First Day

Welcome to your English 1101 course! I hope this semester will be both fun and challenging for you! Your professor's name is Dr. Matthew Horton (that's me!), but you can call him Dr. H. I have high hopes that this semester will help you improve your skills as a college-level writer!

Click on these icons and see what you can do! This course is about writing, sure, but it is also about using technology to help you discover new possibilities with writing. Writing's not all just about typing papers and turning them in. In fact, this course strives to be as PAPERLESS as possible! This might be a little scary for some of you, but I assure you, the skills you'll learn will be just as important as effective writing!

Also, go ahead and look through some of the most important resources on this course website:

Read the syllabus
Check the calendar
Learn how to use Google Drive
Resources on Google Drive

Additional resources are available by clicking the tabs across the top and various links in the right-hand margin. As much as you can, familiarize yourself with this course website. My contact info is in the right-hand margin at well, towards the top.

Check out these articles related to college and writing:

Office Hours
The Ivy League, Mental Illness, and the Meaning of Life
Spirit Guides
The Rise of the Helicopter Teacher
Why Teach English?
Inescapably, You're Judged By Your Language
The Perfect Essay
In College, Nurturing Matters
My Little Bag of Writing Tricks
Young Minds in Critical Condition
The Streamlined Life
The Value of College: It's Not Just Correlation
College, the Great Unleveler
Class, Cost and College

Syllabus - Fall 2015

Description of Course
English 1101 is English Composition I, a 3-credit hour course offered by the English Department in the College of Arts and Letters that fulfills one of two Area A "Communication Skills" requirements. You must earn a "C" in English 1101 in order to move on to English 1102.

Writing for Teacher, Writing for School, Writing for What?

Students entering First-Year Writing courses often feel intimidated by the composition tasks thrown their way, in part because the writing methods they practiced prior to college keep them trapped in a routine of “school writing” and uninspired thinking. Based on this idea and others from The Transition to College Writing, we will explore how writing can be learned, how writing might be taught, and the barriers to learning and teaching such a complex skill. Topics of discussion will include the overthrow of grading, some cures for self-censorship, the myth of “practice makes perfect,” and the unexpected benefits of messing up. To aid in our reflection on ways to learn and teach writing, students will use Google Drive to compose, and to share what they compose, in the paperless freedom of the cloud.

In this course, you can achieve the following goals:
  • Approach writing as a process of improvement
  • Discuss your thoughts about current issues that interest you
  • Develop a helpful writing process for yourself
  • Learn the parts of an essay to compose smart, lively papers
  • Gain confidence in communicating with an audience
  • Use Google Drive to produce, share, revise, and respond to digital documents, including your own.
  • Evaluate secondary sources on a recent issue of personal importance to you


Each item on the agenda can be clicked to reveal a description, if any. All assignments are due on their deadline days, but the times will vary depending on the assignment.


In addition to the book we are reading, The Transition to College Writing, your reading material will consist of various magazine articles about a wide variety of social issues. Please choose your readings according to your interest so that when you develop your Paper Topics and write your Assigned Reading Responses, you will be engaged and excited.

How Your Grade Is Calculated

I am using a flexible system that gives you almost complete control over the grade you earn in this class. My goal, actually, is to change your view of grading, at least as it applies to your pursuit of better writing skills. Your grade in this course will, very simply, reflect how hard you worked at making yourself a better writer than you are right now.

You'll produce four longer writings (1000+ words) and many smaller writings (300+ words each). Timely completion of all assignments accounts for 500 pts. If you fail to turn in any assignment on time or leave out a required element, you will suffer a permanent 5-point deduction on that assignment. However, if you finish an assignment on time and receive only half-credit because made a significant mistake, you can redo the assignment (as many times as needed) to gain full credit. When you can't figure out an assignment, you should ask for my help, come to office hours, etc. In this class, sufficient effort includes asking for help when you need it.

If you earn less than 325 points out of the first 500, you cannot pass the class.

The final portfolio for this course is worth a maximum of 475 pts. Depending on the portfolio standard for which you strive, your achievement on this project will be based on a combination of effort and skill. As for skill, you have the entire semester to work on your problem areas in preparation for the portfolio.

Overall, a total of 900-975 points equals an "A" in the course (800-899 equals a "B" and 700-799 equals a "C"). Any point total less than 700 means you will have to take the course again.

You earn the right to gain full credit on an assignment by (a) meeting deadlines and content/length requirements for assignments and (b) participating in classroom activities designed around completion of these assignments. Why? Most students want a course grade to reflect their effort in a course; this approach to grading rewards effort without sacrificing academic rigor.