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THEORY AND PRACTICE OF EXPOSITORY WRITING

Benjamin Miller email: benjamin.miller@hunter.cuny.edu office hours: TuTh 12:15-1:15pm, and by appointment office: Hunter West 1238 English 301, Section 003 3 hours; 3 credits. Prereq: English 220 Summer 2012, M-Th 10:00 – 11:53am class location: Hunter West 411

Our course website: http://miller2012summer.wikidot.com All this information and more is posted there. Please sign up as soon as you can!

Table of Contents I. II. III. IV. V. VI. Course Description Required Textbook Course Outcomes and Responsibilities Welcome Letter Official Hunter Policy on Plagiarism Available Resources at Hunter The Reading/Writing Center (RWC) The Office of AccessABILITY Class-by-Class Schedule Grading Contract Introduction For B Grades For Grades Below a B For Grades Above a B COURSE DESCRIPTION By engaging directly with articles published in academic journals, students in this course will learn some of the core claims and central debates in the field of composition and rhetoric. Students leaving the course will be able to recognize many of the common references that often make such articles opaque to novices, and to understand such genre conventions as literature reviews, citations, and various kinds of evidence and reasoning. In addition, because the content of these articles often has implications for the practice and pedagogy of writing, students will broaden their repertoires for generating and revising their own prose, as well as for teaching writing to others. Along with frequent low-stakes, informal writing, students will complete and revise several major assignments: (1) a stylistic analysis, relating formal features of a short passage to the rhetorical effects of those features; (2) a rhetorical analysis of one of our course readings, describing not only what that text says, but what it does, including how it responds to an ongoing conversation; and (3) an essay evolved from an earlier exercise, demonstrating your ability to develop, revise, and refine reasoned arguments that incorporate a range of sources; and (4) a critical self-assessment, analyzing and introducing the contents of a portfolio of revised work produced over the course of the semester.

VII. VIII.

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REQUIRED TEXTBOOK Bacon, Nora. The Well-Crafted Sentence: A Writer's Guide to Style. Boston: Bedford/St. Martins, 2009. Print. Hopefully you have this already; if not, please get it as soon as possible: there’s reading in it due on Thursday. If it’s a last minute purchase being delivered within Manhattan, I recommend Barnes&Noble’s same-day delivery. COURSE OUTCOMES AND RESPONSIBILITIES Students in this course will:  write frequently, ideally every day;  respond orally and in writing to the ideas in scholarly texts about writing process and pedagogy;  respond orally and in writing to the ideas in their peers’ texts;  revise in response to their own reflections and feedback from peers and the teacher;  distinguish between the content and structure of sentences and larger textual units, even while they recognize that structure shapes our perception of content;  use a variety of grammatical structures to revise for emphasis and coherence;  identify subject-verb pairs within sentences, and map the hierarchies of coordination and subordination among sentence parts and larger textual structures;  develop fluency in online composing through participation in the course wiki website;  complete a portfolio containing, at a minimum, two revised essays, one set of drafts, and an introductory reflection. As the teacher in this course, I will:  respond orally and in writing to students’ ideas and the ideas of scholars;  provide a large number of exercises for generating text, re-chunking how texts are perceived, and revising texts;  discuss with students rationales for what each exercise is designed to do, and why it ought to work;  encourage students to retry earlier exercises in later contexts, to support the development of mastery;  choose academic articles that balance accessibility for novices with constructive challenges that allow for learning;  provide background context and guidance in understanding difficult texts;  structure in-class time, especially time spent working in small peer groups, so there is meaningful work to be done (even if we finish early or run out of time);  build in flexibility to per-class and semester-long schedules, recognizing that the complexity of writing means insights and lessons do not follow a linear order of development, but leap from teachable moment to teachable moment;  provide a detailed grading contract that outlines criteria for success in the course, and communicate with students about their successes, failures, and possibilities.

