Writing skills II

Policies for First-Day Handouts

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Policies for First-Day Handouts

  1. Include your contact information, including your Camden County College email address. If you like to use text-messaging, we suggest using apps like Remind.com. Office hours aren’t required of adjuncts, but if you have hours in the lab or a place you are before of after class, you are welcome to include this.

  2. Include the textbook and online website information.

  3. Teachers often include the course’s goals and requirements. Your portfolio partner can provide a sample and help you to ensure that yours are consistent with the master course syllabus. If you require students to keep a journal blog, include this in your handout with information the students can refer to later. (See “Journals” in this packet).

  4. Clearly state your attendance policy: the general college absence policy is that students who miss two weeks (6 hours) of a 15-week course will earn an NA (Not Attending). Some teachers allow make-ups by using the Learning Labs. You, as the teacher, however, have the final say on your policy, provided that it is not more restrictive than the standard.

  5. Make your grading policies clear: To pass Writing Skills II, students must have a passing final portfolio, no exceptions. If the portfolio passes, the student might receive an A (90-100%), B (80-89%), or C (70-79%). If the portfolio does not pass, the student must receive either an F or an MP (Making Progress) and will have to repeat the course. Students with failing class averages are not eligible to submit final portfolios and should not be allowed to do so. Many faculty members believe that if a student has handed in all assignments including a final portfolio, then an MP, while still failing, represents the student’s effort better than an F. (Students who have never attended earn an XA; students who stop attending receive an NA.)

The majority of a student’s final average should be the average of the six essay grades. The remaining percentage is at the discretion of the instructor and can include items such as journals, quizzes, homework, and/or MyWritingLab exercises. Students are required to work on the MWL website, and we suggest making the overall MWL exercise average a portion of the final grade. Below is an example of one way to calculate the final average:

  • Essays 75%

  • MyWritingLab.com Exercise Average 20% (or 15% if using a journal)

  • Quizzes/Tests 5%

Revisable assignments earn a letter grade (A through F). Some teachers prefer to use R for revise/rewrite on the first one or two assignments when a paper is not of passing quality. It creates a supportive atmosphere in which the student understands that the paper needs more work, yet it doesn’t appear as punitive as an F. Timed writings are scored with a holistic scoring rubric (6 through 1). Students scoring a 0-3 have been placed in Writing Skills II. Therefore, for this course, we can interpret the rubric as follows:

Holistic Score

Letter Grade




100 (unexpected in ENG-022)



95 (unexpected in ENG-022)



90 (occasional in ENG-022)













*Note: two readers might give different holistic scores to a timed essay, resulting in a composite score (i.e., 2/3). This slightly alters the interpretation of the letter grade and percentage for calculation purposes (i.e., B-, 80%). If you want a second reader for a timed essay, ask your portfolio partner.

  1. Provide students with information about Learning Lab locations and hours for extra help with MyWritingLab and assignments.

  2. If possible, sometimes a motivational phrase can make your first day packet a bit less intimidating.

Writing Assignments

Writing Skills II requires a minimum of six writing assignments. Students begin with well-developed, one-paragraph essays and move toward the five-paragraph model after mid-term. The sample week-by-week course outline that follows indicates a way in which this can be done. If you want to begin with the five-paragraph format from the start of the class, that is permissible, but you might find that students with lower skills struggle and become frustrated and might need extra help or adjustments.

AT LEAST TWO OF THE SIX ASSIGNMENTS SHOULD BE TIMED. Do not give timed essays back to the students until they need to include them in their final portfolios. Since they are not permitted to revise them (and we want to prevent their losing them), most teachers choose to control this process. Students should have experience with all aspects of the writing process and be allowed to revise all but the timed essays. As always, your assessment of the students’ needs should be taken into account. If the class is doing well, move toward more challenging topics and longer papers. Timed topics, however, should be easily addressed in five-paragraph format.
Feedback. When giving feedback, make specific comments about how to clearly express the main point, thoroughly develop the point with specific details, and logically organize points and details. Provide line-by-line proofreading, at least initially, so students know where their mistakes are and how to correct them (Proofreading guidelines are provided in this packet). By all means, give students opportunities to revise, edit, and resubmit papers for improved grades since our program emphasizes writing-as-a-process. Grades should be an average of that for the original paper and that for the revised version; grades based on only the revised version or on versions that are too heavily influenced by the teacher, a tutor, or someone else, lead to unrealistically inflated expectations and possible problems with the final grade. Instructors should conference with students, which can be done during class time.
Avoiding/Detecting Plagiarism and Cheating. Of course, we want to avoid student plagiarism. In an effort to prevent that from occurring, begin by making students aware of the CCC policy on Academic Honesty (from page 37 of the Student Handbook):

All students are expected to do their own work. All forms of academic dishonesty are absolutely forbidden. Students who cheat, plagiarize or commit other acts of academic dishonesty will be subject to immediate disciplinary action. This may result in an automatic grade of ‘F’ for an assignment and/or for the course. Academic dishonesty may also be subject to addi­tional penalties as determined by the College in accordance with sanctions for violations of the Student Code of Conduct.

Make your policy on this issue clear in your course handout, and announce it on the first day of the course and repeatedly throughout as due dates arrive.

Students who struggle with writing skills can be tempted to take the shortcut of trying to pass off someone else’s paper as their own. A way to prevent this and to detect when it has occurred is through a plagiarism-detection program. CCC has a turnitin.com account that you can use at no cost. It is user-friendly, so students can easily post their final drafts on the site by required due-dates that you set in advance.

MyWritingLab has a feature that allows you to set up writing assignments as well. A turnitin.com-check is built into this feature. If you use MWL for students to submit their papers, you do not need to also use turnitin.com separately: use one or the other.

