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ENGL-101 - English Composition - Dr. Caitlin Newcomer

Course:English Composition
Professor:Dr. Caitlin Newcomer
  • Online
Course Length:
  • 16 Week


Hello, and welcome to English 101! My name is Dr. Newcomer. I teach Composition, Creative Writing, and Literature classes at COC. I am very excited to get to know you all this semester and look forward to reading your work. 

The course syllabus, containing important course policies and procedures, the calendar of weekly assignment deadlines and much more detailed information about how the course is structured overall, can be found on our course Canvas shell when it goes live at 9am on the first day of school. On that day, you will have access to the course in Canvas, and should log in to view the course syllabus and assignment instructions.

Below, I've provided an overview of the course and how it will function--please read all of the sections carefully as they will likely answer some questions you may already have about the course. Make sure to note the required textbooks (which you should purchase before the semester starts) and other various resources available to you. I very much want all of you to succeed in this course, and I look forward to working with you this semester!

Warm Regards,

Dr N

Course Description

The catalog description for this 100% online, 16 week course states that English 101 “builds critical reading and expository writing skills through the analysis and evaluation of college-level texts and the composition of well-organized, full-length essays containing properly documented evidence.” In other words, English 101 teaches students to read critically, think logically, and write intelligently for a variety of academic, professional, and public audiences. As a result, throughout the semester we will consider both how different communicators craft their messages for particular audiences as well as how we can become more deliberate in our own communication choices. 

As noted above, one of the key premises of English 101 is that everything is rhetorical, meaning that everything--from music videos to posters to textbooks--is an argument. As a result, we will constantly find ourselves asking questions about why arguments take specific forms, how they are supported, how effective they are, and who (or what) they support. One of our two required books for this course, Hanif Abdurraqib’s essay collection They Can’t Kill Us Until They Kill Us uses music as a vehicle for asking questions about culture, history, and what it means to live in America at this particular moment. Therefore, in order to more deeply engage with this text, we too will pay special attention to how popular culture--and most specifically popular music--acts as a channel for cultural shifts, fears, and desires. We will also pay particular attention to how we might use writing and talking about music and pop culture as a useful and interesting vehicle for having “deeper” conversations about what we value and why.

What to Expect in this Course

This class operates on a growth mindset.  This means that there is no such thing as a naturally good writer (or reader, or critical thinker)—someone who was born with writing talent and doesn’t have to work at it.  We may all start from different places and have subjects we prefer, but quality writing (or any other product) is the result of hours of practice and hard work. 

In other words, I believe that you can all be good writers, but you must be willing to put in the work.  (As an illustration, at his best, Kobe Bryant shot 700-1,000 basketball shots per day to stay on his game.  He also trained 6 hours a day on 6 days a week where many of his competitors would train 1-2 hours a day for 4-5 days a week.  In other words, Kobe worked to be as good as he was.) Because of all this, my goal for you all this semester is not that you attain some kind of writerly perfection (what would that even look like, anyway?!) but that, as my son’s kindergarten teacher says, you follow the mantra “practice makes progress.” If you practice, you will get better. Kobe knew it, my son’s kindergarten teacher knows it, and I do too. Put in the time and you’ll see the results.

Practical Information:

We will be using Canvas for this class. On Canvas, you can access the course syllabus and the weekly modules with all the materials found inside, such as videos, power-point lectures, handouts, essay prompts, essay rubrics, homework schedules, and helpful links. It is also where you’ll submit all your work. I will also post important weekly Announcements on Canvas throughout the semester. All instructional materials and the assignment submission links can be found under the weekly “MODULES” on Canvas. You do not have access to the modules all at once—they are released week by week. Modules will be made available at 5 pm the Thursday before the following week’s assignments are due. Each week you have the chance to get a jump-start on the following week’s assignments and turn them in early.

Types of Assessments

Typically, there will be approximately 3 assignment deadlines to meet each week (in addition to required reading), such as weekly Discussion Board posts and responses as well as pre-writing and brainstorming activities, reflective journals, a timed, short-answer Midterm Essay Exam, and 4 major papers submitted throughout the semester. For each of your 4 major papers, you are required to submit a prewriting assignment, a rough draft, and complete peer review activities, as well as have a Zoom tutoring session with a TLC Tutor.

Textbook Information

  1. They Say, I Say: The Moves That Matter in Academic Writing (4th Edition), edited by Cathy Birkenstein and Gerald Graff. ISBN 978-0-393-63167-8. Note: Make sure to purchase the version of this textbook without the “readings”—TSIS with readings is more expensive and the page numbers will be off from what I assign on our syllabus.
  2. They Can’t Kill Us Until They Kill Us, Essays by Hanif Abdurraquib. ISBN 978-1-937512-65-1. Note: Make sure to buy a paper copy of this book; no e-books, please (the page numbers will be off from what I assign on our syllabus.

