Wednesday, January 27, 2010


Cyber-post, due by February 1, 2010

Paraphrase five(5) new sentences from the text you chose. Compose both a literal and free paraphrase.

Post here and label with a heading: 1. Original text, literal paraphrase, free paraphrase; 2. Original text, literal paraphrase, free paraphrase and so on.

Before you post the paraphrases please respond to the following query: Talk about act of paraphrasing, both its literal and free forms. Discuss both forms difficulty and benefits, presently and over time. Post all on the blog here.

Continue working through the paraphrase package or section in SPHE. We want to complete this by Wednesday of next week. If when you complete the section in the textbook and want more practice, let me know. I can give you additional work.


Second week of classes, first full week

Today I finally had a chance to slow down and read the introductory letters from quite a few of you. The range of experiences and interests should make this semester one which is mutually rewarding and challenging for all. I hope we all stretch each other and ourselves to our full potential.

That said, we spent most of today in both classes reviewing paraphrasing and then practicing both the literal and free paraphrase. In the afternoon class a few new students joined us and we didn't get far in the composition process.

Homework is to paraphrase five(5) new sentences from the text you chose. Compose both a literal and free paraphrase for each of the five sentences. Before you post the paraphrases please respond to the following query: Talk about act of paraphrasing, both its literal free forms. Discuss its difficulty and benefits, both in the short and long term. Post all on the blog at the link above.

I want to thank those students who were so helpful to classmates who were struggling with translating the slang into Standard English, and others who were so patient when over half the class didn't do their homework in the afternoon class.

Let's not make the latter into a habit.

I noticed some students responded to the letter in yesterday's post. Re-post your responses to the letter where it is posted.

Field trip
I handed out fliers for our first field trip: Tim Wise at The lecture is Thursday, Feb. 4, 7 PM at the First Congregational Church of Oakland on 27th and Harrison in Oakland. The cost is $10. Let me know Monday, Feb.1 if you'd like to attend. Bring your money as well. I have to purchase tickets in advance.

I am still searching for a smart classroom for the English 201 10-12 class, but the afternoon class, 1-3 will meet in L-202 on Wednesdays beginning Feb. 3. We will walk over together the first day, Feb. 3, and meet there for the rest of the semester unless instructed otherwise.

Library Orientation
On Wednesday, February 17, we will meet at the reference desk for a 1 hour library orientation and then we will go to L-202E.

Next week we will continue paraphrasing and work on summarizing texts, and writing an essay where we use summary and paraphrase. Are any of you planning to watch the State of the Union Address? Heads-up...we will be reading it (smile).

Nothing disappears on the blog. Everything is archived, so when the post disappears, it is just archived and you can find it if you go to the month and year in the index located on the page here.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Homework was to bring in a published article, about 250 words minimally. Read the article. The afternoon class was asked to free paraphrase three paragraphs (of the article) or minimally 25 lines of text.

We completed some of the exercises in SPHE on paraphrasing. The pages in the book are: 339-370(2nd edition). I will have copies you can take home tomorrow for those who haven't purchased the book yet.

You need the book for the course. I will not be copying any more of the text after next week.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

January 20, 2010

Greetings Students:

Happy New Year! I hope 2010 brings a level of academic and personal competence you expect. I also hope this year has many residual pleasant surprises in store for you, the kind of surprises one finds when he or she works hard.

I am an easy person to talk to, and I am relatively flexible as long as standards are not compromised. Writing is a process which takes a certain level of practice; if students do not put in the time, desired results, like a passing grade, is impossible to achieve.

This semester we are looking at women who have accomplished much in the face of tremendous obstacles. There is only one assigned reader (I just added another book, read on).

I will pass out essays and poetry from time to time to augment this absence of texts you have to purchase. Each student will have the opportunity to read a book, an autobiography or biography about a woman they admire—preferably, the woman is alive and even living in Northern California. Students will write an essay about this person and make an oral presentation. This book can coincide with the social entrepreneur assignment, which looks at a person in the San Francisco Bay Area Community who as a business person is changing society in a positive way. This person can be an artist: performance or visual, an educator or a politician.

