Comments on Assignment #1

I understand what the assignment is but somehow I feel like it will be tough to decide what kind of question to use to investigate the poem we choose. Also would it be fine if tow people have the same question or some type of similarities in there question? How will coming up with a specific question help with conducting a deep analysis on one of the spoken word pieces that we choose? While working on this first assignment will there be peer-editing between each other in class or one-to-one conferences with the professor?

Assignment # 1

English 102: Writing Through Literature

J Polish

M/W/F 8:00am-9:00am, room E-260

Assignment # 1 — Analysis of a Spoken Word Piece

For this first assignment, you will conduct a deep analysis of one of the spoken word pieces we will be reading/viewing/interacting with in class. This analysis can be presented in any of the formats listed in the Announcements section of our course blog. An important part of this assignment — and we will work on it in class together — is coming up with a specific question to investigate about the poem. You can come up with this specific research question by asking yourself starter questions, such as: What are you burning to know more about in the poem? What did you not understand in the poem? What did you notice about the poem that you think others might not have? Are there different, maybe even contradictory, layers of meaning in the poem? How does the artist express them or deal with them?

Due Dates:

Tuesday, September 19 — Comment on the google doc version of this assignment. What questions do you have about the assignment? What apprehensions do you have? Clarifications? Excitements?

Monday, September 25 — Draft your expectations for Assignment 1 and email them to me before class. These expectations need to include: what grade you are aiming for; what specific things, according to the grading contract, you are going to do to earn that grade; how much time you are expecting to put in; what kind of effort you expect to put into your peer reviews; what kind of help you expect from me; what format you are thinking about creating your assignment in; which spoken word poem from our class you might want to analyze.

Wednesday, September 29 — Pre-draft for Assignment 1 posted to the blog before class. Answer each of the following: How can the format you’ve chosen for your assignment best be used to demonstrate a deep analysis of the poem? What is unique about the format you’ve chosen that will allow you to learn more about the poem than what is expressed on the surface? What questions or concerns or excitements do you have about creating a project in this format? What questions do you have about the poem itself? What pieces of it do you want to analyze? Why? What rhetorical choices (cite specific quotes and/or gestures, facial expressions, clothing, etc.) did the artist make that struck you? What was the impact of these rhetorical choices?

Monday, October 2 — Rough draft for Assignment 1 posted to the blog before class. Try to have as many of your thoughts/analysis expressed in your draft as possible. Include with your draft at least 5 specific questions that you would like your peer reviewer to answer.

Wednesday, October 4 — Post your peer review commentary and detailed answers to each of the questions your partners posed as a comment to two of your classmates’ Rough Draft posts before class.

Friday, October 13 — Post your most recent, edited and revised project to the blog before class, along with your 600 word reflective artist’s statement regarding what you learned, what you didn’t learn, how you can use what you learned in the future, why you chose the assignment format that you did and how you think this helped you analyze the poem, and how you think you could have pushed your analysis even further. What rhetorical choices did you make in your analysis and how did these choices advance your analysis? How did the process of peer review push your analysis forward? If it didn’t, why not? How can you and your partners conduct your peer reviews differently next time? What fresh rhetorical insights might you bring from this assignment into future assignments?


Grading Contract


I’m so excited by how class went today: I loved the enthusiasm you all demonstrated in getting to know each other and sharing your ideas. I look forward to many more exchanges with you!

The google doc of our class grading contract is here:

As promised, I added the “I am guaranteed a B in this class if…” — as I noted in my comments, please feel free to modify this as you see fit! This is a collaborative document, and we can adjust it as we need to throughout the term.

As for your individual grading contracts, continue working on what you started writing in class today: include anything you think might be relevant to how you learn and how you want to be assessed in this class, as well as what you need from me throughout the class to achieve the grade you’re striving for.

Please email this to me at (you can take a photo of your handwritten work if you want to, since you already started to write it out, and send the photo of the finished work to me if you’d prefer — just make sure it’s legible, please!).

Looking forward to seeing you all at 8am on Wednesday!


Assignments Overview

This is the page where I will be making announcements about assignments! Please keep note of this page and check it frequently!

