• Course Syllabus (2017-18) for Dual Enrollment English 12A— BRCC English 111 & 112 Courses

    Instructor: Ron Witherow, Jr.   (witherr@augusta.k12.va.us)

    The Course Syllabus:

    Remember that a college course syllabus is a contract.  It outlines the requirements and expectations you must meet in order to get credit for the course.  I will be giving very specific information in this syllabus so that there will be no surprises for you later.  Read it carefully, and if you do not feel that the requirements are reasonable and achievable, be sure to see your guidance counselor immediately about dropping the course.

    Course Description:

    The dual enrollment version of English 12A actually is comprised of two courses typically taught separately at Blue Ridge Community College: English 111 and English 112.  Students at FDHS must earn a grade of C- (70) or better in the 111 course during the fall semester in order to be permitted to take the 112 course in the spring.  Any student receiving a grade lower than C- for the 111 course will be switched to a non-college-credit section of English 12A for the spring semester.  This is BRCC policy.

    English 111 (College Comp I) introduces students to critical thinking and the fundamentals of academic writing.  Through the writing process, students refine topics; develop and support ideas; investigate, evaluate, and incorporate appropriate resources; edit for effective style and usage; and determine appropriate approaches for a variety of contexts, audiences, and purposes.  Writing activities will focus on exposition and argumentation with at least one essay involving research.

    English 112 (College Comp II) involves an increased emphasis on critical essays, argumentation, and research, developing these competencies through the examination of a range of texts with an enhanced focus on writing about literature. The course requires students to locate, evaluate, integrate, and document sources at a scholarly level and to effectively edit for style and usage.


    Evaluation and Requirements:

    Regular, punctual class attendance and participation in the writing process, discussion, and peer revision and editing groups are vital to your success.  If you are absent from the class for any reason, it will be your responsibility to meet with me in advance or immediately upon your return to make up any work that can be made up.  All assigned work must be completed on the announced due dates to receive credit.  In most cases, late work will NOT receive credit.

    The anticipated weighting of assignments will be as follows, BUT I may make some minor adjustments (which will certainly be announced BEFORE the nine-weeks grading period in question begins):

    English 111 Component  (first and second 9-week grading periods during first semester):

    Essays (including 3 required drafts for each)= 35%

    Tests= 15%

    Quizzes= 15%

    Assignments & activities= 15%

    Writing journal= 12%

    Active participation in mandatory drafting/revision/editing in-class workshops= 4%

    Drafting process for papers= 4%


    English 112 Component— third & fourth 9-week grading periods (second semester):

    Essays= 35%

    Tests= 15%

    Quizzes= 15%

    Assignments & activities= 15%

    Reading responses= 12%

    Drafting process for papers= 4%

    Revision/editing in-class workshops= 4%


    While I typically enter grades in my Infinite Campus online grade book within two to three days of the completion of the majority of activities and assessments in DE English 12A, the major written assignments (essays) obviously take significantly longer for me to evaluate. 

    Even for work that can be made up or at least submitted for some credit, I always enter a 0 for absent students.  That 0 will be changed (if possible) after the absent student submits that work upon return to class. 

    Finally, starting this year, parents/guardians will receive an e-mail message every Monday afternoon identifying all assignments over last week for which no grade has been entered or for which the student has received a failing grade.  Students and parents should keep these things in mind when checking grades for DE English 12A.  


    Grading Scale for the Courses:

    All work completed during the dual enrollment course at FDHS will be scored on a 10-point scale, as is done at Blue Ridge Community College.  However, we will be using the +/- system for grading calculations for the English 12A part of the course at FDHS.

    Since BRCC does not make use of a plus/minus system for final grades, the final grades for the 111 and 112 courses converted to the BRCC grade-reporting standard.  Simply, that means that earning an “A-” for a course at FDHS will result in an “A” grade reported for that course at BRCC.  Earning a “B+” for a course at FDHS will yield a grade of “B” for that course at BRCC, etc.


    Required Texts:

    See the additional page “Textbooks Needed for Dual Enrollment English 12A”

    NOTE: Students must purchase and have both of the required 111 texts with them by the FIRST class meeting!


    Required Materials:

                A LARGE three-ring binder in which you should keep all copies of drafts of your essays.  DO NOT

                            dispose of any of them until the course has ended and your final grade has been awarded!

