Reading and writing should not be taught separately. A poor reader is rarely a good writer. On the other hand, a careful reader is often an effective writer.
2000 Points, as part of Argument Series
At this point in the semester, you have spent quite a bit of time exploring a topic of interest to you. It is now time to take things to the next level. You will create a sustained argument, a research paper making a research-based persuasive argument about an important issue or controversy related to your topic, which you will then break up into about four posts on your website. Although this assignment is a more traditional academic essay, you should still adapt it to conventions of online writing: headings, images (with sources credited in a caption with working hyperlinks), very brief introduction, and shorter paragraphs. Keep in mind that most online readers only spend a few moments on a website, so deliver your main message quickly and offer those who linger multiple points of entry.
Identify a specific issue within your topic, research that issue, and then compose a persuasive argument of about 1500-2000 words, giving a specific call to action to a specific group, backed up by extensive, scholarly research. Your thesis should answer the question, “Who should do what?” and include words like “should,” “have to,” “need to,” or “must.” If your advice is negative–somebody shouldn’t do something–invert it to make it positive advice. If your advice is about people changing their opinions, revise it so that your target audience actually has to do something: a call to action.
Now that student-scholars have selected a topic and explained their historical, present and future interest in the topic, it is time to explore the topic through a series of academic moves in preparation for the Sustained Argument to follow. They should use this series to explore the topic with an open mind before they make any final decisions on their opinions regarding the topic.
Students are not allowed to change their topics at this point unless they improve or refine them. If students do want to change focus, they should discuss it with Ron right away to get approval.
Write a series of 4 original posts of 750-1000 words each (the overall total must be between 3000-4000 words), meeting the following tasks: a rhetorical analysis, an evaluation of credibility, an analysis of stakeholders, and primary research. Each post must contain working links to sources sources with traditional MLA in-text citations and works cited. (Note: students may use the citation format from their field but must be consistent.)
This semester you will find your own topic, currently in the news, that intellectually engages you and spend the semester exploring, researching, writing and creating content about it, so that you may become an expert on it. As your writing and content will be public, on an academic website you create, remember to pick something that will show a side of yourself you would like future teachers and employers to see.
Make sure the semester-long topic you pick satisfies the following criteria:
- You have an intellectual interest in the topic that will last at least 4 months.
- You are open-minded about the topic, able to be objective and willing to have your opinions change.
- You can find credible and timely research on the topic (initially from a major U.S. city newspaper or NPR station and later on in the semester from other credible sources) and you can understand this research.
- You have not picked something too broad (a common mistake) or too narrow so that you could successfully engage with this topic for the semester and become something of an expert on it.
Overview of Writing Assignments for 214: The Electric Word!
Topic Selection (1000 points): In 750-1000 words, describe the topic that you have selected for the Inquiry Series and the Sustained Argument and explain your interest in detail, specifically when you first became interested in the topic and why you are interested in it now. Who is the topic important to (target audience) and why does it matter (purpose)? What doesn’t the average person know about your topic, but should know to understand it more fully? What questions do you have on the topic that you would like to answer eventually?
Due September 22nd
Inquiry Series (3000 points): Write a series of 4 original posts of 750-1000 words each (the overall total must be between 3000-4000 words), meeting the following tasks: a rhetorical analysis, an evaluation of credibility, an analysis of stakeholders, and primary research. Each post must contain working links to sources sources with traditional MLA in-text citations and works cited. (Note: students may use the citation format from their field but must be consistent.) Students should use feedback they received on the appraisal essay and the topic proposal to improve their writing. Each student should also request detailed feedback on the second, third, or fourth post at any time during the inquiry series, and they should meet with me at least once before midterm for more recommendations on improving their writing.
As a writing teacher, you have piles of papers to read, and sometimes, believe me I know, it gets overwhelming. It’s a beautiful day outside, but you are stuck in your office. Your back is aching, your hand is cramping, and your mind is reeling.
Do you have a pile of papers to read? Take a walk!
I’d just like to mention that student writers love to use the verb “mention.” This writer mentions this and that writer mentions that.
But Herman Melville did not mention a white whale in his novel; he wrote a 704 page book about it. William Shakespeare did not mention the prince of Denmark; he wrote his longest play about this conflicted gentleman. Homer did not mention the Trojan war; he wrote a 15,693 line poem exploring only the later part of the conflict. Edward Gibbon did not mention the fall of the Roman Empire; he penned a six volume work on the subject. Obviously, these are extreme examples, but students do tend to use the verb a lot!
Readers of blogs often scan articles, rather than reading them from top to bottom, so blog writers should provide their readers with multiple points of entry: clear titles, headings, clear topic sentences, and key words in bold.
What is argumentation? What are the basic steps?
A video I made on connective writing, which means that our writings should be connected to the writings of others. New technologies make connective writing easier and more authentic than ever before.