Monday, January 29, 2007


Monday, January 29

Today in class we reviewed the definition of argument in reference to a cover story from the East Bay Express, November 9, 2006: The Making of a Criminal by Kathleen Richards Students looked at the cover of the newspaper and reflected on the visual argument presented.

We came up with the following definition of argument: A discussion of differing points of view; a controversial opinion; a debate over a subject where there are 2 or more sides; a debatable subject or issue; "a course of reasoning demonstrating truth or falsehood; a persuasive reason" (American Heritage Dictionary).

"In argumentative writing you take a stand on a debatable issue" (Hacker 344).

After jotting down their reflections, students then responded to each other's responses with a counterargument.

We started a grammar quiz which we will complete on Wednesday.

Lastly, we reviewed the exercises in Writing with a Thesis pp. 1-10. Homework is to read and answer all the questions for pp. 10-21. Additionally, students are to bring in an example of a visual argument to class to share.

Students need their Rules for Writers, dictionary and WWT daily.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Today in class we reviewed what a thesis sentence is. Briefly stated it is "the basic stand you take, the point you make about your limited subject. It's your controlling idea, tying together and giving direction to all the separate elements in your paper. Your primary purpose is to persuade the reader that your thesis is valid" (from Writing with a Thesis 3).

Students had an opportunity to access the President's website and watch or read his speech then respond to the questions listed in a separate entry on this website. Even if you are not comfortable with calling a professor, I can't help you when you run into snags between classes if you don't call.

I check email on Tuesdays and Thursdays during my office hours, but this might not be soon enough for your more pressing issues or questions.

Homework, due Monday, January 29, is to read the Introduction to Students and from pages 1-10 in WWT. Also complete all the exercises. As a rule, you can write the answers in the book in pencil for all exercises this applies to.

Monday, January 22, 2007


Homework due Wednesday, January 24

Homework for Tuesday, January 23 is to watch President Bush's State of the Union Address. When I checked the website for, the time listed is 6 p.m. tomorrow on Channel 5. He'll be on all the channels though. Listen to the analysis afterwards too. I like to listen to KPFA radio, 94.1 FM.

As you're listening to the speech, take notes. Use these notes as evidence to support your responses to the questions.

Now consider the following questions:

What were the salient elements of this speech? What was its purpose? Was the speech organized in such a way that you could easily discern what he was trying to prove? Explain.

Was the evidence sufficient and effective?

Do you agree with his claims?

Was there anything he failed to cover that you were waiting to hear? If so, what was this?

Talk about the delivery. Was the president calm, poised, confident, nervous.... How do you know this?

Be prepared to share your 250 word essay response with classmates on Wednesday.

Students, you can post your responses to the questions. It's fixed!

Thursday, January 18, 2007


Homework Due Monday, January 22

Assignment: The question relates to the theme this semester: Nature vs. Nurture. Is the protagonist in Grazed by a Bullet a victim of circumstances or did she make a bad choice? Defend your answer with evidence from the story. Respond in an essay (250 words min.) This is not an on-line assignment. It is due Monday, January 22.

Here are the links for the YO! articles, just in case you couldn't find them. The story: Grazed by a Bullet wasn't at

Here it is: Grazed by a Bullet by Labrittany Beene

Here is Blood in My Eyes by Amber Johnson

Here is a link to a 4-Part series on gun violence at New American Media (YO! is a part of the same organization).

Got Shot: The Series


College Event

Peralta Association of African American Affairs (PAAAA) is hosting its first Peralta Colleges African American Student Orientation at the Laney College Forum Building, Saturday, Janaury 20, 2007, 9 a.m. to 12 noon. Parking is available behind the Henry J. Kaiser Auditorium @ 10th Street.

There will be refreshments, door prizes (must be present to win).


Tuesday, January 16, 2007


Assignment 1

Respond to three of the following prompts beginning Monday, Jan. 22-Wednesday, Jan. 31:
Then respond to three prompts posted by classmates. Put your initials on your reponses along with the meeting time: English 201A or English 201B, 10-12 or 1-3.