Course Assignments:

In addition to participating in blog discussion forums with your classmates, in English 102, you will have four major writing assignments in which you will create your own pieces of literature/art/analysis:

  1. An analysis of a spoken word piece;
  2. An research essay analyzing Anon(ymous);
  3. An analysis of Ms. Marvel; and
  4. An in-class essay.

You will have to create a 600-word analytically reflective artist’s statement regarding what you learned, what you didn’t learn, how you can use what you learned, etc., with assignments one and three.

For assignments one and three, you will choose the format of your piece from the following list of choices (for assignment one, you will choose from one category; for assignment three, you will choose from a different category). Below, each link contains an example or a how-to of the format listed. Have fun with your choice!



Music video

Reaction video/vlog







Music mix/mashup

Musical performance

Spoken word





Conceptual set design

Improv performance

Create a game




Fan fiction

Blog post


Personal essay

Analytical essay

Short story

One-act play




Website action


Blog post



Street theater

Community work


Assignment Expectations:

Before each assignment is due, you will get a hard copy and two online copies (on the course blog and Google Docs) of the specific expectations. Before each assignment is set, we will always have the opportunity to review these assignments in class together. Further, you will be encouraged to edit/comment on the assignment parameters on Google Docs to make sure everything is crystal clear and that you get to shape expectations.

Through this process of shaping our expectations, I’d like to share something that is important to me. Education is often designed for people who already have access to education: academic writing is designed by and for people who have experience with… academic writing! Perhaps you’ve experienced this in your previous courses/school work. This racialized power that accompanies language — allowing white professors, like me, access to a world that many students, especially students of color, are often denied access to — is important to discuss, and we will be doing this a lot in our class. In the same way that I want you to feel empowered to correct me if course materials aren’t accessible in terms of learning styles and dis/ability, please do so also if there are culturally relevant methods that would help you learn better that I am not thinking of or currently valuing.

In addition to this, there are a few things each of the assignments will have in common:

Each assignment will require you to submit pieces of your thoughts — drafts — in advance of the due date, and these are extremely important. They do not have to be perfect — far from it! — but these drafts will be a very important part of our work together. Importantly, you have to annotate each of your drafts with specific questions for me and for your peers!

For each draft, you will review and comment on the work of one or more of your peers. These reviews are crucial, not only to help you and your peers experience each other’s writing processes and make each other’s projects stronger, but to build the kind of collaborative writing environment that will make our classroom a generative space.

Each assignment portfolio (including your peer reviews, your revisions, and your due date copy) must be submitted with a short artist’s statement that you create after completing the assignment, in which you will reflect critically on your own process of creation.

Letter from The Greatest Class Of All Time to the Fall 2017 English 102 Class

This was written (and titled and gif-ed) collaboratively by all the students in my English 102 class last term. I asked them to write a survival guide for you in a Google Doc together, and I think we had a lot of fun. This is what they had to say!

                    Surviving Professor Polish 101

                                         (Only half of us failed) lol

Gid of Steven Colbert in a suit, smiling and raising his hands, saying,
Gid of Steven Colbert in a suit, smiling and raising his hands, saying, “Welcome to the nerd zone, my friend.” Gif from
Gif of Maggie Sawyer smiling as she walks around Alex Danvers (from Supergirl), scoffing as she calls Alex a nerd. Gif from

                                Don’t panic. The professor just looks scary.

Gif of Ron Weasley, looking panicked, turning his head and asking,
Gif of Ron Weasley, looking panicked, turning his head and asking, “Can we panic now?” Gif from

                                   Expectations when entering ENG 102

When you hear that English 102 might involve Shakespeare

Gif of Captain Jack Sparrow staring up in confusion before a full-bodied shot shows him running away. Gif from
Gif of Captain Jack Sparrow staring up in confusion before a full-bodied shot shows him running away. Gif from

But don’t worry Shakespeare is out of the picture.

