUNY portal account, log on to Blackboard, and post answer to Question #2. Respond to at least one classmate’s paragraph in four complete sentences.

Week 2: Reading Skills: Interpretation, Annotation, Thesis Identification, and Structure

Use oral and written discussion of“Reach Out and Annoy Someone” to introduce interpretive and metacognitive reading strategies, such as annotation, thesis identification, analysis of structure, and content summary. Practice using The Bedford Handbook.

Reading and Writing Assignments for Week Three:

Read Gloria Anzaldúa’s “How to Tame a Wild Tongue” (244-255), Richard Rodriguez’s “Public and Private Language” (258-269), and Amy Tan’s “Mother Tongue” (271-277). Answer Question #2 of the Questions on Meaning(270), and Question #2 of the Writing Assignments (256) and post on Blackboard. Consider the way you identify yourself in your answer and response. Respond to at least one classmate’s answers in four complete sentences.

Week 3: Reading and Writing About Language, Meaning, and Identity

Use oral and written discussion of “How to Tame a Wild Tongue,” “Public and Private Language,” and “Mother Tongue” to practice reading and writing skills such as summary, annotation, paraphrase, and comparative analysis.

Formal Assignment #1

Draft Formal Paper #1 in response to the following: How important is language to one’s sense of identity? Is it necessary for individuals to cling to a private or family language, or should linguistic assimilation be the goal of every American? Why or why not? Refer to at least two (2) of the essays we have read.

Week 4: Writing Workshop: Writing about Reading

Introduce thesis statement formulation and how to support a thesis with evidence

Introduce peer review principles

Students complete peer reviews for assigned partners to practice thesis identification, summary, and analysis.

Review MLA documentation style, exercises for students to practice.

Writing Assignment for Week Five: Revision of Formal Paper 1. Post on Blackboard.

Include check for correct MLA documentation.

Unit II. Writing Arguments (Weeks 5-9)

  • In-class writing #2: Mid-term exam (instructor’s choice)

  • Foundations of Research component #2: Principles and practices of ethical citation and models of excellent writing from sources

  • Formal, revised essay #2: emphasizes the development of a student’s own argument and presentation of evidence

Week 5: Assessing America’s Past and Present

Use discussion and analysis of student essays to debate content focusing on effectiveness of thesis and argumentation. Also use student essays to review grammar, proofreading techniques, and citation conventions. Continue practicing using The Bedford Handbook.

Formal Assignment #2

Read bell hooks’ “Straightening Our Hair” (67-75). Write an answer to the following and post on Blackboard. Respond to at least one classmate’s answer in four complete sentences. Do you think attitudes about “ethnic” hair are the same now as they were during the period hooks describes? How do you feel when you see Beyoncé’s or Rihanna’s straightened and lightened hair? Does it matter?

Week 6: Connecting the Past and the Present: Rituals, Laws, and Social Change

Use oral and written discussion of “Straightening Our Hair” to practice communication skills, thesis formulation, and citation conventions. Focus on ethical citation and models of excellent writing from sources.Continue practicing using The Bedford Handbook.

Reading and Writing Assignments for Week Seven:

Read Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “Letter from Birmingham Jail” (78-97). Answer Question #2 of the “Writing Assignments”(99) and post on Blackboard. Respond to at least one classmate’s answer in four complete sentences.

Week 7: Persuasive Argumentation

Use oral and written discussion of “Letter from Birmingham Jail” to practice reading and writing skills such as use of evidence, integration of quotations, and citation conventions. Continue practicing using The Bedford Handbook. Exercises on Blackboard about telling the difference between plagiarism and excellent writing from sources.

Reading and Writing Assignments for Week Eight

Read Patricia J. Williams “The Death of the Profane” (106-113). Answer the following questions and post on Blackboard. Respond to at least one classmate’s assessment in four complete sentences. Summarize Williams’s argument in a four-sentence paragraph. Then discuss in paragraph two precisely how Williams constructs the argument. Be sure to pay attention to how she structures the essay and uses evidence.