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WELCOME LETTER Dear students, teachers, writers, classmates, Welcome to English 301! I'll skip straight to the essentials for this section:
• • • • There are no formal exams. There is a final portfolio. Individual assignments will not be graded. If you turn in all the assignments on time, your minimum grade – a personal minimum, not a max or course average – will be a B. There will be one textbook, Nora Bacon's The Well-Crafted Sentence: A Writer's Guide to Style. Hopefully you already have it; if not, I recommend Barnes&Noble same-day delivery in Manhattan. You can revise anything you write as many times as you want until you're satisfied. Not only will you not be penalized for this, you'll be rewarded.

Feeling better yet? Or are you still curious about the actual content of the course, apart from its mechanics? Either way, I'm glad to hear it! Now, you may already realize that there's a lot of room for difference in how we can define "Theory and Practice of Expository Writing." My section – our section, if you'll join me – is designed as an introduction to the academic field known variously as composition theory, composition and rhetoric, rhetoric and composition (a subtle difference there, but palpable to some of us), and the more straightforward writing studies. Scholars in this field have been working for decades to figure out what happens when people write: Why do some people find it so much easier than others to produce text? What are people actually doing or thinking as they write? When we call someone a writing expert, what is it they know that novices don't? How do we learn or teach these things? And why is writing so common in schools? What makes it worth learning and practicing? Studying the discoveries and theories of these scholars has tremendously improved my own ability to write well, even under pressure, not to mention my attitude toward writing. You see, I come to this field as a lifelong sufferer from writer's block; I have spent hours sitting, twisting sideways in my seat to avoid the empty screen, and in college I was desperate for someone to tell me what I was doing wrong and how to do it right. I have to warn you: there is no right way that will make you successful every time. But giving up that search from the outset means we have more time to look at what might work: not just to get something on the page, but also to get from what's there to what's better. Composition theory has both expanded my range of strategies for writing and revising, and given me a better grip on the reasons behind these strategies – and, relatedly, behind the writing assignments I so often have to complete or compose. And that has been, often, enough. I'm teaching this course because I believe it can benefit you in the same ways. To help you learn, we'll adopt comp/rhet's questions as our own, tackling the puzzles that still animate the most engaged teachers and students of writing, as we'll see when we look at the articles they write to each other. Our method will be to test the claims in these articles against our own experiences: to connect the abstract to the concrete, learning more about both in the process. Along the way, you'll also learn more about the conventions and forms – the genres – that shape the ways writers communicate. (For instance, this page is composed as a letter, with frequent chatty references to you and me and lived experience. The ―course description‖ page adopts more traditional conventions, concise and impersonal. But the two documents say basically the same things.) Be aware: you are going to write a lot in this course, in different genres: argument, listing, personal letter, analysis (several kinds), summary, freewriting, echo and response, critique, praise, reflection, narrative, lyric, etude, marginalia. You'll probably write

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at least a little every day. You'll get not only theory and practice, but theory in practice. If, like me, you find that an exhilarating challenge, I look forward to meeting you in class! -- Benjamin Miller (you can call me Ben)

OFFICIAL HUNTER POLICY ON PLAGIARISM This is a collaborative class, in which we offer each other suggestions and constructive criticism. However, the goal of all this collaboration is to clarify the expression of original ideas – never to substitute someone else's ideas for our own, or to impose our ideas on someone else. To misrepresent the origins of an idea is plagiarism, and it will not be tolerated. If you want to cite an outside source, there are ways of giving credit to the original author; section 32 of the Pocket Style Manual presents one standard method of documenting sources. If you have any questions, don't hesitate to ask, because Hunter takes a very hard stance on plagiarism. It could get you expelled. Here's an excerpt from the CUNY Policy on Academic Integrity, to give you the flavor:
Academic Dishonesty is prohibited in The City University of New York and is punishable by penalties, including failing grades, suspension and expulsion, as provided herein. […] Plagiarism is the act of presenting another person's ideas, research, or writings as your own. The following are some examples of plagiarism, but by no means is it an exhaustive list:

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Copying another person's actual words without the use of quotation marks and footnotes 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 and laboratory 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.

