Category Archives: Instructor Announcements

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.

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.

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

Module 5 (April 20-24): Just Keep Swimming

This week you’re just working on your annotated bibliographies and doing another set of rhetorical devices! Thanks to everyone who has turned in their Imaginary Interviews and Cognitive Biases examples.

Please complete the Peer Review Survey asap so I can put people into groups.

Rhetorical Devices Readings:
“Euphemisms” and “Transfer”

Examples/Analysis due as a comment on this post by the end of the day April 24.

Annotated Bibliography Instructions/Rubric
Also due by the end of the day April 24

See Module 4 for instructions on formatting and citations.

As always, you can schedule a time to chat with me here.

Survey: Peer Review for Final Paper

Originally, we were going to do mandatory peer review for the final paper during the last week of April. Now, that idea just seems unfeasible, given the global situation and the various ways it might be impacting everyone’s lives.

However, because I believe peer review can be a very useful tool (both in terms of getting feedback AND in terms of practicing analyzing others’ writing), I still want to offer that opportunity to anyone who wants it.

Therefore, please fill out the survey below to tell me what you would like to do!

For everyone who says they would like to be in a peer review group, I will split you into groups of 2 or 3 based on your topic and let you know who you are paired with. I will send peer review instructions/prompts next week.

**Please fill it out even if you do not want to participate in peer review.**

Final Paper Peer Review

    "Work for you" means you have the technological capacity AND feel comfortable using this method, even if it is not your first choice. Please check all that apply.

APA Lesson and Master Doc

This post is a repeat of everything from my Blackboard emails– repeating just because different people have different notifications/email settings, and I want to make sure everyone has access.

The link to the APA Lesson (recorded Zoom class) is here:

It will ask you for a password. The password is in your Blackboard announcements– I’m not posting it here because our site is public and the video is private since the faces of the people who attended live class are shown.

I’m also attaching below a “Master Doc” of all online activities/assignments/rubrics that we’ve done since CUNY closed down, in case you want to download that and find it easier to navigate than the course site.

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.

Module 4: Citation Styles and APA Formatting

This week, we’ll be learning about citing, why citation styles are the way they are, and APA formatting more specifically. Tasks are due by the end of Monday, April 20, with an optional Zoom class on Wednesday, April 15.

You will also complete another one of your Required Portfolio Assignments, the “Imaginary Interview.” The citation activities will prepare you to write the “bibliography” part of the annotated bibliography, and the imaginary interview will prepare you to write the annotations.

Learning Objectives

  • Students will understand the value of not only citing, but citation styles
  • Students will be able to critically evaluate the features and purposes of different styles
  • Students will be able to apply APA Style to their own research sources
  • Students will continue their rhetorical study by learning to identify cognitive biases in the world

Overview of Tasks

  1. Orient yourself with a Writing Into the Week prompt (share only if you wish)
  2. Play a citation explorer game to learn your Citation Style Match
  3. Watch a YouTube tutorial on APA style paper formatting
  4. Attend an optional Zoom class on Wednesday, April 15 OR watch the recording of Zoom class on your own time to learn about APA style citations
  5. Read about cognitive biases and share two examples + analysis
  6. Write an “imaginary interview” with two or more of your sources (due Monday April 20 by the end of the day)

Step 1: Writing Into the Week

Spent 5-10 minutes freewriting. Freewriting means writing about whatever you want, as meandering as you want. But make sure you keep writing the entire time– I recommend setting a timer.

Step 2: Citation Explorer “Game”

Play through this Citation Explorer “game” to discover what citation style best fits YOU and why. Make sure you read the introduction and the explanatory material at the end.

Step 3: Watch a YouTube Tutorial

On the final page of the Citation Explorer, there are links to two YouTube tutorials for APA formatting (one for Google Docs and one for MS Word). Please watch whichever one matches your software– you can also follow along by doing the steps while you watch. I recommend doing this if you can, so that you don’t have to do it again when it’s time to write your annotated bibliography. Go ahead and get this part out of the way.

If you write using another program, watch either video just to learn about the different formatting elements. Most text editing applications (like Pages, etc.) will let you do all of the same things– the menus will just arrange things differently.

If you mostly do your work on your phone/a tablet, but you do have limited access to a computer, I recommend you just do all of the writing first, like normal, and then do all of the formatting at the end on the computer.

If you don’t have computer access, I think all of the same features in Google Docs can be used in the mobile app– it just might be a bit of a pain. Just do your best.

Step 4: Attend Zoom Class or Watch the Recording

I will be hosting class on Zoom on Wednesday, April 15 at our normal class time (4:30). We will definitely end “early” (before 5:45), though. The YouTube tutorials introduced you to APA paper formatting, but the purpose of this Zoom class will be to walk you through how to do APA-style citations.

If you’re not able to attend class live, that’s fine! I will be recording the class session and uploading it to YouTube, so just watch the video when you can.

Step 5: Read About Cognitive Biases and Post Examples

Read the Overview of Cognitive Biases  AND read through each of the 5 pages in the sidebar about specific biases (anchoring, sleeper effect, repetition, reactance, and declinism). Then, find 2 examples of people exhibiting these cognitive biases and post the examples + context + analysis as a comment on this post.

Step 6: Write an “Imaginary Interview”

The full instructions are here, but the general premise is this:

Pretend you are interviewing the authors of two or more of the sources you’ve found in your research so far. Ask them 3 or more questions about the topic you are researching. If they don’t directly address the question in the source, use the source to imagine what the author would/might say.

Both authors should respond to the same questions, and should also respond to each other at least once.

Do not spend more than 1 hour working on this step. 

Normally I would have us do this as an in-class activity with the option to finish it at home, so we would not spend more than 1 hour on it. I would rather you complete all elements of the assignment in a fast, not-very-detailed way, than have you only get part way through because you’re trying to be very detailed and do your best work. Please don’t do your best work. Just complete it.

This is due Monday, April 20 by the end of the day, submitted on Blackboard.