When do I teach the 5-paragraph format? The first half of the course concentrates on teaching effective paragraph structure, specifically topic sentences, supporting details, and transition words and phrases, while the second half focuses on five-paragraph format. Some instructors prefer to teach the five-paragraph essay structure from the beginning. Others prefer to address sentence-level issues and paragraphing in the shorter, one-paragraph assignments. Either approach is fine as long as by the end of the semester, the student can write a well-developed five-paragraph essay. See sample five-paragraph format included in packet.
What about ‘reading-based’ essays? Reading-based essays are not mandatory in Writing Skills II. Writing Skills III is where students focus on reading-based essays.
Notes on Rhetorical Strategy Assignments:

  1. NarrationA narrative essay is not the same as a creative story. The text must conform to essay organization, which requires a topic sentence or thesis. While drafting, students often come to the point of their story at the end; instruct them to move the point to the beginning (first sentence of a one-paragraph essay or last sentence of the introduction in a five-paragraph essay). Please note that if you permit students to include their narratives as their midterm portfolio essays, your portfolio partner won’t be able to assess their ability to organize information according to sub-points. Students may still use them in their portfolios, but be sure to assign an illustration piece as early as possible in the semester.

  2. Illustration/ExampleRequire students to use specific details to develop the examples. Each body-paragraph needs a number of examples. Transition words help students to keep this organized.

  3. Process Students can organize this essay by dividing the process into preparing, doing, and completing the task.

  4. Definition – This topic is typically a subjective definition, such as success, happiness, healthy lifestyle, good parent, etc.

  5. Division and Classification The essay must have clear categories noted in the thesis and topic sentences; otherwise, don’t pass it.

  6. Comparison and ContrastStudents often have difficulty organizing this one. THIS ESSAY MUST CONSIST OF FIVE PARAGRAPHS, NOT FOUR. Do not permit the students to write separate body-paragraphs about each subject for comparison (ex: one about apples and another about oranges). Rather, the thesis must mention both subjects, and the topic sentences must mention both as well, under general topics. Each body-paragraph must spend an equal amount of time discussing each subject for comparison under that paragraph’s sub-point.

  7. ArgumentWriting teachers need to respond to more than just grammatical issues, especially in argument essays. Arguments are opinions that must be supported by factual evidence. Provide appropriate feedback if your students write gross overstatements or fail to provide evidence.

Course Outline

Note: Please create YOUR OWN outline for students with actual due dates based on the semester calendar provided in your first-day packet. Provide that to your students so they can refer to it throughout the semester. If you have never taught the course before, ask your portfolio partner for a sample. All REQUIRED MyWritingLab work is in bold. RECOMMENDED MyWritingLab work is also listed.
WEEK 1 Intro to Course; MWL Registration & Introduction; Writing Sample; MWL Diagnostic Pre-Test

Before the semester begins, prepare a course guide with your contact information, policies, and outline of day-by-day lessons and assignments to distribute on the first day of class. Please spend time going over it on the first day of class, so students are aware of what is expected of both them and you.

During Week 1, help the students to create their MyWritingLab account, and assign the Path Builder diagnostic test to be completed in class by the end of week two. They will work through their Learning Path throughout the semester, completing each of the skill areas not mastered on the Path Builder. Corresponding MWL topic numbers are listed on this course outline. Students may work on this at home if needed.

It also helps to assign a timed, in-class diagnostic essay during the first day or first week of class. The department provides a prompt in your first-day packet. Students can submit their diagnostic essay on the lined paper in this packet (You will need to copy or print it for them), or you can set up a timed writing assignment in MWL (See “How to Use MWL for Timed Assignments” in this packet). The diagnostic essay is scored using a 1-6 holistic scale (See the separate scoring rubric on the department website). Diagnostic essays will permit you to provide students with a list of their strengths as well as their areas for improvement in writing, and they will allow you to learn which topics to cover in class more thoroughly than others. Moreover, diagnostic essays will provide you with a sample of the students’ writing, which may be helpful for purposes of comparison if plagiarism is suspected at a later date; for this reason, you may want to keep the diagnostic essays throughout the semester. Be sure to discuss the students’ results with them, though, through conferences or written comments that they can keep. You might also photocopy the essays, giving one copy to the students and keeping the other for yourself.

WEEK 2 Writing in College (Ch. 1 and MWL 5.1 and 5.2); Prewriting the Paragraph (Ch. 2 and MWL 5.3 and 5.5) OR Writing the College-Level Essays (Ch. 5 and MWL 7.1, 7.2, 7.3, 7.4); Simple Sentences (Ch. 18 and MWL 1.2, 1.6, 1.11, and 2.1)
Note: If you chose to begin with five-paragraph essays instead of single paragraphs, please teach chapter 5 this week instead of chapter 2. Otherwise, begin chapter 5 after midterm. The chapters on patterns of development (chapters 6-14) all cover paragraphs and essays.
Students need to understand and utilize the writing process as it is laid out in chapter one. You can use the diagnostic essay they wrote last week to have students apply these basic concepts for practice. How might they have changed their diagnostic submission if they had more time to use the writing process?

You might have them try prewriting by exploring the topic of Essay 1 (see options listed in Week 3) as a way of practicing one or more prewriting methods.

Students should also understand the definition of a sentence and the elements that create a simple sentence. They will build on the simple sentence in future chapters.
WEEK 3 Organizing & Drafting the Paragraph (Ch. 3 and MWL 5.4, 5.6); Revising, Editing, & Proofreading the Paragraph (Ch. 4 and MWL 5.7 and 5.8); Compound Sentences (Ch. 19 and MWL 2.3 and 2.11); ESSAY ONE: Illustration (Ch. 6 and MWL 6.3)
This week, students should work on organizing their paragraphs and revising them. You can teach students to write, rest, and then write again. Often, students complete work the night before it is due. We want to show them that writing a rough draft and then taking a break from it can help them to revise more efficiently, and can actually save them time in the end.
Students can begin their first writing assignment in week two when they learn prewriting techniques. This week, they can work on developing their ideas and refining their points. Please select an illustration prompt from the revised writing assignment prompts provided below.
Illustration Assignments

  1. Provide three examples of why you dislike your current job or why you like your current job. You must choose just one of these approaches, not a mix of both.

