CONTRACT GRADING AND PORTFOLIO: For each graded part of this class, I will provide all students with a set of baseline requirements with objective criteria (attached as the last sheet of this packet). Every student who consistently meets these criteria will be guaranteed the grade of B in the course, with grades above B indicating that the writing you’ve done is particularly effective and grades below B indicating that you’ve failed to meet baseline requirements. On individual assignments, students will not receive letter grades. Instead, they will receive written feedback and an indication of whether or not they’ve failed to meet any of the baseline requirements. However, students will be informed if their work either fell significantly above or below expectations. I will mark assignments with a “U” if the work is, as of now, unsatisfactory. If the work is exceptional, I will mark it with an “H” (for honors, roughly equivalent to the letter grade of A) so that students have a sense of where they stand in the class. However, most papers will not receive either mark.

At the end of the semester, students will submit all of their formal assignments in a digital portfolio, which can be revised based on my earlier feedback. It is this version of the work that will determine grades at the end of the semester. With the portfolio, you will submit a reflective document, described below.


ASSIGNMENT FORMAT: For each formal assignment, you will have two due dates. The first will be the day of a peer review workshop, when you are required to bring to class a printed hard copy of a full draft of your paper. That draft need not be perfect, but it should be a full-length draft and must be not shorter than one page short of the final length requirement to receive credit. We will workshop drafts in class, and you will then revise to showcase your most polished, sophisticated work. When submitting revised drafts, you will do so digitally, uploading them into a Dropbox folder via a link that I will make available on our course website. All revised drafts should either follow MLA style or another style guide like APA or Chicago.


LATE PAPER POLICY: Each student in the class will have a maximum of seven late days. In other words, you may submit assignments late without penalty if the total days all your papers have been late added together is seven or less. So, for instance, if your first paper is three days late, you only have four late days left to use for the rest of the semester. After your late days have been used up, no late work will be accepted for the rest of the semester. If work appears in your portfolio that I did not receive at its original deadline, you will receive at most, half credit.

You  may ask me to look at in-process drafts at any time to give you feedback, but even if you have shown me a draft, you must still submit your work at the designated time.


ACADEMIC INTEGRITY POLICY: Plagiarism is the act of presenting another person’s ideas, research or writings as your own. The following are all examples of plagiarism (though this is not an all-inclusive list):

  • Copying another person’s actual words without the use of quotation marks and documentation attributing the words to their source
  • Presenting another person’s ideas or theories in your own words without acknowledging the source
  • Using information that is not common knowledge without acknowledging the source
  • Failing to acknowledge collaborators on homework assignments

Internet plagiarism includes submitting downloaded term papers or parts of term papers, paraphrasing or copying information from the internet without citing the source, and “cutting & pasting” from various sources without proper attribution. (http://web.cuny.edu/academics/info-central/policies/academic-integrity.pdf)

Plagiarizing material on a paper in this course is grounds for failing that assignment. A second offense is grounds for failing the course. If you have any questions about what constitutes plagiarism, please ask me before an assignment is due. If I find that you have plagiarized, I am required to fill out the incident report and submit it to a college administrator.


SAFE CLASSROOM ENVIRONMENT: There has been a lot of discussion of “safe spaces” in American classrooms of late, and so I want to be extremely clear about what this idea means to me. A “safe space” is not a space where potentially objectionable ideas are forbidden from discussion in the classroom (thus acting as a limit on free thinking and speech). Rather, this classroom, as a safe environment, protects free thinking and speech by demanding that I and all students treat one another with respect, so that no individual feels prevented from expressing their ideas because of a hostile classroom environment. No ideas are off-limits for discussion in this classroom, but harassment of or hostility toward other people in the room, especially on discriminatory grounds, will not be tolerated. We are all different, and because of differences in gender, race, ethnicity, national origin, religious affiliation, sexual orientation, political beliefs, age, or just ways of thinking, we are bound to disagree from time to time – this is fine/encouraged. However, all students should consider this classroom a safe environment where they can offer their thoughts without fear of being attacked or abused for them, and it is the responsibility of every one of you to maintain that safety through a commitment to treating one another with respect and kindness.

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