1. Why is writing important? What can you do because you are literate, that is, able to read and write?

2. Is it possible to be objective? Why not?

3. Words are powerful. When are we responsible for the lives we impact or the situations we create with language?

4. Have you ever been at a loss for words? Is this the situation that erupts into violence?

5. Human beings are multilingual, we speak with more than our mouths. Describe a situation where someone communicated something to you using inaudible language.

6. In communication there is always an audience. One can generally tell when he or she is being spoken to, whether that is an advertisement or a friendly greeting from an aquaintance. How do you know when you are the intended audience?


Welcome New Students

Hi English 201 students!

Often students don't speak to me about a problem until it is beyond their control. I want to encourage you to visit my office hours and to communicate with me, especially when you don't understand an assignment or when you're feeling frustrated and want to give up.


Pick up the phone and call me. I will give you my cell phone number at our first meeting. Please don't hesitate to use it.

With that said. Please check the blogger account a few times a week to keep current on class activities. I would also like students to discuss assignments here. I will ask students to post work also.

Here is the course syllabus:

English 201, Spring 2007 College of Alameda
Professor Wanda Sabir
Class Meetings: Jan. 17-May 22, 10-12/1-3 (Classroom assignments and class codes vary)

Holidays:1/15, 2/16-19,5/18 Spring Break:4/2-8, Staff Dev.: 2/28,4/26
Final Exam Week: May 21-25

Syllabus for English 201A/B: Preparation for Composition and Reading
The English 201 series (3 units, 4 beginning Spring 2007)is a preparatory course designed to emphasize the thinking, reading, organizing and writing skills required for successful execution of college-level papers in all subject areas. This course is designed to for those students requiring minimal preparation for entering English 1A.

Absences must be kept to a minimum. If you miss 6 consecutive hours or 8 cumulative hours you will risk being dropped from the course, doing poorly or both. English 201 consists of weekly essays and daily assignments. This is a portfolio driven class. Keep all of your written work, graded and otherwise to turn in the last day of class. There will be an assessment, a midterm, a research project, a final and a class presentation.

This semester we will look at the topic “nature vs. nurture.” Are we doomed at birth from circumstances beyond our physical, emotional, or biological control, or do we have a choice in the outcome? Is destiny an evolving concept a mixture of the predetermined mixed with limited choice? Can we change the direction of history or our lives if we are determined and have access to the necessary tools or support?

Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein is a book about a doctor, one might say mad doctor, who creates life and then abandons his responsibility for it. He doesn’t love his “monster.” This creature, who is not innately evil or bad, could be a catch-all for all the children we know with parents who have abdigated their responsibilities as guardians and teachers, the result— deviant, defiant or damaged children who misbehave.

Our other novel, Jurassic Park looks at the notion that scientists can resuscitate a dead species, yet can’t necessarily control what the impact of such reintroduction of lets say a dinosaur, could mean to the planet and its inhabitants. At a certain point, once something is created, we cannot completely control what happens after that. Shelley’s novel also touches on this. Dr. Frankenstein didn’t know when he pulled the lever to quicken the heart of the creature he’d made that it would be able to feel, think, reason and love.

Course Objectives
English 201 will look primarily at writing which persuades: argumentative writing, as well as expository writing, narrative and descriptive writing. At the end of the course students will have read work of accomplished writers, as well as practiced writing in a variety of styles to suit the writer’s purpose.

Student Learning Outcomes
At the end of the course students will also have an altered or heightened awareness of the world around them, especially discourse: speech and text. Students will see that everything is an argument, whether that is a cartoon, advertisement, or lyrics in a song. Students will be able to analyze and critique each incident or contact to evaluate its author’s purpose, audience, and evidence to determine whether or not such goal was met and if appropriate, act accordingly.

This course is intended to be both a group learning experience as well as an individually rewarding one. Mid-semester we will schedule conferences so students can confer with the instructor to evaluate his or her progress in the course. Classroom instruction will consist of lectures, small group work, and students working in pairs. This is an effective way for students to exchange ideas with classmates, compare reactions to readings and practice giving and receiving constructive feedback on class work.

Preparation for class, regular attendance and active participation is imperative for those students who wish to succeed in this course.