  1. Describe someone you know as being ONE of the following:

Snob Fun Lazy Compassionate

Hard worker Successful Sensitive Uptight/Anxious

  1. Provide examples of three ways a business or school can improve customer service. This should not be a complaint essay. You will need to explain the negative aspects of customer service so that you can accurately explain the ways the business can improve.

WEEK 4 Complex Sentences (Ch.20 & MWL 2.2); Correcting Fragments, Comma Splices, Run-Ons (Ch. 21)
Students should now be able to correct fragments and run-ons by using coordination and subordination as well as the other methods explained in chapter 19 and 20. This is a good time for students to examine their previous essays for these specific sentence-level issues and correct them. You can do this as a journal assignment or classroom activity. Students pick two to three original (incorrect) sentences and correct them. They can also reflect upon their changes and why they made them (related to a certain coordinating conjunction or element of punctuation). Some teachers also do a “grammar jeopardy” game during this time to go over key grammar aspects before paper number two.

WEEK 5 ESSAY TWO: Narration (Ch. 7 and MWL 6.2);
Students can practice what they have learned about paragraphing and/or essay writing to complete one of the narrative revised topics provided below.

Narrative Assignments

  1. Through the narrative format, tell a story about a challenging day or event that you experienced from start to finish, focusing only on information pertaining to the challenge, your anticipation of it, the actual event, and the aftermath.

Examples: your first time learning to drive a car or a manual (stick-shift) car; the day when you took your driving test; the time that you had to break up with your ex-boyfriend or ex-girlfriend; the day that you had to host your in-laws; the day that you played a championship game; the day you learned to ski; the time when you had to make peace after a fight. (Be prepared to recall specifics).

  1. Through the narrative format, tell a story about a terrifying day or event that you experienced from start to finish, focusing on information pertaining to the terror and the events leading up to it.

Example: an experience of needing prompt medical attention
*Caution: For the above topics, maintain your story to one calendar day, only.

  1. Tell the story of a time when you made a bad decision that you wish you could take back or handle differently.

WEEK 6 Subject/Verb Agreement (Ch. 22 and MWL 2.4); Revising Essays 1 and 2 (MWL 7.5 and 7.6)
Students should begin to think about which revised essays they would like to use in their midterm portfolios. By now you might have identified exemplary students who could possibly exempt Writing Skills 3. Please talk to your portfolio partner about this as early as possible so that he or she can guide you through the process. The department provides an exemption packet with handouts to help students through the learning labs, or you can get this from your partner.

WEEK 7 Midterm Portfolio Submission; Pronouns (Ch. 25 and MWL 1.4, 2.8)

Students will need this week to create and submit their midterm portfolios. Please print the following materials (from this packet) for students as needed: Creating a Midterm Portfolio, Midterm Portfolio Comment Sheet, and Sample Midterm Cover Letter. You will receive folders from the department secretary; please have students label the folders in class. Students need to revise their essay submission and write a cover letter. Then, they should spend at least one class period revising their essay submission and one class period writing their cover letter. Students will submit an essay with a draft and a clean, correct copy of the paper. Cover letters must be written in class. You may not line-edit their cover letters, but they are permitted to proofread one another’s. Also, you may suggest that they further-edit the letter before submitting it if you see that there are excessive patterns of error.

If you assign journals, a time-saver is to check them while students work independently. Most teachers just comment on one entry with enthusiastic, supportive language.

Please note: Midterm portfolios should be discussed with students during individual conferences. You may conference outside the classroom while students catch up on MWL work or complete other class work. Do not let students leave with their portfolios; collect and retain them until final portfolios are due. This is also a good time to let students know how they are doing in class based on their grades and their portfolio.

Students should try to master pronoun usage including consistency and agreement. You can also discuss the use of apostrophes with possessive pronouns.

WEEK 8 ESSAY THREE: Description (Ch. 8 and MWL 6.1); Writing Under Pressure (Ch.15); Verb tense (Ch. 23 and 24 and MWL 2.5)

We recommend essay three be a timed, in-class essay. Do not tell the students the topic until they are ready to begin the essay in class, and provide at least 40 minutes for this timed piece. Some students have anxiety about writing a timed essay; you can teach chapter 15 to give them guidelines for timed writing.

Descriptive Assignments

  1. Write an essay describing the best house or apartment in which you have lived.

  1. Write an essay describing the best party you have ever attended.

  1. Think of the most exciting, most enjoyable, or weirdest place you have ever visited. What are the qualities and features that give the place its special character? Write a descriptive essay that will allow a reader to share your impressions of the place.

There is a considerable amount of grammatical work to be done in chapters 23 and 24. Students will need time to practice these skills in class and for homework. Students in Writing Skills 2 struggle to master verb tenses, for example.

WEEK 9 ESSAY FOUR: Comparison and Contrast (Ch.10 and MWL 7.11); Parallelism (Ch. 32 and MWL 2.10); Writing College-Level Essays (Ch. 5 and MWL 7.1-7.4)-if not already completed

This week students are moving from expository writing to analytical writing. They will start by comparing and contrasting. Please choose from the options below. We recommend that you assign a revised essay for this prompt, but if you choose to do a second timed essay, you can use one of the prompts below.