Hunter College regards acts of academic dishonesty (e.g., plagiarism, cheating on examinations, obtaining unfair advantage, and falsification of records and official documents) as serious offenses against the values of intellectual honesty. The College is committed to enforcing the CUNY Policy on Academic Integrity and will pursue cases of academic dishonesty according to the Hunter College Academic Integrity Procedures. All cases of deliberate plagiarism will be referred to the appropriate Dean for disciplinary action.

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AVAILABLE RESOURCES AT HUNTER The Reading/Writing Center (RWC) The Hunter College Reading/Writing Center is a comprehensive service for the entire college community offering tutoring and computer-assisted instruction to students and technical support and development to faculty and staff. The Reading/Writing Center offers tutorial assistance, free of charge, to all registered students of the college. Tutors are undergraduate and graduate students from a variety of majors, trained to help you develop your reading and writing skills. The Center will not interpret texts for you, nor will tutors write, type, or correct papers. Tutors will help you develop a reading-writing process you can use to improve your skills and negotiate the requirements of academic reading and writing. As a student, you may use the Center in several ways:
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Register for a regular appointment to meet with a tutor for an hour, once a week throughout the whole semester. Usually, you will be paired with another student who is enrolled in the same course.3 Drop in to work with a tutor during scheduled drop-in hours when tutors are available to meet with you on a first-come, first-served basis. See schedule below for drop-in times. Attend workshops on various aspects of critical reading and writing. Workshop topics and schedules are posted periodically throughout each semester. Use computer terminals in the Center with access to CUNY Plus and to the Reading/Writing Center web page at http://rwc.hunter.cuny.edu where you can directly access Reading/Writing Center handouts, view current workshop schedules, obtain information on the CPE and ACT exams, and link to a variety of writing resources on the Web. Use the Center's library of books during the hours the Center is open. The Center does not lend books; however, they have an extensive file of handouts which are available for you to take away.

You will learn the most if you use the Center at each stage of your writing process. Work with a tutor to clarify an assignment, to generate material, to review a draft for organization and development, and to learn how to proofread. The Reading/Writing Center is located in Room 416, Thomas Hunter Building. Our tutoring schedule is as follows: SUMMER TUTORING / DROP-IN HOURS Monday –Thursday, 10am – 7pm

The Office of AccessABILITY In compliance with the American Disability Act of 1990 (ADA) and with Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, Hunter College is committed to ensuring educational parity and accommodations for all students with documented disabilities and/or medical conditions. It is recommended that all students with documented disabilities (Emotional, Medical, Physical and/or Learning) consult the Office of AccessABILITY located in Room E1124 to secure necessary academic accommodations. For further information and assistance please call 212772-4857 / TTY 212-650-3230.

