Shelley Reid .

Assignments: English 101.062

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Essay #1:  Analyzing Writing  --  5% (25 points)

The Short Version:  Write a clearly organized and supported essay in which you


describe one or two things you very clearly remember writing, and how you went about writing it/them;


explain how your writing in each case or each step showed evidence of you trying to meet someone else's expectations or rules and/or you expressing your own ideas in your own style


and judge whether, overall, that particular balance between your choice/voice and their expectations/rules was good or not (why?).  Could someone redesign the situation to make it better (how?)  This judgment is your thesis.

Note:  You must illustrate your points with very specific examples from your own experience and with at least three short quotations taken from our readings.

The Option:  Instead of choosing a writing experience, choose another activity you participate in that combines your talent/choices with their expectations or rules.  Focus on one specific event or day (a competition, a memorable moment) to describe, explain, and judge about as noted above.  (This option may be more difficult because you'll have to include quotations from our assigned essays/interviews and explain how their advice about writing connects with your ball game or recital.)

The Hints and Suggestions:  Review your writing assignments from Week 1 as a starting point.  Rather than doing all the description at once, and then all the explanation, you should try to combine description and explanationinto each paragraph: at each step, were you doing your own thing or playing by the rules?  You may choose a middle ground for your overall judgment, but only if you do something more interesting than saying "It's a little of this and a little of that," or "I think everyone needs to do both."

Try to focus not just on the topic or the task itself but on how you chose to do it, how you felt or acted, and why. Finally, remember that even as you're writing about balancing, you have to continue to balance what you want to say with what your readers will need in order to really see what you mean. 

The Requirements & Criteria:  Draft a 3-4 page essay in time for the draft workshop on September 9.  Complete Early Drafts should be typed/computer printed; bring three copies with you to the workshop.  This essay is a chance for you to "show me what you know" about writing essays:  it will be evaluated primarily on whether you have a clear, steady, main idea and judgment; lots of one-time-only specific details (including quotations); a clear and logical progression of ideas from paragraph to paragraph; and a sense of "flow" or "voice."

Folder Checklist for Essay #1 Folder, Due Thursday September 16:

  • Exploration Essay (in-class writing, with additions)
  • Audience Analysis
  • Complete Early Draft copies (with peer comments)
  • Revised Essay (Please give your essay a title; optional works cited page)
  • Post Script
  • Any Optional Process Bonus Assignments

NOTE 1: For this class, "one page" equals approximately 250-300 words.  Page length is specified to give you an indication of how much detail and development is necessary for each essay to succeed; it is not a rigid requirement.

NOTE 2:  All drafts and essays should be typed, spellchecked, & proofread, double-spaced, using standard 12- or 14-point basic fonts and standard (1" or 1.25") margins.  Please do not include a separate cover page; please do not full-justify or right-justify your text.  Please staple each of your drafts.  (See PS 152-54 for a sample layout.)

NOTE 3:  Late or incomplete Early Drafts will not earn full credit.  If you miss a workshop entirely, or you arrive with an incomplete CED, you may lose all Draft and Peer Review points for the essay. It's your responsibility to discuss this with Prof. Reid.

NOTE 4: If your essay folder is incomplete, it will lose points; if your folder is late, the essay and all other folder parts will lose 5% of their points each calendar day.

NOTE 5:  You are expected to correct most mechanical/grammatical errors that were marked on the early draft, or your final draft may lose points.

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Essay #2:  Close Textual Analysis -- 15% (75 points)

The Short Version:  Choose one of the assigned texts for this section of class, or another speech that you find and Prof. Reid approves.  Write an organized and well-supported essay in which you


describe what the author's/speaker's main purpose and main audience were and/or are now (you'll need to support your description with short quotations)


explain, using exact examples & quotations, how the author uses, misuses, or fails to use a range of argument techniques that are appropriate to the purpose (what s/he wanted to say/do) and audience (what they/you needed or expected)


and judge two things: 1) Overall, how successful was the author/speaker in balancing his/her needs with the general audience's needs to accomplish his/her goals; and 2) how successful was the author/speaker in convincing you in your time & context specifically?  This judgment is your thesis.

