In a reading and discussion class, I would actually do a little writing for homework. I might even have the students in week 4, 9, 13 and 18 spend half of the lesson writing essays, effectively converting the midterm and final exams into an informal writing- before-discussion experience. As a result, I would have 4 tests in my assessment schedule (instead of the traditional 2). Each test would be worth 10 points for a total of 40 percent of the grade.

As well as having students write a little in class, I would assign readings as homework each week, having them answer questions on an Internet page and leave notes on a class wiki (as at Each of these readings would be worth 2 points for a total of 20 percent of the grade. The homework thus would have equivalent weight to a midterm or final exam. Traditionally, homework contributes much less to the grade.

The final 40 percent would be for classwork discussion. This is the most important part of the class. The weekly class discussion provides the most

The ideal is to have content about which the students are excited and want to express themselves. This suggests giving some control over the topics of the class. The students like the security of a textbook, but it sets the syllabus for the whole of the semester, and it isn't very flexible.

UNFINISHED: The following is about a CompositionSyllabus

I rationalized this failure as due to the difference between the view of writing as watercolor painting (Chinese painting) and the view of writing as oil painting (Western painting). My students saw their work as unretouchable and uneditable, as accomplished, as unanalyzable. It was easier to write a new essay, than to rewrite an old essay. It was easier for them to write an essay, than to read each others' essays! This inversion of the usual situation where it is easier for you, the reader to read this, than it is for me, the writer to write it, makes the process approach very hard to institute.