We will be reading and writing and thinking, and writing about what we are thinking, this semester. Get plenty of sleep; I expect you to be awake at 8 AM, 9 AM and 10 AM. I also don’t expect students who have the afternoon class to fall asleep. Lunch makes some folks sleepy and hunger in the morning does the same, so if you need coffee, bring it with you to class. Eat breakfast at home.

If you have taken my class before, we will be using the book: Stewart Pidd Hates English. For students who have successfully completed the book, they will write other essays and then use the SPHE model to critique their essays per my corrections. Such students will develop their own templates for the errors made, if any, of the essays written.

I usually have a theme, but outside of women, this semester will be about you. Each of us will set goals and develop plans to achieve these objectives. College is bigger than a passing grade; higher education is an opportunity I hope each of you is not too busy to take advantage of. Success in life is about developing relationships. So much of what we achieve is tied to who we know and the links we establish between the known and the unknown or what is possible. Another name for what is possible is opportunity.

I went to Dakar, West Africa, over the winter recess. I stayed with people I didn’t know; I knew someone who knew the person who knew the family and that person. In one instance, I met the person on-line. Of the three people, the only person I’d met before was Pape whom I’d met a year earlier at a conference. It was intuitive like this my entire visit. Without linguistic ability—no French and no Wolof, I was somewhat dependent on the kindness of a lot of strangers and it worked out. It was hard sometimes, and I got lost a lot when alone, but it worked and I made friends for life.

College is like that too. If this is your second semester and you don’t know any students, have any phone numbers or have any study buddies, then this is the semester to establish at least two relationships with peers. No one can get to the top alone, well maybe some people can, but it will be a cold and lonely walk on the moon.

We will look at personal responsibility and communication. We will also look at inspiration and how one stays motivated and inspired when it seems that you’re the only one who notices or cares. This is where the fan club or personal cheering section comes in handy.

I teach four classes: two English 1A –Monday-Thursday, 8-8:50 (meets in D206 4 Units 23043) and 9-9:50 AM (meets in D205 4 Units, 23044); English 201 A/B 10-11:50 MW (meets in D229 4 Units 230660; (201B 23074), and English 201 A/B MW 1-2:50 (meets in A213 4 Units 23067; 201B 23075). We will meet in a classroom with technology once a week, beginning in a couple of weeks.

I use technology a lot. For those students who are not technologically savvy; keep an open mind and you will leave the course more capable than when you entered. I’d also suggest enrolling in a basic keyboarding and/or computer class to get more practice. COA has computer labs which are free and available to students who enroll in a free course. Visit the open lab, in the L-bldg. to register for the course or see your counselor. Students cannot use the academic labs until enrolled, and it takes 24 hours for the enrollment to take effect, so don’t wait until the last moment like when a paper is due and you can’t use the lab to print it to enroll. The academic labs are on the second floor of the Learning Resource Center (LRC). The library is on the first floor.

What else?

I live in Oakland and have two daughters and a granddaughter whose birthday is Friday, January 22. She will be 7. I am going to her school for cupcakes. I am the eldest of four children and was born in New Orleans. Yes, my family was affected by Katrina. I lost family and all my family in parts of Mississippi and New Orleans lost homes. Most are back in their rebuilt homes in Mississippi and Louisiana.

I love to write and write professionally. While I don’t expect you to love it as much as I do, I hope you will come to find writing easier to accomplish and feel less intimidated by the end of the course. The plan is for each student to gain skills which will make him or her feel more adept at addressing the writing tasks students meet within and without the academy in their daily lives. Writing is communication.

Reading and writing and thinking are not limited to college. In western culture the text is the basis for all knowledge. If it isn’t in a book, information is assumed to lack credibility. The text is like a receipt for services. It is evidence that what you say exists. This is not true of all cultures. In some cultures, one’s verbal agreement is binding; not here. If one wants evidence or proof, it needs to be written down somewhere and at times, notarized (smile). When I was in Dakar last Friday, two men came flying out of a building, rushing to the mosque to meet with the imam to marry their children. There is often no license, just the agreement between the two heads of the family (fathers or male guardians), that their children can wed. The civic ceremony or paperwork happens later once the religious ceremony occurs. Oral contracts carry the same weight or perhaps more than the written word in this culture. I was raised this way also; what one said reflected one’s character—one’s word was one’s bond and I was taught that one should give her life before her word failed. Now I wasn’t going to kill myself, but just the idea made me stop and think before I spoke. I understood the importance of words, that one didn't throw them around carelessly. When I got older, I learned that this didn’t mean one was perfect and that retraction wasn't possible when one made an error. I learned that it was okay to correct statements uttered later when more information warranted a changed position.