The Option:  Write a report to someone (real or fictional) who needs to give a persuasive speech.  Describe the purpose and audience this person will face, explain the strategies that worked or did not work for one of our assigned speakers, and recommend a few specific strategies that this new person should therefore adopt or avoid, learning from the experience of a previous persuasive speaker.  (You may use "I" and "you.")

The Hints and Suggestions:  Remember, you are judging the author's success as a speaker, not describing his/her ideas or arguing about the issue s/he addresses.  You will need to draw on the language in Creating America and Writing Worth Reading about appeals, assumptions, assertions, examples, and refutations to make your argument. 

You should write for a reader who has read the text already; do not summarize the text's main points.  Try to begin each paragraph you write with a judgment about what the author or the speech is aiming to accomplish or succeeding/failing to do. 

Try to judge the text based on what the author wanted or needed to accomplish.  Consider what kinds of changes the author is hoping to create in his/her listeners' minds or actions.  Does the author have more than one purpose?  What obstacles is the author up against, and how does s/he cope?  You may also consider that the success or failure may not be "all or nothing":  can you pinpoint some places or goals where the author does a bit better, and others where s/he is not so successful?

Show your work!  Be sure that you slow down and explain your reasoning step by step, like showing your work in a calculus problem.  (If you're ever too clear, I promise I'll tell you, no penalty!)  Choose your quotations carefully, and take time to explain to your reader exactly which words in the quotation are effective (or not) and why you think this is true.  You will probably need to give two or three examples from different points in the author's text to support a single argument of yours.

The Requirements & Criteria:  Draft a 4-6 page essay for the workshop; bring three copies.  Be sure to follow the conventions for quoting, paraphrasing, and citing texts; remember that a quotation by itself isn't evidence until you connect it to your thesis or judgment (no Unidentified Flying Quotations!). 

In addition to being evaluated on having a clear judgment, evidence, and organization, Essay 2 will be evaluated on the freshness and completeness of your arguments about the text you are analyzing -- on your understanding of the text's ideas and strategies as well as its effects on a reader -- and on connections you make between the text and your judgments.

Folder Checklist for Essay #2

  • Essay #1 stuff
  • Exploration Essay #2
  • Audience Analysis
  • Complete Early Draft; Other Draft(s) and Peer Comments
  • Revised Essay with Title & Works Cited List
  • A copy of your chosen speech with plentiful annotations
  • Post Script
  • Any optional Process Bonus assignments

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Essay #3:  Analyzing an Issue -- 20% (100 points)

The Short Version:  Building on skills you developed through writing Essay #1 and Essay #2, plan, draft, and revise an essay that draws from three separate sources to focus on a local angle or issue and present a recommendation or judgment about independence and interdependence, rules vs. expression, group identity or personal identity, or some other conflict between the needs of an individual and the needs of a larger community.


describe the specific local/personal issue or problem-angle to which all three sources contribute analysis:  instead of trying to address the whole national/global problem, narrow your topic to an intriguing angle that will allow you to "dig deeply" in something "close to home"


explain, in an organized fashion using specific quotations and evidence, how each author's ideas, examples, or arguments combine to aid our understanding of the complexity of the issue and/or provide a possibility of solving a problem


and judge what your readers should learn/understand/do about this particular aspect of this issue -- based on your careful reading of ideas in this tiny, three-text world, what do you recommend as the best way to react?  This judgment is your thesis.

Note:  Do not place too much emphasis on your own personal experience as a central source for this essay.  If a specific incident you actively participated in sheds great light on one point, you may include it in a very limited, focused way, but your experience must be supplemented by additional analysis.  You should, however, make your own judgment clear.

Sources:  At least one source must come from our recently-assigned reading in Creating America.  As part of your preparation for conducting research at Mason, you should find at least one source yourself, outside the classroom textbooks: 

Text Sources

Web Sources

Other Sources

newspaper article

news online

movie, video, song,

magazine article

organization website

art, advert., photo,


scholarly website

survey, interview

If your source is a print source -- or a web-page or lyric that can be printed -- you will need to include a photocopy of it in your essay folder.  If you have a non-print source, you will need to include careful notes, descriptions, or a summary in your folder.

The Option:  The topic, texts, and specific focus of this essay are already significantly open to you.  If you have an additional or alternate structure -- you would like to include a website or visual component, for instance, or you would like to draw connections to other class projects or extracurricular activities -- you may submit an additional written proposal to Prof. Reid (conference recommended).

