EES81QFC: Freshperson Comp

For today’s homework, click here.
For major assignments, click here.

Course Description:

Freshman Composition, or as I prefer to call it, Freshperson Comp, is a class that seeks to welcome you to high school and give you the skills you need to be successful as a reader, writer, and thinker.  Our class will be a place where you can make friends,  read, write, learn study skills, and think about interesting ideas.

We will read a range of books, short stories, poems, and articles that will challenge you to think about the world–and books you may have encountered before–in new ways.  We will work together on developing writing and research skills that will help you succeed in high school and beyond.  My expectation is that you will take the class, and your classmates, seriously.  This is a class where everyone will be encouraged to be brave, try their best, take a risk, have fun, and to encourage each other.

Texts (subject to change according to instructor discretion and text availability):

  • 1984, by George Orwell
  • Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress, by Die Sijie
  • Romeo and Juliet, by William Shakespeare
  • The Joy Luck Club, by Amy Tan
  • Frankenstein, or The Modern Prometheus, by Mary Shelley
  • Assorted short stories, poetry, and nonfiction readings

Homework (20%):  I assign daily homework (including nightly reading, some writing, and occasional research) through the class website, located at  I do not accept late homework–see Grading Policies  for exceptions.

At times, it will be necessary for you to print items to read and bring to class.  Please make a habit of checking the website daily.  If you have an excused absence, please use the archive to make up homework upon your return.

Keeping up with the reading schedule is essential to success in this class.  Class discussions (and therefore class participation) rely heavily on the reading, as do homework, essays, and group presentations.

Class Participation (20%): Participating in class discussion, both by responding to your classmates’ comments and initiating your own, is an essential part of this class.  Completing in-class activities and note-taking is also an important part of this process.  Lateness and unexcused absences will negatively affect your class participation grade.

Minutes, a summary of the previous day’s class and a literary gift of poetry, humor, art, or song, is assigned when you sign up on the class calendar.  Please use your Stuyvesant planner to note your Minutes dates and check it daily.

Major Assignments (60%): Each work we read will be accompanied by a writing assignment or group project.  These will take many forms—essays, creative pieces, group projects, or essay tests.  You must save copies of all your written work in folder or looseleaf notebook, and back up your work on your flashdrive or in an internet cloud-based location.

The Writing Center: Located in the library on the 6th floor, the Writing Center is available every period of every day, provided that you make an appointment in advance.  Student teachers and specially trained peer editors provide one-on-one tutoring for every stage of the writing process, from brainstorming to editing and proofreading.  You are strongly encouraged to make an appointment as soon as a major assignment is given.

Required Materials:

  1. A folder or a looseleaf notebook dedicated to this class.
  2. A pen or a pencil, every day.
  3. The current class text and any required printouts or handouts.
  4. A flash drive or internet cloud-based account. You will be required to save copies of all your work in your portfolio and notebook.  In addition, you must save your essays on your computer hard drive and on the disk or cloud.  Backing up work is an essential writing and academic habit.
  5. Internet access and an email account.
  6. Updated contact information, at an email address you check regularly, on the “Student Tools” section of the Stuyvesant website.
  7. An account on (see instructions on

Grades: I grade writing assignments and homework on a letter scale (A, A-, B+, etc.).  For more information please see Grading Policies.


Excused Absences: Please hand me your absence note, without comment, at the beginning of class.  (Since we have to start class on time, please save any discussion of your absence until after class, when I will be happy to talk with you about it. :)) I will attempt to return your note  to you during class; if I fail to do so, please make sure you get it back from me at the end of class.

Unexcused Absences: Do not miss class unless it is excused and you absolutely have to.  Class discussion is important to your understanding, and you are important to class discussion.  Students with more than 3 unexcused absences in a given cannot score above 90 in that class.  I will not accept missed work from unexcused absences.

Missed Work for Excused Absence: You are responsible for making up missed work for excused absence in a timely way–feel free to see me after class if you need to discuss or make arrangements.

You can make up excused absences from peer editing for major assignments only by taking a complete draft to the Writing Center, located in the library (sixth floor).  I will receive a notice from the Writing Center confirming your attendance.

Lateness:  Sign into the late log without disturbing the class.  No credit will be granted for the class participation and quizzes you miss for lateness, and lateness will affect your participation grade.

Deadlines:  Work must be handed in by the deadline or you will not receive full credit–see Grading Policies  for exceptions and grading penalties for late work.

Email:  You are welcome to email me with questions and concerns.  I will answer them either in person the next day or by email.  Please ensure that your email uses an appropriate salutation,  is written in conventional English, and you clearly identify yourself. 🙂  My email address is Mswartz (at) schools (dot) nyc (dot) gov.

 Plagiarism:  Observe strict adherence to the academic honesty policy.  If you are confused about whether something is academically dishonest, be cautious and self-protective: Don’t do it.

Your opinions, questions, and observations are the heart of this class—I look forward reading and discussing these works with you.