Wednesday, August 28, 2013


Homework Recap

We didn't get to the Martin King "I Have a Dream speech," so perhaps some other time. If any student wants to do an extra credit essay which reflects on the State of the Dream today, please feel free to do so.

Homework is to continue in Pidd. (Hope to see some of you at the Pidd Intensive Workshop tomorrow afternoon, 12:30-2 p.m. in A-205.

Next week, at our one class meeting Wednesday, Sept. 4, we will review the Pidd exercises and start Essay 1, Sentence Punctuation. All students have to do is complete the exercises. We reviewed "Paraphrasing and Plagiarizing" exercises today. We also completed the MLA Essay and Title Quizzes.

Most students did well on both.

In the handout from Reading to Write, many students had not had a chance to read the essay. Homework is the complete the essay, do all the exercises and chose one of the two writing assignments, write a 250 word (min) essay, and bring to class for Wednesday.

The MLA should be perfect (smile). Double spaced, 12-point Times New Roman font, 1 inch margins, the header and heading and title formatted correctly as well. 


Writing Workshop Starts Tomorrow Thursday, August 29, 2013, 12:30-2 p.m. in A-205

The plan was to give students the Grammar Exam 1, but we have run out of time this week. Tomorrow at the Pidd Workshop, 12:30-2 in A-205, we will start with an assessment.

Bring the book Stewart Pidd Hates English to the workshop if you have rented or purchased it. Believe me, the workshop will not hurt your performance and actually probably boost your grade an entire letter grade.

If you come to English composition from a second language, I highly recommend you take the workshop. You will probably be able to help classmates, since second language learners are usually very good with grammar. 

Tuesday, August 27, 2013


Week 2, Day 2

Monday in class we started with the essays written for homework in response to the assignment from Reading to Write, Composition in Context: "Family Literacy" (16). We reviewed the section in chapter 1 which looked at Critical Reading (5). Students commented on classmate's papers and then wrote a summary of their essay.

Students turned both their original and students comments into me. Homework is to read the next section: "Ways to Write" (17-35.) Complete the exercises on pages 26 and 30.

In class we will talk about the blessings associated with writing according to Svoboda (smile).

Other homework is to continue in Pidd, the section on Paraphrasing (pp. 339-380). If students complete this section before tomorrow, start from the beginning of the book: Confused Words and work up to Essay 1: Sentence Punctuation (p. 31.) We will review exercises tomorrow in class.

Students were also asked to read the essay in the Auxiliary on MLA for Essays (p. 311-317.) Complete the exercises. There will be a short quiz on Wednesday as well.

We will read and talk about Martin Luther King's I Have a Dream Speech and the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington (August 28, 2013-August 28, 1963). There have been many activities connected to this event.

I Have a Dream: (watch it here)

For information, visit

Wednesday, August 21, 2013


Day 2

Today in class we met in A-232 to practice responding to the class blog: Students composed a response to Assignment 2 in the syllabus which was to write a response to the syllabus. I suggested a three paragraph response to three aspects or sections of the syllabus. It is up to the students which sections he or she would like to comment on, for example: textbooks, assignments, and Student Learning Outcomes.

Students were shown how to write a heading on their papers and how to insert a header (last name and page number starting with the first page).

The heading is:

Student Name
Professor Sabir
English 201 A or B
Day Month Year
Assignment Name

Writing Assignment Title

The heading is justified left and double spaced in the papers. In blog posts, this spacind might get lost. That's okay. Also, students do not have to include a header on blog posts.

After we reviewed this assignment and some students completed it, we shifted to the homework, where students shared their responses to the Family Literacy essay in the handout I gave students Monday.

Students then responded to one of two writing assignments on page 16. Homework is to complete the short essay (250 words, perhaps 3 paragraphs). Bring the typed document to class Monday for a peer review.

There were a few new students in class. I told students who wanted to add the class and needed permission numbers that I would give them permission numbers when they purchased the textbooks. About four students went to the book store after class and returned for the permission numbers (smile).