It is a student’s responsibility to contact the instructor if he or she plans to miss class. The student is responsible for all materials and information given during the class time, so please get telephone numbers for three (3) classmates in case you are late of absent. You will not be able to make up in-class assignments when you miss class.

Requirements for homework assignments:
Not late papers are accepted unless arranged in advance. Any papers below a C grade are an automatic revision or rewrite. Essays under 500 words (750 words for English 201B students) will not be accepted. (Put a word count on the upper right corner of page 1.) Choose topics which give you enough to write about. We will use documentation to substantiate all of our claims. With this in mind, I expect all papers to utilize at least two (2) different outside print sources, in addition to the occasional interview, or broadcast journalism, that is, radio or television, internet also. You will learn to document sources; we will practice citing sources in text, using footnotes and endnotes, and writing bibliographies and notes pages. Remember save all your work! This is a portfolio course.

Research Project
Your research project will entail finding a social entrepreneur who has been active in his or her community for at least 20 years and have documented resources you can draw from: books, essays, articles, films.
The paper will be about 4-6 pages. This will include a works cited page and bibliography. Students will make 5 minute presentations of these papers on the day of the final. The paper will be due about two-three weeks prior to the presentation. We’ll discuss this task further later on.

New Heroes
Visit “The New Heroes,” to read about social entrepreneurs. (I’ll show you a few episodes from the series.) Too often people feel helpless or hopeless when there is a lot you can do as an individual as soon as you realize the answer lies inside of you. If possible chose an entrepreneur who lives in Northern California, someone you’d like to interview and perhaps meet.

Students can work on the project together, share resources. Each person has to write his or her own paper, but you can make a group presentation if you like.

Library Sessions: TBA

Writing with a Thesis: A Rhetoric and a Reader. Ninth Edition. Sarah E. Skwire. David Skwire.
Rules For Writers. Fourth or Fifth edition. Diana Hacker. Bedford/St. Martins.
Frankenstein. Mary Shelly. Bantam Classics.
Jurrassic Park. Michael Crichton. Arrow Books.

Students also need a dictionary. I recommend: The American Heritage Dictionary. Fourth Edition. Along with a dictionary, the prepared student needs pens with blue or black ink, along with a pencil for annotating texts, paper, a stapler or paper clips, floppy disks, a notebook, three hole punch, a folder for work-in-progress, and a divided binder to keep materials together.

Personal Goals
Jot down briefly what your goals are this semester. List them in order of importance.






Please put your name, mailing address, phone number and e-mail address on the card you’ve been given, then answer the following questions on a separate sheet of paper or index card (handed out):

What strengths do you bring to the class? What would you like to leave with once the class ends? What can I do to help you achieve this? Is there anything I need to know, such as a hidden disability, childcare issues, etc., which might jeopardize this goal?

First Assignment is on-line at:

Textbooks and other essay assignments: 15 percent
Jurassic Park and Frankenstein essays: 15 percent
Midterm: 10 percent
Final: 20 percent
Research Essay/Presentation: 10 percent
Portfolio: 15 percent
Peer Reviews from Lab teachers: 10 percent
Participation: 5 percent

The Writing Center
The Writing Lab is a great place to get one-on-on assistance on your essays, from brainstorming and planning the essays, to critique on the essay for clarity, organization, clearly stated thesis, evidence of support, logical conclusions, and grammatical problems for referrals to other ancillary materials to build strong writing muscles such as SkillsBank, the Bedford Handbook on-line, Diana Hacker’s Rules for Writers on-line, Townsend Press, and other such computer and cyber-based resources. Call the Lab for a current schedule. Last semester the hours were: M-Th 9-7, Fridays 9-2, (510) 748-2132. There is also an Open Lab for checking e-mail, and a Math Lab. All academic labs are located in the Learning Resource Center (L-Building) second floor.

Students need a student ID to use the labs and to check out books. The IDs are free and you can take the photo in the F-Building, Student Services. There is also a Cyber Café in the F-Building on the second floor in the cafeteria area.