Comparison and Contrast Assignments

  1. Choose two sports and compare them in terms of which one is more exciting than the other. (TIMED)

  1. Write an essay in which you (respectfully) compare two teachers or two classes. (TIMED)

  2. Write an essay that contrasts two individuals who have had an influence on you. Demonstrate how one individual was a positive influence while the other was a negative influence. (REVISED)

  1. Compare the qualities of a talented cook to the qualities of an untalented cook. (REVISED)

  1. Choosing which one you think is the more rewarding experience, compare watching TV to reading a book. (REVISED)

WEEK 10 ESSAY FIVE: Classification (Ch. 11 & MWL 7.12); Adjectives & Adverbs (Ch.27 & MWL 1.10);

Now, students should understanding the processes of comparison, so they will learn classification next, which will require them to compare and/or contrast more than two items. Teaching adjectives and adverbs works well with this unit because students learn about comparatives and superlatives, which will give them the language to use when writing about categories.

Classification Assignments

  1. Write an essay that explains three different types of transportation (automobile, bus, bike walking, airplane, moped, etc.) Describe each type and tell which one you prefer. (TIMED)

  1. Write an essay that classifies three different types of TV shows. Consider the length of the show, the audience, the storyline, the actors, and other characteristics of categorization. (TIMED)

  1. Classify three types of fashion that a student might see among classmates in college. (Note: Do not focus on social status but on style, like the “gothic” style or “preppy look”).

  1. Classify three types of restaurant servers (waiters or waitresses) in terms of the quality of service they provide on a scale from excellent to poor. You may use examples from your own experiences at various restaurants to support your points.

WEEK 11 Spelling and Capitalization (Ch. 30 and MWL 3.7 and 4.2); Revising Classification Essay

Again, students may revisit previous essays to improve their spelling and capitalization. Urge students to look at essays they are currently revising for their final portfolio for places where they can improve spelling and/or word choice. You can incorporate the use of a thesaurus when discussing these issues.

Encourage students to examine details like capitalization, spelling, sentence style, and vocabulary to refine their writing. MWL contains a number of activities related to these topics.

If time permits, some teachers like to assign an extra-credit classroom activity called a puzzle essay. The instructor provides a model essay but the sentences are extracted, isolated, scrambled, and presented in a list. Students work in teams to decide how to reassemble the essay. A sample exists on the department website, but you may use any essay.

WEEK 12 ESSAY SIX: Cause and Effect (Ch. 12 & MWL 7.14); Punctuation (Ch. 28 & 29, MWL 3.1, 3.5)

Punctuation might seem like a simple grammatical issue, but, for many students, it is difficult. You might consider having students reexamine old essays to look for punctuation errors and/or opportunities to improve writing through using punctuation such as semi-colons and colons.

At this point, you might consider assigning the second timed essay, if you haven’t already done so. Students are analyzing causes and effects, and this is often an easier pattern for a timed piece. Please choose from the following prompts:

Cause and Effect Assignments

  1. Technology has changed our lives in many ways. Think of a development in technology, such as the widespread use of cellular phones or the availability of the Internet. Write an essay in which you explain the causes and effects of this development on our lives. (TIMED)

  1. Write an essay explaining three reasons you would like to live in _______ (insert city, state, or country) ________. (TIMED)

  1. What are three aspects of a person’s lifestyle that can cause him or her to have a good “bill of health?” As support, you may refer to examples of people you know. (REVISED)

  1. What are three negative effects of bullying in school? As support, you may refer to specific incidents involving people you know. (REVISED)

WEEK 13 Concise & Appropriate Words (Ch. 31 and MWL 4.2, 4.4); MWL “catch up”

Students should be seriously considering essays for their final portfolios at this point.

If you have students seeking exemption—again, this must be discussed in advance with your portfolio partner—you should have given them at least two Writing Skills 3 reading-based prompts to consider over the course of the last few weeks.

If students are not done their required MWL modules (everything in modules one through four) then they may work on that this week as they continue to revise their most recent essays. However, some students are “up-to-date” with MWL assignments, so they may do their diagnostic post-test in class this week. This will permit them to focus on their final portfolio preparation next week.

This week is a good time to add a “make up” day for timed essays and other assignments.

WEEK 14 Final portfolio preparation

Students should revise their essays for final portfolio submission this week. They need to do another cover letter (in-class). Please print copies of: Creating a Final Portfolio, Sample Final Portfolio Cover Letter, and Final Portfolio Comment Sheet.

WEEK 15 Conferences; Diagnostic Post Test on MWL

Please conference with students and give them their final grades this week. Do not allow students to leave the room with their final portfolios. All portfolios must be submitted to the department secretary along with your final grading documents and attendance record.

Using Journals or Blogs in Writing Skills II

Journals or blogs are not required in this course; however, some teachers find their use gives students much needed practice with written language. Journal writing/blogs can be done the first few minutes of class or as an independent assignment with entries perhaps once a week (daily is too frequent for this level of student). Journals can be 100% private (with teachers just counting entries and responding at the midterm and semester’s end) or they can each be marked and responded to (but be aware that this is a huge workload). If you read an entry, the student will expect comments, especially if they are blogging. Make it clear to the students from day one (and on your first-day handout) what kinds of entries you are looking for. It is useful to introduce freewriting to help students expand their entries. Journals/blogs can increase communication because teachers and students usually respond supportively to any kind of entry.

Although students may write about whatever they want, novice writers often prefer jump-starts. You can use these or invent your own:

  1. College is about becoming a thinker—someone interested in the world. Pick something from the front page of today’s paper and discuss it.

  2. You finally won the Powerball jackpot. What are you going to do with all that money? After writing down all that you would do, look at what you’ve written and use it to describe the kind of person you are.

  3. Pick either the best boss or worst boss you ever had and write that person a letter telling them all the things you never said.

  4. Who are you? Describe yourself as if you were a character in a book or movie. Think of this as a verbal self-portrait or character sketch.

