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Freshman English

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Instructor: Jenny Corey-Gruenes 

Web Page:

Phone: 507.351.3035


Time: Fridays, 3-6:00 p.m. 

Location: EAST C125/N111

Credits: 3 English


Course Description:
Freshman English is a course designed to teach effective writing at the college level. You will learn composition and organization skills that will enable you to write better and more confidently. Effective writing is a process that requires thought and practice beyond the classroom. For successful achievement in this course, you must actively participate in your own instruction.

Course Objectives:

  • To become better and more confident writers.
  • To develop greater control of the writing process (invention, drafting, revision, & proofing).
  • To learn critical thinking, analysis, and argumentation skills.
  • To work productively in peer revision groups.
  • To develop a better understanding of the conventions of standard American English (spelling, punctuation, grammar, capitalization, etc.).
Required Texts & Supplies:
Axelrod, Rise B. and Charles R. Cooper, eds. The St. Martin's Guide to Writing. 7th ed. New
       York: St. Martin's Press, 2004.
3.5" diskette (Bring every day)
Notebook with folder


  • Major Essays (60%)
  • Assignments / Presentations / Peer Review /In-class Exercises and Discussion (30%)
  • Final Exam (10%)
100% - 93%  =  A                       77%  -  73%  =  C
92%  - 90% =  A-                      72%  -  70%  =  C-
89%  - 88%  =  B+                      69%  -  68%  =  D+
87%  - 83% =  B                        67%  -  63%  =  D
82%  - 80% =  B-                       62%  -  60%  =  D-
79%  - 78% =  C+                      Below 60%    =  F
After reviewing the course requirements, you will notice that active attendance and participation are vital to a successful experience in Freshman English. I will be taking attendance.  I observe the policy that "an absence is an absence."  If you miss a class, your grade will drop one complete letter grade, unless you write a Summary Response paper.  The Summary Response paper should be at least 1,000 words and include both a summary and personal response to two essays in your text.  You can choose any of the essays in your text.  The Summary Response paper must be proofread, or it will not be accepted.  Summary Response papers are due within one week of the absence.  If you are absent, you will also miss in-class assignment points, and your grade will be lowered as a result.  

Late Papers:
Situations sometimes arise when you are unable to turn in your out-of-class papers on time. This is not good. Your paper is lowered one letter grade for every day it is late (unless an acceptable excuse is provided). You should notify me that your paper will be late as soon as possible.

All Assignments:
All assignments should be typed and double-spaced. All final drafts for essays must be printed on a laser quality printer. And, of course, all assignments must be handed in on time. I don't accept late assignments. Please see my late paper policy above.

Academic Dishonesty Policy:
Individuals are expected to show honesty in meeting their academic obligations. Examples of violating conduct include cheating on assignments or examinations and plagiarizing. Probable sanction: course sanctions, probation, suspension, or expulsion. Students must provide evidence of significant invention and revision if requested to do so.

Special Learning Needs:
Every attempt will be made to accommodate qualified students with disabilities. If you are a student with a documented disability, please see me as early in the term as possible to discuss necessary accommodations.



In Class Topics/Activities

Outside Class Activities





Introductions: Wait a few minutes the first night.  My background.  My name is ___; one thing I've always wanted to learn how to do is build with wood.  Attendance. 

Course Overview/Syllabus/Questions?

Index Cards 

Grading Criteria

Pavlov's Dog

Listing Exercise with Teams

Names: What is an object that is important to you that starts with the same first letter as your name.  Example: Jeans/Jeanette


Web Page

Free-write: "School"

Diagnostic Explanation and Invention

Writing Benchmarks: Diagnostic essay due next class period. 

Think: What is an object that is important to you that starts with the same first letter as that of your name?

How did you reward yourself?






Introductions: Attendance/Collect Diagnostics/My name is __; I rewarded myself with ___.  

Write about a significant object and your name.  Describe the object without naming it.  Try not to be too obvious, but be very descriptive. Share your description in groups and see if they can guess what the object is.

General vs. Concrete Description: What image comes to mind when I say "work," "happy," "lonely," "bored"?

Narrative essay guidelines, rubric, and examples ("Salt in the Soup," "Sticks and Stones" p. 6, "Free Falling" p. 9)


Watcher of the Gate: Kafka wrote in his diary: "Complete standstill . . . incapable in every respect . . . have achieved nothing," from The Writing Life.  "Who is this critic within us who keeps assuring us we have glimpsed neither swallow nor angel, and even if we have, it's not worth recording because it would be only ours?" (8).  "You reject too soon and discriminate too severely" (9). 