Other Relevant Course Information

This course requires a substantial weekly time commitment: To successfully complete this course, you will need to log onto our class Canvas shell several times per week to view documents and PowerPoints, submit assignments, and participate in discussions. Meeting the multiple weekly deadlines and carefully reading everything I post will be crucial to success in the class. You should expect to spend approximately 8-12 hours per week completing writing assignments and reading the material to be prepared for class, just as you would for any in-person course. This course meets the IGETC Arts and Humanities requirement for transfer to CSU and UC and therefore requires the same amount of total work hours as a regular face-to-face section—the only difference is that the time of day that you complete your work is more flexible when you take an online class. Our class-wide discussion boards (where much of our class work will be conducted) will be asynchronous, not synchronous, meaning that you can log in at a time of day convenient to you as long as you post or respond by the predetermined deadline.

This course has an “Attendance” Policy: Although it may seem strange to have an attendance policy when no physical attendance is required, your completion of weekly assignments and participation in the weekly discussion boards serves as your attendance because weekly participation is VITAL to your success in English 101. Falling behind, by even 1 or 2 assignments, often jeopardizes a student’s ability to pass the course. As a former student, I understand how your time outside of English class quickly fills up with homework, job, family, and other obligations. This is why everything we do for this class builds towards the goal of writing—and passing!— the 4 major papers and the Midterm (worth the most points this semester). In other words, I have taken your other classes and obligations into consideration when planning the weekly assignments, so I expect you to do your part by participating regularly. Plus, if everyone is involved and contributing, class is more fun and interesting! To say it again one other way--you are a valuable part of our learning community, and it matters to us all when you aren't there. 

Finally, this course requires that you learn and use some basic technology skills.  While you do not need to be a computer “expert” to take this course, you should have a certain level of comfort and competence with computers. To succeed in this class, you should be able to: Navigate the Internet, send and receive email attachments, upload work to Canvas, cut and paste text from documents, compose and format documents in a word processing program, and save documents as PDF files. You should also be able to back up all of your course work as you prepare it. For example, you should save your work to your hard drive, and consider purchasing a jump drive (thumb drive), which will give you more flexibility and a back-up to your hard drive should your computer be infected by a virus or suffer hardware failure. Googledocs or dropbox are other great options for backing up/ saving your work. Some of the initial challenge of this course involves learning the technology. It takes some getting accustomed to it all, but don’t worry—after the first couple of weeks, it will all seem very natural to you.

Welcome once again! I look forward to working with you all. 

Additional Resources


This course can be accessed on the first day of class via Canvas at Log into Canvas using your CanyonsID single sign-on:

  • CanyonsID Username is your COC student email address (Ex:
  • CanyonsID Password is your COC student email password

Please visit the Get to Know Your Online Classroom page for help logging into Canvas and for tips on using Canvas and Zoom. Canvas Chat Support is also available 24/7 for any Canvas related issues.

Online Education

Check out the Online Education website for more information on a variety of topics that can help you be a successful online student such as: exam proctoring, learning styles, computer skills, and tips for student success. If this is your first online course, feel free to take our online learning readiness assessment to assess your skills.

The Learning Center (TLC)

The TLC provides FREE online tutoring resources to COC students!

Academic Accommodation Center (AAC)

College of the Canyons AAC provides educational services and access for eligible students with documented disabilities who intend to pursue coursework at COC. A variety of programs and services are available which afford eligible students with disabilities the opportunity to participate fully in all aspects of the college programs and activities through appropriate and reasonable accommodations. For more information on their services visit the Academic Accomodation Center website.

Online Counseling

The Counseling Department offers appointments online. You can schedule an appointment by visiting the Online Counseling website. Counselors can help you map out a plan to reach your educational goals as well as advise you on course selection and registration.

Management of Stress and Mental Health

Often the pressure on our students is very strong, involving academic commitments, relationships, outside jobs and family pressure to name a few. The staff and faculty of College of the Canyons are here to see you succeed academically and care about your emotional and physical health. You can learn more about the broad range of confidential student services, including counseling and mental health services available on campus by visiting the Student Health & Wellness Center in the Student Services Building (across from the bookstore). The phone number is 661-362-3259 that you can call 24/7. You can also e mail for an appointment at At the Canyon Country Campus the Health Center will be in the new Student Services Building.

Also, the National Suicide & Crisis Lifeline number is now 988. All students at COC are encouraged to enter that phone number in their cells. You can call it when you, or someone you know, is having thoughts of suicide or is in severe distress.

You can also now use the Crisis Text Line: Just text "Courage" to 741741. Someone will get back to you immediately. Its free, 24/7, and confidential.

Veterans Resource Center

The College of the Canyons Veterans Resource Center is a department within the Student Services Division at the college, created to help veterans and veteran dependents with applying to College of the Canyons, enrolling in classes, and requesting VA Education or Vocational Benefits. For more information please visit the Veterans Resource Center website, email or phone (661) 362-3469.


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Last updated: 10/08/2021 Sub#: 812