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A Learning Community

Eng. 420 Reading Improvement & Eng. 440 Basic Writing

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Karen Warren   


Phone: (408) 848-4850

Office: SS109 

Office hours: MW 9-9:30 & 2-3, T 11:45-1:45, & by arrangement

Class location: Hu102      Lab location: Li 120         

Course & lab hours:

Eng. 420 Sec. 10268 MW 9:45-11:05   Lab M 12:50-1:40

Eng. 440 Sec. 10272 MW 11:20-12:40 Lab W 12:50-1:40

Eng. 420 Sec. 10269 MW 9:45-11:05   Lab T 9:45-10:35

Eng. 440 Sec. 10273 MW 11:20-12:40 Lab T 10:45-11:35

Basic Skills Counselor



Phone: (408)

Office: Lib. 157   

Office hours:

Prerequisite: Satisfactory score on the English placement exam or Eng. 438 or 439 with a C or better.

Required: Concurrent enrollment in Eng. 440 & 420

Required Texts: Burro Genius, by Victor Villaseñor


A Student's Guide to Succeeding in Community College, by D. Hoerr

Silverman, Rules of Thumb

A college-level dictionary

Additional readings as assigned

Supplies: access to a computer, disc or flash drive for saving documents, academic calendar to note due dates & exams, 3-ring binder and lined paper, highlighter, spiral notebook for journal, and a manila folder (not plastic!) for submitting essays

Succeeding at Gavilan in Your First Year  

Student webpages on time management, financial planning for college, educational plans, learning disabilities, getting help from counselors, and other tips for college success

English 420 Reading Improvement: Course Description and Objectives

In this course, students will examine and practice various methods for reading, analyzing, interpreting, discussing and enjoying texts. In small and large groups, individually and one-on-one, we'll look at all aspects of the reading process. We'll read, analyze and discuss examples of different kinds of writing. We'll practice strategies for understanding vocabulary, for analyzing and interpreting writing, and for recognizing patterns in writing.

Catalog description: This is a practical, “how to” course teaching various methods of learning and reading college material. Using group and individual instruction in vocabulary, comprehension, and study skills, the students will increase their ability to survive academically, to profit, grow, and succeed in all college courses, and to enjoy reading and learning. Units earned in this course do not count toward the associate degree and/or certain certificate requirements.


English 440 Basic Writing: Course Description and Objectives

In this course, students will practice writing for a variety of purposes and audiences. By writing personal essays as well as learning research skills and writing persuasively, you will gain confidence in your ability to write more clearly and correctly both in college and beyond.

Catalog description: This is an intensive study and application of basic grammar, sentence, and essay writing skills within the context of composing short essays. Units earned in this course do not count toward the associate degree and/or certain certificate requirements. 

Learning Community

Since these linked classes are part of our learning community program, we will be working with counselors, tutors, and other staff to help you develop strategies for succeeding in college. We'll talk about the resources available to you on campus, such as financial aid and the Career Center, and the ways you can hook into the larger community of Gavilan. We'll also examine how strong reading and writing skills will help you succeed in all of your college classes. We are here to provide you with the help you need to make your education work for you.

This semester we have included a project: making a film about students at Gavilan.

Course Attendance

Students must attend class regularly, be on time, prepare all assignments in advance, and participate in all class discussions and other group activities, such as free-writes, peer editing workshops, seminar discussions, web postings, and panels. Attendance is crucial. If you miss more than one class meeting, please meet with me to make a plan for your continued presence the class. Missing more than two class meetings could result in your being dropped from the class. However, it is your responsibility to officially drop the course through admissions. Students arriving late are subject to being marked absent for the day, and being late twice may be considered a full absence

Gavilan ILearn:

Part of our course will be delivered through the computer at See the link at the top of the page for instructions on how to log into our class webpage for access to assignments and discussions.

English 440 Grading System

Writing 60%

Department portfolio 25%

Lab 15%

440 Course Requirements

  • Writing Assignments: Students will write on a variety of topics, both personal and academic. Writing will be shared in peer response groups and revised for a final grade. All papers must be submitted in order for students to receive credit in the course.
  • Department Portfolio: At the end of the semester, students will submit a portfolio of two esays, an exam, and an introductory letter assessing their own work.
  • Journal: Students will write journal entries on a variety of topics weekly. Journal entries may be a place to free-write or generate ideas for essays.
Writing lab: Every week you'll meet with an instructor and tutors for work on writing, revising, and research skills. Bring a computer disc and rough draft to these sessions. Attendance is required. Missing two or more lab hours can result in the student being dropped from the course.

