Because I believe you grow as a writer through consistent practice, I have designed this course to reward both the quality of your finished writing and your ongoing work over the course of the semester.

Semester Grade

Here is how I will count the work you do over the course of the semester in tabulating your final grade.

Essays 186 points
Xs and Rs 120 points
Comments and Revising Plans 50 points
Attendance 38 points
Cell Phone Incentive 10 points
TOTAL 400 points

Essays (Es)

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 judgment to a simple numerical scale, here is what I can say about what I will look for.

Project How ambitious is your piece?
Materials How well do you draw on your experiences or other texts?
Voice How imaginative and clear is your prose?
Professionalism Have you put thought and care into editing and design 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 the words on the form. Your task is to write an ambitious and interesting essay in a voice that feels your own. Do that, and you will do fine.

Please consult this chart to see how I convert letter grades into points, and vice versa.

Exercises (Xs) and Revisions (Rs)

I will ask you to develop each of your essays through a series of exercises (Xs) and revisions (Rs). These pieces will not receive a letter grade. Instead I will mark them with a √ or √–.

10 points Good
√– 8 points Hurried, slight, or late
0 0 points Missing

Deadlines are firm and important. To earn a √ (10 points), your work must be on time, thoughtful, and edited with care. I am grudgingly willing to offer a √– (8 points) for an X or R that is no more that two days late. Otherwise you get a zero. There will be a total of 12 Xs and Rs over the course, which means you can earn up to a total of 120 points for your work on them.

Workshops: Comments and Revising Plans

Over the course of the semester you will participate in 5 writing group workshops. In addition to the pieces you share and discuss, there will be two other brief bits of writing associated with these workshops. I will ask you (1) to write brief comments on the work done by the other four members of your group, and (2) send me an email after the workshop sketching out a possible plan of revision. You can earn up to 5 points for each set of comments you write, and up to 5 points for each revising plan. This means you can earn up to a total of 50 points for the work you do as a member of your writing group.

5 points Good
√– 3 points Hurried or slight
0 0 points Missing

Attendance and Class Work

I expect you to participate actively in class. You will receive one point for each class you attend (including conferences and workshops).

Cell Phone Incentive

I realize it can be hard to resist checking your phone (or other device) for texts and updates. But I think it’s crucial that we focus in class on the work we are doing together in the room. I thus offer the following incentive: If you agree to put away your phone in class, as well as to refrain from checking social media, I will add 10 points to your final grade. The first time I notice you checking your phone or social media in class, the bonus goes down to 5 points. If I catch you a second time, 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.