• Welcome to College Credit Plus Foundations in the Liberal Arts (FDLA)! I look forward to learning with you!

    Teacher Contact Information

    Mrs. Petraska

    Email: PetraskM@hudson.k12.oh.us

    Mrs. Petraska is available for questions, comments, concerns, and to provide extra help via email, during explorer period, and most days after school until 3:30. If you plan to stay for extra help after school, please see me for an appointment so I know to expect you.

    Course Description: Malcolm Gladwell argues in Outliers that to understand the true story of one’s success, then we should spend more time looking around them; however, opponents argue that one’s intelligence and ambition play a major role. Globally, in societies around the world, individuals strive for success, but does it look the same for different people in different cultures? Is success and/or happiness attainable for all? Do all individuals have an equal chance to overcome obstacles placed in their ways? As in all Foundations courses, students will be required to complete their work and should be prepared to thoughtfully discuss all readings, to participate in curricular and co-curricular activities at Hiram college and in our community, to give at least two oral presentations, and to write minimum of eight essays, including three to four with research for a total of approximately 25 pages of formal research writing.

     Course Objectives:  Through the examination of the content of the Writing course, students will be challenged to develop their:

    •   ability to write—students will write to learn
    •   ability to communicate orally—students will participate in discussion and present on ideas to provoke understanding
    •   ability to think critically
    •   ability to read and interpret important material
    •   ability to gather, evaluate, and properly use research
    •   ability to recognize and analyze ethical issues

     Course Expectations:

    Required Reading/Writing Texts:

    Doerr, Anthony. All the Light We Cannot See, Scribner, 2014. ISBN 978-1476746586

    Duckworth, Angela. Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance, Scribner, 2016. ISBN  


    Hosseini, Khaled.  A Thousand Splendid Suns, Riverhead Books, 2008. ISBN 978-1594483851  

    Rostand, Edmond. Cyrano de Bergerac, Bantam Books, 1981 ed.  ISBN 0-553-21360-1

    San Francisco Writers’ Grotto. 642 Things to Write About, Chronicle Books, 2011.  

    ISBN 978-1-4521-0544-4.

    Shakespeare, William. Hamlet. Simon and Schuster, 1992 ed. ISBN 978-0743477123

    Four additional works are required; one per quarter from a list or which meet professor’s approval. One must be a memoir/biography.

     Required Assignments

    Unit 1:  Who are we?  What does it mean to be human? Weeks 1-9 (Quarter 1)                                                   

    What do we know about ourselves?

    (R) “Learning to Read” Franz Wright

    (R) “From Superman and Me” Sherman Alexie

    (R) “Every Trip is a Quest (Except When It’s Not)” from How to Read Literature

    Like a Professor

    (R) “What the Bagel Man Saw”

    (R) Choice Work

    (W) College Essay (1-2 pages)

    (W) History of a word--research definition paper (2-3)  

     How do I want to live my life?

    (R) Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance

    (OC) TED Talk: Angela Lee Duckworth: Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance (2013)

    (OC) View The Importance of Being Earnest

    (R) “From Front Porch to Back Seat: A History of the Date” from Beth Bailey

    (R) “True Love” Robert Penn Warren

    (R) “Tell all the Truth but tell it slant--”

       (OC)TED Talk: How I Hacked Online Dating  and/or The Mathematics of Love

    (W) “Failure” episode (2-4)

    (W) Position paper on Grit (2-4 pages using parenthetical citations and one additional source)

    Unit 2: What rights should every human have?  What do we have? Weeks 10-18 (Quarter 2)

    What does “family” mean?

    (R) A Thousand Splendid Suns

    (R) “An Iraqi Evening” Yousif Al-Saligh

    (R)  “Sadiq” Brian Turner

    (W) Research Paper #1 (5-8) We will have multiple steps with this assignment.

    -annotated bibliographies, additional research, works cited, presentation

    Is humanity still alive?

