Joanna Gray, Katie Durant
English Language Arts, Composition and Rhetoric, Language, Grammar and Vocabulary
Material Type:
Community College / Lower Division
Middlesex Community College
  • Academic Writing
  • English
  • Grammar
  • Mass CC ELA
  • Writing
  • Writing Mechanics
  • mass-cc-ela
    Creative Commons Attribution
    Media Formats:
    Downloadable docs

    Writing Skills 2


    This course develops language skills needed to communicate effectively in college study, in the professions,
    and in the business world. The course includes sentence formation, applied grammar, spelling, mechanics,
    and paragraph development.


    All course content created by Katie (Slezas) Durant Content added to OER Commons by Joanna Gray


    Course Introduction for Instructors


    This course mixes uses some elements of inductive learning, where students are confronted with a problem and are allowed time to think about it before the concept is fully explained. The course also dabbles in the flipped classroom idea, where students learn concepts at home and practice new skills with instructor-guided in-class exercises. Knowing that revision and editing are important parts of writing well, a major focus of the syllabus is drafting practice.

    What follows here is a series of brief explanations on how to use the included handouts, exercises, and activities. This, along with the syllabus, is only a guide as elements of the course can be adapted, omitted, or replaced entirely. All materials provided, including the syllabus, were designed to be fully customizable for anyone familiar with Microsoft Word and PowerPoint.

    The policies in the provided syllabus should be changed to suit the individual institution, instructor, and student demographic where it is implemented. Although this syllabus and set of materials was designed for a particular developmental writing course, it can be used in part or in its entirety for most basic writing or other developmental English or writing courses.

    First Day Writing Sample

    If an English department has its own first day writing sample, certainly an instructor can use whichever one is preferred. For the purposes of this course, a writing sample is used as an opportunity not just to give feedback, but also for peer review and revision in the weeks after its completion on the first day. These samples should be collected and reviewed by the instructor to gauge the abilities of students. The completed writing samples should be redistributed to students beginning in week 4, on day 8, to begin the revision process focusing on the grammar skills that will have been covered in the weeks before. Other skills including paragraph and essay structure will come later in the course.

    As in a flipped classroom environment, the syllabus encourages this revision process be done in-class with the guidance of previously-distributed grammar worksheets and the instructor. If the Peer Review Exercise One does not take up the entire class time, the points covered in the handouts provided can be discussed during the remainder of the class period. If this course is taken alongside a composition class, the essays assigned to the linked course may be used for the practice with peer review and revision instead of the First Day Writing Sample.

    Time Management

    The Time Management handouts include an introduction to be passed out at the beginning of the semester. Also at the beginning of the semester, as well as the beginning of every month, the instructor is encouraged to pass out copies of the Time Management packet. This contains month and week planners that the students should complete on a monthly and weekly basis and bring in to show the instructor for a homework grade. This encourages students to use time wisely and help them balance the workloads that come from college, professional, and personal live.

    General Worksheets and Handouts

    Most of the exercises are self-explanatory; students need only follow directions on the handouts. Answer sheets are provided where needed. It is recommended that completed worksheets be corrected by the students either in pairs or small groups. This allows for teamwork and leadership development as advanced students teach others concepts they have mastered. To do this most effectively, instructors can match stronger students with students who find the material more challenging based on observations made in reviewing the First Day Writing Samples.

    Each class period should begin with a check on whether the students have completed the assigned homework and a review of the concepts and skills that the homework covered. It is important to make it clear that all homework counts for a grade. Students who do not read and annotate the handouts may not be able to keep up with the in-class activities.


    There are three quiz games included in the course. The games provided use a Microsoft PowerPoint template and require a projector (the only technology needed for this course). The games can be tailored to the content covered in class if it differs from the provided content. The homework assigned after in-class games is the Scavenger Hunt for New Words worksheet and occasionally a time management sheet or two. It is recommended that students play the games in groups with the score being kept on the board. The group with the highest points, or those tied for the highest, can skip the scavenger hunt homework as a reward. This gives students motivation to make their best effort without requiring the instructor to provide other incentives – though other incentives could certainly be added. On those days, the assigned time management sheets should still be completed by students to support organization skills.


    A midterm exam is included in the syllabus to get the students acquainted with the exam-taking procedure and to give them a chance to put their skills to the test before the stakes are at their highest. The midterm exam should be administered with the rules of the final exam as dictated by the institution. No exam material is provided in this course because it is suggested that past exam material (sources and prompts) of the particular institution be used to provide the students with the same level of difficulty they will be faced with during the final exam.

    The midterm exam, like the First Day Writing Sample, is used in the syllabus as practice for revision and includes its own in-class peer review exercise. Like the First Day Writing Sample, if this course is combined with a composition class, drafts of the essays assigned to the students in the linked course may be used instead of the midterm exam as a way to further practice revision strategies as well as improve their grades on the assigned essays. The final exam should be provided by the institution.


    Creative Commons License

    This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. It is attributed to Katie Durant.



    Drafting handout and exercises


    Powerpoint games to play with students


    Grammar exercises and answer sheets

    Paragraph Structure

    Paragraph Structure handout, exercise, and answer sheet

    Peer Review

    Peer Review exercises

    Sentence Structure

    Sentence Structure exercises and answer sheets

    Using Sources

    Using Sources handouts, exercises, and answer sheets