Hints:  You will very likely find you have more to learn and thus more interesting things to say  if at least one of your sources has a local angle or a surprising perspective.  Can you draw connections between an essay on women's sports and one on women who own small businesses?  Can you update or apply a historical perspective to a modern one?

This is not a "research essay" where you are reporting just what everyone else says.  Here, you become the expert and teach your readers what you think they need to know.  This is not an "all about" essay ("all about Plato/WWII/Spam"):  do not spend excessive time summarizing everything your sources say.  Instead, narrow your focus to help you choose an angle that reveals a local tension or problem, and draw from your sources to help you make the argument you feel is most useful.

The Requirements & Criteria:  Draft a 5-7 page essay for the first workshop; bring three copies (with title & correct citations).  Revise that draft and bring two copies of an "advanced draft" for the editing workshop. 

As with Essays #1 and #2, you will need to develop a central claim, present and analyze the main ideas of the sources, and integrate the other authors' words and ideas into your own.  Your analysis should show an awareness of the rhetorical strategies that your sources are using, and should demonstrate that you know how to use multiple strategies to reach and persuade an audience. 

In Essay #3, you will also be responsible for considering complexities and counterarguments, and for creating specific conclusions or recommendations that help give your reader new insight into a difficult issue. 

Folder Checklist for Essay #3:

  • Essays #1 & #2: Explorations, CEDs and Final copies w/grade sheets)
  • Exploration Essay #3
  • Audience Analysis, Post Script, Complete Early Draft
  • Advanced Draft (with substantial revisions), Other Draft(s), Peer Comments
  • Annotations of 4pp. from each source, copies of used pp. of outside source
  • Revised Essay with Works Cited List (title?)

Exploration Essay #3:  Write a full, thoughtful, "grappling" paragraph for each of three different possible topics you could use for Essay #3.  You should begin with a connection to an assigned class text that you could use as a jumping-off-point.  For each text/topic, explain a local or personal connection you can draw, and then note what your questions are, what problems exist, or what issues get raised that are important; note why you're interested or who is affected by these issues; speculate about what arguments different people might make on the topic and what kinds of sources you could use or look for to help you see the issue clearly.  Conclude with a fourth paragraph:  which idea do you like best so far, and why?

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"Essay" #4:  Write For Real Assignment  --  15% (75 points)

What do you want to write/say?  To whom do you wish to write/say it?

Now that we're all warmed up and have practiced some good writing and revising strategies, it's time to put them into play where they can be valuable to you.

Your write-for-real assignment may take nearly any form: essay, letter, poem, webpage, screenplay, advertisement, proposal, resume, scholarship application, short story, song, video, alternate history, pamphlet, script, review, directions, memoir, etc. 

It must meet the following basic criteria:


It must have -- or very strongly seem to have -- a real reason for being:  something that really needs to be said by you right now to an actual someone who needs to see/hear it


It must be sharable with the class as a whole:  not too private or too offensive to present in a classroom situation


It must have "oomph" equivalent to about a 3-4 page essay.  Length is one measure of substance; so is technical difficulty, originality, emotional risk, research, trying something new, craftsmanship, etc.


It must be something you are willing and able to revise significantly after receiving peer feedback -- if your stories come from The Muse and are untouchable thereafter, choose something else to do!



It must involve -- and be shown to involve -- some aspect of "college level" critical thinking/writing:  background research, careful analysis of audience & purpose, anticipation of audience response/resistance, deliberate use of rhetorical strategies, polished prose style, etc.

Note on Grade Weight:  If you wish, you may choose to make a 5% Transfer between Essay #3 and Essay #4.  That is, after you receive your grade on Essay #3, but before you receive your grade on Essay #4, you may if you wish decide that you want your Essay #3 to count 25% and your Essay #4 to count 10% -- or you may decide that you want your Essay #3 to count 15% and your Essay #4 to count 20%.  You do not have to switch the grade weights at all.  (If a grade-weight switch turns out to lower your final grade, it will be automatically canceled.)

Hints:  Choosing the "easiest" route here will not necessarily help you.  If you do not actually care about the topic you choose, the quality of your writing will suffer.  And if you choose a kind of writing with which you are already very comfortable -- a letter, for instance -- you need to be prepared to "pump it up" to demonstrate your improved skills at drafting and revising your writing. 