For those students who purchased Stewart Pidd this afternoon, homework is to read and complete the exercises in the Ancillary on "Plagiarism and Paraphrasing" (339-379). Students should complete this section by Wednesday of next week (August 28).

Bring any questions to class Monday. We will begin reading Virgin Soul mid-September. I would like us to run through Pidd in six weeks (smile). It depends on how much of this material is new information as to how fast we can run the book. If you need extra help, use the Writing Center to complete the assignments.

For those who do not have the book, SPHE is on reserve in the Reference Section of the Library (L-Bldg.) Start the work now as well.

By Monday, students should have responded in a short essay to the syllabus and emailed me an introduction. Both these assignments are in the syllabus.

Look here tomorrow for a more detailed outline of the Pidd assignments and a reading schedule for Virgin Soul. I will also give students paper copies of this, along with when the other two essays, Book Report and Social Entrepreneur are due. Start thinking about what book you'd like to read for essay two now. .

I had fliers for students interested in the Virgin Soul reading at the main library next Wednesday with author Judy Juanita. This should be pretty exciting. August 28 is also the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington and Dr. King's "I Have a Dream Speech." The following day, August 29, 2013, is the anniversary of Hurricane Katrina.

Monday, August 19, 2013


Day 1

Today in class we reviewed the syllabus which I have edited below. I left out an assignment, which is now included in the revised syllabus.

Homework was to email an introduction of yourself and response to the questions asked in the syllabus. Additional homework is to read up to page 16 in the handout from the textbook, Reading to Write. Answer the questions in the handout. You do not have to write the essay. Students will write a short essay in class on Wednesday in response to the exercises on page 16.

Students spent time in groups getting to know each other. We listed questions on the board like: What book have you read lately that took your breath away? If you knew me, you would know that I ____________? What is your major? Where are you from or what is your ancestry? Do you speak other languages than English? If so, which languages? Why are you taking this course? What are your hobbies?

Students then wrote a paragraph about the group and one person shared the introductions. If any group wants to post their paragraph here, please do so.

The author of Virgin Soul, Judy Juanita is giving an author talk at the Main Library in Oakland (14th and Broadway) next week, August 28, 2013, 6-7:30 p.m. I handed out fliers to students. Let me know if you are planning on going. If you go and write about the event and your experience, you can have extra credit.


Course Syllabus Fall 2013

English 201 Syllabus, Fall 2013
College of Alameda
Professor Wanda Sabir

English 201A Preparation for Composition and Reading (concurrent enrollment for both sections)
ENGL 201A - (40013) MoWe 1:30PM-3:20PM A 202

ENGL 201B - (40017) MoWe 1:30PM-3:20PM A 202
Class Meetings: August 19-Dec. 13; Holidays: 9/2; 11/11; 11/28-Dec.1

Finals Schedule:
Final Exam Week of Dec. 10-13. English 201 Final: Wednesday, Dec. 11, 12 noon to 2 p.m.
(Portfolios due Friday, Dec. 13, 12 noon.)

Drop dates: Sept.1 (w/out “W” and a refund); Nov. 16 (w/W). Sept. 8: Last day to file for PASS/NO PASS Grading Options for Regular Session Classes

Syllabus for English 201A/B: Preparation for Composition and Reading

The English 201 series (4 units) 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 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 presentation of the research essay.

Stewart Pidd Hates English

Stewart Pidd Hates English is a workbook which looks deceptively easy; however, students need to pay attention to the details. The fictional character, Stewart Pidd, hates English, so he doesn’t spend the necessary time to complete his writing tasks. He’d rather do anything instead of writing, and his grades, you will notice, reflect this. The essays you analyze are not deep so don’t worry about content; the authors want you to practice the grammar lessons Stewart Pidd has not mastered. These grammar assignments might be ones you don’t remember or remember only vaguely. The goal of the book is to help you identify these errors in your own writing in your revision process, so you don’t make the same mistakes Pidd makes.

Grammar is not the most important aspect of writing. Having something substantive to say is, however, if you make too many grammatical errors, your audience will often not know what it is you want to communicate.