Have a tutor of teacher sign off on your essays before you turn them in; if you have a “R,” which means revision necessary for a grade or “NC” which means “no credit,” you have to go to the lab and revise the essay with a tutor or teacher before you return both the graded original and the revision (with signature) to me. Revise does not mean “rewrite,” it means to “see again.”

When getting assistance on an essay, the teacher or tutor is not an editor, so have questions prepared for them to make best use of the 15 minute session in the Lab. For more specific assistance sign up for one-on-one tutoring, another free service. For those of you on other campuses, you can get assistance at the Merritt Colleges’ Writing Center, as well as Laney’s.

All essay assignments you receive comments on have to be revised prior to resubmission; included with the revision is a student narrative to me regarding your understanding of what needed to be done; a student can prepare this as a part of the Lab visit, especially if said student is unclear over what steps to take.

Students can also visit me in office hours for assistance. Again, prepare your questions in advance to best make use of the time. Do not leave class without understanding the comments on a paper. I don’t mind reading them to you.

We will be evaluating what we know and how we came to know what we know, a field called epistemology or the study of knowledge. Granted, the perspective is western culture which eliminates the values of the majority populations, so-called underdeveloped or undeveloped countries or cultures. Let us not fall into typical superiority traps. Try to maintain a mental elasticity and a willingness to let go of concepts which not only limit your growth as an intelligent being, but put you at a distinct disadvantage as a species.

This is a highly charged and potentially revolutionary process – thinking, analyzing, evaluating. The process of evaluating all that you swallowed without chewing up to now is possibly even dangerous. This is one of the problems with bigotry; it’s easier to go with tradition than toss it, and create a new, more just, alternative protocol.

Grades, Portfolio
We will be honest with one another. Grades are not necessarily the best response to work; grades do not take into consideration the effort or time spent, only whether or not students can demonstrate mastery of a skill - in this case: essay writing. Grades are an approximation, arbitrary at best, no matter how many safeguards one tries to put in place to avoid such ambiguity. Suffice it to say, your portfolio will illustrate your competence. It will represent your progress, your success or failure this summer session in meeting your goal. I like to post essays on the academic blog as examples for other students. I will be asking students from time to time to submit copies for posting.

Office Hours
I’d like to wish everyone good luck. I am available for consultation on T/Th 10:30-11:30, 1-2, and by appointment in L-236. Let me know the day before, if possible, when you’d like to meet with me. My office number is (510) 748-2131, e-mail

I don’t check my e-mail on weekends so I’d advise you to exchange phone numbers with classmates (2), so if you have a concern, it can be addressed more expediently. Again study groups are recommended, especially for those students finding the readings difficult; don’t forget, you can also discuss the readings as a group in the Lab with a teacher or tutor acting as facilitator. Keep a vocabulary log for the semester and an error chart (taken from comments on essay assignments). List the words you need to look up in the dictionary, also list where you first encountered them: page, book and definition, also use the word in a sentence. You will turn this in with your portfolio.

Students are expected to complete their work on time. If you need more time on an assignment, discuss this with me in advance, if possible to keep full credit. You loose credit each day an assignment is late and certain assignments, such as in-class essays cannot be made up. All assignments prepared outside of class are to be typed, 12-pt. font, double-spaced lines, indentations on paragraphs, 1-inch margins around the written work (see Hacker: The Writing Process; Document Design.)

Plagiarism is ethically abhorrent, and if any student tries to take credit for work authored by another person the result will be a failed grade on the assignment and possibly a failed grade in the course if this is attempted again. If you want to sign up for Credit/No Credit inquire at the Admissions office.

If you do not identify the assignment, I cannot grade it. If you do not return the original assignment you revised, I cannot compare what changed. If you accidentally toss out or loose the original assignment, you get a zero on the assignment to be revised. I will not look at revisions without the original attached - no exceptions.

All assignments completed away from class should be typed. Use blue or black ink when writing responses in class. You can annotate your books in pencil.

Also stay abreast of the news. Buy a daily paper. Listen to alternative radio:
KPFA 94.1 FM, KQED 88.5, KALW 91.7. Visit news websites:, Al Jazeera,,,,, CBS 60Minutes on-line.

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