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CLASS-BY-CLASS SCHEDULE
The following schedule is just a preview; the full and most up-to-date version will be posted on the course wiki (http://miller2012summer.wikidot.com), including more detailed explanations of each homework assignment and full lesson plans with space for collaborative notes. This gives me more flexibility to adapt the specifics to our needs as a reading and writing community. Assignments are listed (as HW) on the day they are assigned, and are due to the discussion board at 10pm the night before1 the following class meeting, unless otherwise specified. You should in general also bring a copy to class, so that we have access to it for in-class discussion and/or revisions.
Unit I: Experiencing Writing (or, A Writer's Tools) In this first unit, we’ll introduce and practice moves that will become our constant companions when engaging in academic work: inkshedding, active listening and reading, and attending to structures. The major writing project for this unit is a stylistic analysis, connecting your intuitions about readability and tone with specific formal features of the text.   Lesson 1, Tues 7/17 - Introductions and Motivations: The People in the Room o HW: read Murray, "Writing and Teaching for Surprise," and follow up on "Opinionnaire" (see lesson) o HW you may already have done: sign up for the course wiki; read and sign contract; buy the textbook. Lesson 2, Wed 7/18 - Structure and Content o HW: read Bacon, Introduction and Chapter 1 ("The Sentence's Working Parts"), pp. 1-24; do structure/content exercise (see lesson plan) o HW you may already have done: schedule and attend a one-on-one conference with Ben; visit the Our Shaped Pieces page, and set up your individual archive Lesson 3, Thurs 7/19 - Exercises for Surprises / Enabling Constraints o HW: read Flower and Hayes, "The Cognition of Discovery"; do dialogic notebook exercise (see lesson plan) Lesson 4, Mon 7/23 - Key Terms as Lenses o HW: read Bacon, most of Chapter 2 ("Well-Focused Sentences"), pp. 25-38; do exercise 2F. (See lesson plan for an optional modification.) Lesson 5, Tues 7/24 - Intro to Stylistic Analysis o HW: read Bacon, Chapter 3 ("Well-Balanced Sentences: Coordination and Parallel Structure"), pp. 46-60; do exercises 3A and 3C Lesson 6, Wed 7/25 - Coordination and Scales o HW: read Bacon, Chapter 4 ("Well-Developed Sentences: Modification"), pp. 61-74; do exercise 4C. Lesson 7, Thurs 7/26 - Stylistic Analysis 2 o HW: read Bartholomae, "Inventing the University"; complete the SPARRR exercise (see lesson plan)

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Unit II: When Experts Disagree: Academic Conversation Thus far, we (and the authors we've read) have attempted to understand writing processes and the effects of written products across a wide range of genres and purposes — what "writers" do when they compose and revise. But why do we write at all? In particular, why do we write in "the academy," and what, therefore, are we learning when we study "academic writing"? What is at stake when we teach it, and whose goals does it (or should it) serve? In this second unit, we'll step into a decades-long debate around these questions. In the process, we’ll examine not only the answers these authors ask, but also consider issues of genre, evidence, and authority in the crafting of academic arguments. We will begin two major writing projects in this unit, and spend unit three revising. The first is a rhetorical analysis, in which you will link a text's specific features to your understanding of the author’s purpose and context for writing. The second

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This early deadline is not my way of being mean, but my way of encouraging you to a) sleep and b) leave yourself some leeway in case the work takes longer than you think it will. (It often does, for me, anyway.) Also, the earlier you can post, the more I can adapt the lesson plan in response. During the year, students had to post the night before class.

Miller 2012 Summer II Syllabus – page 7 is an essay evolved from an earlier exercise, in which you try out some of the moves we see associated with academic essaying.     Lesson 8, Mon 7/30 - Motivations and Introductions: Giving Yourself a Problem to Solve o HW: Reread Bartholomae; write "difficulty analysis" (see lesson plan) Lesson 9, Tues 7/31 - Finding Authority - Stases and Sources o HW: Read "Closing My Eyes as I Speak"; make a new dialogic notebook (see lesson plan) Lesson 10, Wed 8/1 - Elbow, Audience, and Contraries o HW: Reread Elbow, this time through different lenses (see lesson plan) Lesson 11, Thurs 8/2 - Claims, Reasons, and Evidence o HW: Read one more piece by Elbow, Elbow, "Some Thoughts on Academic Discourse"; complete your choice of the active reading techniques we've used so far (SPARRR, BEAM, Stases, DoubleEntry Notebook, Key Term Analysis). Lesson 12, Mon 8/6 - So What is Academic Writing? Toward an operational definition o HW: Reread your own exercises and notes, and choose a starting point for your EEEE. Do some generative/reflective writing. (see lesson plan) Lesson 13, Tues 8/7 - Workshop / Questions and Sources o HW: Follow up on suggestions and leads Lesson 14, Wed 8/8 - Intro to Rhetorical Analysis / Electronic Resources for Determining Context o HW: Begin reading for the RA; use any of the active reading techniques we've used so far.