You may not turn in an essay that you have written for another class -- that's just more school-writing, not for-real writing -- but if you'd like to try a kind of writing that people in your major field or your planned-for profession often do, that would be fine.  If you are involved in a writing-task at your current job that you think would fit this assignment, that could also be a good choice.

The Requirements & Criteria:  Create working drafts for both the "SFD" workshop on November 23 and the Complete Early Draft workshop on November 30.  For the CED workshop, you will also need to bring a draft of your "Justification Analysis," a 1-2 page document in which you explain how your text meets the five criteria listed above. Substantially revise that draft for the final folder. 

Your W4R project must meet the five main criteria listed above.  It will be evaluated based on how you meet those criteria and on how you meet the needs of your audience as you define it.  Although it need not "look like a school essay," it should meet the audience's highest expectations:  your mother might not disown you for a few grammar errors, but she'll be impressed by your taking care of even the smallest details.  And while your friend Chris may be the kind of person who always believes what people tell him, that doesn't excuse you from providing evidence and making clear arguments if they're appropriate to the situation.

If you change your mind and want to choose a significantly different W4R topic after you submit your proposal (WW 7), you must submit a new proposal and have it approved by Prof. Reid.

Folder Checklist for Essay #4:

  • Essays #1, #2, & #3: Explorations, CEDs and Final copies w/grade sheets
  • Proposal for W4R project (WW 7)
  • Exploration Essay/SFD
  • Audience Analysis, Justification Analysis, Post Script
  • Complete Early Draft, Other Draft(s), Peer Comments
  • Revised Finished W4R project
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Writer's Workout Assignments:  15% (75 points max)

About 400-500 words each; typed.  Keep all your WW assignments; if you revise, turn in both the early and the revised versions.

These assignments are designed to help you build up your "muscles" and polish your techniques as a writer.  Individual assignments have designated due dates listed on the syllabus to encourage you to complete the assignment when it will be most helpful to you as a writer in this class.  Assignments turned in after the due date will be "counted" but will not count as "on-time"; you should plan to complete all assignments on time, but there is some leeway for hectic writing schedules.

WW assignments will be evaluated based on your thoughtfulness and thoroughness rather than on your grammar or style.

Assignments will be "graded" as either "check" () for all completed assignments, or "check-plus" (√+) for assignments that have a strong "mental grappling" component: evidence that you've paid attention to details, raised and wrangled with important questions, explored some of the "gray areas" of an issue or text.  Assignments that do not fulfill the basic expectations will earn a 0 (no credit). 

Any WW may be revised within two weeks of its return to try to improve from √ to √+.

To earn an "A–" (68/75 points), you must meet all three of these minimum requirements:

Complete at least 8 WW's (incl. 4 req. asgts), and

Turn in at least 7 assignments on-time, and

Earn at least 6 check-pluses

To earn a "B–" (60/75 points):

Complete at least 7 WW's (incl. 4 req. asgts), and

Turn in at least 6 assignments on-time, and

Earn at least 5 check-pluses

To earn a "C–" (53/75 points):

Complete at least 6 WW's (incl. 4 req. asgts), and

Turn in at least 5 assignments on-time, and

Earn at least 4 check-pluses

To earn a "D–" (45/75 points):

Complete the 4 required WWs, and

Earn at least 3 check-pluses

Failure to complete at least a "D–" level of work may result in a loss of all points:  0/50

WW#1:  Expand your first-day writing to show what you mean.  Choose three phrases or sentences from your in-class writing that you can "unpack":  look for "little green ball" words or vague "some-people" examples.  Copy out each sentence/phrase, and create a whole paragraph based on it, rich in one-time-only examples, concrete descriptions, facts/statistics, comparisons, and/or other details so that your reader can see exactly what you meant.  Do not just "add more to the story":  concentrate on going deep, getting the picture in finer focus rather than taking a bigger picture. 

Then, in a final paragraph, reflect on what you had to add: what kinds of details did you tend to leave out?  what would be undiscovered without those details?  what was the best, sharpest new thing you added, and why do you like it?  how can you help yourself dig for details like this in the future?