  5. Do you have a five-year plan? A ten-year plan? Where do you want to be by then? Visualize yourself in the future as a very successful ________!

  6. The next time you are feeling overwhelmed with just so many different things to do, pull out your journal and write down everything you should do. Then, see if you can make a plan, prioritize, and straighten out the mental clutter.

  7. Do you have a favorite song for when you are blue? Happy? For dancing? Describe the songs, the lyrics, beat, and melody.

  8. Some psychologists think everyone in America has a problem with anger—we either repress it or over-express it. How do you handle anger and what would you like to change about it?

  9. Take one of the “isms:” racism, sexism, heterosexism, socialism, patriotism, capitalism, etc. and discuss your views on it.

  10. What do you think of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumbler, OkCupid, Words with Friends, Match.com, etc.—Internet social networking?

  11. What kept you from learning in high school?

  12. What was/is the most boring or best class you ever had and why?

  13. What do you think about teenage parenthood?

  14. Should the US be at war in other countries? Do you know someone in the military?

  15. What’s the best TV show being aired right now? Describe it to someone who has never seen it.

The Problem: Most students placed into Writing Skills II display systematic, egregious grammatical errors. To compensate, we spend more time in this course on grammar than in Writing Skills III. The goal is not to create transformative grammarians or great stylists, but to teach the basic grammatical skills these students need to write correct Academic English sentences, at least correct enough to move onto the next course. The “hit list” includes capitalization, run-ons, fragments, subject-verb agreement, pronoun agreement and reference, verb tenses, spelling (including homonyms), commas, parallelism, and modifiers. Focus on these issues, rather than ones of style since students have enough to deal with while learning how to correct their sentences.
Using MyWritingLab (Please put website information on your-first day handout including a space for them to write in their user name and password)

Students begin the course by taking the diagnostic test. This takes time (starting them in class is useful so that students know how to do it, but you can ask students to finish at home or in the computer labs on campus). These diagnostics are necessary to create an individualized study plan for the students: the results show the students which topics they have already mastered and thus do not have to do again, though you may suggest that they do them anyway.

Use class time to show the students how to get into the program and deal with the different modules, doing at least some work in class. For more information about mywritinglab.com, please contact the Learning Lab Coordinator. Inside each topic there is an audio lesson, video lesson, and activities: Recall, Apply, and (optional) Write. Depending on how you set up the program, students will need a Mastery score of 70 or 80 on both the Recall and Apply Exercises to master. If students go through all the sets available without achieving Mastery, you will receive an alert message on your MyWritingLab screen so check this regularly. You will need to click on it to release more sets. This is a good time to discover why the student is not mastering the topic and do some individual work with him or her. You might want to note on your handout that they need to email you when they use up their available sets, so that you know to look for the alert.

There are many ways to use this program effectively. Some teachers prefer to teach the material to the class and use the program for reinforcement and assessment. Showing at least one video as a whole class and modeling for students how to stop it, repeat it, take notes is useful. Class time can be devoted to MyWritingLab, but recognize that the students who have already mastered the topic under discussion will need to work independently on another activity. Others expect students to complete their MyWritingLab work outside of the classroom. You can easily check if students are doing their work and how much time they’re spending on it in your Gradebook.

At the end of each chapter of Write Time, Write Place, you will see the MyWritingLab logo and information about exactly where students can access more exercises, lessons, and writing assignments for that topic on MyWritingLab.

MyWritingLab – Title of Module

Title of Topic

W1 – Basic Grammar

W1.2 – Subjects and Verbs

W1.4 – Pronouns

W1.6 – Verbs

W1.9 – Modifiers

W1.10 – Adjectives and Adverbs

W1.11 – Prepositions

W2 – Sentence Skills

W2.1 – Sentence Structures

W2.2 – Fragments

W2.3 – Run-Ons

W2.4 – Subject-Verb Agreement

W2.5 – Consistent Verb Tense & Active Voice

W2.8 – Pronoun-Antecedent Agreement

W2.9 – Misplaced or Dangling Modifiers

W2.10 – Parallelism

W2.11 – Combining Sentences

W3 – Punctuation, Mechanics & Spelling

W3.1 – Commas

W3.3 – Quotations Marks

W3.4 – Semicolons, Colons, Dashes, Parentheses

W3.5 – Apostrophes

W3.7 – Capitalization

W4 – Usage & Style

W4.2 – Easily Confused Words

W4.3 – Varying Sentence Structure

W4.4 – Using Exact Language

W4.5 – Vocabulary Development

W5 – The Craft of Writing

W5.1 – Getting Started

W5.2 – The Writing Process

W5.3 – Prewriting

W5.4 – Recognizing a Paragraph

W5.5 – The Topic Sentence

W5.6 – Developing and Organizing a Paragraph

W5.7 – Revising the Paragraph

W5.8 – Editing the Paragraph

W6 – Paragraph Development

W6.1 – Paragraphs: Describing

W6.2 – Paragraphs: Narrating

W6.3 – Paragraphs: Illustrating

W6.4 – Paragraphs: Process

W6.5 – Paragraphs: Compare & Contrast

W6.6 – Paragraphs: Division & Classification

W6.7 – Paragraphs: Definition

W6.8 – Paragraphs: Cause and & Effect

W6.9 – Paragraphs: Argument

W7 – Essay Development

W7.1 – Recognizing the Essay

W7.2 – Thesis Statement

W7.3 – Essay Organization

W7.4 – Essay Introductions, Conclusions, & Titles

W7.5 – Revising the Essay

W7.6 – Editing the Essay

W7.7 – Essays: Describing

W7.8 – Essays: Narrating

W7.9 – Essays: Illustrating

W7.10 – Essays: Process

W7.11 – Essays: Compare & Contrast

W7.12 – Essays: Division and Classification

W7.13 – Essays: Definition

W7.14 – Essays: Cause and Effect

W7.15 – Essays: Argument

Standard Editing Marks for Grading Revise Papers

X = error

Cap = capitalization

Frag = fragment

= take out

RO = run-on

Sl = slang

Sp = spelling

MW = missing word

Vb = verb tense/form

WC = word choice

¶ = paragraph

^ = add

Apos = apostrophe

Trans = add transition

C = Comma

# = space needed

S/V = subject/verb agreement error

Pro = pronoun reference or agreement

Homonym = incorrect spelling

( ) = omit space or word, close space

When grading for revision, one way to avoid doing the work for the student is to make marginal comments only—that is, at the end of each line that has an error, identify the type of error. Then teach students to cross out your notation as they find and correct the error on their revised papers. Remember to focus on correctness first; work on style with the students who aren’t overwhelmed with basic grammar.

