Lab Syllabus

The MMC 2100 writing lab, in conjunction with the lecture portion of the course, is designed to give you a practical introduction to the basics of media writing. A complete explanation of all course policies is contained in the lecture syllabus, which is posted online. Please refer to the lecture syllabus for information on required textbooks and materials, computer expectations, lecture attendance, resources for help and directions for calculating your course grade.

Textbooks and Required Reading – See lecture syllabus for the list of textbooks. Please keep up with reading assignments in the lecture syllabus, as they have direct application to writing assignments in lab. You are being tested every week in lab on those assigned readings. Please bring “When Words Collide” and the “Associated Press Stylebook” to every lab for reference while you work on assignments.

Course Blog Be sure to bookmark this site and check it regularly for updates on lectures and for materials you need to print for lecture and lab activities.

Attendance in Lab
You must attend every lab. If you are absent and that absence has not been approved by me in advance, you will receive a zero for all assignments for that week’s lab. No lab grades will be dropped.

You must contact me prior to lab to discuss your situation and for us to discuss how you will make up the assignment. Leaving me a phone message or sending me an e-mail without actually talking with me does not mean that your absence will be excused.

The following are the situations that will be accepted as excused absences:
• Medical excuses are accepted only if you contact me before lab and you then provide a letter from a physician documenting the dates of the illness. A slip from the infirmary that states you were seen is not adequate.
• Other situations, such as military service and family emergencies, are considered on a case-by-case basis as long as you contact me before lab.
• If you will miss lab because of a religious observance or a university-scheduled exam (for a course like economics), you must notify me at least one week in advance to make arrangements to make up the lab.

Do NOT contact other lab instructors yourself or go to another lab without prior arrangements being made.

Be on time – Ten points will be deducted from your lab assignment if you are late to lab.

Technology Expectations (also see lecture syllabus)
• Computer use in lab – You will be expected to use Word to write, save and print. For several labs, you may bring a printed copy of your rough draft or a final assignment.
• USB key (flash memory) for bringing digital files to lab.
• Access to a camera for photography assignments. For the photography assignments, you are to take the photos with a camera and not a cell phone. Photos must be digital for use in lab. If you are using a film camera, you will need to have photos scanned as digital files.
• Email use:
UF requires you to use your GatorLink e-mail for all class activities and blocks the forwarding of UF email to other servers. Please use your GatorLink e-mail account for all communication with me.
(1) Use standard English, including correct capitalization, grammar and spelling.
(2) Sign your e-mail with your first and last name.
(3) Include MMC 2100 in your subject line.
(4) Check your GatorLink email daily. I will be sending announcements to the lab listserv, which uses your UF email address.
(5) Allow at least a 48-hour response time for an email message to me – and be aware I may not check messages during weekends or University holidays.
(6) Be sure you have an e-mail account with a name appropriate for business use.
(7) When you want to have a record of an important email, print it.

Preparing for Lab
Your success on lab assignments will be greatly influenced by what you’ve done prior to lab to prepare.
• Attend all lectures. A major goal in almost every lecture is preparing you for a specific lab writing assignment. Some lectures provide the information (from guest speakers or clients) for the lab writing assignment. You need to be in those lectures to take your own notes.
• Keep up to date on all the assigned readings listed in the lecture syllabus. Those readings provide information and writing samples that will be tied to the lab writing assignments.
• Read and analyze media writing (newspaper articles, websites, public relations news releases and advertising copy).
• For the majority of the labs, you will be expected to do some preparation for lab in advance, such as conducting an interview and/or writing a draft of an article.
• Be ready for lab – You won’t do your best work (which includes careful proofreading) if you are tired, hungry or distracted. Be focused and energized for the three hours.
• Bring the course textbooks with you to lab. Be sure you have completed before lab any reading assignments listed in the lecture syllabus.
• In your daily writing (including e-mails you send), practice your writing and editing skills.
• Become familiar with using online editing resources. For spelling and word use, we recommend Merriam Webster Dictionary —

Grading for the Course
Your grade for the course is the combination of your lecture grade (25 percent) and your lab grade (75 percent). Each of the graded labs counts equally toward your final lab grade. There is no final exam in lab.