    (R) “She Walks In Beauty”

    (R) selection from Missoula by Jon Krakauer

    (R) letter from Stanford victim to her attacker

    (R) “Dulce et Decorum Est” Wilfred Owen

    (R) selection from Meaning of Life

    (R) Choice work--biography

    (W) Social justice essay

    Unit 3: How do we grow despite a harsh world? Weeks 19-27 (Quarter 3)

    What do we choose to see in the world?  

    (R) All the Light We Cannot See

    (R) “The World is Too Much With Us”

    (R) “How to Write About Africa”

    (W) Satire--”How to Write about ……..” (2-3)

    (W) Children’s book

    How can we make the world better?

    (OC) TED Talk: I am the Son of a Terrorist. Here is How I Chose Peace.

    (R) President Obama’s speech on 6.14.16

    (R) Choice Work

    (W) Research paper #2  (societal problem) (8-11)

    -proposal, annotated bibliographies, research, works cited

    Unit #4: Is happiness achievable? Weeks 28-36 (Quarter 4)

    Are we capable of a le beau geste?

    (R) Hamlet and/or Cyrano de Bergerac

    (R) “If”

    (R) “Much Madness is divinest Sense--” Emily Dickinson

    (R) “Do not go gentle into that good night” Dylan Thomas

    (R) “Crumbling is not an instant’s Act” Emily Dickinson

    (OC) TED Talk: The Happy Secret to Better Work

    (W) Analysis on societal aspect in literature (3-4)

    (W) Compare/Contrast Hamlet book covers: Dover Thrift Edition and Bantam Classic

    What legacy do I want to leave?

    (R) “Ah, Are You Digging My Grave?”

    (R) “To An Athlete Dying Young”

    (R)  Choice Work

    (OC) individually produced TED Talk.  Each person will create a 5-10 minute TED Talk and present.

    Cultural/Campus Activities

    In addition, you will be required to attend TWO cultural/campus activities (for a total of FOUR for the year) per semester, such as:

    • Guest speakers
    • Athletic events
    • Art events
    • Music events
    • Theater events
    • Community events

    Immediately following your attendance at the cultural/campus/community activity of your choice, please bring proof of your attendance to class the next day we meet. Also, you must attend four DIFFERENT activities. In other words, you can’t choose the same event more than once.  These activities can be in Hudson or surrounding areas. Further directions will be provided.


    Formal Assignments in Writing, Discussions, and Presentations (Summative)

      These included but are not limited to multiple essays, research papers, presentations,   

        Socratic seminars, reading assessments, speeches, and debates.


    Informal Shorter Assignments (Formative)

     These include but are not limited to short assignments such as quizzes, journaling, student discussion questions, class participation, campus/cultural activities, and other work.




    Written Work Guidelines

    All formal writing must be:

    • Typed and in 12 point font, Times New Roman or Ariel only
    • Double-spaced
    • In MLA format
    • Printed and stapled at the beginning of class (otherwise considered late)
    • Done in Google Classroom
    • Completed by the due date (including rough drafts)

    Average Hours per Week on Course Activities

    Face-to-Face Class Hours


    Study Hours, including but not limited to the following:

    • Reading,
    • Drafting, Writing, and Revision
    • Project, speech, presentation, or group work preparation
    • Research
    • Conferencing on writing


    Cultural/Campus Activities


    Accessing Class Information

    Students will be provided a calendar of due dates and handouts. In addition, daily schedules will be written on the board. Also, information regarding writing assignments, including due dates, will be updated in Google Classroom for a particular assignment.

     If you miss class for any reason, it is entirely YOUR responsibility to find out what you need to do. Utilize the resources listed above, and also feel free to email me with any questions or concerns (see email address above).

    This syllabus is meant to be a schedule and plan for the course, not a contract. All information, especially readings and due dates for assignments, is subject to change. Any and all changes to the syllabus will be announced to the class and presented on the course website.


