Carlos Gonzalez Morales
This is a writing course premised on the idea that we learn best by doing, practicing with the least amount of fear as possible. The course is an invitation to take up writing as a means of expression and understanding the world within and around us. We will be writing journals, notes, essays, and letters. By the end of this experience you should sense more confidence in your ability to represent yourself when writing.
Supplies and Materials
- Random House Webster’s Pocket Grammar, Usage, and Punctuation. New York: Random House, 2001. Print.
- An Orbit Around the Sun: Stories of Courage and Resilience, 2020. (Ebook)
You will need a new one. Get a cheap one. This is an important tool we will use throughout the semester.
You will need to purchase a yoga mat if you don’t already have one. The least expensive ones I have found are in TJ Max.
Otter Otter is a free recording app that transcribes automatically up to 40-minutes at a time. Please sign up for a free account using your school email. I will explain how we will use this tool throughout the semester. Here’s the link: https://otter.ai/
Important Elements of Our Course
Writing as a Process
Writing is difficult and often not a whole lot of fun for many people. It takes work, even when it goes well. If you love writing and can bring up those feelings when you are assigned an essay, good for you. For the rest of us, welcome to the reality that good things often come by not focusing on our feelings but embracing a practice.
You will have a number of opportunities to practice writing as a process this semester. This means that you will go through a number of drafts before you get to the final one you turn in. You may realize that you can probably get away with skipping this process and turning something that is not your best work. I encourage you not to do this. Instead, buckle down and work hard. Show up to writing conferences prepared, with your work, letting go of fear so that you can get as much learning from the writing experience as possible.
Writing Groups and Sharing
There will be time during each class where you will work with a group of your peers. These groups have the basic intention of creating a supportive writing community where you can write, give and receive feedback, and hone your skills. You will meet with your writing groups just about every class. I will also join these and provide guidance and support in these sessions. I don’t provide extensive written feedback on your essays after you turn the work in; instead, I provide as much feedback as possible at the time where you can make a difference in the quality of your work.
There will also be times in class when I invite you to share your work. Volunteers offer their writing so that we can see it on the screen and we then read through the work. You are not merely writing to complete an assignment. Your aim is to communicate with us, share something that means something to you, and something that may give us insights into the world we inhabit. When we share, we do so knowing that no one will be looking to find fault. We want to build one another up and provide feedback that is useful and constructive.
It often takes courage to share one’s work publicly. My hope is that everyone gets over any initial fear of sharing and sees our classroom environment as a safe place designed to increase confidence and skills.
This course is premised on the notion that we can work with our nervous system so that we can optimize learning and performance. Yoga is a tool I use in the classroom to enhance concentration and relaxation. You will have opportunities to develop your own practice throughout the semester.
I wish someone would have shared with me when I was younger the power of breath and movement. I share what I know in this regard with the intention of inviting you to go as deep as your interest allows you to. You will need a mat to practice. I will offer written instructions on some simple poses and invite you to community classes I offer on a weekly basis. There is no need to be flexible, athletic, or have any yoga experience. If you are unable to practice or choose not to, this is not a problem whatsoever.
I don’t mark papers. I do, however, provide feedback in class and in my Zoom office when you come see me. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to me regarding your work in order to better understand how to improve. I’m here to help you in the most effective way possible.
Grades can offer a quick way to understand your performance in class, but because they often are used as an extrinsic motivation, they often become tools of manipulation and fear. Students often get caught up doing assignments for grades rather than aiming to learn something of value. This changes one’s motivation from an intrinsic and innate desire to learn to an extrinsic and non-sustainable pattern of so-called achievement. Like salaries, grades are there because most people, if given a chance, would choose to learn things in a different way than sitting in a classroom. They are coercive tools to get you to do what you may not want to.
You can see that I am conflicted about grading and grades. I’m just as stuck as the next person in all of this. Miami Dade College requires me to assign grades, and so I do. You can access your grades through our Google Classroom App. I keep things as simple as possible. To figure out your running average, add up all of your points earned by the total number of possible points available. That average is your grade.
I will be sending periodic grade reports throughout the semester via email. If at any time you are not sure of your grade in the class, please let me know so I can generate a report for you. I’m here to help you. Be alert and proactive.
This class is meant to be low stress. I encourage participation and hard work throughout the semester. Basically, grades should not become an issue throughout the term. The idea is to give you plenty of opportunities to practice writing without fear. This means that you can learn and make mistakes without worrying.
Assignments will be graded based on an Pass or Fail basis. If the work you are turning in is at a college level, the work will receive an A. If it is not, the work will receive an F.
If you turn in an assignment and it is not your best work and you are unhappy with the grade, you will have an opportunity to resubmit your work. Before you do, I may ask you to get help from our writing lab.
Showing up prepared is critical. Attendance is not optional if what you want is to learn. This is so important to me that if you have three unexcused absences, I reserve the option to drop you from class.
