Author Archives: Olivia Wood

Module 8 (May 12-May 20): The Finish Line

Well, we’re almost done with the Semester from Actual Hell. Between COVID-19, global economic collapse, murder hornets in the Pacific Northwest, and a literal plague of locusts in Africa (can you believe that’s a true sentence??? I still can’t), mass CUNY confusion, and all of the societal and personal struggles we had already, please be kind to yourselves and forgive yourselves for any academic or emotional difficulties you’ve been having. I know each and every one of you is doing the best you can under these circumstances, and whatever your best is, that’s okay.

I am very happy to tell you that we have Only One Assignment Left, and it’s mostly stuff you’ve already done.

Learning Objectives:

  1. Students will be able to use web design software (WordPress) to showcase their work
  2. Students will apply their rhetorical knowledge to display their work in a way that is both professional and personally expressive (whatever that means to them)
  3. Students will reflect on their learning this semester, evaluating their own work and the structure of the course

Overview of Tasks:

  1. Compile your final portfolio (Due Wednesday May 20 by the end of the day)
  2. Watch instructional videos as needed to learn WordPress skills
  3. Write your final reflective letter and answer a short prompt. Put these into your portfolio too.
  4. Complete OPTIONAL sharing and reflection activities
  5. Make sure Olivia has access to your portfolio.
  6. Complete any missing assignments, late work, and revisions of previous assignments.

Step 1: Compile your Final Portfolio

The full instructions + rubric for the portfolio are here. 

Most of the portfolio is actually just stuff you’ve already written. Decide how you want to arrange them on your portfolio website and upload them. (See Step 2)

Step 2: Watch Instructional Videos as Needed

I have made screencast videos for you on the following topics:

Please watch only the ones that you need.

Step 3: Write The Remaining Pieces of your Portfolio

These are the Reflective Letter and answering the short prompt on the assignment sheet. Shoot for at least 3-4 pages for the letter– you should be doing deep reflection on the entire semester, the writing you have done, what you’ve learned, what you still want to learn, how you would do things differently now, etc.

Then add these things to your portfolio.

Step 4: Complete OPTIONAL Activities

Again, this step is optional, but I will give you participation points if you do it. No one will be penalized for not doing it.

Optional Activity 1: Sharing Your Work

Normally, I have everyone give an informal presentation of their final paper at the end of the semester, so that you get to share your research/findings + hard work with people besides just me. If you would like to give some form of digital presentation, you are welcome to do so. This is NOT a Zoom call. It could take the following forms:

  • Posting your final draft to the course site for others to read
  • Making a video, Powerpoint, still image, or other kind of visual presentation that shares the main ideas from your work
  • Writing an informal summary post of what you learned/which pieces you want to share with the class
  • Really, anything else you’d like to do to share your work.

Optional Activity 2: What’s Going On/Where Are We Now?

Originally, before the pandemic, we were going to spend a day analyzing and discussing how our studies on algorithms and rhetoric relate to current events. If you want to write a comment or post along these lines– perhaps finding a news story or other coverage of a current event and sharing your thoughts on it– please do.

Step 5: Make Sure I Have Access To Your Portfolio

If your privacy settings on your site are set to public, all you need to do is email me the link to your site (or post it as a comment here if you want to also share it with your classmates).

If your privacy settings are set to something else, it’s a little more complicated, because you have to add me as a member of your site. See the video linked to above (once I’ve made it).

Portfolios are due on WEDNESDAY, MAY 20 by the end of the day. 

Step 6: Complete All Missing Work + Revisions

If you are missing other assignments that you would like to get credit for, now is the time to work on them.

If you would like to revise a previous assignment that you already completed for a better grade, you can also do that.

Everything can either be emailed to me, posted here on the course site, or resubmitted on Blackboard.

All missing work is also due by the end of the day on Wednesday, May 20. Because I need to grade everything quickly before final grades are due, this deadline is not very flexible. If you need a little bit of extra time beyond that, here’s what I need you to do:

  1. Send me an email detailing exactly which assignments you are going to complete AND which day in the week after the 20th you will send them to me.
  2. Follow through on your deadline.

If you do not meet the deadline you told me in your email, I cannot guarantee that I will be able to accept your assignment(s). This is because once I upload final grades to CUNYFirst, I cannot change them.

Portfolio Instructions and Rubric

I’ll be writing a module in a couple days and making some instructional videos, but for now I wanted to share the assignment sheet just to give people a preview of what’s coming up. I simplified and deleted several components, so hopefully the very last assignment of our semester isn’t too strenuous. The reflection letter is the most important, as are the WordPress skills you will develop along the way.

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What is an Abstract?

An “abstract” is a short summary of an academic paper. You may have seen/read some of them already while doing research. It’s a paragraph that comes before the essay itself– in APA style, it comes after the title page but before the introduction. It lives on its own page.