WW #2 -- required. Create a double-entry log and six-sentence summary to respond to Brooke's essay OR Freire's essay.  To set up a double-entry log, create two columns by drawing a line down the center of your notebook page, or by setting up a table or columns on your computer (see below).  The left-hand column is the "he said/she said" column: use your own words (or an occasional short quotation) to present the author's most important points and/or details.  You should write down at least 6-8 of these, in any order. 

The right-hand column is the "I say" column:  across from each of the author's points, write 2-4 sentences giving your reactions to -- and, importantly, your reasons for reacting to -- that particular idea.  You may disagree (explain why), note anything the topic reminds you of, explain whether (and how) the point makes sense to you or is confusing, and/or explain why you think the author chose this idea to work with.  You may also comment on elements of tone, style, organization, or idea-development. 

Don't just translate the author's ideas into your words: "by this the author means __."  Instead, show a new thought of yours.  Also, do not simply agree with the author; remember to explain exactly why you have this reaction.  Be sure to leave yourself enough space: your "I say" entries will usually be longer than your "he said" entries.  The best "I say" comments contain very specific thoughts or ideas, presenting a crystal-clear snapshot of what happens in your totally-original brain when you read this article.

Finally, write a six-sentence summary of the article (see description below).

Sample Double-Entry Log for Freire's article:

He said…

I say…

"apart from inquiry…men cannot be truly human"

Well, this sounds good, but I'm not sure that inquiry is the only thing that makes us human.  I feel human when I play or sleep or eat spaghetti, too; I haven't turned into a zombie just because I'm not out investigating some crime scene.

"students have the illusion of acting"

This worries me: in any university class, there is some illusion, because students aren't really free.  Is it worth it to try to make students' acts a little more realistic, as in giving them a choice of what to read or write about?  Or is that still just illusion, still just students playing a game, and so still only "banking" education?  Do I keep trying, or give up?

A Six Sentence Summary may contain slightly more or slightly fewer than six sentences, but will usually contain the following basic information:

An opening sentence that gives the full author's name, the full essay title (in quotation marks) and the main argument (not just the topic) of the essay.

Middle sentences that identify, in order, 2-3 of the author's main sub-points.  If the author pays particular attention to a specific example or an in-depth point of evidence, you should mention it, too.  Do not judge whether the points are interesting or right or confusing in a summary; just describe them.

A closing sentence that makes clear (without repeating your first sentence) the author's conclusions, reasoning and/or recommendation to his or her audience:  what does s/he expect his/her readers to think or do, and/or why?

Remember: a summary should be in your words, not quotations from the author.  If the author has coined a short, powerful phrase --  "compassionate conservatism" -- you may quote it.  Otherwise, paraphrase ideas yourself.

Summaries are generally formal writing, "he says" rather than "I say" -- they include no opinions, no first person, no slang.  However, you should try to use your own clear, ordinary language rather than trying to sound overly dramatic or philosophical.

WW3.  Create a double-entry reading log (at least 8 entries) for either Douglass's speech or Anthony's speech.  Imagine that you are a typical audience member at the time -- probably upper-middle-class, probably white, probably male; sympathetic but a little worried about all the changes going on (read the headnote for information).  At the top of your log, write a short sentence to describe your new identity.  Then use the He-Says and I-Say columns to respond to the speech:  what ideas, sentences, or phrases that "they say" spark reactions in your "I say" column?  What might "you" remember about your home, your values, your family, your life, as "you" listen to this speech?

Also, turn in a photocopy of the speech with your annotations on it.  These will include not only passages (or parts of passages) that you've underlined to say "hey," but the margin notes -- actual words! -- you write for yourself (at least 4-5 per page).  You should present a range of comments including exclamations, translations, questions, reactions, and/or connections.  You could also identify appeals, assertions, and/or logical fallacies. 

WW4.  Three summaries.  Reread the speech you plan to use for Essay #2.  Complete, in any order, three summaries of that speech: a two-sentence summary (no more than 75 words!), a six-sentence summary (give-or-take), and a page-long summary (about 250 words).  Each summary should identify the author and title, capture the essential topic and argument of the speech, and be in your own, formal-but-direct language.  You may repeat your own wordings, but remember:  you're not just adding or subtracting random details, but trying to create an accurate, balanced, smooth-flowing description of what someone else said. 