My kids loved this—a mother who admitted she wasn’t perfect (smile).

That said, this is a portfolio based course, buy a travel drive and keep all of your work. Paper matters here. Do not throw anything away, especially graded work—keep all your drafts. Well before I start making this letter into a syllabus, which I will give you at the next meeting, let’s see, what else can I tell you?

I will not take it personally if you decide after this first class to take another one. We have many great teachers at the College of Alameda and in the Peralta College District, like Laney through the Tube, so don’t feel stuck. However, if you are stuck—this is the best time for you, as I said earlier, talk to me when you don’t understand a concept, if you are having difficulties in the class, or problems at home are spilling over into your academic life. I am not a therapist, counselors are trained in this field, but I can direct you to appropriate assistance if the problem is beyond my expertise. Dropping the class is always an option if you can’t give it 100 percent. I don't give incompletes.

If you are a returning student, let this be the last time you take this course. Complete it.

I know life happens, but life is going to continue happening. It keeps moving along whether you move or not, so set your goals, tell your family what they are, and ask for their support. Tell your family when you have a paper due, when you need to study, how to assist you in your short and long term academic goals, to keep the children off the computer, out of your hair and to respect your work.

It took me over ten years, I think 13 to get my BA because I got married, became pregnant and dropped out in my third year, then after having two children returned to college—from UC Berkeley to Merritt College and Laney and Contra Costa and Las Positas, then Holy Names College. I took my kids to college with me after I got off work, and then on alternative weekends I went to school as well. It only took me two years to complete the BA once I got back into a four year college, but I could have had a Ph.D. if I’d stayed focused and stayed single. But I like my children, they are good company and my granddaughter is a nice kid as well and I have friends who don’t have kids and they are lonely, so I am happy for the choices I made—since I can’t reverse them.

My choices are reflected in the population who attend community college. This is one of the reasons why I wanted to teach at this level--the other has to do with my commitment to adult and family literacy, but I am getting tired. I am tired of adults who want a free ride, who don’t like to work or apply the necessary effort to master the skills necessary to be a proficient writer. I am tired of students who tell me how they got As in high school or in their last college writing course and the teachers they had who lied to them and gave them grades which reflected a competency the writer lacked. I am also tired of students who think they can write and don’t read, who want to participate without doing homework who are not serious and waste valuable time, mine and yours and their own.

I am honest. I do not believe in social promotion and though I do not grade on curves, sometimes students work hard but lack the skills necessary to pass the class the first go round.

This is not a reason to give up. If you know you are not well-prepared or have areas or gaps in your skills, get a tutor, another free service you can ascertain with that course offered through the LRC. Don’t wait until half the semester is over, get help now. I am not a tutor or an editor. If grammar is an issue, take a grammar course or get extra help. Stewart Pidd Hates English, one of our books will help you identify errors in a character’s writing assignments and then you will use this skill to address your own errors, however for some students, SPHE is not a refresher, it is the first time they have addressed these concepts and the short chapters might not be enough practice. This is not cause for shame, the shame is not being honest with oneself and failing when one could have succeeded if he or she had asked for assistance. We move along at a certain pace and often students mistakenly think SPHE is easy and let the work slip and then get behind and find catching up almost impossible.

I wish I didn’t have to use SPHE. Some students hate SPHE, but so many students do not know how to write an essay which doesn’t contain: confused words, subject verb agreement or pronoun agreement issues, MLA or works cited problems, oh and the big thing, plagiarizing; a lot of students plagiarize because they don’t know the difference between a free and literal paraphrase. SPHE addresses all of this in nonsense essays written by a nincompoop, Stewart Pidd, who hates English. You get to grade him and then justify his grade ‘cause he just might contest it.

For the English 1A class we are going to use Half the Sky Ale House collection of poetry 2009. The books will be in the college book store. You can pick up Half the Sky at any good book store, like the one on Park Street or in Shoreline Mall. You can borrow Half the Sky from a public library, if money is an issue. I plan to get a couple of copies of SPHE toput in the library and Writing Center. The first edition is there already. I think there are 2-3 in reference. Just ask for them.