    Course Policies:

    Late Papers will be docked one letter grade for each class late. If you are sick or have other problems, I may be sympathetic if you see me well before the paper is due, not the paper due date.

    Rough Drafts: As this is a writing intensive course, drafting and revision are considered essential work. Thus, students who do not have proper drafts or fail to attend on peer workshop days (when Rough Drafts are due) without proper dispensation will lose one letter grade on the final grade of the assignment (per Hiram’s policies).

    Plagiarism: Taking credit for the ideas or words of others, whether intentionally or unintentionally, is unacceptable and will result in a failing grade on the paper and a possible failing grade in the course. In papers requiring research, I will ask for a photocopy of the first page of all of your sources.

    Attendance: Come to class! We value your ideas and unique perspective. Also, because we spend class time either working on skills students use on major assignments or actually working on these assignments, students who miss class may find it difficult to earn a good grade, or even pass the course.

    If you have concerns about the course in general or your grades, please meet with me during my office hours or set up an appointment with me to discuss your concerns.

    Students with Special Needs: I need to hear from anyone who has a disability which may require some modification of seating, testing, or other class requirements so that appropriate arrangements may be made. Please see me after class or during my office hours.

    The Writing Center is located on the Hiram Campus in the Writing House, is an excellent resource for students who want additional input on their essays or other written work. You are considered a Hiram College student and may use this facility.

    The Writing Lab at Hudson HS is staffed by an English teacher every period of the day, so it is highly suggested that you utilize this resource often throughout the year.         


    Hiram College Policies:

    Non-Discrimination Policy 

    Hiram College is committed to equality of opportunity and does not discriminate in its educational and admission policies, scholarship and loan programs, and athletic and other school-administered programs on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, gender, sexual orientation, age, or disability. The College will not tolerate harassment, prejudice, abuse, or discrimination by or of any of its students, faculty, or staff.

    Communication with Parents

    Hiram College encourages students to speak directly with faculty regarding course content and performance. Students are also encouraged to speak with their parent(s), particularly if the student remains dependent on parent(s) for financial support. Faculty may choose to speak with parents, but generally, faculty will require a written FERPA waiver to be signed by the student before speaking with a student’s parent. FERPA waivers may be found at the Registrar’s Office in Teachout-Price, or online at http://www.hiram.edu/images/pdfs/registrar/authorization-disclose-academic-info.pdf

    Disability Support Services for Students with Special Needs

    To arrange for support services, a student must submit appropriate, current, detailed documentation to the Director of Counseling, Health and Disability Services (CHDS) together with the completed online service request form: http://www.hiram.edu/images/pdfs/disability-services/selfdisclosureform.pdf.  After verification and in the spirit of federal law, the student will provide their accommodations letter to each faculty member(s) to initiate accommodation services. Faculty are not permitted to make accommodations without the authorization of the Director of CHDS. Hiram College adheres to Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act to provide requested services for disabled students as specified by the requirements contained in the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) policy guidelines. The Director CHDS is located in the Julia Church Health Center (330-569-5418) P.O. Box 67, Hiram OH 44234.

    Academic Dishonesty

    Hiram College believes that the development of intellectual honesty is at the heart of a college education. The process of education is severely compromised if we cannot depend on the academic integrity of each member of the community.  Moreover, the principles of academic honesty are aligned closely with the principles of good scholarship and research, principles of critical thinking and reasoning, and the standards of professional ethics. Thus, students who fail to practice academic honesty not only risk losing the trust of the academic community, they also fail to develop the most essential skills and abilities that characterize a college graduate.

    Any student who violates the integrity of the academic process will be subject to punishment, including possible dismissal from the College. There are many forms of academic dishonesty, including plagiarism, the giving or receiving of help in any form on an examination, the sale or purchase of papers and test materials, the abuse of computer privileges and regulations, the misuse or abuse of online or library resources, and any other action which debases the soundness of the educational process.