It’s similar to the blurbs you find on the back of books, but with one important difference: book blurbs want to hook the reader (to get you to read the book) and don’t spoil the ending. Abstracts spoil the ending. A reader should be able to read your abstract and know what the entire paper is about, including a one or two sentence summary of your findings.

Click here to see an example. On this example, ignore everything above the part that says VARYING DEFINITIONS OF ONLINE COMMUNICATION. That part in all caps is the running head for the paper. Everything above it was added by Purdue OWL just for the purposes of this example.

Notice that after the abstract, there are a few keywords. When researchers publish in scholarly journals, they are asked to choose up to 5 keywords that the paper will be sorted under, to help people find it when searching online or in libraries. Choose some words (almost always nouns) that encapsulate the main concepts involved in your paper.

My Tips

Only write about the most important details for someone to understand your paper. You may be able to steal some language from your proposal, with small revisions.

  • What is your general topic?
  • What is your main inquiry question?
  • What are the main arguments or pieces of evidence you discuss?
  • What is your answer, conclusion, or findings?

Try to have only 1-2 sentences for each one.

For more guidance, check out this Powerpoint by Dr. Edward Kennedy, another English professor here at John Jay.

What’s the Point of an Abstract?

So readers can know what your paper is about without having to read the whole thing!

Also because most scholarly articles exist behind paywalls. You can read the abstract for free, but you have to pay money (or belong to a university whose library has paid money) to read the whole thing.

That’s why you have to go through the library website to find most scholarly articles– in addition to the many helpful search functions the library site provides, you wouldn’t be able to access most of the articles if you found them through Google! Academic articles are very expensive, and none of the money goes to the author.

For example, here is an article I wrote. You can read the abstract for free on the site! However, it costs $44 for someone to read it without library access. But if someone buys it, I get $0. The abstract is a teaser!

FUN MONEY-SAVING FACT: Often, if you want to read an article, but can’t figure out how to access it for free through the library, you can google the professor and email them asking for a PDF. They will probably give it to you.

Module 7 (May 2-11): Drafting and Revising the Final Paper

We’re so close to the end that I almost included the entire rest of the semester in this module alone. This week, just keep working on your final papers (full first draft + final draft) and do the last set of rhetorical devices.

By the end of this module, you will be DONE with your final paper!!!!!

Learning Objectives

  • Students will practice synthesizing research into an academic report
  • Students will critically analyze their own writing to improve their previous drafts
  • Students will apply their rhetorical knowledge to real life situations to discover how appeals to patriotism are used to persuade

Overview of Tasks

  1. Orient yourself with a Writing into the Week prompt
  2. ReadWhat is an Abstract?” 
  3. Complete a full draft of your final paper, due Monday May 4 by the end of the day, or as soon as possible after that.
  4. Read about Appeals to Patriotism. Find two examples of appeals to patriotism, share them and analyze them as a comment on this post.
  5. Write feedback for your peers (for those doing peer review) by the end of the day on Thursday May 7.
  6. Once you receive feedback from me/your peers, continue working on your paper. “Final” drafts are due by the end of the day on Monday, May 11, although you are free to revise again after that anytime before the portfolio is due.

Step 1: Writing Into the Week

Please just take 5-10 minutes to collect yourself and write about whatever comes to mind. This time is for you. As always, I recommend you set a timer and push yourself to write the whole time. You may find it beneficial to freewrite about your writing and research so far, if you want to remind yourself of where you left off as you get ready for writing, or you may find it beneficial to write about something else that’s on your mind, to let it out a bit.

Step 2: What is an Abstract?

I want to remind you that in the final draft of your paper, I am looking for several aspects of APA formatting.

  1. APA-style title page, header, and page numbers (see our APA Lesson class video)
  2. An Abstract with keywords.
  3. Your essay
  4. A references page, formatted in APA style. You do not need to include the annotations from your annotated bibliography here– just citations for whatever sources you use in your essay.

Read more about abstracts here.

Step 3: Full Draft

If you have already turned in a partial draft, expand and revise that into a complete first draft. Or, if you did not write a partial draft, please write your first draft now. 

Full drafts are due on Blackboard by the end of the day on Monday, May 4. This deadline gives me time to give everyone feedback before the final drafts are due on Monday, May 11.

If you are unable to finish your draft by this deadline, please upload it as soon as possible afterwards.

Step 4: Appeals to Patriotism

Please read about the rhetorical strategy of Appeals to Patriotism. Then, find some examples in real life (this should be easy if you watch/read political speeches or watch/read political news), post them as a comment on this post along with the context of the example, and analyze how the speaker is using appeals to patriotism to persuade their audience. (And, what are they trying to persuade them of?)

