people on a benchWeek 1: Getting Started

Your self-introduction is due Wednesday 11:59 p.m. All other assignments are due by Sunday at 11:59 p.m.


Week 1 is all about getting used to things and launching into our first unit. The assignments below will give you a clear sense of course organization and typical weekly activities, and also get your brain working!

Once you have taken care of all the basic "getting started" sign-ups and activities listed below, we move right into Unit 1. The topic we will explore in this unit is how home and family shape who we are. Specifically, we are going to read and write about how families create and maintain traditions that connect family members to the past, to other family members, and to themselves. We will also think about how individuals can invent their own important traditions even when we they do not have strong family traditions. Our focus in writing will be on how to write strong paragraphs (next week, we work on how to organize and develop a personal essay).

Note: I realize there is a lot to do on this list. Remember, we are squeezing a 16-week semester into just 8 weeks, so the pace will be a little intense. That said, the number of things to do each week won't be so crazy after week one. Look ahead to the coming weeks to get a sense of the more typical weekly assignments.


  • be able to navigate the course website
  • upload a picture to your profile
  • introduce yourself in the discussion forum and say hello to at least 2 of your classmates
  • begin building grammar skills: assess your ability to identify and correct comma splices, fused sentences, and fragments (pre-test)
  • practice critical reading by locating main ideas in a text, responding thoughtfully to ideas in a text, and comparing different authors' perspectives on a topic
  • develop focused topic sentences
  • write unified, coherent, and well-developed paragraphs

(Specifics for reaching weekly goals are described each week under "Assignments and Instructions")

Assignments & Instructions

Unless otherwise indicated, all assignments are due Sunday night by 11:59 p.m.

  1. Explore the course web site and carefully read the syllabus. Take the brief quiz on course structure and requirements. (5 points)

  2. Self-introduction in Forum DUE WEDNESDAY 11:59 PM (5 points) (but replies to posts are due Sunday). Go to Canvas, and click on the "Account" tab (link at top left of your Canvas home page) and upload a close-up picture to your profile page (from the shoulders up as full-body pictures are hard to see). Next, go to the discussion forum called "Check-In Discussion" and follow the instructions for your self-introduction. Your profile picture will automatically appear with each post, helping us to build community and feel comfortable with one another in this virtual environment. Don't forget to respond to the posts of at least 2 classmates in your group, engaging in a friendly, meaningfull way with something they have shared about themselves (please make this kind of interaction regular throughout the semester!). 

    IMPORTANT: on all future discussion post assignments, you should plan on submitting your post by Wednesday night at the latest so that the members of your group are able to complete their required responses by Sunday night! After week 1, students will be placed in groups composed of 10 so that you are not overwhelmed with 30 discussion posts to wade through! Also, I recommend that you review the reading response rubric that shows how I will evaluate your posts to the discussion forum. I have also provided a few examples of strong reading responses at this link.

  3. InQuizitive LogoPurchase The Little Seagull HandbookYou must get a version that includes a registration code for access to the InQuizitive grammar activities (an important learning component of our course). The easiest way to get your ebook and InQuizitive access is to follow this link from Canvas. If you prefer to also have a print version of the textbook, you may buy the book through the SRJC bookstore as long as it is accompanied by an access code. Do NOT purchase the textbook used or from another retailer because it won't come with a code.

  4. Complete the InQuizitive activity: "How to Use InQuizitive" (5 pts). The first time you log in to InQuizitive, you will be asked to register. Ignore the request for a college email address; you may use any email address that you use regularly. (IMPORTANT: To receive credit for your IQ assignments, you must always follow the direct links to IQ activities from our Canvas site. However, to read lessons in the Little Seagull Handbook, you can login from the "Little Seagull" link in the menu above).

  5. OPTIONAL: Critical reading of college-level texts is a key component of this course, as are strong study skills. These lessons on (1) Study Skills and (2) Critical Reading willl help you build a solid foundation for this course.

  6. Read the introduction to Unit 1 "Home and Family." Be sure and preview the essay assignment so that you know what you are working toward.

  7. Read Section W-4 on "Developing Paragraphs" in the Little Seagull Handbook. Also, read my brief lectures below. Then complete the self-quizzes (not graded) on paragraph structure (links to the self-quizzes can be found at the end of each lecture).

    Lecture & Self-quiz: Writing Strong Paragraphs, Unity

    Lecture & Self-quiz: Writing Strong Paragraphs, Coherence

    Lecture & Self-quiz: Writing Strong Paragraphs, Development

  8. Read the short essay "A Family Tradition," from Country Life Magazine. Then follow the instructions at the end of the essay for posting your reading response to the discussion forum. And if you have not already done so, review the reading response rubric that I will be using to grade your responses. (5 points)