Grading Scale (for writing assignments and the course overall)
A 90-100             C+ 77-79             D 60-66
B+ 87-89             C 70-76             E 59 and below
B 80-86             D+ 67-69

Formula for calculating your overall grade in the course
+ Lecture grade
+ Lab grade multiplied by 3
Total divided by 4 = overall grade

Scores of .5 or higher are rounded to the next whole number. For example, 86.5 becomes 87.

Lab grades – You should record your score for each week’s lab, so you can keep track of your running average. Be aware of the importance of your performance for each week’s lab. One or two low grades won’t keep you from successfully completing the course. But one or two high grades won’t greatly raise a number of low lab grades. No lab grades will be dropped, and lab scores are not curved.

If you would like to discuss a grading issue for a lab assignment:
(1) The discussion must be held during office hours and not during lab.
(2) The discussion must be no longer than two weeks after receiving the graded assignment.
(3) You should bring to our meeting the appropriate documentation to support your position.

Lecture grades (25 percent of overall grade) – See lecture syllabus.

Don’t wait too late to develop a plan for improving your performance in the course – Every
semester, some students become concerned about their grade in the course too late in the semester to make the kind of improvement necessary to improve their performance in lab and, hence, their grade in the course. You should carefully review every graded lab assignment and use “When Words Collide” and the “AP Stylebook” to complete the Mechanics Inventory Form, which is posted on the What’s Happening link. Please see me during office hours to discuss your assignments – both those assignments that have been graded and homework you are to complete prior to lab.

Extra-Credit Opportunities
You will have several extra-credit opportunities during the semester. These points are added to your total number of points for all graded labs (not to your overall lab average). Each extra-credit option will be discussed in lecture and lab.
• 25 points – Get your environmental/health/science story published by the end of the semester in a publication approved by me.
• 20 points (maximum) – Schedule and then attend a portfolio review and interview with me during the weeks of Labs 13 and 14.
• 15 points (maximum) – Write three practice assignments (5 points each) that are assigned and collected in lecture – news story, news release and ad copy.
• 10 points – Complete “Cleaning Your Copy,” a free online module at Set up an account and complete the module (except for the Style section). E-mail a course report to your lab instructor prior to Lab 3. (Directions about this assignment will be provided in lecture and lab.)

How Lab Assignments are graded
Your grade on each writing assignment consists of the points earned for content minus the points
deducted for errors and mechanics. To ensure consistency among labs, all instructors use the same grading standards.

Step One: Content
The content grade is based on criteria for each specific writing assignment. A rubric (a listing of grading criteria) will be provided for most assignments. The criteria vary depending on the particular lab assignment — news stories, news releases or advertising copy. General criteria for all assignments include writing style, organization, clarity, and appropriateness for topic and audience. For those labs when a rubric is not provided, you will have the writing experience in that writing format to develop a rubric yourself. Be aware that being able to determine criteria to evaluate your own performance is an important part of media internships and jobs.

Especially if media writing is a new writing style for you, you may want to complete practice writing assignments at the end of chapters in “Writing and Reporting News” to give you the opportunity to try the writing style before you are writing in a timed setting in lab. These practice assignments will not be graded and completing them will not earn you extra credit. However, practicing will help you be better prepared for those assignments that will be graded. You may receive feedback on these practice stories from me during office hours or from students in the Writing Coaching Center in 1088 Weimer.