The third book is your choice, start looking now for a book about a woman you admire. For English 201, the books are in the college bookstore. Oral Lee Brown has adopted entire classes and put children through college. Isabel Allende is a wonderful writer and philanthropist. Favianna Rodriguez is a fabulous artist who is one of the founders of East Side Arts Alliance. Angela Davis has done tremendous work to abolish the prison industrial complex. Diana Block is a wonderful activist for women's rights, board member of California Coalition for Women Prisoners, especially women inside and has a new book out, Arm the Spirit, about her activism work and subsequent imprisonment (Weather Underground), Halifu Osumare, scholar has written a book about hip hop as a global movement. She teaches at UC Davis and started Citidance in Oakland. Then there is Alice Walker, and Genny Lim and Avotcja, not to mention the filmmakers, educators, retired revolutionaries--just kidding, I don't think revolutionaries retire, like Kiilu Nyasha former Black Panther Party member and journalist, and Gail Shaw, MD, also a friend to the Party (Honkies for Huey).

For my English 201 folks, you will also have to read another book about or by woman you admire. The book can be fiction or nonfiction. It needs to be good literature though. If you need a suggestion let me know. I just remembered that I wanted to use a graphic novel, but maybe I’ll do this in the fall. So as it stands, the second book is your choice. Today is the first anniversary of President Obama’s term in office. I remember last January 20—the year seemed to have passed very quickly.

I hope none of you has family in Haiti, if so, I want to offer my condolences and hope for more efficient and speedy aid. People are suffering unnecessarily. Students who have taken my course before need to purchase, Diana Hacker’s Rules for Writers. Everyone needs a dictionary. Carry your dictionary and Hacker or SPHE to class daily. You also need Half the Sky. We will start the book immediately.

When the anniversary of the war, March 18-19 rolls around we will remember it with poetry which captures its bitter taste. I will give you handouts. We will read Lysistratra in the English 1A class, another handout (website). I encourage students to bring laptops to class. Hopefully we can go to a play or a film, a poetry reading, a lecture or an art show together. If you do any of these things and write about it, you can get extra credit.

For English 1A, SPHE is a refresher. I hope to breeze through it in six weeks once we start. We will also look at themes of love: agape, philia and eros as addressed by Martin Luther King Jr., in one of his speeches and then students will write an argument favoring one of the types of love over the others. Another notable occurrence this semester is the anniversary of the genocide in Rwanda.

For those students who have completed SPHE, I will have you work in groups, writing essays on other related topics, which students will then critique and analyze similar to the way Stewart Pidd’s essays were analyzed. I write for a newspaper (San Francisco Bay View) and have an Internet radio show, "Wanda's Picks," that broadcasts twice a week: Wednesday mornings, 6-7:30 AM and Fridays, 8-10 AM. I am here M-Th, not on Fridays. A good way to reach me is to call me. Call me after you have spoken to your classmate whose number you will get when we do our introductions next week. I don’t mind students calling me, but choose your moments wisely. I do not let others waste my time; it’s too valuable, more precious than gold. Sometimes people get their feelings hurt when I tell them so.

Textbook recap:

Stewart Pidd Hates English by Gary Politt and Craig Baker (both classes, those who haven’t already completed it)

Diana Hacker’s Rules for Writers (English 1A and English 201B if you have completed SPHE)

Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide
by Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn (both classes)

Alehouse Number 3 2009 “Poetry on Tap” (English 1A)

A college dictionary
A notebook
A folder for completed work
A stapler
Pencils and blue and black ink pens
A travel drive to save work on the computer

The class blog for English 201 is

The class blog got English 1A is

My email address is: (I have a account but I don’t check it regularly. My office number is (510) 748-2131. Don’t leave messages on the phone. Call me on my cell. I will give you the number in class.


Respond to my letter on the blog. Tell me about yourself and your plans for this semester and how this fits into your overall plans for college and life. Don’t forget to tell me which section (time) your class meets and for English 201, whether you are in 201 A or 201 B, and what section for English 1A.

Monday, bring in a news article about something of interest to you (minimally 250 words). Read the article first. We are going to practice paraphrasing: literal paraphrasing and summarizing. For English 1A bring in a magazine length article—several pages. Read the article in advance.

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