Writing Skills II Special Issues

Writing Skills III Exemption Policy:

If you have an exceptional student who is consistently receiving strong B’s or A’s on his or her essays, bring that student’s midterm portfolio to the attention of your portfolio partner at your midterm meeting. Your partner will provide you with information about how your student can exempt Writing Skills 3. The exemption process is handled through our Learning Labs. Please reference the enclosed Exemption Policy and Procedure document for more information.

ESL students often have different grammatical problems than a native speaker, such as which preposition to use. MyWritingLab contains a section that can help non-native speakers specifically. If a student has continual difficulty with certain types of grammatical and language basics, it is recommended that you refer this student to the ESL Department. There is a stigma for some students, so please be sensitive. Sometimes these students are willing to put in many more hours using MyWritingLab and going to tutoring. This added effort may help with their English language issues.
Learning Disabled students have specific legal issues that must be addressed. Therefore, if you encounter any questions concerning these students, contact Joanne Kinzy, Disabilities Services, Taft Hall, at Ext. 4430 or jkinzy@camdencc.edu.
Portfolio Help. You will be assigned a Portfolio Partner. If you have any questions, PLEASE, communicate with either the fulltime faculty member who is assigned to you or the writing chair, Christine Webster, ext. 4358. Not only are these individuals helpful with the portfolio process, but they are also experienced in teaching basic skills students, MyWritingLab, and working at CCC.
Computer Issues: More students are coming to school with computer skills, but if you have a student who is really unfamiliar with word processing, suggest that he/she sign up for a one credit keyboarding class. Also, while it is true that not every student has a computer, they do have access to the labs and can be expected to do work there outside class time. Help students use email, ask them to send themselves their papers as a backup method (so that if they forget their flash-drives, they can download their papers). You might want to mention this in your first day handout. If there are technical problems with the computers, call ext. 4900 or email helpdesk-ccc@camdencc.edu.

How to Use MyWritingLab for Timed Writing Assignments
Step 1: Creating and Assigning a Prompt

If you want to use MyWritingLab for a Timed Essay, you can either assign a prompt that is already created or create your own. These directions show the steps for both.

Assigning a Prompt that is Already Created:

There is a Timed Writing Assignment already created in MWL for each level of writing. It is not presently assigned, but it is available to assign in your Activities/Assessments Manager. When you open your Activities/Assessments Manager, click on “View and Manage All Assignments” under Customize. From there, go to drop down menu and choose Essay Development Module and click Go. Then, scroll down to find the assignment that says “Timed Writing Assignment” next to “Essay Development: Definition,” choose “Settings for Class,” and click Go.

This will allow you to set the due date for the assignment. As soon as you assign it, your students will be able to see the link for it in their Learning Path. It will appear in the Essay Development Module under Definition. The assignment is as follows: “Write an essay defining a successful college student.” (If you want a different topic/prompt, you can follow the steps for Creating and Assigning Your Own Timed Writing Prompt.)

Creating and Assigning Your Own Timed Writing Prompt:

To watch a video with instructions on how to create a timed writing assignment go to this web link http://screencast.com/t/639miPGvp and/or follow the steps below:

  1. Open your Activities/Assessments Manager, click Create Quiz

  2. Name the assignment and choose Type Topic Activity and click Next

  3. Choose the Essay Development Module you want the activity to be part of

  4. Click on Create My Own Question and then Next

  5. Choose the Module again and then choose the Topic (the rhetorical pattern you want to use for the assignment)

  6. Under Available Questions scroll down to find the first Write question and click Next

  7. When the question appears, delete the text and type in the timed essay prompt you want your students to respond to for their essay. Click Save & Exit.

  8. Under Settings, rename the question and click Next

  9. Look under Available Questions to find your custom question (if you don’t see it, make sure you are in the correct Module and Topic categories). Check the box for it, choose Add, and click Next.

  10. The Options screen lets you set requirement for the assignment, such as setting a password so students can’t access it before the day you have them write it in class, or setting a time limit.

  11. Click Save & Assign if you want your students to see it now, or click “Save” if you are not ready to assign it yet.

After the assignment is created, it will be in Activities/Assessments Manager. Assign it by following the steps listed above for Assigning a Prompt that’s Already Created.
Step Two: Administering the Timed Writing Assignment

After the timed essay is assigned, students will access it through their Learning Path, like they do with all other topic activities. Direct them to the Module and Topic (Definition, for the preloaded one) and the timed assignment will appear in the available activities below the Recall and Apply ones. When they click on it, they will have to enter the password you chose when you created the assignment (the password for the preloaded one is: “Timed Essay”). As soon as they click “I Am Ready to Start,” their time limit (40 minutes) will start and they can begin writing. When they are finished writing they should click Submit Quiz.

If you want your students to print their essay from MWL and hand in a paper copy to you, they can click on Review Activity after they have submitted it, and then choose Print. This is a good option if you want to grade it the same way you normally grade timed essays.