The Writing Center, which is in the library building, room Li 120, serves the campus community by fostering, celebrating and encouraging writers and the varied and multiple purposes and audiences that writing serves.
Specially trained student Writing Assistants offer free one-on-one consultations about all kinds of writing assignments (including the essays you’ll write for this class) on a drop-in and by appointment basis. In the center you can also find computers and free printing.

English 440 Learning Outcomes

Upon completion of this course, the student will be able to:

  • Recognize and practice steps in the writing process.
  • Identify and restate an author’s thesis and supporting points.
  • Demonstrate beginning research skills applicable to academic and workplace environments.
  • Recognize and correct basic grammar errors.
  • Use some subordination in sentences.
  • Recognize and practice specific rhetorical strategies.
Identify and analyze an author’s style, tone, audience, and strategies.

 Eng. 420 Course Requirements

  • Essay exams: Students will write in-class essays analyzing and responding to assigned readings.
  • Reading logs: Students will write in a reading log in response to a reading. The logs will be collected periodically throughout the semester.
  • Seminar: The seminar is a guided group discussion about an assigned topic. Most of our seminars will focus on assigned pieces of reading and will take place in class and our weekly lab. The seminar portion of the class has four tasks: reading the material, thinking about the questions, writing a brief response to the questions, and sharing some thoughts or ideas in class. Seminar papers will be required to participate in our discussions of readings.
  • Reading circle: You will join your fellow students in a reading circle panel once during the semester. Groups will prepare a presentation and facilitate a discussion on a text.
  • Vocabulary development: You will keep a vocabulary log and take vocabulary quizzes.

English 420 Grading System

Essay exams 30%

Reading logs/Seminars 30%

Reading Circle participation & presentation 30%

Vocabulary assessment 10%

420 Learning Outcomes

Upon completion of this course the student will be able to:

1. Identify and restate an author’s thesis and supporting points.

2. Distinguish an author’s tone, purpose, and point of view.

3. Apply word attack or contextual clues to learn new vocabulary.

4. Identify the aesthetic qualities of literature.

5. Appraise and evaluate the style, form, content, and/or literary contribution of particular texts.

6. Apply reading strategies to a variety of texts in a range of academic and vocational disciplines.

7. Employ research strategies to find and evaluate texts.

Advisory: Students requiring special services or arrangements because of hearing, visual or other disability should contact their instructor, counselor, advisor, or the Disabled Students Services Office. Occupational/Vocational Students: Limited English language skills will not be a barrier to admittance to and participation in vocational education programs.

Plagiarism advisory: Plagiarism (cheating or copying work without giving the source) is a serious offense and can result in academic dismissal.

Class Conduct: I want the classroom to be a fun and safe place for everyone. I also have high expectations for students in this class, so common courtesy and professional conduct is expected at all times. Examples of unacceptable classroom behavior include cheating, plagiarism, private conversations, uncooperativeness, continually leaving seat, and the display of electronics – especially cell phones and headphones. Each is grounds for removal from the classroom. If you need to display or consult a cell phone, discuss it with me BEFORE class begins. For more on student conduct, student rights, and school policies, please see the Gavilan College Catalog.

Please note: This class moves quickly to meet all its goals, assignments are based on previous assignments, and we do a lot of group work. It is therefore crucial for you to be prepared and to attend class every day. Late work, including missed in-class and homework assignments, is not accepted. Quizzes and tests cannot be made up, but if you have a real hardship and contact me beforehand I will try to accommodate an alternative date.

Eng. 420 Department portfolio: Due Weds., Nov. 30; department exam will be taken on the same date. No extensions.

Final exam dates: Eng. 420 Monday, Dec. 12, 8:10-10 a.m.
& Eng. 440 Weds., Dec. 14, 10:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.

Please view the class as a place to share your enjoyment, questions, curiosity, and creativity! Have an exciting semester!
         Page last modified on 8/23/11