Skip to main contentSkip to footer

English 103 - English 103 Critical Reading, Writing, and Thinking - Ron Kasdorf

Course:English 103 Critical Reading, Writing, and Thinking
Professor:Ron Kasdorf
  • OnlineLive
  • InPerson
Course Length:
  • Applies to All Course Lengths


being silly with grandson

English 103 is one of my favorite classes, because I love making meanings and critically analyzing meaning-making processes. For me, that’s what being human is all about: making the best sense we can wherever we are and whatever we’re doing. As my favorite pragmatic philosopher, Richard Rorty, reminds us, “The world does not speak. Only we do.”

make a lot of useful and empowering meanings from that observation. And the critical thinking we will practice in this class will, I believe, help you to become a more skilled and efficient meaning-maker than you are right now—both personally and academically. I look forward to all the interesting collaborations we will enjoy on the meanings we make and how we choose to respond to those meanings.


Course Description

STUDENT LEARNING OUTCOMES                                                  

 1. Evaluate the strength of written, visual, and multimedia arguments on a range of different issues and controversies.

2. Compose logical, well-reasoned arguments on selected topics such as popular culture, politics, social issues, and moral and ethical issues.

Traditionally, COURSE OBJECTIVES come right after SLOs (but I will not list them here; you can see them on the course syllabus, which you can get to on Canvas the first day of the term). This orientation letter does not take the place of the syllabus; I’m writing this to give you a sense of who I am and what you will be doing if you decide to take the class. 

What to Expect in this Course


  1. Posting and responding to posts on Canvas discussion boards
  2. Doing two quizzes, a midterm, and a final
  3. Uploading homework once a week to
  4. Uploading drafts of papers to Turnitin and doing peer reviews of your classmates’ drafts
  5. Emailing me drafts of papers as attachments (either pdf or word) for my feedback
  6. Writing four papers on the following:
  • Paper one is an analysis/synthesis essay on two articles of your choosing from the readings in chapter one and chapter eight of our text
  • Paper two is a semiotic analysis and rhetorical interpretation of an advertisement
  • Paper three is a thematic interpretation (which you support and develop with semiotic and rhetorical analysis) of a movie or episode from a series
  • Paper four is a value-based interpretation of your two most important personal identifiers or signs (which, just as in paper three, you support and develop using semiotic analysis and rhetorical interpretation)

Types of Assessments

Forty percent of your grade comes from class participation, which includes attending classes, doing homework on the readings (you answer any two questions from the batch I give you and upload your answers to turnitin Thursday night), participating in Canvas discussion boards (whole-class and small-group), uploading drafts of papers and doing peer and self-reviews on turnitin. I grade these assignments really generously. Please participate.

The other sixty percent comes from the five papers, two quizzes, and a final exam. I grade these fairly rigorously. But for a summer class, only four papers and one quiz.

Everyone who completes the participation assignments on time and at least decently has an excellent chance of at least a B.

I am also a huge fan of extra credit. Expect a lot of opportunities. I love, love extra credit.

Textbook Information

Signs of Life in the USA, the TENTH edition (the tenth is the newest edition and it must be this one--it's kinda reddish-orange in overall color), edited by Sonia Maasik and Jack Solomon. The ISBN number is 978-1-319-21366-4

Other Relevant Course Information

The course syllabus has important course policies, procedures, assignments, and due dates. It will be available on our course's Canvas shell when it goes live on the first day of the semester. On that day, you will have access to the course in Canvas. You will have a discussion post due on the second day of the semester, where you respond to and ask a question about a paper I wrote on Semiotics, Rhetoric, and Othello. Also, I will email the syllabus and the paper a week before class, and of course they will both be on Canvas as well.

If you want the paper and syllabus early, be happy to send. Just email me, which you should always do whenever you have questions about anything or just want to double check (I am a big fan of double checking).

All the best.



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.


The Library provides live online and in-person research help, access to a full range of e-resources and physical materials that support the curriculum, individual and group study areas, and much more!

Last updated: 07/22/2022 Sub#: 122