Virgin Soul or Essay 1

Essay 1, after we complete the SPHE workbook will take its topic from Virgin Soul, a coming of age story set in the San Francisco Bay Area.  Virgin Soul is by Judy Juanita, faculty at Laney College. When I read this novel earlier this year, I knew I’d like to use it as one of my textbooks this fall. In the story we meet a young woman who is a native Oaklander who is smart and daring and willing to take risks which in the process helps her come to know herself better.

In a review of the book, I wrote: The novel, Virgin Soul, is a tour de force featuring Geneice Hightower who takes us on a journey through the Black Arts, Revolutionary Movements of the '60s, most notably the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense. Up close and personal, this old soul in a young body, smart and cute and hip, when she needs to be, innocent and fierce yet always honest, is a for real foot soldier movement woman, who attends Oakland City College, hosts Stokely Carmichael (Kwame Ture) at her flat, which becomes a SafeHouse. She learns to clean and assemble guns, dodges police bullets, graduates from San Francisco  State, feeds kids breakfast, tutors in Bayview Hunter's Point, recites poetry, gets laid, and ultimately finds herself (smile).

To listen to an interview with the author, visit:

Essay 2 (Student Choice)

The second essay students will write is the Book Report Essay. Students can choose an autobiography or biography or a work of fiction to examine a character whose life and work challenges an unfair system either civic/governmental, economic, social or political.

The book needs to be approved first.

Third or Final Essay

Students will look for a person whose business or organization or movement has impacted society in a positive way, similar to the work of Huey P. Newton and the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense. Note the party’s 10-point program. However the organization created by Huey P. Newton and Bobby Seale was bigger than the two men and the work continues to have an impact globally today. Note: United African Alliance Community Center in Tanzania (UAACC). The paper will be about 2-4 pages. This does not include the works cited page and bibliography. Students will make 5-10 minute presentations of these papers 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 to read about social entrepreneurs. has another program call: Frontline World which also explores social entrepreneurship or engaged citizenry. Visit: We will explore this assignment more, later in the course.

Why socially responsible economics?

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 choose 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. (If you have taken a class from me in the past, chose another subject.)

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.

This course is intended to be both a group learning experience as well as an individually rewarding one. Mid-semester students can schedule conferences 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 or absent. You will not be able to make up in-class assignments when you miss class.

Requirements for homework assignments:

No 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 end notes, and writing bibliographies and notes pages. Remember save all your work! This is a portfolio course.

All essay assignments you receive comments on have to be revised prior to resubmission; included with the revision is a student narrative or correction essay to me regarding your understanding of what needed to be done; a student can prepare this as a part of the Writing Center visit (see below), especially if said student is unclear over what steps to take. SPHE will assist students with this response.


These often daily assignments are posted on the class blog: To post comments select “ANONYMOUS,” and then type your name in the post. Students do not need to get Gmail accounts. I read the cyber-assignments. If a student wants specific feedback from me ask. For many of the assignments, students are to engage each other (min. 2) in conversation.

Library Orientations:

We will write short essays that reflect themes and ideas discussed that week. Some of these essays will be written in class and posted on the class blog:

The research essay will be an argument. There will be a midterm (SPHE) and a final (portfolio essay and presentation) along with a Book Report Essay which is a biography or autobiography.

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






Homework Assignment 1:

Email the following data to me by August 20, 2013:

Please include: your name, mailing address, phone number and e-mail address, along with answers to the following questions.

What strengths do you bring to the class? What skills or knowledge 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?

Homework Assignment 2:
Respond on the blog to the syllabus, so I have a record of your reading it. Make sure you include examples from the syllabus to support your points. The response is due by August 21, 2013, 12 noon.

Write a comment to me regarding the syllabus: your impressions, whether you think it is reasonable, questions, suggestions. This is our contract, I need to know you read it and understand the agreement.


Weekly essays: 20 percent
Cyber Assignments: 10 percent
Midterm: 10 percent
Final: 15 percent
Research Essay/Presentation: 5-10 percent
Portfolio: 15 percent

Office Hour Visits or instructor contacts (5 for the semester): 5-10 percent. This includes a reflection on the visit sent as a follow-up.