WW5 -- Required:  Comparative Analysis.  Compare the speech you're using for Essay #2 with the "Reader's Choice" speech you found on your own. (If you're using your Choice speech for Essay #2, compare it with one of our assigned speeches.)  Begin with a six-sentence summary of the choice-speech author's arguments (you've already summarized the Essay 2 speech, so you don't need to do so again).  Write three well-developed paragraphs which each analyze one aspect of both speeches.  You might choose to write paragraphs on the audiences/purposes each speaker faces, on one or two appealsthat the author makes (ethos, pathos, logos), on assumptions or assertions the speaker makes, and/or on the overall success of the speeches.  Try to integrate your paragraphs, rather than taking one author at a time:  "Both Text A and Text B discuss ___ .  Author A is in favor of __, while Author B thinks ___ ."  All paragraphs will require direct quotations as evidence. 

WW6: Connect and conclude.  Choose two of the assigned readings for Essay #3 and do a three-part comparative summary & analysis.  Write a paragraph that accurately summarizes (in your own words) the central ideas, examples, and conclusions of both of the texts together; this may take somewhat more than six sentences (but not much more!).  Your summary paragraph should integrate ideas from both texts, as in the example noted above in WW5, not simply describe one and then describe the other.

Then write a well-developed paragraph that connects-and-concludes about one particular idea in both texts:  be sure draw a conclusion about what happens when you see the ideas together.  (How does one author's information help you understand or apply the other author's ideas?)  Lastly, write a paragraph that connects-and-concludes about the style or argument strategy that each author uses, and draw a conclusion:  which author reaches his/her audience or goals better?  Both paragraphs will need specific quotations-plus-explanations from each text; help your reader pay attention to the details that most connect or most separate the two texts.

WW7 -- Required.  Write For Real Project Proposal. Compose four thoughtful, detailed paragraphs, designed to persuade Prof. Reid to approve your chosen project.  First paragraph:  Describe what you want to say, to whom (or to what organization or audience) you want to say it, why you want to say it, and what you hope to accomplish by saying it at this time in this way to this audience. Second paragraph:  After rereading the Write For Real assignment page, explain how you think your project will meet each the five basic specifications.  Third paragraph:  Think ahead.  What exactly will be easiest for you in writing this?  What will be difficult, and how might you plan to cope with that difficulty? Fourth paragraph:  Conclude:  why should this project be approved? how will it benefit you as a person and as a writer?

WW #8 -- Required.  Sentence Expert Paragraph:  Read the assignments from Pocket Style Manual with some care.  Choose at least three sections to focus on, ones discussing grammatical rules or principles that you think are difficult to remember, complex to operate, hard to spot when proofreading, etc. You can limit your focus to a part of a rule, if you'd like -- one kind of semi-colon use, for example. Take notes on these sections, and create some sample sentences of your own to demonstrate each principle.  You will be asked to teach these three rules to your group (and you will turn in these notes). (continued next page)

Then write an 8-10 sentence paragraph on any topic of your choosing (anything from Once Upon A Time to basketball to corporate subsidies).  In this paragraph, which you will share with your peers to test their knowledge, you should have at least six incorrect sentences that demonstrate errors related to the rules you chose.  (These sentences should be original, not plagiarisms or lazy paraphrases of sentences in PS.)  Also, include at least one grammatically correct sentence that resembles your incorrect sentences; try to create a sentence that will challenge your readers at least slightly as they try to determine its correctness.  Do not label Incorrect/Correct sentences. 

Type or neatly write your paragraph -- double-space or skip a line to facilitate corrections.  Make 5 legible copies of this sheet to bring with you to class.  Finally, on one copy of your sheet, the one you'll turn in to Dr. Reid, write in all corrections and note down the errors and the section numbers in PS that explain the corrections.

WW9:  Source Evaluation: Refer to your outside source for Essay #3.  Write a six-sentence summary.  Write a paragraph using Hacker's list from PS (p. 110-111) to evaluate the credibility of your source.  Write a second paragraph analyzing why and/or how this source is useful to you in writing Essay #3:  what specifically does it add that the other texts didn't have?  Then write a paragraph in which you analyze some of the reasons that this text is not an ideal source for this project, and/or in which you explain specifically what kind of source you really wanted, and how that would have added to your thinking on this topic.