    Faculty members and librarians are expected to report all instances of academic dishonesty to the Associate Dean of the College, who will provide advice on an appropriate action.


    The most common form of academic dishonesty is plagiarism. An essay or term paper is designed to develop a student’s own ability to think clearly and critically about a subject and to express ideas fluently. Similarly, a laboratory report is designed to develop a student’s capacity to record observed phenomena and to interpret them correctly. A creative work in the arts is intended to demonstrate the student’s own creative abilities. If a student confounds these purposes by receiving unacknowledged assistance from an outside source, he or she is guilty of plagiarism. To avoid any suspicion of plagiarism, students should acknowledge any work not their own; in other words, any language, illustration, information, or diagram which is not original must be documented.

    Hiram College expects students to develop a thorough understanding of what constitutes plagiarism and to avoid it in all forms of campus communication. When plagiarism occurs in work required for a course, it is particularly serious and becomes a reportable offense.  Hiram College’s plagiarism policies are equally binding on both rough and final drafts.

    Students must assume that collaboration in completion of assignments is prohibited unless explicitly specified by the instructor. Students must acknowledge any collaboration and its extent in all submitted work. This applies to collaboration on editing as well as collaboration on substance.  (This statement is not intended, however, to discourage students from forming study groups.)

    There are two categories of plagiarism offenses.  Category I includes instances of plagiarism in which there is clear intent to falsify, mislead, or misrepresent another’s work as one’s own. An obvious example would be an attempt to hide the source of plagiarized material by not even including it in the paper’s bibliography. Category II includes instances in which there is not clear intent.  Instead, there is evidence that the student made a simple mistake in citation, or did not fully understand what constitutes plagiarism. The process for dealing with cases of plagiarism is intended to facilitate the development of the student as a scholar who practices academic honesty. First offenses involve a penalty left to the discretion of the instructor and the Associate Dean. Students are expected to learn from these mistakes and, therefore, there is less tolerance for subsequent offenses.

    Cases of plagiarism are handled in the following ways:

    The course instructor judges whether the offense is Category I or II. All cases of plagiarism are reported to the Associate Dean of the College who will maintain a database of plagiarism cases. For first-offense, Category II cases involving an underclass (not a senior) student, the course instructor has the option of allowing a makeup of the paper or assignment, coupled with a penalty. These cases do not require a conference with the Associate Dean and the student. All other cases require a conference with the Associate Dean. Category I cases, even if first offense, may result in an F in the course. A pattern of Category II offenses, or any second offense, will usually result in a suspension from the College. Records of plagiarism are kept by the Associate Dean.  The student’s advisor is informed of the results of plagiarism cases. Appeals of plagiarism case decisions may be made to the Dean of the College.

    Grade Appeals

    Academic performance is to be judged solely by individual faculty members. Grades are not subject to alteration based on the amount of effort exerted by, or past performance of, a student. Faculty are expected to provide performance criteria (such as attendance policies, deadlines, assignment expectations, etc.) as part of course syllabi or distributed assignments, but assessment of student performance in meeting said criteria is for the individual faculty member to determine. If a student believes that criteria were ignored, or that work submitted was not included, the student should consult the “Student Academic Responsibilities and Performance” section of the current Hiram College Catalog at http://www.hiram.edu/academic-support-services/registrar/college-catalogs. Therein is provided the process for grade appeals. Please note that all grade appeals reside wholly with the professor alone until the official posting of grades by the Registrar.

    Credit Hour Policy

    The credit hour is an institutionally established equivalency that reasonably approximates one hour of classroom or direct faculty instruction and a minimum of two hours out of class student work each week within each part of the term within a full semester. An equivalent amount of work is required for other academic activities including: independent study, internship, field experience, clinical experience, laboratory work, private instruction, studio work, and other academic work leading to the award of credit hours.