Step Three: Grading the Timed Writing Assignment

If your students are printing their essays and giving them to you in class, there is no need for you to grade it in MyWritingLab. You can grade it on paper just as you would any other timed essay. The program gives them a 100% on the assignment just for doing it, similar to the Overview and Animation, but that 100% score does not average into their overall score on MWL (which is only averaged from the Recall and Apply activities). However, if you want to give it a score in MWL, you can do that by following the steps below.

  1. Open your Gradebook and go to All Assignments  Quizzes.

  2. Under Timed Writing Assignment, find the student whose essay you want to grade and click on the score (which is defaulted to 100%).

  3. Under the Actions menu, choose Grade Assignment.

  4. Change the grade and add a comment if you want.

  5. Submit the grade.

Score _____/ _____



Prior to the midterm, students should have submitted two or three papers. Then they can choose which one they want to revise for the portfolio (the timed writing cannot be revised). We specifically ask for the draft to be included in the midterm portfolio to increase students’ understanding that revision is a crucial part of the writing process. (They get to see their own improvement and, we anticipate, reflect on it.)

Students will need at least one class period to revise the essay, put the portfolio together, write the cover letter, and print their MWL gradebook summary. This packet contains a sample midterm portfolio cover letter, but they should copy ONLY the format (You can copy the sample or project it on the front board). If you want, you can assign a journal entry to ask the students to reflect on what they’ve learned about writing so far. If they ask what to include in the letter, ask why they have chosen that particular essay, what they feel proud of, what they have learned, and especially, what their writing process was. Please be careful that students don’t plagiarize or get professional help on the letter. It must be written in class only. We use it as a check to see what they are capable of producing without teacher editing.

Don’t let students leave your classroom before you check their portfolios for the correct contents, including the printout of the MyWritingLab Gradebook.
Printing Out MyWritingLab Scores for Portfolios. IF YOU GO TO YOUR GRADEBOOK, YOU CAN PRINT OUT STUDENTS’ WRITINGLAB SCORES ON ONE OR TWO PAGES. Go to ‘course tools,’ ‘gradebook,’ ‘learning path,’ click on individual student names, ‘open each module separately,’ print out page, click ‘next student.’ If students print their own scores, they should go to “Learning Path” and then select “Extra Practice.” They will be able to open and print modules individually.
Midterm Conferences with Students after Portfolios Are Scored. After reviewing the portfolios with your portfolio partner, create a classroom workshop so that you will have time to conference with each student while the rest of the class is working. YOU KEEP THE PORTFOLIOS, but let students see them, providing enough feedback so they know their individual goals for the rest of the semester.
Your midterm portfolio is due on ___________________________
How to prepare the folder:

Your teacher will provide a folder for your midterm portfolio. Write your name and college ID number on the protruding tab. On the folder, below where the tab is, write your teacher’s name, the semester, and the course section number.

Your Name

Your ID#

Your teacher’s name

The semester (Fall 2016)

ENG-022- (your section)

What to include:

Select one of your papers to include as a sample of your writing ability. Include a marked draft and your Gradebook summary. Base your cover letter on these items. Together, these items form a picture of what you have learned.

  1. A cover letter – Follow block-style business letter format (See sample). Keep all the information to the left margin. Following the address information, salutation, and opening line, discuss the writing process you used for the selected paper and the strengths of that particular piece. Indicate the areas where you made improvements to it. Also refer to the grammar sheet you are including. Don’t forget the closing. Note: this letter must be typed in class; letters written out of class are unacceptable.

  1. A revised paper and a draft of that paper – Pick your best paper so far and revise it for the portfolio. There should be no teacher marks on the final copy. You MUST include an early draft of this same paper to show how you have revised it.

  1. The MyWritingLab Gradebook summary – Teachers or students can print out their gradebooks.

  1. A comment sheet – Insert the comment sheet provided in this packet.



Your street/mailing address

Your city, state and zip code

The date
Portfolio Reviewers

Camden County College

Box 200, College Drive

Blackwood, New Jersey 08012
Dear Portfolio Reviewer:
You are using block-style business letter format, so there is no need to indent here. Begin with a general, opening line that introduces your portfolio. Identify the paper you have included (If you refer to its title, use quotation marks). Follow with several sentences explaining the process you used to create the selected piece (planning/prewriting techniques, number drafts you went through, feedback you received and from whom, changes you made). Discuss the strengths of the paper and the areas of improvement for you as a writer. You can write about your experience with MyWritingLab, if you wish. Finish with a general, closing sentence.

Your name (typed)

Don’t forget to sign your letter here!

Notice the extra spaces between these lines

Extra space

Single Spacing Please!


Score: Pass Fail

Student Name: _____________________ Course Number : ENG-022-_______


___ Follows correct format

___ Discusses writing process

___ Is free of sentence level errors


Strengths - Weaknesses -

___ Clear topic sentence ____ Missing or weak topic sentence

___ Logical organization ____ Confusing organization

___ Plenty of supporting details ____ Not enough supporting details

___ Specific supporting details ____ Too general supporting details

___ Transitions ____ Ineffective or no transitions

___ Effective closing ____ Weak or missing closing

___ Correct sentences ____ Sentence errors

___ Run-ons ___ Capitalization ___ Fragments ___ Punctuation

___ Verb errors ___ Spelling errors

___ Pronouns ___ Commas

___ Other issues
___ Paper shows effective revision from draft to final copy

___ Number of Mastery Checks


While borderline students may be given a chance to pass based on the portfolio, students need to have submitted all of their work. Try giving a due date a week before the portfolios are being compiled for all revisions and missing work to be due (and let each student know what he/she is missing).

You will be given a calendar of important dates at the start of the semester, including when final portfolios are due, so schedule time to review them and deliver them to your partner in enough time before the last day of class. Sort them and provide feedback on their comment sheets before submitting them.