Free-write: An injustice

Worst Essay Competition: Be satisfied with less than perfect writing, and do not be overly critical.  Remember that you are working on a draft that you will revise. 

Format for Essay p. 782 St. Martins

Narrative Invention

Read: St. Martin's Guide p. 35 "On Being a Real Westerner" by Tobias Wolff

Writing Benchmarks: 1st RD of Narrative due next class.  Bring 4 copies for workshop. 

Think: What is a reward you could give yourself for writing your first rough draft of your first essay? 




Introductions: Attendance/My name is __; I rewarded myself with ___.  

Why Write? "So why do I write, torturing myself to put it down? Because in spite of myself I've learned some things. Without the possibility of action, all knowledge comes to one labeled 'file and forget,' and I can neither file nor forget. Nor will certain ideas forget me; they keep filing away at my lethargy, my complacency. Why should I be the one to dream this nightmare? Why should I be dedicated and set aside--yes, if not to tell at least a few people about it? There seems to be no escape." --Ralph Ellison, Invisible Man

Sentence Structure and Tobias Wolff: Imitate sentence from "On Being a Real Westerner"

Describe the Scene: Show the movie clip and students describe the scene.  Paint the picture just like we see it in the clip.

Peer Review #1 Expectations: 1st RD is due; PR Groups meet; Explain HOC, LOC, Use Rubric, Make Marginal Comments and Write 2 paragraphs on each essay (what works, what doesn't work). 

Comma Rules

Explain Style Sheets

Return Diagnostics: Help each other understand checkmarks.  


Free-write: "I write to understand as much as to be understood." --Elie Wiesel


Correct Diagnostic Essays

Style Sheets: Start making them

Writing Benchmarks: Prepare for peer review. 

Keep working on Narrative essay and bring updated copies of essay to class next time.

Complete Style Sheet.

Make corrections on diagnostic essays.

Think: What is your favorite writing trick? 




My name is __; Collect Corrected Diagnostic Essays/My favorite writing trick is writing in single space, then when I'm feeling frustrated, I change it to double space

Presentations Sign-up: Narrative OR Process Analysis (5 points)


Underlining Description: Or note where you could further describe so that the reader can see, hear, smell, taste, and feel the event that you describe.  Guard against the cliche and the common description.

Common Problems with the Narrative: Might take notes

Dialogue Check p.     St. Martin's Guide

Peer Review: Experienced writers reread what they have written over and over again out loud!


Free-write: "Probably there are none in the world who at first do evil without reluctance; but when they have repeated it once or twice the mind becomes daring; hand and feet become habitual, and the conscience by degrees annihilated." --The Sacred Edict, Exploration of the Laws

Staying There 

Work on Significance

Exchange Style Sheets: PR groups note any problems with style sheets  

Writing Benchmarks: Narrative essay due next class (include subtitles).  Submit essay in this order: rubric (top), essay, style sheet, peer review paragraphs (bottom). 

Prepare for presentations.

Think: Finding meaning in small details 




No Class





Introductions: Attendance/My name is __; my favorite book is Leo Tolstoy's Anna Karenina.  


Fill out the grading rubric

Collect Narratives in this order: rubric (top), essay (with subtitles), style sheet, peer review paragraphs (bottom)


Introduce Process Paper Assignment

Plagiarism 101 

Objective vs. Subjective Writing


"How to be Funny"; "How to Have Fun in an Elevator"; "How to Annoy People"

Brainstorm Process Paper Ideas: How would you finish this line (go around)?  "How to get away with -----." + other ideas

Writing Benchmarks: Bring a sample of good writing to class that comes from someone other than you. 

Read: "Eating Alone in Restaurants" by Bruce Jay Friedman

Think: Topic ideas for the process paper  




Share your sample of good writing (go around)

Aaron's Process Paper Scored Against the Rubric 

"Getting Good Grades, Guaranteed" by Carl Samuelson

English Patient Example

Go Around: New idea for the process paper

Exercise Exchange

How to Lengthen Papers


"Eating Alone in Restaurants" by Bruce Jay Friedman: What are some of the NEW suggestions Friedman makes?  How is this essay constructed in an effective way? (free-write quiz or go around)

Checkmark Corrections (turn in before they leave--hopefully)

Essay work time 

Writing Benchmarks: Checkmark corrections due next class period.  

