Writing skills II

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Markus, Mimi. Write Time, Write Place. 2nd edition. (Pearson, 2015).

Online Component: www.mywritinglab.com
Welcome and Overview 2

Portfolio Partnerships 3

Policies for First-Day Handouts 3

Writing Assignments 5

Course Outline (Use this to prepare an outline for students) 7

Using Journals or Blogs 15

Grammar & MyWritingLab 16

Grading for Revision: Standard Editing Marks 18

Writing Skills II Special Issues (Exemption, ESL, Disabilities) 19

How to Use MyWritingLab for Timed Essays Assignments 20

Timed Essay Lined Paper (for Copying if Not Using MWL) 23

Preparing the Midterm Portfolio 25

Students’ Directions for Midterm Portfolios (for copying) 26

Sample Midterm Portfolio Cover Letter (for copying) 27

Midterm Comment Sheet for Portfolio (for copying) 28

Preparing the Final Portfolio 29

Student Directions for Final Portfolios (for copying) 30

Sample Final Portfolio Cover Letter (for copying) 31

Final Comment Sheet for Portfolio (for copying) 32

Student Evaluation Form (for copying) 33
Welcome and Overview
This packet provides instructors with guidelines regarding standardized curricular requirements, learning objectives, and assessment measures. 
The primary goal of Writing Skills II is for students to compose five-paragraph essays in various rhetorical modes.  Meeting requirements for organization, essay structure, clarity, development, and grammar, students compose six papers. They begin the course by mastering single-paragraph essays, consisting of a topic sentence (main idea), three major supporting details, and several minor details for each. After a couple of these short assignments, students make the transition to five-paragraph essays. There are no three or four-paragraph essays in this course.
Of the six required essays, most of them are revisable. Each revised essay assignment should include prewriting, outlining, drafting, revising, and editing (proofreading). Teachers should allow rough drafts, supplying feedback and allowing students to revise papers for a final grade. Students may then revise their papers for higher grades in a third draft if desired.
A couple of the six required papers must be timed. Written in class over 40 minutes, timed essays are not revisable; hence, they test a student’s ability to compose a paper without assistance.  For this reason, they are typically assigned after students have already revised a couple of essays based on their teacher’s feedback.  Timed-essay prompts consist of fairly simple college-level topics, and students don’t learn the nature of the writing prompt until the day of the assignment.
At the end of the semester, students select one revised and one timed essay for submission in their capstone project: a final portfolio. In each portfolio, students demonstrate their metacognitive awareness of themselves as writers.  Through a cover letter to an assessment committee of “portfolio reviewers,” students introduce their essays, explaining the writing process they used to compose them, and highlighting their strengths and weaknesses as writers.  To prepare for this major project, students also compose a mid-term portfolio earlier in the semester.  Comprised of fewer elements, it gives teachers a quick glance at a student’s current skill level, providing an opportunity for mid-term conferences and progress reports.
This course also uses Mywritinglab.com, which reinforces basic grammar instruction, teaching students to correct their own work over time. In mid-term and final portfolios, students include a print-out of their “mastered” grammatical subjects from this website and reflect upon what they’ve learned in their letter to reviewers.
More specific information is available about the portfolio content, weight, and assessment—as well as other course information—throughout this packet.
Portfolio Partnerships


The students’ portfolios are part of the Academic Skills English Department’s Portfolio Assessment and Faculty Mentorship Program, which won the Two-Year College English Association’s 2010 Diana Hacker Awards for Outstanding Programs in English.  Our Portfolio Committee consists of long-standing, dedicated adjunct and full-time faculty who act as second readers of our writing students’ mid-term and final portfolios. 


All Writing II teachers are assigned a “portfolio partner” from the committee.  This individual provides support, including recommendations about writing prompts, and answers instructors’ questions about classroom management, lesson planning, timed essay scoring, our learning management system (MyWritingLab), and—most importantly—portfolio eligibility, content, and assessment.  During the first two weeks of the semester, each writing teacher is contacted by a member of the committee to establish a meeting schedule and to learn any updates to the portfolio system.  Because we recognize that other schools, departments, and levels of writing may use different approaches to grading, teachers who are new to our department meet with their partners for an essay-grading calibration session to ensure that their grading is consistent with our departmental outcomes and standards. 


Whether new or seasoned, all teachers collaborate with their partners during the mid-term and penultimate weeks of the semester to agree on scores for the students’ portfolios.  This is helpful when a portfolio is not obviously passing or failing but on the “border” between these scores.  Moreover, partnerships ensure objectivity, allowing the second-reader to focus only on a student’s current skill level, not on his or her classroom behaviors, efforts, or progress.  The second-reader also supplies a score to the timed essay component of each portfolio, for this item is graded holistically according to a scale of 2 – 12 (two scores of 1-6 from each reader). More information on the grading rubric is available later in this packet.


Based in research and years of success, our Portfolio Program is student-centered.  Please think of each “portfolio meeting” as a professional development opportunity where ideas are exchanged and relationships are created. 

If you have questions about portfolios or Writing Skills II, please ask your portfolio partner for assistance. Meanwhile, you may also contact Christine Webster, the Writing Chair, at cwebster@camdencc.edu or Andrea Wilson, the Administrative Associate, at awilson@camdencc.edu

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