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Unit III: Joining In: Revising Your Way Forward As we head into the final weeks of the course, your major writing project will be to complete a final portfolio, demonstrating the degree to which you have met the course's objectives and your own: that is, you will demonstrate both to yourselves and to me that you have learned, and what you have learned. The capstone for the portfolio is a reflective introductory essay, in which you will draw on the theorists you have read, to analyze the products of the processes you have practiced. (Sorry about the popping p's.) I have a wide range of exercises and readings that will help you in these tasks, including (but by no means limited to) the rest of Bacon's book. Before I decide when to share what, though, I want to get to know you as people and as writers, so that I can choose what will best match your needs, your interests, and your abilities. So I’ll leave the titles and homeworks blank for now, providing only the fixed dates and end-points.  Lesson 15, Thurs 8/9 o HW: Lesson 16, Mon 8/13 o HW: Lesson 17, Tues 8/14 o HW: Lesson 18, Wed 8/15 o HW: Lesson 19, Thurs 8/16 o HW: Final Portfolio Due on Monday. At a minimum, it must contain: Two revised academic essays (the EEEE and the Rhetorical Analysis); A set of marked-up drafts, showing how you revise; An introductory essay; Supplementary materials (exercises, additional reflections and comments, marked up readings, etc) Lesson 20, Mon 8/20 — Last class! — Final Presentations and Party

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GRADING CONTRACT* As composition theorist Peter Elbow has written in a number of places (see especially his ―Ranking, Evaluating, and Liking‖**), grades are a surprisingly crude way of measuring or producing learning: they reduce complex phenomena to a single letter or number, and thus obscure the differences between, say, proofreading skills and ability to support an argument. Some teachers might try to get around this by assigning percentages of their grades to particular skill-sets, but I find I can’t know, in advance, what any one of you will need to work on: I want to be free to give more targeted feedback, and set more targeted goals, than any pre-set percentage allows me to do. As I see it, you each are here to become better than yourself, not better than anyone else. Grades distract from that, and distract from the particular reactions and suggestions that can help you improve. So to shift our attention away from grading – and therefore toward thoughtful assessment – I’m going to cut you a deal. If you fulfill all the terms of the contract below, I will guarantee that your grade is no lower than B. If your work is consistently excellent, it can go up from there; if you can’t complete all of the terms of the contract, your grade may go down. As you read, you’ll notice that these B-level expectations are based on concrete, observable behaviors, not subjective judgments of quality. No matter where you start out, the playing field is level. Moreover, because the contract is based on good writing processes, not on mastery of skills, you can focus on a few manageable goals at a time, rather than feeling pressure to master everything at once. I hope you take this as an opportunity to experiment, to take risks in your writing, and to trust that you will learn something in the process: even if you try a new writing-move and fail, you can (in the words of Samuel Beckett) "fail better" next time, without being penalized. Please initial each item to signal you've read it, and sign at the very end. Students who have not turned in a signed contract by the end of the fourth class may not remain in the course.

To earn a B for this course, you must: 1. Engage actively during every class period, and use class time productively. Everyone has an off day from time to time, but for nearly every class meeting, to the best of your ability, your brain should be working from 10am-11:53am. This means you must also be consistently prepared for class: read, annotate, and bring any required readings, and bring your notebook along with whatever drafts, exercises, or research you'll need. _______ 2. Participate actively during every workshop, and push yourself to provide your class- and groupmates with consistently thorough, thoughtful, helpful feedback. You should help your group*

This grading contract, including some of the language, has been adapted from Danielewicz, Jane and Peter Elbow. "A Unilateral Grading Contract to Improve Learning and Teaching." College Composition and Communication 61.2 (December 2009): 244-268, as well as the online appendix to that article (see their note 1). The contracts and rationales published there were made available for the purposes of such adaptation. Elbow, Peter. ―Ranking, Evaluating, and Liking: Sorting out Three Forms of Judgment.‖ College English 55.2 (1993): 187-206.

