Category Archives: Assignments

This category is for me to use when I post instructions for assignments. Please do NOT use this category when you post assignments on the website.

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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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.

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

Imaginary Interview Instructions

The imaginary interview is one of the 8 assignments the English department requires from all 101 students. (Due Monday 4/20 by the end of the day).


  1. Review the sources you think you are planning on including in your annotated bibliography.
  2. Choose two or three sources to work with for this activity.
  3. Write an imaginary conversation where you interview the authors of your sources about the topic of your final project.
      • You should ask at least three open-ended questions that allow the authors to give complex, interesting answers (3 points)
      • Each of the authors should respond to each of your questions, giving a complex, interesting answer (6 points) (So, you write a minimum of 6 responses total)
      • One of the authors should respond directly to the other author’s comment at least once (1 point)
      • The assignment should be turned in on time (2 points)

Total: 12 points

To complete this assignment, you must think about each author’s point of view (based on what they wrote/said in your source) in order to imagine (as accurately as possible) what they would think/say about your questions.

It also might help to consider, if you were actually interviewing those two people, what would be interesting to hear both of them talk about?

Format the interview like a script. For example:

Scripted Interview Formatting Example

Olivia: What is the most important thing you have learned in college so far, and why?

Student 1: I learned that I have to be really careful about planning my time, because it’s easy to get behind, and if you’re behind, you don’t have time to do a very good job on your assignments or think about them a lot. So you learn less, even if the material is easy.

Student 2: I learned a lot about the history of the American justice system and how it came to be the way it is, all the things we inherited from English Common Law, and also what we took from the Iroquois League’s constitution. I hadn’t even thought about the question in terms of life skills– I thought she was just asking about the content of the classes we’ve taken.

Student 1: Oh, that makes a lot of sense. And I’ve definitely learned useful stuff in my classes. But since I’m still in my general education classes, I think the skills I’m practicing are the most important, since they will be important for me to use in my major classes later on.

Annotated Bibliography Instructions and Rubric

The annotated bibliography is not due until Friday, April 24th. You have 3 weeks to work on it. However, because this week (I’m writing this on April 3) is reserved as research time, I wanted to make sure you have these guidelines well in advance so you know what you’re working towards.  


**But also see below for an Alternative Option**

  1. As you research your inquiry question for your final project, compile a list of sources (bibliography) that help you answer your question and/or provide useful background knowledge for you and your readers.
  2. Cite each source according to APA style.
  3. Below each citation, write a paragraph or so about that source (an annotation). The paragraph should include:– A summary of the source
    —Your thoughts on the source (How do you think you will use it in your paper? What biases do you think it might have? What are its strengths, and what are its weaknesses? How does it connect to your other sources?)

Other Guidelines:

  • At least 6 sources + annotations
  • At least half of the sources should be scholarly/found through the John Jay library databases. The other half can come from wherever as long as you think they are trustworthy.
  • In addition to writing each citation in APA style, you should also include these other aspects of APA formatting: title page with title, name, university, and any author’s note you want to include, correct running head on all pages, page numbers, correctly titled References page


Complete an APA-style bibliography without the annotations.

Then, create a video in which you show each source and verbally talk through the source and your analysis of it according to the guidelines for annotations above. You can do this via screencasting (built into iPhones and Macs, not sure about PCs and Androids) or by taking a video of your computer screen using your phone. It’s totally fine if the video is informal/unedited, but you can make it fancy if you want to.


Each source + annotation includes all required parts (citation, summary, your thoughts)
(3 points per entry = 18 points, but 1 point off per source that doesn’t meet the scholarly vs. not scholarly requirements. Make sure you have 3 scholarly sources—the other 3 can be scholarly or non-scholarly)

  • Source 1 ___
  • Source 2 ___
  • Source 3 ___
  • Source 4 ___
  • Source 5 ___
  • Source 6 ___

Total for this section: ____

Every other element of APA style listed in the instructions is met: 9 points

  • Title page ___
  • Title ____
  • Name ___
  • University ____
  • Author’s Note (if applicable) ____
  • Correct Running Head First Page ____
  • Correct Running Head Subsequent Pages ____
  • Page Numbers ____
  • Beginning of bibliography is titled “References” ___

Turned in on time (3 points) ____

***Due to the many serious ways the pandemic may be affecting our lives, if you turn it in late, I’ll just grade you out of 27 instead of out of 30. It’s sort of 3 free points, but each other aspect of the rubric affects your grade on the assignment a tiny bit (0.5% per point) more. I wanted a way to incentivize turning it in on time to keep folks on track and make my grading life easier without hurting those who can’t due to factors outside of their countrol.***

Total: ____ (out of 30 or 27 points)

Proposal for the final project (draft)

The topic I would like to conduct my research about is serial killers in popular media.

The reasons why I decided to choose this particular topic are out of my personal interest in Serial offenders and it is relevant to our course since it is going to be an analysis of media and the way they deliver information about serial killers to masses.

The main questions I would like to focus on are:

  • What exactly makes serial killers such a desirable topic of true crime tv shows, documentaries, books, etc. Why not other crime offenders – like frauds, human, drug, weapon trafficking, etc.
  • The way media portray serial killers and the way it is been perceived by people
  • In what range are heavily academic terminology Is used by media and how it affects the way information is perceived.

The two main reasons why I decided to choose this particular topic are out of my personal interest in Serial offenders and it is relevant to our course since it is going to be an analysis of media and the way they deliver information about serial killers to masses.

However, besides that there is one more reason worth mentioning: on the popular streaming platform such as Netflix, Hulu, Amazon prime video, etc., whenever we enter the true-crime or documentary section, majority of the content is related to serial killers and/or serial homicide (in case if the person killed not enough people to be clarified as a serial killer or cold cases without killer’s identity).

Most of the people can list at least 5 serial killers – Jeffrey Dahmer, Ted Bundy, John Wayne Gacy, Albert DeSalvo (aka Boston Strangler) and Dennis Rader (aka BTK killer) – are the most famous killer in the U.S. and I am not even counting Zodiac killer, who was never caught but remains a popular figure in the true crime world. But for instance, how many names of the famous Drug Lords ordinary people know? Except for Pablo Escobar? Even though there are quite a lot of active Drug Cartels such as Sinaloa, Tijuana, Gulf, Juarez Cartels.

I’d like to focus on Q#1 since it has been questioned, I was wondering about for a while now. But I may change the focus of my study for this project if I won’t find enough literature on the question.

In terms of the research process – I will use my own books about Serial Killers and Serial homicide for essential information and terminology. As for exploring the topic of the questions – I would dig into the library in order to find related articles, dissertations, and even books. I already started to do so and I found a few interesting works that may help me in my research but I can’t say that for sure at this point because I didn’t have a chance to analyze those articles carefully.


Proposal Instructions

Here are the instructions for the Proposal, with revised deadlines to account for CUNY’s new “Recalibration Period.” You are more than welcome to post early if you don’t want the new surprise “break” to complicate your routine even more.

**Post your first draft of your proposal (or just your inquiry questions) on the Course Site by the end of Monday, March 30, give feedback to your classmates, and then upload your final draft to Blackboard by the end of Thursday, April 2**

If you have a question about any aspect of the instructions or rubric, please leave it in the comments!