                Eight highlighters – TWO EACH in the following colors: yellow, green, blue, and pink.

                A packet of COLLEGE-RULED loose-leaf paper.  All graded writing journal entries will be done on

                              this paper.  NOTE: College-ruled paper (sometimes labeled “narrow-ruled” has 32 lines for

                              writing on each side of the paper.  Make sure that is what you get for this class!


                Access to a word processor and printer.  All papers (including drafts) MUST be typed

                              (no handwritten drafts will be accepted at any time).  Remember that you may not be able to

                              rely solely on the FDHS computers & printers to be functional and reliable the day an

                            assignment is due to be printed.  Plan ahead to avoid a last-minute crisis.


                An abundant supply of standard white typing paper.  You will be required to bring complete

                              copies of EVERY draft of each of your essays.  Don’t expect FDHS to have paper for you in

                              the media center every time you need to run off a copy.  Be prepared with your own paper,

                            just in case.


    Policy on Late Work:

                I do not typically accept late work for the assignments and activities with due dates announced in advance (which means just about all of them).  Those not turned in on time will be 0s for the assignment.  When I do agree to take something late, know that it will count for a 50 instead of a zero.  Late drafts of final essays and papers will almost certainly result in 50s for the assignment at best.  Frankly, if you cannot complete assignments on time, you should not be enrolling in a college class. 


    Class Attendance:

    You have an opportunity to be rewarded significantly for being in class nearly every day.

    At the end of each grading period, your lowest grade (except those for essays or tests) can be replaced with one that will reward you for your attendance in the class for the grading period.  You will start each nine-week grading period with a 100 for a bonus “attendance” grade.  You will lose 4 points from your attendance average for every class day missed during the grading period.  An absence for any reason—including participation in a school activity—will count.  However, the attendance grade will be factored into your final grade each nine weeks ONLY if it is higher than your lowest grade over that period.  Early dismissals with 10 or more minutes left in the class block or late arrivals after more than 10 minutes will be considered absences for the day.  Obviously, you can still maintain an A average for attendance if you have 2 or fewer absences during a grading period, a B if you have 3-5, a C if you have 6-7, and so forth.  And again, this bonus attendance grade will only be factored in if it can help you by replacing a lower grade.  If it does not, the attendance grade will NOT be counted.

    NOTE: The bonus attendance grade cannot replace a 0 for an assignment, however.  If you do not turn in an assignment, the 0 your receive for it WILL definitely affect your grade.

    Additionally, remember that overall attendance for each semester can have a separate impact on your final grade reported to BRCC for the college-credit portion of this course. 

    Please read the very important addendum to the syllabus below (“Attendance Policy & Rationale for College Credit”) which explains how your attendance may also separately affect the grade you receive at BRCC. 


    Additional Expectations of Students:

                I expect students to do their own original work at all times.  Plagiarizing material from the Internet or presenting the work of other writers or other students as your own will not be tolerated.  If you are found to have plagiarized even the smallest amount of material in your essays or course assignments (including copying or sharing answers on graded reading response assignments) at any point during the semester, you may be removed from the course and receive NO credit (high school or college) for it. 

     I expect all students to take responsibility for their own learning.  It will be your job to complete assignments properly and on time, to get makeup work whenever a day of class is missed, and to exhibit the proper habits and classroom behavior essential to academic success.  I will not be interested in excuses for why you cannot do what is expected to succeed in this class, so do not waste your time and energy formulating them.

     I expect students to respect me and each other during our process of working together.  The many workshop activities that are a part of these courses will permit us to be informal and to get to know one another well.  At no time, however, should that informality and familiarity result in disrespectful or offensive words and actions.  Additionally, respect means that you will have your cell phone off and put away during any lecture or presentation time by me or your classmates.  Cell phones may be utilized for some in-class activities, but only when the instructor gives explicit approval for you to do so.

     Finally, I expect all final drafts of your essays (the ones to be graded) to be submitted to me in BOTH print and electronic forms.  The print copy must be turned in on the paper’s final due date, and the electronic copy (in Microsoft Word or PDF format) must be sent via e-mail attachment to my school e-mail address before the following day’s class meeting.  There will be a significant grade deduction in the final grade for any paper not submitted electronically on time as directed. 