Week 8: Structuring a Persuasive Argument

Use oral and written discussion of “The Death of the Profane” to practice reading and writing skills such as structuring an argument, using evidence, integrating sources, and preparing a works cited list. Continue practicing using The Bedford Handbook.

Reading and Writing Assignments for Week Nine. Read Zora Neale Hurston’s “How It Feels to be Colored Me” (100-104). Draft Formal Paper #2 in response to the following: Considering the essays we have just read and discussed on race and racism in America, as well as your own opinions and experiences, discuss whether you believe race matters to be the most important concern of American life. Is racism as ubiquitous and obvious as it was in King’s day, or do you believe its appearance is a rare event in America? Refer to no more than two (2) of the essays we have read as you formulate your answer. This draft must be a minimum of three (3) pages. Post draft on Blackboard.

Week 9: Writing Workshop: Formulating an Effective Argument

Review thesis statement formulation and how to support a thesis with evidence; work on creating transitions within and between paragraphs; practice editing and proofreading techniques.

Students complete peer reviews for assigned partners to practice thesis identification, summary, and analysis.

Writing Assignment for Week Ten: Revision of Formal Paper 2. Post on Blackboard.

Unit III. Entering the Conversation: The Research Project

(Weeks 10-14)

  • Foundations of Research component #3: Information Literacy session introduces students to library resources such as databases and use of RefWorks to track citations, discusses basic search strategies, and gives students practice in accessing library materials working backward from a citation.

Formal essay #3: a research project that has students identify references from an assigned essay, obtain some of these materials, and incorporate the referenced articles into their own research paper.

  • In-class writing #3: Final exam (program-wide)

Week 10: Participating in Cultural Debate

Intensive focus on information literacy: sessions in library (see above). Follow-up exercises, in-class and on Blackboard. Introduce research project.

Reading and Writing Assignments for Week Eleven :

Read Roberta Seid’s “Too ‘Close to The Bone’: The Historical Context for Women’s Obsession with Slenderness” (161-175). This will be our principal essay for this assignment. Working collaboratively in research groups, students will find and read selections from Seid’s references and obtain selected materials from the library.

Week 11: Reading and Writing About Bodies and Embodiment: Theories and Applications

  • Use oral and written discussion of “Too Close to the Bone” to practice reading and writing skills such as summary, annotation, and application of theoretical concepts to personal experience.

  • Use material derived from Seid’s references to analyze HOW she uses sources to build her own argument. Discuss how students may use similar techniques to develop their own essay on a related topic.

  • The focus will be on writing from sources: what does academic writing sound like? What should be the tone? What are the different types of relationships that a writer can develop to a source, beyond agree/disagree: e.g. question underlying assumptions, develop points only mentioned in passing, apply pattern of thinking to another context, use as foil to develop own argument, etc.

Reading and Writing Assignments for Week Twelve :

Students work on their own contribution to the weight debate, incorporating both Seid and some of her references. Part of the assignment is to analyze how Seid uses those sources.

Week 12: Focus on student research papers

Use workshops on student drafts to focus on structuring an argument, using evidence, integrating sources, and preparing a works cited list.

Writing Assignment for Week Thirteen: Complete draft of research paper on weight debate and post on Blackboard.

Week 13: Writing Workshop: Making Your Own Case when Writing from Sources

Review thesis statement formulation and how to support a thesis with evidence; work on creating transitions within and between paragraphs and effective conclusions. Practice editing and proofreading techniques. Students complete peer reviews for assigned partners to practice thesis identification, summary, and analysis.

Writing Assignment for Week Fourteen: Revision of Formal Paper 3. Post on Blackboard.

Week 14: Final Reflections

Use discussion and analysis of student essays to debate the role of language in self-representation, and to reflect on what students have achieved as readers, writers, and thinkers as they complete the course.

Final exam (during finals week): department-wide final based on reading distributed on last day of class.

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