Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Looking at some comparison essays

As we begin discussing different types of comparison essays, it is important that we look at professional models and exemplars. Part of that we've done in class.

Your first task now is to write your thoughts about the two comparison essays from The New York Times. Write a blog entry in which you evaluate the two different articles. Your entry should include the following:
  • Begin your blog with a paragraph that mentions something you've learned about writing (either in class or through your reading) and how it relates to what you are doing.
  • Several direct links to each article as hypertext for sourcing. For your reference, the article about the brothers is here and the car article is here.
  • A substantial summary of at least two important points made in the articles.
  • An examination of the organizational style of the essays.
  • How you plan to use this information to help you write your essay.

Your second task is to write another blog entry related to your assignment. In this entry, you must:

  1. Include a direct hyperlink to a source you used as part of your research. For your reference, there are resources linked at write to help you get started. I will also post more there periodically.
  2. Insight into your writing and thinking process related to this assignment.
  3. Discussion of choices you are making to help you prepare, organize and write this assignment.
  4. Be creative in some way ... post a picture, some interesting insight, a link to something interesting you found...

As always, run a spell check on your entry and use proper mechanics and convention. You must proofread all entries.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

The Comparison Essay

One of the best ways we learn about new people and new things is by comparing and/or contrasting them to people and things we already know. By examining similarities and differences, we gain insights and are better able to see meaningful connections.

Your next writing assignment is to write a comparison essay. As always, the topic is up to you. But select a topic that can be explored in adequate depth and breadth for you to write a coherent, intelligent essay of at least 800 words. The ideas in your essay will be organized in a precise manner, either the block method or the flip-flop method. We will learn more about those patterns during this unit.

Your essay will be graded on the following:
  • A controlling idea in the introduction that states the two topics being written about and the direction of the essay
  • Ideas organized in either block or flip-flop method
  • The use of specific details to support each topic explored
  • The use of transition words to point out similarities or differences, or to repeat key phrases or structures
  • A conclusion that ends the paper with a sense of finality, summarizing the major points or commenting on the major ideas proven in the paper
  • The use of varied, powerful sentence structure
Resources: The following link provides comprehensive information about comparison/contrast essay assignments. It might be a helpful place to review before and during the writing process.

The rough draft of this essay will be due Tuesday, Dec. 4. The final draft will be due Thursday, Dec. 6.

Note: As with most of the assignments this year, this idea comes from the Stack the Deck writing program. Thank you.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Your opinions, your blog, and cell phone jammers...?

One of the features of blogs is that they allow anyone to post an instant opinion. Coupled with the Internet's capability to provide access to millions of different kinds of information and ideas, there is never a shortage of instapinions (instant + opinion = instapinion). News organizations like The New York Times have also begun providing opportunities for its readers to leave their comments and opinions on the news that's reported on their site. Bloggers, too, rely on the latest news and trends to find topics on which to post their opinions.

Here's an example. Earlier this week, The New York Times ran an article on a growing trend in the use of electronic gadgets to block out cell phone signals. These gadgets, which are illegal in the United States, but still available for purchase overseas, allow the user to jam nearby cell phone conversations in public places. Like most of our new innovations, it has also raised a debate on the limits of privacy and the use of technology. It has spawned spirited opinions of all kinds.

One blogger used his space to bluntly express his distaste for the new gadgets. While another bloggers, offers a little more support for the use of the handheld jammers.

What is your opinion? Respond on your own blogs with your own opinions. Remember to link to any sources your cite or refer to. This includes the news article, the blog posts, or any other links you come across while reading about the topic.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

A persuasive essay that you really want to do, trust me

In persuasive writing, the writer holds strong feelings about a specific issue and attempts to persuade his or her audience to agree with a certain point of view. You will select a topic that you feel strongly about, or at least one that you feel strong enough about to write a 700 to 900-word essay.

For this assignment, your subject should be a topic upon which you have strong feelings and can speak with some authority. You must take a stance on one side of a controversial issue and support your position with sound, specific arguments.

Your essay will be graded on the following:

  • A strong controlling idea in the introduction
  • Ideas organized in an order of importance sequence
  • The use of specific details to support opinions
  • The use of transition words to shift from one reason to another
  • The use of varied, powerful sentence structure
A reminder: as we have discovered in class this year, the most important part of any essay assignment is selecting the topic. A persuasive essay is no different. Select a topic you are passionate about and one that will allow you to support your opinions with good reasons. It's not the time to drift off on an unfocused rant.

Rough draft due: Wednesday, Nov. 14. Final draft due: Tuesday, Nov. 20