WW10: Going Public.

Option A:  Write a letter that is directed to a real audience that is involved in your Essay #3 project.  You might choose the editor of a local newspaper, a local official or group that could work for change, or a local politician; you might choose a club or group that includes part of your audience.  Using standard one-page, single-space, business-letter format, briefly summarize the issue as you see it, and briefly recommend and explain the change you are arguing for or the way in which your audience should take note of this problem.  One-point bonus: bring in a second copy (sign it!) and a stamped, addressed envelope for me so I can mail the letter to the addressee. (No bonus for no risk taken: If the mayor is your uncle or the church-group leader is your god-mother, write to someone else.)

Option B: Sign up for a Press Conference and prepare a one-page handout for your peers concerning your arguments for Essay #3.  During the Press Conference, you'll have 2-3 minutes to describe the issue you've been writing about and persuade your peers of your point of view.  Your handout should help you make your point: you may include facts, stories, quotations, graphs or charts, pictures or diagrams, etc.  Pay some attention to how your handout looks:  if it's too wordy, cluttered, or disorganized, it will work against you rather than for you.  One-point bonus: Make your Press Conference a formal affair by dressing up, giving a rehearsed presentation, and handling questions like a pro.

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Reader's Blogs

A "blog" -- short for "web log" -- is a kind of interactive online journal.  You write informally about what you see and think, and others respond to and build on what you write.  We'll use our WebCT software, so our blogs won't be available to the whole world, just the members of this class.

You'll use your blogs


to practice active reading of class texts, your peers' ideas, and the world around you, in order to prepare you for college-level reading and thinking


to use writing in an informal setting to help you discover ideas and share them with others


to balance our class work, so (unlike many other classes) you can spend some class time working on and getting help with your writing assignments, rather than doing all the discussing in class and all the writing alone by yourself

You can post three kinds of reading blogs:


Reading a class text:  respond to all or part of an assigned reading for this class


Reading something in your world:  another text, yes, but also any item, person, or situation that requires you to pay close attention to details and patterns


Reading a peer's blog post and responding to something she or he has written

Each blog post should include different kinds of analysis:


Micro-details:  what's one word, phrase, sentence, moment, or aspect that reached out and grabbed/confused you?  how? why? what does it mean to you?


Macro-patterns:  how did you respond to the text/person/situation overall?  why?


Tele-visions ("seeing beyond"):  So, what?  what questions does this raise for you about larger issues, about the past or the future?  what "big ideas" might it connect to?

Your blog writing will be "collected" and graded three times.  Your posts will be graded primarily on your overall participation in three categories:


Number of thoughtful posts:  How many thoughtful posts -- each about a "screenful" long, or about two paragraphs -- did you write?


Variety of kinds of posts:  Did you include posts about some class material and take the time to read and respond to some of your peers' ideas?


Regularity of posts:  You should plan to post at least twice every week to earn an A or a B -- don't leave all your posts to the last minute!

The blogs are a "classroom space":  Although your writing may be informal in style, it must be civil -- no insults, no name-calling, no cursing.  Remember, too, that your blog ispublic:  if you or someone else might be embarrassed or hurt to see your thoughts on the JumboTron TV in a football stadium or in The Washington Post, don't put them in your blog.  Think before you post!  Any breach of civility may cost you grade points.

RB Grading Guides


Collection 1: 5 points

Last posts due: 10/2/04, by noon

To earn an "A–", you must meet all three of these minimum requirements:

Complete at least 4 blog entries, and

Include 2 class-text posts and 1 peer-response, and

Post at least once in each Sunday-to-Saturday week

To earn a "B–":

Complete at least 3 blog entries, and

Include 1 class-text post and 1 peer-response, and

Post at least once in most Sunday-to-Saturday weeks

To earn a "C–":

Complete at least 2 blog entries, and

Include 1 class-text post and 1 peer-response, and

Post at least once in each of two different weeks

To earn a "D–":

Complete at least 2 blog entries, and

Include 1 class-text post and 1 peer response

Failure to complete at least "D–"work may result in a loss of all points:  0/5


Collection 2: 10 points

Last posts due: 11/6/04, by noon

To earn an "A–", you must meet all three of these minimum requirements:

Complete at least 7 blog entries, and

Include 2 class-text posts and 3 peer-responses, and

Post at least once in each Sunday-to-Saturday week

To earn a "B–":

Complete at least 6 blog entries, and

Include 2 class-text posts and 2 peer-responses, and

Post at least once in most Sunday-to-Saturday weeks

To earn a "C–":

Complete at least 5 blog entries, and

Include 2 class-text posts and 1 peer-responses, and

Post at least once in each of two different weeks

To earn a "D–":

Complete at least 4 blog entries, and

Include 1 class-text post and 1 peer response

Failure to complete at least "D–" work may result in a loss of all points:  0/10


Collection 3: 10 points

Last posts due: 12/11/04, by noon

To earn an "A–", you must meet all three of these minimum requirements:

Complete at least 7 blog entries, and

Include 2 class-text posts and 3 peer-responses, and

Post at least once in each Sunday-to-Saturday week

To earn a "B–":

Complete at least 6 blog entries, and

Include 2 class-text posts and 2 peer-responses, and

Post at least once in most Sunday-to-Saturday weeks

To earn a "C–":

Complete at least 5 blog entries, and

Include 2 class-text posts and 1 peer-responses, and

Post at least once in each of two different weeks

To earn a "D–":

Complete at least 4 blog entries, and

Include 1 class-text post and 1 peer response

Failure to complete at least "D–" work may result in a loss of all points:  0/10

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Basic Audience Analysis

This assignment is most helpful if completed before you write the whole essay.  Answer at least three of the following questions or question-sets.  Your analysis should total about 200-250 words of informal but thoughtful prose. 

1.  Required for all Analyses.  Describe your target audience for this essay:  a person, real or hypothetical, or a kind/group of people.  Why might they be interested in reading your essay?  What's one thing might you do as you write to try to reach them?

2.  "What do they want?"  What does the average member of this audience already know or believe about this topic?  What top three questions might they have?  How might you create or find answers?  (Use this question to think about organization:  do your paragraphs directly answer the most important questions you list?)

3.  If you were publishing this piece in a magazine, or making it into a movie, what kind of magazine would it be?  What first image, soundtrack, headline, photo, or illustration might accompany it to get your readers' attention?  What words/ideas could you add to your title or introduction that could accomplish a similar attention-grab?

4.  "What do I have to say?"  Describe your purpose for this essay.  First, you might explain what got you interested in this topic or reading assignment.  What do you most want to share with your reader?  If you boiled it down to one sentence, what would it be?  (Use this question to think about your thesis and conclusion:  be sure to say "up front" what your main idea is!)

5.  Next, imagine your reader (as described above) finishing the essay:  what do you want your writing to have done to this person's thoughts, attitudes, emotions, and/or behaviors?  If your reader were to finish reading and then leap up and go to the phone to "make a difference," whom would you want the reader to call, and what would you want him/her to say?  (Use this question to think about the "so what?" of your conclusion:  what might you say to elicit this desired response?)

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Basic Post-Script

This assignment should be completed after you write the essay.  Answer three or four of the following questions or question-sets. Your analysis should total about 200-250 words of informal but thoughtful prose.

1.  What (if anything) was most difficult about writing this essay?  why?  what was easiest?  why?

2.  What didn't you understand about this essay going into it?  Do you understand better now?  What helped you cope with the confusion or solve your problems -- something in class? in a book? a specific comment?

3.  What do you think is the strongest part of this essay? where do you come closest to affecting your reader the way you'd like to?

4.  What changes have you already made in the essay from its earlier draft(s)?  What (if anything) did you learn as you were writing/revising?

5.  Describe any place where you decided not to heed a reader's advice (even Dr. Reid's!) because you had a good reason, or any place you think you "broke the rules" for a reason, or any place that you decided it was more important to focus on what you had to say rather than what they wanted you to say.  Explain how/why you made this decision.

6.  Where, if at all, are you still having difficulties?  What other changes or additions might you make if you had an extra week of peace and quiet to work in?  What (if anything) might you do differently on your next essay?

7.  If you have questions for Dr. Reid, or would like extra feedback on a specific part of this essay, or if there is anything else you'd like to note about the essay or how you came to write it, please ask/explain.

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Last updated August 2005.Email Shelley Reid