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Freshman Composition: Examining the Educational Institution through Pop Culture and Media

Course description
Welcome to Freshman Composition! Some of you may feel that this is simply a university requirement that you just have to pass
and get over with. But in this class I hope that together we can look at the ways in which writing will be useful to you, both in your
future major and career endeavors, as well as in your everyday life. You all have the ability to do what is required to pass this
class: actively reading and critically questioning texts/media, developing flexible writing processes based on purpose,
recognizing and manipulating genre and audience conventions, using a texts ideas directly and indirectly while combining them
with your own criticisms and ideas, honing independent and collaborative revision and proofreading skills for all aspects of
writing, and above all, understanding the purpose behind all of these areas and why its important for you to improve within and
master them. Because you all have the capability to achieve these areas with guidance and practice, I will have high
expectations for your achievement and overall improvement.
We are going to accomplish these seemingly lofty goals through reading and analyzing a variety of texts, some of which will be
obviously academically rigorous and others that will seem of a lower standard, like media, internet, and pop cultural sources.
But all media and pop culture are texts that can have just as rich and complex a meaning as academic articles and textbooks,
and all texts, academic or not, are trying to persuade you as a reader of something. You are probably going to consume more
texts of a lower rather than academic standard in your day to day life, so I want us to look at how lower texts are just as
persuasive and message-oriented as academic texts.
I also want us to collectively evaluate where the line of appropriateness should be drawn and why. For example, should we
include social media texts and websites in the classroom? Reality television shows? Pre-roll ads before online videos?
Additionally, I want us to look at both fictional and nonfictional representations of education and academic institutions in pop
culture and the media. What do these representations say about our educational system as a whole? About your educational
experience? What messages or values are educational systems and institutions are trying to tell different kinds of students?
What messages from outside the academy are being transmitted about how students are supposed to feel about or act within
Required materials
iLearn readings/articles/media (videos, images, audio, etc)
MLA Handbook 7th edition or APA Handbook 6th Edition
David and Goliath by Malcolm Gladwell,
One YA novel selection for book club: Dear Committee Members, Paper Towns, The Disreputable History of Frankie
Landau Banks, or Harry Potter and the Sorcerers Stone
Major assignments and grading percentages

Summary/Response of News Media about Education

Choose 2 texts that weve covered in class and write 3-4 pages. For this paper, I want you to compare/contrast how the
authors make educational institutions seem for students, and how they define a good education. How do they prove
or show that their representation is accurate or correct? How do the two pieces views seem similar/different?
Do you agree or disagree with their assessment of educational institutions and what a good education is? Why or
why not?

Rhetorical Analysis of Popular Depictions of Education

Choose 1 TV episode that weve covered in class to write 3-4 pages about. For this paper, I want you to rhetorically
analyzeusing logos, pathos, and ethoshow the writer/director is making their messages convincing or persuasive to
their audience. How is the author/creator using logic, emotion, and credibility to make their argument seem more
believable? Who is a possible specific audience for this text and how does that affect the types or kinds of rhetorical
appeals that the text makes? Finally, for you as a reader, what parts of the argument and those arguments rhetorical
appeals did you find convincing or not convincing, and why?


Argumentative Position Paper on Appropriate Sources for Use in the Classroom

In a 3-4 page paper, explain to teachers and administrators at our university what kinds of texts, in terms of both
content and form, should we consider appropriate and ethical to use and study in the classroom and why? In addition,
what kinds, if any, should we exclude and why? What are some possible examples of non-traditional (in both form and
content) texts that you think should or should not be appropriate for the classroom? Define appropriate/inappropriate
and ethics on your own terms, using textual evidence and examples (personal or otherwise) to back that definition up.

Research Paper on Higher Education Topic of Your Choosing

In a 5-6 page paper, describe an important issue in Higher Education using primary and/or secondary resources. Then,
examine how different media texts represent or characterize that issue, and what the consequences of the different
representations are. What do the different media texts have to say about this issue in Higher Education, and how might
the messages/arguments about the issue affect what people think or do about the issue? How might it affect how the
issue is resolved?
In addition, after some initial research you will turn in a 2 page research proposal giving a broad overview of your
particular problem, why you think its important to discuss, and what your general plan for further research is (types of
sources still needed or interested in, content/perspective areas of further interest or need, how you plan to evaluate
credibility of future sources, etc)

Portfolio/Reflection and Book Club Presentations

Book Club Presentation:

At the end of the semester, your book club will do a 7-10 minute presentation of collaboratively written slides about
your chosen book for the semester. Your presentation should include: a brief summary of what your book was about,
how your book depicts education/schools and what its saying/implying about them, and an analysis of the book using
your assigned theme/genre from one of our classs previous units.
Portfolio/Revision Plan
Your final project requires you to write 3 one page revision plans that explain what you would do to improve or change
each of your 3 chosen papers and why, based on the feedback youve received from peers and me as the instructor.
Then, you will take one of the revision plans and then actually revise that paper for an improved grade that is averaged
with the previous one. Additionally, you need to write two different cover letters; a one page cover letter for your
executed revision that explains why you chose to revise this particular paper and how your revision did or did not follow
your plan (and what you did instead and why), and another one page reflection on which specific academic skills
youve worked on this semester, where you started with those skills and where you are with them now, and what you
overall learned as a college student this semester.

Informal writing (wiki definition/writing model posts, weekly response/question posts on iLearn, in-class)
In-class Participation and other group/individual work (worksheets, peer review, etc)

Unit 1: How do news organizations and online media represent academic educational institutions?
Week 1:
Monday: First day of class activities; Syllabus and Expectations
Wednesday: Picking books and groups for Book Club
Friday: Discuss Taking My Parents to College (
Week 2:
Monday: Discuss College Calculus (
Wednesday: Discuss Calling America 'Land of Opportunity' Offensive (; Go over Essay Prompt
Friday: Outline/Idea Draft due

Week 3:
Monday: First Draft of Summary/Response Essay due; Book Club Meeting
Wednesday: Peer Review written response due; In-class Discussion and Peer Workshop
Friday: Grammar workshop/lesson; In-class metacognitive cover letter
Unit 2: How do pop culture media represent and rhetorically construct messages about education?
Week 4:
Monday: Unit 1 Final Draft due; Lesson: What is Rhetoric and Persuasion? How do we use them in everyday life?
Wednesday: Discuss Rhetorical Analysis handout
Friday: Go over Essay Prompt; Discuss Student Writing Sample
Week 5:
Monday: Discuss Caroline Sacks and Where Justice Scalia got the idea that African Americans might be better off at slowertrack universities; Practicing Rhetorical Analysis on Student-brought examples
Wednesday: Discuss Glee Season 2, Episode 5 Never Been Kissed and Buffy Season 4 Episode 1 Freshman; Book Club
Friday: Outline/Heuristics/Idea Draft due; In-class conferences and writing time
Week 6:
Monday: First Draft of Rhetorical Analysis due; In-class Peer Review: Speed Dating Style
Wednesday: Proofreading Workshop/Lesson; Revision Strategies
Friday: In-class metacognitive cover letter
Unit 3: Where do you think the line of appropriateness should be drawn for texts used in the classroom?
Week 7:
Monday: Unit 2 Final Draft due; Discuss TEDtalk The nerd's guide to learning everything online
Wednesday: Discuss Should teachers be using social media in the classroom?
Friday: Book Club Meeting
Week 8:
Monday: Discuss Why I Use Trigger Warnings and The Coddling of the American Mind
Wednesday: Go over Essay Prompt
Friday: Outline/Idea draft due
Week 9:
Monday: First Draft due; Book Club Meeting
Wednesday: Peer Review Response due/in-class discussion and workshop
Friday: In-class metacognitive cover letter
Unit 4: Higher Education/Media Issue of your choice
Week 10:
Monday: Unit 3 Final Draft due; Brainstorming research topics
Wednesday: Discuss The Society of Professional Journalistss Code of Ethics and APA Handout on Methodology
Friday: Library Field Trip (Meet in the Library Lobby, not in class)
Week 11:
Monday: Discuss MLA Entry on Evaluating Sources; Go over prompt
Wednesday: Topic Proposal due; In-class iSearch
Friday: Topic Peer Workshop; In-class conferences
Week 12:
Monday: First draft due
Wednesday: Peer Review: Context and Analysis/Explanation
Friday: Book Club Meeting

Week 13:
Monday: In-class Feedback Activity
Wednesday: Second draft due
Friday: In-class metacognitive cover letter
Unit 5: Book Club Presentation and Portfolio
Week 14:
Monday: Unit 4 Final Draft due; Go over prompt
Wednesday: Review of class units and topics; How to make/use visual formats; In-class presentation prep time
Friday: In-class presentation prep time
Week 15:
Monday: Presentations
Wednesday: Presentations
Friday: Presentations
3 Revision Plans, 2 Reflective Cover Memos, and Fully Revised Essay due on the day of the Final, at the end of the
scheduled final time (via iLearn)