    (Sending me an e-mail without attaching the essay is the same as NOT submitting the essay!)


    DE English 12A Attendance Policy and Rationale

    The Blue Ridge Community College (BRCC) Catalog and Student Handbook states that "punctual and regular attendance" by students is required, and the school expects professors and adjunct faculty to enforce a firm attendance policy. 

    At most college and universities, the standard for classes that meet three times a week for sixteen weeks (forty-eight class meetings) is three absences—regardless of the reason for not attending class—as the cutoff point after which students begin to experience grade deductions for additional absences.  Dual enrollment (DE) courses at FDHS, however, have considerably more class meetings than the same courses at BRCC.  In a semester, our students meet approximately ninety times; therefore, a greater latitude for absences is reasonable.  

    A student missing 3 classes at BRCC during a 16-week semester is missing 6.25% of the 48 total class meetings.  That amounts to one week of class meetings.  It is fair for that approximate percentage to be the benchmark for DE classes at FDHS as well, which would be 5.625 absences.  Rounding off the number, a student missing more than six class meetings during a semester, then, should begin to experience a significant grade penalty for each additional absence.

    A troubling inconsistency is the Augusta County policy of counting some absences as “excused” and others as “unexcused” and permitting students involved in school-sanctioned activities (regardless of the total number during the semester) to be counted present in class when they are in fact absent.  College students are held to a higher standard—a class absence, for any reason, is an absence.  Professors neither evaluate notes from parents or doctors nor check to see when a student left the campus.  The bottom line is that if a student is not in the professor’s class for a day of instruction, he or she is absent, and absences for any reason whatsoever are excused—as long as the student meets assignment deadlines, makes up any missed work, and does not exceed the three-absence limit.  The challenge for DE instructors is to rectify this inconsistency.

    There is an easy solution, and it involves the “dual” nature of the course.  For the purpose of the English 12A grade at FDHS, the DE teacher will follow all policies and procedures for counting absences set by Augusta County.  No penalties will be assessed to the student’s English 12A grade that are not allowable under the attendance policy for Augusta County schools.  However, for the BRCC grade for the course, a more rigorous attendance standard will be employed.  At the end of each semester-long course, the student’s BRCC grade will be reduced by 5 percentage points from the final semester average for the English 12A course for each absence beyond the six-absence cutoff point (regardless of the reason for any of the students’ absences).  That means, in effect, that the student could receive a higher grade for his/her senior English credit than the student will for his/her BRCC credit. 

    What are the ramifications of this attendance policy?

    First, students who elect to enroll in the DE English course (and their parents) must understand in advance that personal sacrifices will be necessary to take advantage of the opportunity to earn college credits during the high school day

    Some families schedule vacation trips during the planned Christmas break period and during the announced spring break time.  However, the Augusta County School Board occasionally adjusts the school calendar to replace days missed for inclement weather.  Students must either reserve absences for such periods or adjust their travel plans accordingly to accommodate rescheduled class days not originally on the school calendar.

    Additionally, while it may be convenient for parents to schedule doctor and dental visits for the student in the middle of the school day, absences from the DE class for such choices will be just that—absences.  (Note: Arriving tardy beyond the first 10 minutes of a class meeting or leaving class 10 minutes or more early will still result in an absence for the class day.)

    Second, students planning on participating in school-related activities may also need to make choices.  It will not be possible for them to behave as though they are taking a regular high school class.  For example, they may not be able to go on the multiple-day fine arts field trip in the spring, as well as miss more classes for athletics contests, and also miss more classes for illnesses, and additionally miss classes for scheduled medical or dental exams.  The onus will be on the student—not the teacher—to monitor absences closely to avoid exceeding the six-absence cutoff.  What the student determines is a “necessary” absence to take for those six will be left to the student’s discretion.

    Finally, students and parents must realize that in the case of necessary extended absences due to illnesses or family emergencies—those resulting in ten or more total absences during a semester—students are strongly encouraged to withdraw from the DE class and take regular English 12A instead.  That’s what is expected at the college or university level when a student has excessive absences, and that’s why policies are in place there to permit students to withdraw from a class without a grade penalty in case of such problems.

    In summary, students cannot expect to receive college credit for a class they are not attending nearly every day.  That is how it is at the college and university level, and that is how it will be in DE English 12A at FDHS.