Assignment Descriptions

As a writing course, this class should teach you to read critically, research extensively, imagine generously, and produce prodigiously.  And then go back and mercilessly extinguish cut the adverbs and hyperbole through revision.

Here’s a list of the types of assignments and why they’re important.


No one is born knowing how to read or write.  The skill of crafting a story is indeed a skill – it can be learned, and you can improve.  The first step is finding examples to follow.  Over time, you learn to evaluate and question the examples.  Through the readings, I want you to understand what “good” writing means in a variety of genres, and then use this to question our own preconceptions.

Quizzes / Tickets In

There will be either a quiz or a ticket-in on most of the readings.  A ticket-in is like a worksheet you fill out before class (except these will usually be done online through Google Docs.)  A quiz is filled out in-class.  For both these assignment types, you’ll pair up with a partner to grade them in-class.  You’ll have the opportunity to review your partner’s comments and points and then appeal any discrepancies.  Final grades recorded by the instructor will only be available to the individual students via ReggieNet, per the 2010 Supreme Court Ruling on Peer Grading.

Practice Writing

On the syllabus, it might say (500/1,000).  This is shorthand for “you’re selecting 500 words from the 1,000 you’ve written” (or whichever numbers are present in the parentheses.)  This means I want you to have two drafts: first, a 1,000 word draft that you simply pounded out or scribbled on as fast as you can – from this, you pull out 500 words (about two pages double-spaced) to share with classmates.  The (rough draft) is not graded for content – you get full credit for reaching that word count.  As the semester goes on, “for the class” drafts will be evaluated based on how well you’re developing your written voice.


This is your place to bring your favorite and/or most experimental work.  Select some of the best work from your practice pieces, refine and revise, and then bring it in for peer review among your classmates.  Note the Revisions Policy.


This is where you talk about a reading or a workshop experience, explaining what you’ve learned from it and how it changes your thoughts on writing.  This is an important part of metacognition (see also Wikipedia).

Revisions Policy

When revising a paper for resubmission as a new assignment, you must follow the equation ds >= ½s (The changes made to the text must be greater than or equal to one half the original text.)  For example, if you originally submitted a 500 word text for class, the new text must meet the word requirements of the new assignment, and at least 250 of the words submitted for the new assignment (½s) must be brand new.