Step 5: Peer Review

For those of you who have chosen to participate in peer review, please give comments to your peer review group by the end of the day on Thursday, May 7. This will help give them enough time to incorporate your comments into their final drafts.

Step 6: Revise and Finish!

Use feedback from me + your peers, plus your own analysis of your work, to continue revising your paper! Double check yourself agains the rubric.  Have you followed all of the instructions and done all of the things I’ve asked for?

“Final” drafts are due by the end of the day on Monday, May 11. Once I receive them, I will write feedback and grade you using the rubric. Then, you are free to revise again (only if you want to!) anytime before the portfolio/late work/revisions deadline.

When you finish this step, CONGRATULATIONS! You’re done with your final paper! All that’s left now is the portfolio, which is mostly just putting together + reflecting on all of the work you’ve already done. Give yourself a congratulatory treat, whether it’s a snack, a present, a fun activity, etc.

Draft for Peer Review

Here is somebody’s draft they submitted for peer review, which they wanted to be posted anonymously. Please feel free to leave feedback in the comments or to email me feedback so I can post them for you anonymously. I will leave some suggested peer review prompts below the document.

Peer Review Prompts:

1. Try to paraphrase (write in your own words) the writer’s inquiry question and “answer.” The writer can use this feedback to see if what they are communicating lines up with their thinking.

2. What questions do you have as a reader? (This can be things you found vague/confusing or just things you want to know more about) If you aren’t persuaded by something, what more information do you want to know about it?

3. Where is the “center of gravity” of this draft so far? (That is, what seems to be the most important part?)

4. Do the sources used seem to be trustworthy? When the writer refers to a source, is it clear to you how that source/information relates to what the writer is saying?

5. Look back at the rubric/assignment sheet. Do you think there are any specific areas of the rubric the writer could improve on? Does there APA formatting seem to be correct?

6. Are there any places where you think the writer could expand, or any places where they seem to get off topic?

Module 6 (April 25-May 1): Writing Time!

This week, we’ll be drafting our final papers!!!

There are several different due dates within this module, since there are several components. Feel free to turn things in late if you are not able to complete them on time, with no penalty. However, those of you who have chosen to participate in peer review should honor your commitment to your groupmates and prioritize giving them feedback above other work for this course, because that impacts others, not just yourself.

Goals and Learning Objectives

  1. Evaluate different methods of outlining a final paper and create your own
  2. Begin synthesizing information learned through your research into a form appropriate for sharing with others! (In this case, an essay.)
  3. Practice critically evaluating writing through peer review and self-revision
  4. Practice your rhetorical skills by offering feedback to peers in constructive , clear, yet polite ways.

Overview of Tasks

  1. Orient yourself with a Writing Into the Week prompt
  2. Explore examples of real outlines that real undergraduates used to write final papers
  3. Outline your paper using one of the styles you looked at or by inventing your own outline form (due Monday April 27 by the end of the day)
  4. Read or Skim resources on MEAL Plan paragraph structure and incorporating evidence into paragraphs.
  5. Using your outline, begin drafting your paper. Turn in a partial draft via Blackboard. (Due Wednesday April 29 by the end of the day.)
  6. Attend optional Zoom class on Wednesday at 4:30 or watch the recorded video afterwards. I will be discussing introductions and conclusions and answering any questions you may have.
  7. For those of you doing peer review, write feedback for your classmates by the end of Friday May 1st. 
  8. Read about two more rhetorical strategies and post examples/analysis of each. (Due Friday May 1 by the end of the day.)

Step 1: Writing Into the Week

Please write for 5-10 minutes on the following prompts. I encourage you to leave your response as a comment on this post.

  1. What aspects of writing a paper do you often find challenging? (In other words, what are your sticking points?)
  2. What would be helpful to have or think about in advance in order to make these aspects easier?
  3. Are there any particular writing topics (some aspect of grammar, or paragraph structure, style, etc.) that you would like to learn more about/get extra guidance on?

Step 2: Explore Examples of Outlines

Some of you may have already looked at these when I posted them earlier this week. For those who didn’t, please review the examples now. Decide what seems helpful or unhelpful to YOU and how YOU prefer to work as a writer.

If something seems too stressful and overwhelming? Don’t do it. If something seems like it will make writing easier for you? Do it! These are all examples, not the One Right Way to write an outline.

Step 3: Outline Your Paper

Following the instructions, write an outline for your paper. It can take any shape you want. Make something you think will HELP YOU as you begin drafting your paper. If it’s not going to be helpful, what’s the point?

It can be messy. You can write things like “Say something about ______ here.” Whatever works for you.