**

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mates to become better writers throughout the course. Taking their work seriously enough to think hard about how it can be improved is crucial for your success, and theirs, in this course. Note that this is not just about praise or criticism: ask questions, make connections, explore possibilities. Open space for them to do or say more. _______ 3. Work with your group-mates to complete group assignments and exercises, to the satisfaction of everyone in the group. Divide group assignments and time fairly, and complete, on time, all the work you take on. Note that this also means demanding satisfaction from your group mates: if one of you is slacking off, the whole group suffers. Let that person know. _______ 4. For every assignment, produce substantial, thoughtful writing that follows the guidelines in the prompt – including deadlines. _______ 5. Revise thoroughly and thoughtfully after every workshop. Thoughtful revision means substantially clarifying your ideas, reorganizing your argument, rethinking your claims, adding to or explicating your evidence, deepening your research, adjusting your style, or/and reimagining your relationship to your audience. (Proofreading and swapping out individual words, while they can be important, are not what I'm talking about here.) Even if you have not received thorough feedback during a workshop, make at least one substantial revision before the next workshop and before turning in the final draft. _______ 6. Use the feedback provided by your instructor and your group-mates to improve your writing. You don't have to make every change suggested, of course, because your writing is yours, and after all, readers will sometimes disagree. But you must take all feedback seriously, and your drafts (or notes; cf. #7) should show evidence of your careful consideration of your readers’ suggestions: if a reader is confused or has an objection, don't ignore it, but instead try to clear up the confusion or incorporate and respond to the objection. _______ 7. Proofread final drafts to eliminate distracting surface errors and typos. Final drafts do not have to be perfect, but you should learn any grammar rules that consistently cause you trouble, by talking with a classmate, using a guide such as Hacker's Pocket Style Manual, and/or through meetings with me or the Reading/Writing Center staff. _______ 8. Attend all scheduled conferences with me and your Reading/Writing Center Consultant (if applicable), and come prepared to use the conference time productively. If I indicate on a draft that I would like you to schedule an appointment to talk with me, do so within the week. A missed conference counts as 2 absences (see #11). _______ 9. Avoid plagiarism by (a) taking careful notes to help you distinguish between your own ideas and language and those you have borrowed from sources; (b) being generous about attributing ideas and acknowledging those whose work has influenced your own, i.e. by attempting to cite all sources correctly, even in first drafts; (c) mastering citation conventions and citing all sources correctly in all final drafts; and (d) never attempting to disguise another’s work as your own, never purchasing essays online, and never engaging in any other act of academic dishonesty. This is a collaborative class, in which we offer each other suggestions and constructive criticism. But we do so to clarify the expression of original ideas – never to substitute someone else's ideas for our own, or to impose our ideas on someone else. _______ 10. Show respect for your classmates and your instructor. This includes using respectful language, taking each others’ ideas seriously, and refraining from distracting behaviors, such as falling