Showing up prepared to class means that you will have any work that was previously assigned. If you show up and have all of your work, you will receive at 100% for the day. Attendance will take place at the start of class.
To be fully present each day, you must be in class when your name is called, and have all assigned work with you. Not having your work will mean that you will receive 0 for the day.
As you can see, being present in class and being prepared is something I cherish.
To reiterate, any assigned tasks will need to be completed before class. Not completing any of the tasks will result in not receiving a grade for attendance for the day.
Homework, Essays, Letters
We will have numerous writing opportunities. Some will be in class and others at home. Some will be short and some long. All of them will ask you to fine tune your ability to pay attention, say what you mean clearly, and represent yourself in a way that serves your needs.
Toward the end of the semester you will turn in a final essay that you will have work-shopped starting around Week 6 of the term. You will also select a number of responses from your notebook and provide a final reflection letter.
We have one of the best writing support centers of all the campuses. You can find the Writing Connection in Rm. 2119. There will be times during the semester when I will require that you work with one of our tutors as part of the assignment. You can schedule an online tutoring session here.
If you would like to make an appointment, instead of dropping in, please follow the instructions on this video:
Respect and care for one another should be the main characteristic of how we share and treat one another in and out of class.
Plagiarism is copying and or not giving credit to the work or ideas of others when writing. If you borrow directly or indirectly from a source, I expect you to provide the reference. Failure to do so is a serious problem that will mean a 0 for the assignment, and a drop of one letter grade for the semester. If there is a second instance, you will receive an F for the semester.
Please review the College’s rights and responsibilities statement if you would like to explore this theme further.
If you have any type of learning or physical difficulties and feel you may need accommodations in this course, please notify me and contact ACCESS (A Comprehensive Center for Exceptional Student Services) as soon as the semester begins so that you may receive assistance early on in the course. I’m here to serve you. If you are unable to continue in the course, please fill out an official withdrawal form with the registrar’s office. If you do not officially withdraw, you may receive an F in the course at the end of the semester.
The following are five specific goals for this semester. We will accomplish these through our writing activities, readings, and interactions in and out of class.
Competency 1: The student will produce writing by
- choosing and limiting a subject that can be sufficiently developed within a
- given time, for a specific purpose and audience.
- developing and refining pre-writing and planning skills.
- formulating the main point to reflect the subject and purpose of the writing.
- supporting the main point with specific details and arranging them logically.
- using appropriate transitional devices.
- writing an effective conclusion.
Competency 2: The student will write well-developed essays by
- writing an introductory paragraph.
- constructing a thesis statement.
- developing the thesis by:
- providing adequate support that reflects the ability to distinguish
- between generalized and concrete evidence.
- arranging the ideas and supporting details in a logical pattern
- appropriate to the purpose and focus. Patterns may include
- descriptive, narrative, and evaluative writing, process analysis,
- comparison and contrast, cause and effect, exemplification, and others.
- writing unified prose in which all supporting material is relevant to the thesis.
- writing coherent prose and providing effective transitional devices.
- writing a concluding paragraph.
Competency 3: The student will proofread, edit, and revise by
- recognizing and correcting errors in clarity.
- recognizing and correcting errors in unity and coherence.
- using conventional sentence structure and correcting sentence errors such as fragments, run-ons, comma splices, misplaced modifiers, and faulty parallelism.
- recognizing and correcting errors in utilizing the conventions of Standard American English including:
- using standard verb forms and consistent tense.
- maintaining agreement between subject and verb, and between
- pronoun and antecedent.
- using correct subjective, objective, and possessive case pronouns.
- maintaining consistency in point of view.
- using standard spelling, punctuation, and capitalization.
- selecting vocabulary appropriate to audience, purpose, and occasion.
Competency 4: The student will read and respond to selections by
- identifying main ideas, purpose, overall organizational patterns, supporting details, and elements of coherence in assigned readings.
- distinguishing fact from opinion.
- summarizing and/or paraphrasing passages.
Competency 5: The student will conduct research by
- assembling sources on a designated subject.
- taking effective notes from sources.
- recognizing when and how to document sources.
Our college has ten major desires for all its students. We call them the Big 10. As you come to this and all of the other classes, you may notice that these 10 are woven through the fabric of what you are learning. Becoming aware of them, will allow you to be more intentional in your learning practice.
- Communicate effectively using listening, speaking, reading, and writing skills.
- Use quantitative analytical skills to evaluate and process numerical data.
- Solve problems using critical and creative thinking and scientific reasoning.
- Formulate strategies to locate, evaluate, and apply information.
- Demonstrate knowledge of diverse cultures, including global and historical perspectives.
- Create strategies that can be used to fulfill personal, civic, and social responsibilities.
- Demonstrate knowledge of ethical thinking and its application to issues in society.
- Use computer and emerging technologies effectively.
- Demonstrate an appreciation for aesthetics and creative activities.
- Describe how natural systems function and recognize the impact of humans on the environment.