Step 4: Read Or Skim Resources

Some of you may already feel comfortable structuring paragraphs and incorporating evidence. Great! Some of you may be less sure. Please look over the following resources with the level of detail that you think is necessary:

MEAL Plan Paragraph Structure
Incorporating Evidence

Step 5: Begin Drafting Your Paper

I recommend you write until you feel Stuck, or write until you feel like you need a break and/or some feedback before you can continue. A partial draft can be as many or as few pages as you want, but it should be more substantial than your outline.

If you don’t feel ready to write the intro, that’s okay! Skip to the first body paragraph. Write what you can. This makes less work for yourself later.

When you decide your draft is as done as it’s going to be at this stage, please do the following:

  1. Turn it in using the Partial Draft link on Blackboard.
  2. If you are participating in peer review, share it with your groupmates. The form this takes will depend on the method for peer review your group has chosen. (I will be in touch with everyone who signed up soon about their groupmates and the form that works for everyone.) You may also want to include a note for your readers with specific questions you would like feedback on.

Partial drafts are due by the end of Wednesday, April 29.  This due date is especially important for those doing peer review, so that you give your peers enough time to give you feedback.

Step 6: Attend Optional Zoom Class (Or Watch Video Later)

I will host another optional Zoom class on Wednesday, April 29 at 4:30pm, our usual class time. I will be discussing tips for Introductions and Conclusions as well as answering any questions you have.

I will also post a video of Zoom class to Vimeo for anyone who wants to watch it later.

Step 7: Write Feedback For Your Classmates

I will email suggested peer review prompts when I send out the group information. Please give your feedback to your classmates by the end of the day on Friday May 1, unless you and your groupmate(s) agree on another deadline amongst yourselves.

Step 8: Rhetorical Strategies

Read about the Scarcity Appeal and How To Spot Fake News (as well as any of the links in the sidebar that interest you). Post 2 examples of each one + analysis as a comment on this post.

Note that emotional news is not the same as fake news, but news may play to your biases/emotions (appeals to pathos!) to convince you of something that is false or misleading.

Instructions for Outline + Examples

There are many ways to outline a paper. Some are formal and highly structured, and some are very loose, and most are inbetween! An outline can be mostly or entirely textual, or it can include visual elements. An outline can be a graphic organizer for essay writing that you find online and fill in like this, this, or this.

You may have never written an outline before, or not really know what to do for this assignment, so I’ve compiled some examples for you. These are only SOME of the ways you can outline.

An outline might not make sense to someone else who is reading it, because it’s notes the writer is leaving their future selves to help with the drafting process. As long as it makes sense to you, that’s what matters.


I will just be grading your outline on completion (did you do it) and detail (did you actually put time and effort into this based on your research so far), not on any specific form or formatting. You should make an outline that will help YOU write your paper.

Outlines will be graded out of 6 points. 2 for doing it, 2 for level of detail, 2 free points that would have been for turning it in on time, except there’s a pandemic so whatever.

Example Outlines from Person 1

Okay, I’m Person 1, and these are some of my outlines from my sophomore year of college.

Outline 1: Witchcraft Outline
I like this one because of the color-coding. I wrote the main ideas/section headers in black, all of the things I wanted to talk about in that section in blue, and the names of the authors I wanted to cite in red. I also wrote out my thesis in full at the top to always remind me of what I was trying to argue. It helped keep me focused.

Outline 2: Amanda Palmer Project Outline
In this one, I didn’t use color coding, just loose nests of bullets and main ideas. However, you can tell when I copy/pasted a quote from a source, because the font and coloring is different. I did this to remind myself of what quotes/examples I wanted to use as evidence in each section.

Example Outlines from Person 2

These are from a colleague of mine, also from her early years of college. Notice that she uses a much more formalized structure of headings and subheadings (numbers, capital letters, roman numerals, lowercase letters, etc.) than I do. In one case, she wrote her entire introduction as part of the outline.

Islam outline

ps35, paper1 outline

Example Outline from Person 3

This person uses the standard structure of a scientific paper (Intro/Methods/Results/Discussion) but then added sublevels of bullets to her outline based on her specific topic. (This was for an advanced research course where psychology majors had to design and conduct their own studies.)

APA Study Outline

Once she had her outline, she wrote her paragraphs in the same document underneath each subheading. By the end, she had almost an entire paper and just had to paste the paragraphs into another document and add transitions/formatting.

Same outline with paragraphs: Copy of Outline

Final Paper Instructions and Rubric

The official instructions and rubric for the final paper are below.

Please remember to fill out the peer review survey so I can put people into groups.

Reminder of Final Paper Schedule:

Annotated Bibliographies due Friday April 24
Outlines due Monday April 27
For those doing peer review, Partial Drafts due Wednesday April 29
Comments for your peers due Friday May 1
For everyonecomplete first drafts are due Monday May 4
For those doing peer review, comments for your peers are due Thursday May 7
Final Drafts due Monday May 11