Step Two: Mechanics
After determining the content grade, points will be deducted for grammatical errors, spelling errors, factual errors and AP style errors. The points are deducted as follows:
– 5 points = Grammar and punctuation errors.
– 5 points = AP style errors.
– 5 points = Improper copyreading symbols or sloppily marked copy.
– 5 points = Failure to prepare copy correctly.
– 15 points = Spelling error. Deducted both for misspelled words and typos. If the same word is
misspelled more than once in a story, 15 points will be subtracted only once.
– 10 points = Failure to make a deadline, which means turning in anything late. Additional points will be deducted for assignments turned in more than one day late.
– 50 points = Factual error. This includes inaccurate information and errors or typos in proper nouns, numbers, addresses, dates and quotes. In Lab 2, a fact error = -15. In Labs 3-4,
a fact error = -25. Beginning in Lab 5, a fact error = -50.

Zero = You will receive a zero for using your friends, family members, employers or work
colleagues as sources for stories that require your own reporting. You will receive a zero for
using a photograph that you did not take for assignments that require you to take your own

Academic Honesty
See the lecture syllabus for a discussion of academic honesty issues in the course. A helpful explanation of academic honesty and plagiarism is hosted on the College’s website —
If you have any question regarding an academic honesty issue (such as appropriately incorporating a source into a story), please talk with me before you turn in an assignment. Be aware that making up quotes or information or taking the work of others without appropriate attribution will result in receiving a zero for the assignment.
Guidelines on discussing your grades with me
I will not discuss individual lab grades in lab. If you have a question about how I’ve evaluated your writing, please come in to see me during office hours or at another time we work out. If you do have a question about a specific grading issue in a lab assignment, you must talk to me within two weeks of the lab when you received the graded assignment.

Please Note
• I will start class on time and expect you to be on time. If you have an on-going situation that could affect your prompt arrival to class, such as having to walk across campus from a previous class, talk with me. I will deduct 10 points from your lab grade if you are tardy.
• I will end lab on time. Even if you don’t have a class following the end of lab, I won’t allow extra time to finish an assignment. If you do not turn in your assignment on time, I will deduct 10 points for failure to meet a deadline.
• No food or drink is allowed in the computer lab. You will be able to take a break during the lab and can eat a snack at that time – outside of lab.
• Be sure to turn off and store cell phones, pagers and handheld computer before class starts.
• Please use the computers only for our lab activities. Do not check your email, visit non-class-related websites, play computer games, or do instant messaging or text messaging during lab.
• After the initial assignment of copyediting symbols and AP style, you are responsible for using
correct AP style and copyediting symbols on all assignments for the rest of the semester. Using
copyediting symbols is good practice for those students who will be going on to Reporting, as those instructors expect you to know and use copyediting symbols when editing your printed stories.

Lab Schedule
Additional homework assignments and quizzes for lab will be announced in lab. Several labs will include an additional online assignment that will be announced during lab.

Lab 1 Tues., May 10
Introduction to MMC 2100 lab – policies, classmates and computer use.
Assignment: On deadline writing assignment based on a writing prompt. This will be a graded
assignment with points deducted for spelling and grammatical errors.

Lab 2  Thurs., May 12
Homework: Completed resume (100 points)
Assignment: On deadline, write a cover letter (100 points) to accompany your resume.

Lab 3 Tues., May 17
• Complete the “Cleaning Your Copy” module at and send a course report to your lab instructor. (Optional 10-point extra-credit opportunity)
Assignment: On deadline, writing news stories.

Lab 4 Thurs., May 19
Assignment: On deadline, writing news for Web and print delivery.

Lab 5 Tues., May 24
Assignment: On deadline, write a news story with a feature lead from information provided

Lab 6 Thurs., May 26
Assignment: On deadline, conduct the interview and write a personality profile about a classmate.

Lab 7 Tues., May 31
• In-class interview story due: emergency preparation at UF (focus on hurricane season)
• Blogging lecture and instruction in lab
• Portfolios and interviews begin
Assignment: Proofreading

Lab 8 Thurs., June 1

Lab 9 Tues., June 8
• EHS due
• Blog due
Assignment: Proofreading

Lab 10 Thurs., June 10
Assignment: Press release

Lab 11 Tues., June 14
Assignment: Soundslides
No final exam for the lab portion of the course.

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