Gif of the Tenth Doctor from Doctor Who, looking exasperated while saying,
Gif of the Tenth Doctor from Doctor Who, looking exasperated while saying, “Oh, 57 academics just punched the air.” Gif from

Maybe this is your first semester back to college or you’re a new student. The advice I will give you is that it’s ok to be nervous but in this class leave these nerves by the door. ENG 102 class with Professor Polish was by far was the best class I’ve had at Laguardia Community College it’s easy going to class and I enjoyed every minute of it.

There’s no survival guide I need to provide you with because I know everybody got this. Sometimes I know we don’t want to speak or participate because we think of sounding stupid but there isn’t such thing as that. The environment you’re provided with in this class is welcoming. Professor Polish always has a smile which is nice to see and is available for you whenever you need, at the end of class if you have question or concern just ask, or just shoot up an email.

You’re probably thinking OK can you just get into the assignments. Well the assignments are easy, the time that you are provided with is reasonable; but don’t wait last minute. Btw when you feel stuck DON’T PANIC because your given time to work on it and your classmates are their to provide feedback. Lastly enjoy your time in ENG 102 class because time flies by.

At first when you start this class, the amount of freedom you get when it comes to your assignments. Most students may even get frustrated and ask the Professor to give them information.

A closeup of Loki from the Avengers films doubling over as he passionately shouts,
A closeup of Loki from the Avengers films doubling over as he passionately shouts, “tell me!” Gif from

When you usually get told how to do the assignment but now you have the option of how you want to do it:

Gif of Jordan Peele's unblinking, panicked, still expression as sweat streams rapidly and profusely down his face. Gif from
Gif of Jordan Peele’s unblinking, panicked, still expression as sweat streams rapidly and profusely down his face. Gif from

But the Professor will assist you to really develop your own prompt and train of thought. Professor Polish will lead you step by step to not stress out about any assignment.

When doing the assignments, DO NOT I MEAN DO NOT WAIT UNTIL THE LAST MINUTE. Especially the creative assignments. You want to give yourself time because the more time you give yourself, the more creativity you can put into your assignment. Not only will you see how creative you are but you will earn excellent grades. Don’t worry either because they are not a boring professor either. They keep the class entertained and awake. They’re very interesting which makes you more interested in the class itself.

Gif of Selena Gomez tossing up her hands with a smirk as she says,
Gif of Selena Gomez tossing up her hands with a smirk as she says, “I’m just sayin’.” Gif from

The best thing is that you can choose a format for your assignment. What is better​ than not writing​ typically in a typical writing​ class. If you don’t like writing, don’t worry. This class is not your “typical” English class. You will have an opportunity to express yourself through alternative​ way such as poems, drawings, etc.

  • be ready to learn about yourself and what kind of writer you are.
  • there will be a lot of group activity
  • be prepared to go outside your comfort zone
  • be prepare to have a blast as you write in forms that you never wrote in.

You will also have access to a class blog in this class in which you and your peers will be able to submit your assignments, peer reviews, and view other pieces of work.

Gif of the character Ernest Hemingway from Midnight in Paris (2011) nodding as he says,
Gif of the character Ernest Hemingway from Midnight in Paris (2011) nodding as he says, “My opinion is I hate it.” Gif from

Don’t be fooled by the comic. There is a copious amount of information, images and text to analyze.

But I was able to cope through this class with the help of my peers comments and viewing of my writing. It helped me develop my thinking skills.

You’ll need to get out of your comfort zone.

This is not the typical ENG 102 class where you have to read books and write essays in a specific form. ENG 102 with J Polish is amazing class where you can show your ideas in unique way of writing.

The worst thing you can absolutely do as a student is not be yourself.  

You will survive easily. No mountain is on your shoulders. Whenever I come to this class, I feel relaxed and it’s all fun. You are never rushed because it is very easy to get your work done. And all this is because of the professor. They will never stress you like any other professors. I wish and hope to have Professor Polish again. I thought eng102 would be something that I would have to deal with struggling on writing and doing my work, yes but the class and work just felt like doing something very easy. All you need to do is be a responsible student to get your work done on time and you will have a good time.

As long as you get your work done and put in time and effort, everything flows flawlessly.