Portfolios and grades should be discussed with students on the final day of classes. Portfolios are the property of the department, so DO NOT allow students to keep them. Turn them in to the department secretary with your course documents. You can make a copy of the final comment sheet for the student to keep if you want.
The final portfolio must contain the following:

  1. A cover letter–This should be typed in class and should not be revised by you. This is a piece of independent writing to consider when you are scoring portfolios.

  2. A timed essay –This MUST be done on MWL or handwritten in class on lined paper (found in this packet) and May NOT be revised by either you or the student. Give it a numerical score based on the holistic scoring scale. Some teachers prefer to keep timed essays in their possession until portfolio preparation.

  3. A revised essay (final draft only with no marks or comments)

  4. A MyWritingLab Gradebook Summary.

  5. The Final Portfolio Review Comment Sheet–Found in this packet.

Also, make sure to collect completed student evaluation forms (found in this packet) by the last day of class.


  • At least one of the two essays needs to be in standard five-paragraph format.

  • Instructors may use the number of Mastery checks (or not) when calculating a student’s final class average.

  • Cover letters cannot be copied from the sample, which may seem obvious. Yet, you might need to explain about plagiarism when they write their letters.

Final conferences. It is useful during final conferences to have a printout of students’ diagnostic and mastery scores (to show them their progress). In your gradebook, click on "Tests," under "All Assignments." If the Path Builder and Mastery Check don't appear on the first page, click "Go To" and enter one of them.  They will appear next to each other and can be printed.  You will need to click "Show Scores" to see them. Please retain all portfolios and file them with the department when you turn in your final grades.

Your final portfolio is due on __________

The folder:

Re-use the same folder you were given for your midterm portfolio. First remove the contents that you submitted at midterm. If you do not have your folder, the teacher will provide you with a new one. Label it as indicated in the directions for the midterm.

What to include:

Select two of your papers – one revised and one timed – to include as samples of your improvement in writing and also print your MyWritingLab gradebook summary. Base your cover letter on these three items. As with the midterm portfolio, take care with each item.

  1. A cover letter – Follow the same format as at midterm (see second sample). Refer to each piece being included. Discuss your writing process and the strengths and weaknesses of the selected papers. Indicate how you have improved as a writer. You can refer to MyWritingLab, if you want. Don’t forget the closing. Note: this letter must be typed in class; letters written outside class are unacceptable.

  1. A revised paper– Choose your best revised paper so far. Edit it as needed before printing a new copy for the portfolio. There should be no teacher marks on the final copy. This time, do not include earlier drafts.

  1. A timed paper – Choose your best timed essay and include it without making any changes to it. Revised or typed timed papers are unacceptable.

Note: at least one of these two papers must follow a five-paragraph format.

  1. The MyWritingLab Gradebook summary

  1. A comment sheet – Insert the comment sheet provided on the next page.

Final Portfolio Checklist:

  • Choose the revised paper and print an unmarked copy.

  • Choose the timed paper.

  • Print the gradebook summary.

  • Think about why you chose these pieces and about your progress. What are the strengths of the papers? What process was involved in creating the revised one (planning the essay, composing the first draft, receiving feedback, and making revisions)? How have you improved as a writer?

  • Write a cover letter IN CLASS on the due date following correct format.

  • Insert each item in your folder.



Your street/mailing address

Your city, state and zip code

The date
Portfolio Reviewers

Camden County College

Box 200, College Drive

Blackwood, New Jersey 08012
Dear Portfolio Reviewer:
Use block-style business letter format, as you did for the midterm portfolio. Start with an opening line again. Identify the two papers you have included. In separate paragraphs (one per essay), explain the strengths of each and the process you used to create the revised piece (planning/prewriting techniques, how many drafts you went through, what kind of feedback you received and from whom, what changes you made). Add what you would do to improve the timed piece if you could. Discuss how you have improved as a writer. Refer to your MyWritingLab work. Finish with a general, closing sentence. Leave time to proofread (First impressions are lasting impressions).

Your name (typed)

Remember that your name goes at the bottom, not here at the top


Signing your letter here is still important!

Single Spacing Please!



Score: Pass Fail

Student Name: _____________________ Course Number : ENG-022-_______

Midterm Portfolio Score: Passing Failing
If “Failing,” did student complete recommended tutoring in Learning Lab? Yes

___ Follows correct format

___ Discusses writing process

___ Is free of sentence level errors


Strengths - Weaknesses -

___ Clear topic sentence/thesis ____ Missing or weak topic sentence/thesis

___ Logical organization ____ Confusing organization

___ Plenty of supporting details ____ Not enough supporting details

___ Specific supporting details ____ Too general supporting details

___ Transitions ____ Ineffective or no transitions

___ Effective closing ____ Weak or missing closing

___ Correct sentences ____ Sentence errors

___ Run-ons ___ Capitalization ___ Fragments ___ Punctuation

___ Verb errors ___ Spelling errors

___ Pronouns ___ Commas

___ Other issues

___ Paper shows effective revision from draft to final copy

___ Clear topic sentence/thesis ____ Missing or weak topic sentence/thesis

___ Logical organization ____ Confusing organization

___ Enough specific support ____ Not enough support or too general

___ Connected ideas ____ Ineffective or no transitions/connections

___ Effective closing ____ Weak or missing closing

___ Correct sentences ____ Sentence errors
___ Number of Mastery Checks



[Please complete this form and submit it to your teacher on the last day of class]

Course Number: ENG-022-________ Semester: Fall 20____



  1. What did you learn about writing this semester?

  1. What do you wish you could have learned more about?

  1. How do you feel about the final writing portfolio you put together?

  1. What did you think of the website program, MyWritingLab? (How much time did you spend using it? Did you think that it helped you?)

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