Rough draft due next class.  Bring 4 copies. 




Collect essay check mark corrections 

Share sample of good writing (go around)

Go over the rubric

Answer questions about what is a Thesis Statement

Make the Writer Respond

Peer Review: Exchange/Read/Write Questions


"How to Stop the Cycle" against the rubric (if time)

Respond to Questions

Revise Style Sheet

Writing Benchmarks: Revise Style Sheets. 

Finish answering questions from peer review. 

Prepare for presentation. 

Process papers due next class.   




Go around: What is your first reaction to the word "greed"?

Process Paper Presentations

Fill out the grading rubric

Collect Process Papers in this order: rubric (top), essay, style sheet, peer review questions and answers (bottom)



?How many of you have seen Roger and Me by Michael Moore?


Argumentative Essay Preparation: Assignment specifications; "The Simpsons: A Mirror of Society"; Exercise 3; Claim: all writing is argumentative; Lies My Teacher Told Me

Overcoming Writer's Block

Brainstorming: Exercise 4 and 5, Get up, walk around, take a break, talk to people, look thru books

Free-write: "When a country is well-governed, poverty and a mean condition are things to be ashamed of.  When a country is ill-governed, riches and honor are things to be ashamed of." --Confuscius

Note: There is a lot of good information in your textbooks (p. 261-326) to help you generate ideas for your papers.

Read: "How to Say Nothing in 500 Words" by Paul Roberts

Think: What do you learn about writing from reading the above essay?  

Topic ideas for the argumentative paper 

Bring a favorite quote to class.





Go around: My name is ---.  My favorite quote is "Anger is short madness." --Horace  Write it down on a piece of paper you don't need.

Go Around: What did you learn about writing from reading "How to Say Nothing in 500 Words"?

Read and Discuss "In Praise of the 'F' Word" by Mary Sherry


Argument Terms

Fact vs. Opinion

Using "I"


Free-write: Agree or disagree with a quote that you or one of your classmates shared with the class. 

Counterargument Activity

E.D. Hirsch Practice in Argument

Writing Benchmarks: Start writing your argumentative essay. 

Read: "Banning Cell Phone Use While Driving" by Thomas Beckfield in Sticks and Stones p. 91 (Notice the counterargument that is presented.)

"Who's More Worthy?" by Jonathan Rauch in St. Martin's p. 277 (Notice the logic in his argument.)




Collect 3 things we did in computer room: freewrite on quote, counterargument activity, and E.D. Hirsch agree or disagree with reason

Share an example of good writing

Go Around: What is your research topic? Or My name is ---.  If I could have done anything today, I would have gardened, baked, read a good book with a cup of coffee. Or My name is ---.  My least favorite day of the week is Sunday

Discuss "Banning Cell Phone Use While Driving" by Thomas Beckfield in Sticks and Stones p. 91

Sample Essay: "Getting Rid of the Jitters" by Juliana Peterson (just the first two paragraphs for the introduction)


More Advanced Logic

Toulmin Logic from The Call to Write p. 90




Revise Style Sheets

Work on Outlines

Writing Benchmarks: Finish a rough draft and have it on disk or be able to pull it up in the computer lab. 

Read: "The Liberal Arts: A Practical View" by Mark Jackson in Sticks and Stones p. 95 (Notice the use of "I")





No Class





Common Problems with the Argumentative Paper

Commas and other Punctuation

Peer Review

Free-write: "To associate with evil men is like sleeping in the midst of knives and swords; although you have not been wounded, you are constantly afraid." --Anonymous

Writing Benchmarks: Revise Style Sheets.  

Argumentative papers due next class (with formal outlines).   






Argumentative Essay Due.  Submit essay in this order: rubric (top), essay, style sheet (bottom)

Essay Exam Preparation

Grades and Individual Help (Sentences, Paragraphs, General Questions)

Prepare for essay exam.




Essay Exam


Other Freewrite Ideas

"No man will confide in one who shows himself as aggressive.  And he whom no man confides in will remain solitary and without support." --Leih Tzu

Write about a happy memory.

Write about a great disappointment.

Write about an experience with an animal.

Write about the most uneventful day of your life.