The class is different than any other English class because as students you get to express your own creative ideas and by doing that you have to chose your own format in order to complete the assignment. For example, someone would prefer drawing than writing an essay. For them it’s an easy A because you are using your talented & unique skills to get the grade you want. You’ll definitely love the English class with Professor Polish because they are AMAZING! Although, their drawings are a different story lol (Plus the professor doesn’t call on you randomly 😉 and is a fair grader). One last thing is manage your time because you do not want to start the assignment at the last minute. Take your time analyzing the project, take some notes, take it step by step. I am sure you’ll survive this class!!

Gif of the camera zooming in on Barry Allen in his Flash suit, grinning slightly as he says,
Gif of the camera zooming in on Barry Allen in his Flash suit, grinning slightly as he says, “Game on.” Gif from

Come to class stay on top of your deadlines take time out for your assignments use all your resources have fun this was a very fun class! Hope everyone gets an A.

The fact that the Professor gave us the chance to write this letter to you and put in gifs shows a lot, I mean that’s pretty cool.

This class is really like no other and the way we all learn is different but so much more effective, don’t worry! This English class helps you understand your specific writing style and Professor Polish demonstrates that literature DOES NOT have to be only Shakespeare. Going into this class we were all surprised with the amount of freedom we had when writing our assignments. We can all relate to having difficulty in the beginning with less structure than usual but you get over it pretty quickly. Professor Polish is pretty accepting when it comes to the way you participate, the first thing they said was that if you are a shy person and don’t like to participate that’s OKAY, they allows us to write down our input down and hand it in after class (totally amazing). Personally I believe that this class will be your go to for understanding material and learning new ways to be a writer. The professor makes everyone feel welcome. They will help you in your writing process as best as they can. Professor is an excellent writer, but I don’t know about their drawing skills. We can all agree it has been a pleasure knowing Professor Polish and this English class will truly be missed.

Our One-Word Takeaways









Interestingly creative









Surprisingly enjoyable




How to Post Your Assignments

When you post your assignments to the blog, this is where you will do it!

How, you might ask?

When you log into the course blog, you will see a plus sign (+) at the top of the page with the word “New” next to it. Click that to make a new post.

Then, it should lead you to a screen like this:

Screenshot of the posting page on a logged-in WordPress account, highlighting the bottom right corner where you can select what category to put your post in.

The image is unfortunately blurry, but the red arrow and circle are hopefully helpful: when you’re adding a new post, in the bottom right side of the page, there should be a selection menu called “Categories.” Check the box that says “Assignments”, and your post will appear in the right place!

Please feel free to let me know if you have questions about this process.

Reading/Writing Class Schedule

Date Reading Due before Class Writing Due before Class (Posted to Course Blog before Class Begins)
Friday 9/08 Introduction
Monday 9/11 Syllabus Syllabus comments (on google doc)
Wednesday 9/13 Intro to Poetry  Grading contract with yourself (email to me
Friday 9/15 Intro to Spoken Word
Monday 9/18 Jamila Lyiscott, “3 Ways to Speak English”
Tuesday 9/19 Read Assignment # 1 Comments on Assignment # 1
Wed-Fri 9/20-22 No classes
Monday 9/25 Jonathan Mendoza, “Brown Boy, White Boy” — Draft your expectations for Assignment # 1
Wednesday 9/27 Justice Gaines, “Letter from Xem” — Pre-draft for Assignment # 1
Friday 9/29 No classes
Monday 10/2 Peer Review Rough Draft for Assignment # 1
Wednesday 10/4 Read two of your classmates’ Assignment # 1 draft Complete your peer-review commentary and questions
Friday 10/6 Class cancelled (professor out of town)
Monday 10/9 No classes
Wed 10/11 Read the text your group has chosen
Friday 10/13 Read the text your group has chosen Assignment # 1 Due w/ Artist Statement


Monday 10/16 Intro to Drama
Wed 10/18 Read Anon(ymous) (through the italics on page 66, until number 5.)
Friday 10/20
  1. Read Anon(ymous)
  2. Read Assignment # 2
Comments on Assignment # 2
Monday 10/23 Anon(ymous) Draft your expectations for Assignment # 2
Wed 10/25 Anon(ymous)
Friday 10/27
  1. Finish reading Anon(ymous)
  2. Research for Assignment # 2
Pre-draft for Assignment # 2
Monday 10/30 Research
Wed 11/1 Research
Friday 11/3 Research Rough Draft for Assignment # 2
Monday 11/6 Read two of your classmates’ Assignment # 2 draft Complete your peer-review commentary and questions
Wed 11/8 Peer Review
Friday 11/10 Read the text your group has chosen Assignment # 2 Due w/ Artist Statement


