The Core Composition Sequence at Kingsborough Community College, CUNY

Course Design Resources | Comp I

In a significant shift from previous generations of curriculum materials, we’ve chosen to describe the approach (“what themes/topics?”); qualities of writing experiences (“what kinds?”) and the quantity of writing (“how much?”). We’ve made this shift away from the previous curricular structure, which mapped out three different major writing projects that anchored units of the semester, to this more fluid, high-level description for a few different reasons. 

  1. We want our teaching community to focus on the “big picture” (see Course Learning Outcomes) in designing their courses rather than focus on the fine-grained details of whether or not a particular assignment they want to give fits into the curricular structure. 
  2. We recognize that there are a range of approaches to the day-to-day of teaching writing that are equally strong and valid, and we want to encourage experimentation. 
  3. We want to move away from fetishizing one particular construct of what the “writing process” might look like and, instead, offer each other the latitude to switch up and broaden the ways we invite our students to do the iterative, recursive, social, and reflective work of good writing. 

What theme/topics should I teach?

While instructors maintain the freedom to develop their own theme and topics for the section of Composition 1 they are teaching, we ask that they elevate the study of writing as a subject to the level of content. This means writing itself should be front and center rather than simply a practice that happens as a byproduct of focusing attention on other topics. All course readings or discussions needn’t be solely about writing or reading, but all sections of the course should teach certain content knowledge about writing and reading named in the Course Learning Outcomes. In order to provide a cohesive course experience that will allow students to build and enhance their knowledge and skills as they advance to English 24 and WI courses, it is important that essential rhetorical and critical reading and writing skills are taught across all sections of in English 12.

Instructors interested in designing a course with writing as a theme also may want to consider the following open-access texts.

Instructors interested in developing assignments around the topic of translingualism, might want to refer to this open-access text.

One final note as you select your texts and assignments: Composition I is not a course in literary study and analysis, so the texts, reading habits, and types of writing taught should not be primarily or exclusively literary but should, instead, represent a range of types of texts and focus on helping students meet the Course Learning Outcomes.

About how much should students write? 

While the amount of writing produced will vary from one student to the next and from one section of Composition I to the next, students should aim to produce at least 3,000 words, or approximately 10 double-spaced pages, of revised or polished writing. This does not include all the low-stakes writing they might do, including informal reflections, blog posts, journal entries,  annotations, planning notes, outlines, drafts and writing as part of peer review. This writing will probably exceed 3000 words, leading to a total of closer to 7000 words for the course.

We are not offering these numbers as hard and fast goals, and teachers will not be asked to demonstrate that students have produced this much writing. Instead, the aim is to give people a sense of about how much writing they might expect from students and to ensure that students will be asked to produce a comparable quantity of writing across different sections of Composition I. Please see the sample syllabi for examples of courses in which students are asked to produce at least 7,000 words of writing.

What kinds of writing should I assign?

Per local and CUNY wide outcomes, some writing in the course must include at least a small amount of outside research. However, this does not mean that all assignments need to be conventional “academic essays.” Please see below for descriptions of different kinds of writing one might assign in Composition I along with brief descriptions of assignments that were shared by members of the 2021-22 CRC. These “snapshots” do not utilize the language of assignment handout or provide all of the information that would typically appear in a handout for students; rather, the aim is to provide faculty with a broad overview of different ways types of assignments and how they align with the new Course Learning Outcomes.

Academic essays/papers | thesis-driven, analytical, clear exigence, utilizes evidence & ideas from readings, structured using deductive reasoning signposts, etc. For brief descriptions of academic essays/papers aligned with the CLOs, click here.

Public non-fiction genres | argument/purpose-driven, persuasive, informative, narrative, expressive, frequently multimodal. For brief descriptions of assignments asking students to produce writing in other public, non-fiction genres, click here.

Metacognitive writing | self (or group/team)-reflective, narrative, self-analytical, documents growing awareness and learning. For examples of low-stakes and high-stakes writing assignments to promote metacognitive writing, click here.

Revisions of writing | Iterations of any/all genres written in the course. While all assignments may require students to engage in some kind of revision, this brief description of an assignment suggests one way to prompt deep revision by asking students to repurpose writing by working in a different genre for a different audience and purpose.