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 yourwriting requires an exceptional amount of revision, try thinking that allwriting 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”

Documents We Will Use In Class:

Fanfic and narrative structure, evidence, etc —

Summarizing, Paraphrasing, Quoting —

All the (non-power acknowledging) comp topics ever —

Rhetoric in your writing —

Beyond the five-paragraph structure —

Three-story thesis —

Integrating evidence —

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 the image below:

^^ 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)
Tuesday, March 6 Introductions
Thursday, March 8 Read entire syllabus.
    1. Check your LaGuardia email to confirm your course blog registration.
  • Post to the blog brief answers to each of the questions on the first page of this syllabus (after you read through the entire syllabus).
Tuesday, March 13 Intro to Poetry Email (no blog post necessary) your personal grading contract to me.
Thursday, March 15 “3 Ways to Speak English” by Jamila Lyiscott Post to blog three questions you have about the poem (written down) and two body gestures (described in writing) that the readings inspired for you and two sounds (described in writing) that the poem inspired for you.
Tuesday, March 20 “Names” by Rachel Rostad Post to blog three questions you have about the poem (written down) and two body gestures (described in writing) that the readings inspired for you and two sounds (described in writing) that the poem inspired for you.
Thursday, March 22
  1. “Poem for a Lady Whose Voice I Like” by Nikki Giovanni
  2. “Fan Fiction in the Composition Classroom” by Kimberly Karalius
  3. Read Fan Fiction Assignment Sheet
Tuesday, March 27 Peer Reviews Fan Fiction Draft Due on Blog
Thursday, March 29 Peer Reviews Post reviews to two of your classmates’ fan fictions (in comment form on the course blog)
Tuesday, April 3 Spring break (no classes)
Thursday, April 5 Spring break (no classes)
Tuesday, April 10 Class cancelled — professor out of town Fan Fiction and Reflection Due on Blog
Thursday, April 12 Intro to Drama
Tuesday, April 17 Begin Anon(ymous)
Thursday, April 19 Continue Anon(ymous) Post to blog three questions you have about the play (written down) and two body gestures (described in writing) that the play inspired for you and two sounds (described in writing) that the play inspired for you.
Tuesday, April 24 Finish Anon(ymous)
Thursday, April 26 Intro to Research

  1. “Rhetorical Modes”
  2. Read Research Essay Assignment Sheet
Tuesday, May 1 Peer Reviews

  1. “Moving Beyond the Five-Paragraph Theme”
  2. “The Three-Story Thesis”
Research Essay Draft Due on Blog
Thursday, May 3 Research + Peer Reviews Post reviews to two of your classmates’ research essays (in comment form on the course blog)
Tuesday, May 8 Intro to Comics Research Essay and Reflection Due on Blog
Thursday, May 10 Last Day to Officially Withdraw from a Class

Begin Ms. Marvel

Tuesday, May 15 Continue Ms. Marvel
Thursday, May 17
  1. Finish Ms. Marvel
  2. Read Narrative Essay Assignment
Tuesday, May 22 “Rhetorical Context”
Thursday, May 24 Peer Reviews Narrative Essay Draft Due on Blog
Tuesday, May 29 Peer Reviews Post reviews to two of your classmates’ narrative essays (in comment form on the course blog)
Thursday, May 31 Last Day of Class Narrative Essay and Reflection Due on Blog

Class Roadmap

This syllabus draft is your guide — your roadmap — to how our class will go this term. If you have questions about class logistics, this is 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.

Class Resources

It is very important to me that our class is as accessible as possible for everyone in it. This means that if I’m ever using language that is not easily understandable, or am speaking too quickly, or am generally coming up short in my responsibility to help you learn the best you can, I always encourage you to let me know in any way that you can (saying something during class, notes, emails, in-person, etc.).

Additionally, if any factors you cannot control — public transportation availability/safety, family safety in the midst of changing immigration policies, etc. — are interfering with your ability to benefit from this class experience, know that there are many resources available to you through LaGuardia.

Some of these resources are housed at the Wellness Center (discussed below and linked here: and others — including legal counseling, financial assistance, health care enrollment, etc. — can be accessed through Single Stop (linked here:

What can you access through Single Stop?


Single Stop USA has partnered with LaGuardia Community College to connect students with federal and state financial resources, and local community services to overcome financial barriers, stay in school and graduate. Single Stop provides financial assistance with daily living expenses, e.g. pay for doctor’s visits, medications, food, rent, utilities, child care, transportation and more! All of our services are free for LaGuardia students and their immediate family members.

Do I qualify for benefits?

If you answer “yes” to any of the questions below, you may qualify for additional financial services and/or benefits:

  • Do you need help paying for college?
  • Are you finding it difficult to meet basic living expenses such as for housing, food, rent, clothing, etc?
  • Are you receiving limited or no financial support from your family?
  • Are you financially responsible for children under the age of 24?
  • Are you a veteran?
  • Are you in need of financial assistance?
  • Are you undocumented?

You can also access free and confidential immigration assistance is available through CUNY Citizenship Now, linked here: and CUNY CLEAR, linked here:

In addition, dis/abilities — ranging from anxiety to chronic pain — often go un-discussed in classroom settings, but my goal for this class is to foster a generative learning environment for each student: if I am not succeeding at this, please let me know so that I can make the necessary changes. As I will repeat throughout the syllabus, if you anticipate needing any kind of modification to the class as structured, please let me know as soon as possible.

This includes the ability to draft a separate grading contract with me if you know that any component of the contract is going to be overly burdensome or impossible for you to achieve due to life circumstances or any dis/ability you might experience. Additionally, if you have a documented learning, sensory, physical, or other reason for needing any kind of special accommodation in this class, contact the The Wellness Center in room C-249, email, and phone 718-482-5471. Please feel free to reach out to me for additional assistance.