Monday 11/13 Last day to officially withdraw from a course

Intro to Comics

Wed 11/15 Ms. Marvel
Friday 11/17
  1. Ms. Marvel
  2. Read Assignment # 3
Monday 11/20 Ms. Marvel
Wed 11/22 Ms. Marvel
Friday 11/24 No class
Monday 11/27 Read Assignment # 3 Comment on Assignment # 3
Wed 11/29 Ms. Marvel
Friday 12/1 Ms. Marvel
Monday 12/4
  1. Read the text your group has chosen
Wed 12/6 Read the text your group has chosen
Friday 12/8 Last Day of Class (there will be in-class writing) Assignment # 3 Due w/ Artist Statement

Need More Help Writing?

I know I always do.

There are loads of resources on this page to help you. Scroll through this post at your leisure, and feel free to post your own tips as term goes on!!!

Code-Meshing Multiple Englishes:

As you’re learning to write at the college level, it is vitally important to remember that there is not (as you may have learned in school so far, and may continue to learn in other classrooms) one “proper” form of English.

Daenerys from Game of Thrones stating that she “didn’t come here to argue grammar.” Gif from

While there is a tremendous amount of power and privilege associated with “standard” English, there is also great power and beauty in the various Englishes that exist: arguably, students have the right to not only bring their own languages into the classroom, but to learn to make these languages flourish. Learning how to integrate the Englishes that you might speak into your writing is called code-meshing.

There is no one way to effectively code-mesh, but several of the pieces we will be reading in this class exemplify these strategies (the works of Elaine Richardson, Junot Díaz and Barbara Mellix come to mind). Explained extensively here, code-meshing (or the more conservative style of code-switching) is not only possible in writing: Barack Obama is frequently cited for code-switching, as are Beyoncé and Comedy Central’s Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele (see references and videos for all four of these folks here).

A frequently cited gif of President Obama offering a less familial handshake to a white man than to a Black man. Gif from

Becoming fluent code-meshers is definitely something to practice in this class: keep code-meshing in mind as you read through the rest of the links on this page.

Helpful “Cheat” Sheets:

Queens College has a fantastic website devoted to helping students adapt to writing in college. Creatively called Writing at Queens, this site has an excellent list of handouts on writing that are sure to be helpful when adjusting to writing in college.

College Writing Guide:

Wondering how to dig into academic writing? This Writing in College guide from the University of Chicago has tips explaining the differences between high school and college writing; drafting papers; revising papers; and avoiding common pitfalls.

A 4-paneled gifset of Spongebob spending a lot of time putting pencil to paper… all to write one ornately decorated word: “The.” Gifset from

Writing Across Disciplines:

English classes aren’t your thing? Did you know that different fields in academics write differently? Just like poetry, novels, and short stories all often have different conventions of writing, so do the subjects of your potential majors throughout college. Biologists, for example, write differently than historians. The Writing at Queens website has a great set of guides to writing in different disciplines (ranging from computer science and philosophy to music and sociology).

(How to Avoid) Oops… I did it Again:

Wondering about that fine line between plagiarism and using on other scholars’ work to push your own thinking forward? Again, Writing at Queens can help.

Close Reading:

To write effectively, one of the number one tips you’ll find is… read! Read more! Read most! For tips on reading literature (academic and otherwise) as a scholar, peruse these tips on close reading strategies:

Harvard College Writing Center: “How to Do a Close Reading”

L. Kip Wheeler: “Close Reading of a Literary Passage”

The University of Wisconsin: Madison: “A Short Guide to Close Reading for Literary Analysis”

Purdue Online Writing Lab: “Close Reading a Text and Avoiding Pitfalls”

Research Questions:

Even though a lot of writers (myself included!) want to immediately pin down a thesis and “prove” it throughout the paper, more thoughtful, groundbreaking papers usually start with intensive research questions rather than the answer we find easiest to prove. The following links can help you hone in on research questions that are relevant to the world and interesting to you. One thing to keep in mind is always: do I know (or think I know) the answer to this question? If yes, perhaps I’m asking the wrong thing.