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asleep, reading the Metro, or checking text messages during class. Ensure that your cell phone doesn't ring during class. _______ 11. Be consistently on time for class, and be absent very rarely. Three latenesses equal one absence. Missing more than 20 minutes one of class counts as an absence (though you're still always welcome to come in, quietly). Six absences throughout the semester or three absences during any one unit will break the contract (as explained in the next section). Missing more than seven classes (i.e., 1/3 of the classes for the term) will result in a grade of WU (Unofficial Withdrawal). _______ 12. Submit a complete, fully revised portfolio that meets all outlined requirements by the due date. The portfolio for this class will consist of all major writing projects, with marked-up drafts, plus your selection of inksheds or exercises that represent your best thinking or writing in the course. More details to follow, closer to the deadline. _______ If you fulfill all of these expectations, you are guaranteed a grade of at least a B overall. I will do my best to keep you informed and afloat with regard to your successful participation. If you're ever in doubt about your contractual status, feel free to email me and/or drop by my office hours. Grades Below a B: If you break the contract, your contracted grade for the course will be lowered as follows:  For minor breaches (e.g. missing or not bringing in a short homework exercise, failing to participate in full-class discussion, or leaving assigned reading at home, etc): in each Unit, I will permit you one ―Mulligan‖ – one minor misstep that will not break the contract. But two minor breaches during any Unit will lower your contracted grade by ⅓ of a letter, i.e. to a B–; another breach in the same unit or two minor breaches during the next Unit, and your contract grade will be lowered further to a C+, and so on. These lowered grades can still be improved by an exceptionally strong portfolio. _______ For major breaches (e.g. turning in nothing for an essay draft deadline, failing to participate in peer review, or failing to acknowledge direct revision-suggestions in all subsequent drafts and notes): no Mulligans; your contracted grade will immediately be lowered to a B– after the first major breach, C+ after the second, and so on. These lowered grades can still be improved by an exceptionally strong portfolio. _______ For the final portfolio: each day it is late, the contracted grade drops ⅔ of a letter. The attendance policy is outlined above, in item #11 (though see also #8). _______ _______

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Again, I will do my best to keep you informed and afloat with regard to behaviors that threaten to break the contract: my goal is to keep everyone engaged, active, and learning. If you are ever in doubt about your contractual status, feel free to send me an email or drop by my office hours. Grades Above a B: As mentioned above, grades up to and including B are based purely on behaviors, which is to say on process; for grades above a B, you must demonstrate Excellence and Quality in your final written products. While these terms are, unavoidably, rather fuzzy, in my defense I can say only this: First,

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most grades in writing are arbitrary, and at least by using the contract above I'm doing my best to limit and control the arbitrariness. Second, I promise to do my very best to articulate, in particular instances, what I think would most help the piece in question achieve Excellence and Quality. One of the characteristics of such writing is that it tends to stand out as its own self, original and often surprising, and it is therefore far harder to give guidance in general terms. Still, certain approaches are more likely to move you in that direction (though, again, a given essay written with these processes won’t always succeed as a product):  Begin from perplexity. Motivate each essay with a genuine question, or felt itch, that you legitimately want to puzzle through. In other words, don't tell me something you already know, like "honesty is often the best policy" or "reading books helps you learn a language"; start with something you know about, but don't yet understand. _______ Proceed by thinking. This may seem obvious, but it's actually hard: having found a motivating question or puzzle, write so as to think your way toward greater understanding. Make some intellectual gears turn; you should know more by the end of the process than you did at the beginning. It's fine for a B to say that 1 + 2 + 3 = 2 + 3 + 1. But to get above the B, aim for 1 + 2 + 3 = 6. Put the pieces together. _______ Resound with grace. The best essays will not only hold together, but take pleasure in their own unfolding language, balancing economy and precision of diction with rhetorical prowess and poise. The fuzziest criterion of them all, but throughout the term, let's all resolve to point out examples of graceful writing when we see it. _______

If your work is trending towards a better-than-B portfolio, I will do my best to let you know where you've leveled up over that line, so you can try to recapture and consolidate whatever was working so well. (Don't worry, I'll keep giving suggestions for where you can improve, as well, because I believe that even the best of us can.) In general, a check-plus on a homework exercise indicates high levels of Excellence and Quality. When you see that in your feedback, aim to recapture whatever it was you were doing while writing. Once more, should you ever find yourself in doubt about your contractual status – whether your work is satisfactory for a B, unsatisfactory for a B, or excelling beyond the B-level, please feel free to send me an email, drop by my office hours, or even to set up a conference at a better time. PLEASE SIGN BELOW. I, the undersigned, have read and understood the above contract to be the grading policy for Benjamin Miller’s section of English 301.

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Student name (in your most legible print)

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Student signature date

Benjamin Miller
Teacher name Teacher signature date