Each book (Virgin and Book Report Essay) will have collected writings or essays. This in itself is its own “portfolio.” The essays which take their themes from the books are practice essays, and are about a fourth of your grade, your midterm and final are another fourth and your portfolio is the final fourth. (Save all of your work.) You can average the grades to see how to weigh the various components.

The Writing Center is a great place to get one-on-on assistance on your essays, from brainstorming and planning the essays, to critique in areas like clarity, organization, clearly stated thesis, evidence or support, logical conclusions, and grammatical problems. In the Writing Center there are ancillary materials for student use. These writing programs build strong writing muscles. The Bedford Handbook on-line, Diana Hacker’s Rules for Writers on-line, Townsend Press, and other such computer and cyber-based resources are a few of the many databases available. There is also an Open Lab for checking e-mail, a Math Lab. All academic labs are located in the Learning Resource Center (LRC) or library. The Cyber Café is located in the F-bldg.

Again, students need a student ID to use the labs and to check out books. The IDs are free. Ask in Student Services (A-bldg.) where photos are taken.

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 15-20 minute session in the Lab. I will give you a handout which looks at 5 areas of the essay you can use as a guide when shaping your questions for your peer review sessions. Please use these guidelines when planning your discussions with me also.

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 College’s Writing Center, as well as Laney College’s Writing Labs.

Correction Essays or Essay Narratives

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, that is, a detailed list of the error(s) and its correction; a student can prepare this as a part of the Lab visit, especially if said student is unclear over what steps to take. Cite from a scholarly source the rule and recommendations for its correction.

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 reviewing them with you.

Student Learning Outcomes:


Analyze and evaluate a variety of written material for relevance and validity in

academic, professional and social situations.


Compose and critique written responses to reading materials and scenarios in

academic, professional and social situations.

Critical Thinking:

Synthesize information from a variety of sources and formulate original ideas

based on evidence in academic, professional and social situations.

Diverse Perspectives:

Recognize the vastness of perspectives in today’s society and integrate those

perspectives into a personal world view.

More on grades and 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 session in meeting your goal.

In past semesters, students have skipped the portfolio and/or the final. Neither is optional.

Office Hours

Students are encouraged to drop by and visit me at my office hours at least twice this semester. Come prepared with questions. It is a good opportunity to get to know one another. My office is located in D-219 (an office space with a separate entrance.)  Office hours will be Thursday 2-4 by appointment, Wednesdays, 3:30-4:30 p.m. in D-219 located in the D-216 suite.

My campus number is (510) 748-2286. Leave messages on my cell number. I am available on Monday afternoon by appointment after 3:30 p.m. as well. Tuesdays I am available by appointment after College Hour. I will give students my mobile number, please use it to text and call when you have questions.

The email I check is: Let me know the day before, if possible, when you’d like to meet with me. I am more of a phone person.

Take time to exchange email and phone numbers with classmates (2), so if you have a concern, it can be addressed more expeditiously. 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. There are study rooms available in the library. Ask at the reference desk.

More on Logs

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, to keep full credit. You lose 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 SPHE.


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. This is a graded course. There might be an option to take this course C/NC. See Admissions and Records.

Textbooks Recap:

Juanita, Judy. Virgin Soul. New York: Viking, 2013. Print.

Pollitt, Gary, and Craig Baker. Stewart Pidd Hates English: Grammar, Punctuation, and Writing Exercises. Fullerton: Attack the Text Publishing, 2011. Print.

Students also need a dictionary. I recommend: The American Heritage Dictionary. Fourth Edition.

Hacker, Diane. Rules for Writers. 6-7th Editions. Boston/New York: Bedford/St. Martins. Print.

The Prepared Student also needs . . .

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, a jump drive to save work from college computers, a notebook, three hole punch, a folder for work-in-progress, and a divided binder to keep materials together.

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

The syllabus and course schedule is subject to change, at the instructor's discretion, so stay loose and flexible.

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