Rachel Cayley — “Using Writing to Clarify Your Own Thinking”

SUNY Empire State College — “Developing a Research Question”

Center for Innovative in Research and Teaching — “Writing a Good Research Question”

Thompson Writing Program: Duke University — “What Makes a Good Research Question?”

Research Rundowns — “Writing Research Questions”

Revising and Editing:

A little-known but hugely important writing fact: revising and editing are not the same things. Learn about the differences and how to effectively use them both to bring your writing to the next level (hopefully without stressing too much).

Penny from the Big Bang Theory, hair mussed and unwashed, staring up from her laptop with an exhausted expression, saying "Oh my god I need help." Gif from
Penny from the Big Bang Theory, hair mussed and unwashed, staring up from her laptop with an exhausted expression, saying “Oh my god I need help.” Gif from
  • Valerie Comer — “Rewrite Versus Revise Versus Edit”
  • Rachel Cayley’s “Explorations of Style”, a blog on academic writing, has tremendously helpful resources for improving academic writing. Some highlights are here:
  • Committing to Extensive Revisions: “Rather than worrying that your writing requires an exceptional amount of revision, try thinking that all writing requires a great deal of revision”
  • Revising Out Loud: “This past fall, I accidentally published a very rough draft of a post. I still don’t know how I managed to hit Publish instead of Save Draft, but I did.”
  • Reverse Outlines: “Exposing the internal structure of a piece of writing by creating a reverse outline”
  • Paragraphs: “Treating paragraphs as important units in your writing”
  • Transitions: “Making effective transitions between sentences, paragraphs, and sections”
  • Verbs: “Expressing the actions in your sentences with strong verbs”
  • Subjects: “Using the characters in your sentences as clear subjects”

Conventions of Academic Style:

Many people argue effectively that academic style is constraining and colonizing, while others assert that it is necessary for students to learn if they are to have any hope of succeeding academically. Some of these links will explore how to use academic writing for social justice, while others will focus solely on explaining the dominant conventions of academic writing.

Decolonization: Indigeneity, Education, and Society — “Online Writing as a Tool for Decolonization”

Lukas Thiessen — “How Does the Artist Decolonize”

UniLearning — “Expressing Your Voice in Academic Writing”

Rachel Cayley — “Contribution and Voice in Academic Writing”

How Do I Start Blogging?

An age-old question, and a good one!

First and foremost, we’ll be spending our Wednesday class sessions in the computer lab, so hopefully that kind of collaborative experience will be helpful for all of us.

Most importantly, if you don’t have steady access to internet outside of school, let me know as soon as you can so that I can make sure you get what you need to fully engage with your classmates and assignments through our course blog.

We’ll spend a bit of our time in the computer lab helping each other through the mechanics of blogging. But, for those moments when you’re at home or on the train thinking, ‘how do I do this thing on the course blog?’, here’s a Blog-Start-Up-Kit for you. Of course, if you have questions that this doc doesn’t address, and google also fails you (it happens!), let me know and we can work it out together.

Should you have any concerns about your privacy, you can choose a username that is not, in fact, your name; you can password-protect your posts; and you can always chat with me about any additional concerns you might have so we can find the best way to make this course blog a positive experience for you.

Syllabus Draft

This syllabus draft is your guide — your roadmap — to how our class will go this term. If you have questions about class logistics, thisis the first document you should check. However, because I want you to contribute heavily to how our class operates and how we work together, this syllabus is also a draft, a living document: it will change throughout the term according to your needs and wants and suggestions.

You all have access to commenting directly on this document through google docs at the link below and I encourage you to do so throughout the term when you have suggestions, questions, edits, or insights.

If and when substantial you (or I) make substantial changes to this document, I’ll let you know in class and the updates will be posted on this page.