English 105: Expository Writing, Oral Communication, and Research Methods

Course #1572, Section E1
The College of Saint Rose
Fall 2016
Mondays and Wednesdays 4:15pm-6:00pm
Albertus Hall Room 112

Daniel Nester, Associate Professor of English, Instructor
E-mail: daniel [dot] nester [at] strose [dot] edu
Phone: 518-454-2812
Teaching Blog: http://nestersteachingblog.com
Office: Dolan Hall, 442 Western Avenue, First Floor #1
Office Hours: Wednesdays 1:30pm-3:30pm; Thursdays 4pm-5:30pm and by appointment
Link to this page: nestersteachingblog.com/english105

Course Description

To write is to communicate. We communicate for different reasons. Sometimes we write to entertain, other times to persuade or teach, and on other occasions to discover something about ourselves or others. The genres or types of writing we produce depends on a lot of factors: audience, context, and purpose, to name just a few.

It’s often been said that writing is a type of thinking. That’s true. Writing is also a type of re-thinking, reading, and talking. To write well means committing to a the process of taking notes, doodling, research, asking questions, entering conversations with others’ writing, asking more questions, and coming up with your own ideas.

Learning the writing process–often inefficient, non-linear, frustrating and glorious all at the same time–is the primary goal of this class.

Our class will focus around a central topic: technology and social media and its relation to the state of writing today. It’s a super-general topic, free for you to mold and interpret according to to your own experience and interests. We will start the semester by telling our own stories as it relates to technology and social media and writing personal narratives. Next, we will research topics related to tech and social media and come up with our own ideas. Then we will write an essay that uses research to make an argument. We will write online and in print, record presentations. We’ll compile and revise our work for our Final Portfolio.


Expository Writing, Oral Communication, and Research, better known here at our college as English 105, works from the philosophy that to practice the craft of writing makes students better writers and better thinkers. A writing workshop works from the premise that, when a group of writers convene on a regular basis to present and help each other with their writing and research, the work will improve, and students will begin to see unexpected, surprising things show up along the way.

A central premise of my teaching philosophy works from the idea that the most important thing a teacher of literature and writing can do for students is to validate their experiences and ideas and give them confidence. I want to embolden students to say and write what they mean in what I call the best version of their own voice. To this end, we work on formal and informal papers and writing, projects aimed at developing individual interests and strengths.

Throughout the semester, we will work on each student’s reading, speaking and listening, research and critical thinking skills. We will accomplish this by writing in different modes and rhetorical situations. This course concentrates on writing in two areas: developing ideas and the craft of writing. By “developing ideas,” we mean informal writing and research to find the most compelling part of our ideas and to organize an argument that explores it. By “craft of writing,” we mean everything from critiquing each others’ work, deep revision, right on down to style, punctuation, and grammar.

This class entails the entire writing process, and the objective of the class is to be able to shift gears from the initial idea, to composition and revision, and in the end produce college-level essays and papers. By the time you are finished with this class, you will be able to revise and question your own and others’ ideas, both out loud and on paper.

By the end of this semester, in other words, you will be a lean, mean, college paper–writing machine.

Course Goals and Objectives

  • to join the communities and guilds of academic writers, and learn their traditions, influences, and histories;
  • to develop an understanding of different rhetorical situations (audience, writer, purpose, time, culture) as well as different voices, tones, degrees of formality, genres, and formats;
  • enter the academic conversation through reading and writing by learning to understand, summarize, and analyze the ideas of others, and integrate these ideas into your own writing;
  • to learn the research processes of academic writing: from finding, evaluating, and analyzing primary and secondary sources to integrating those ideas with your own;
  • to learn the conventions involved with different writing types: word processing, document formats, online writing that uses links and media, informal social media posts, and documenting sources in academic research papers;
  • to learn that writing is a process that requires writing and editing over multiple drafts;
  • to learn and develop techniques to generate writing as well as freewrite, revise, edit, and proofread;
  • to learn how to offer constructive, helpful criticism of other students’ work as well as to respond to critiques offered of one’s own work;
  • to develop skills in oral communication, from public speaking and developing presentations to telling stories;
  • to complete four written assignments over the course of multiple drafts, and produce a total of 20 pages of polished prose;
  • to learn to read as writers and discuss examples of published work that address issues of craft we encounter in our class; and finally
  • my own personal goal, for the class to have fun as we work hard to learn about the art and craft of writing, and in the process perhaps learn a little about ourselves

Required Texts and Materials

Atwan, Robert and by Ariel Levy, eds. The Best American Essays 2015. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2015. ISBN: 9780544569621. [Amazon link]

Bullock, Richard and Francine Weinberg. The Little Seagull Handbook, Second Edition. New York: W.W. Norton, 2014. ISBN:  9780393935806. [Amazon link]

Purdue University’s Online Writing Lab (OWL). <http://owl.english.purdue.edu>.

Other readings and materials will be online or in our shared class Dropbox, mostly as PDF documents. You will be required to print out and bring hard copies of each reading on the day designated on the week-by-week class plan. Bring a notebook. Have access to college dictionary (print or online).

Course Requirements, Percentage of Your Final Grade

• 30% Participation: discussions, reading reactions, in-class presentations; Writing Center visit (if required), conferences, in-class research, group work, group writing, critiques of student work;
• 30% Informal writing: weekly writing assignments, in-class exercises;
• 40% Formal writing: 2-4 essays for a total of at least 20 pages of polished prose; includes Final Portfolio (15%)

Please note that, according to The College of Saint Rose Undergraduate Catalog, students must receive a grade of C or better to satisfy the English 105 Liberal Education requirement (L01).


I use a grading rubric for many assignments. The following apply on class-by-class basis, and should give you an idea of how I assess student performance.

Participation, Collegiality, and Conduct Rubric
Persuasive Essay Rubric
Student Reading and Writing Rubric

Syllabus Statements and Policies

Attendance Policy
Snapshot from My Grade Book
Writing Format
File Format and How to Name Your Files
Conferences and Drafts
Late Work
Participation: Writing Class
Email Policy
Required Materials and Skills
Academic Integrity
Students with Disab

Campus Resources Available to You

Academic Advising
Academic Success Center (includes Writing Center, Tutoring, Disability services, etc.)
Health & Counseling Services
Hellman Library’s Help Page (research help over text, email, IM, and in person)

English 105
Week-by-Week Class Plan
Fall 2016

Bookmark and check this page regularly. We will be opening this page at the beginning of each class to check on due dates of assignments as well as items to be read, reviewed, or written for each class. These dates will be revised and adjusted as the semester goes along. I’ll send along reminders and announcements when major changves are made, as well as go over them for each class.

Coming soon!