November 2010 Archives

Due Today:

FSA Draft

Due Today:


In a 200-word paragraph, make a specific point about something you learned about the writing process.

Note that I am not asking for you to summarize rules for when to use a comma, or why to write "should have" instead of "should of". I'm actually looking for your ability to write about one of the big-picture issues -- argumentation, organization, opposing viewpoints, etc.

Quote from one or several of your early submissions, and one or several of your later submissions, in order to SHOW evidence of progress.

Due Today:

Essay 3 Reflection

We will write and submit this during class.

Due Today:

Essay 3 Revision


FSA Workshop

This is 3-4 page essay -- a little longer than your Papers 1 through 3. I don't mind if you include some of the same points that you included in your latest ILP revision, but this is a different assignment, with different goals.

It's time to start looking back and assessing your accomplishments.

Like any essay, you should come up with a thesis statement that makes a specific, debatable claim, and you should back up your claim with evidence (in the form of very brief, direct quotations from your work, reading assignments, the comments I leave on your papers, etc.).

Specific tips to keep in mind. I'm not expecting you to write a separate paragraph on each of these numbers; exactly how you meet each of these points is up to you.

1) Write a coherent, well-organized essay following a pattern that emphasizes your main points, demonstrating your ability to apply what you learned about showing with specific examples, reducing wordiness, and proper grammar and punctuation. (I am not looking for stand-alone paragraphs that respond to my prompts, in the order I give them.)

2) Present a clear thesis paragraph that includes a topic, precise opinion on the topic, and the "blueprint" (which presents your main points in the order in which you will explore them in the rest of your paper). The title, the thesis statement, and the conclusion should match, but the conclusion should not merely repeat the thesis statement.

3) Defend a non-obvious point by making specific reference to what you learned from your MyCompLab pre-test, quoting brief passages from your own work and also referring to your MyCompLab post-test.

4) Defend a non-obvious point by making specific reference to other ways in which the course helped you to learn, again by quoting brief passages from your own work.

5) Every paragraph should refer to at least one specific assignment. Some paragraphs might refer to multiple assignments. Some quotes might help you make more than one point. Quote (very briefly) from your work frequently, in order to support your claims -- but quotes that are too long, or that appear at random, will look like filler.

6) Include at least two pairs of quotes -- a "before" quote from an early assignment, and an "after" quote from a late assignment -- to support your claims. (You are welcome to include a "middle" quote if you like.)

7) Be specific. For this paper, that means zoom in on how a particular assignment shows your progress in a specific area. Avoid vague general statements.

For this paragraph, I'm leaving the topic fairly open, but I want to encourage you to explore a specific argument by opposing it.

You may write yet another counter-argument to a claim you made in P8 or P9. You may use this paragraph to oppose an argument you made in Paper 3. You may oppose an argument you made in your most recent ILP draft. You may oppose an argument you read in a peer's paper.

Just be sure not to fall into the "some people say" problem (too vague) or "It really bugs me when..." (too much like a random rant, which is not the same thing as objecting to a specific action or statement).

Tie your observations to a specific incident. You may refer, for example, to something somebody said in class (about the liberal arts, the difference between high school and college, etc.), or something you read while reviewing a peer's paper.

Use your paragraph to demonstrate your ability to explore a complex subject and illuminate the reader, rather than complain about what "some people may say" or belittle opinions that you don't happen to share.

Here is the handout that we went over in class today.

LA100 FSA.docx

We will do an in-class activity designed to help you reflect on the MyCompLab portion of your accomplishments so far.
Due Today:

Essay 3 Peer Review

We'll take a moment to slow down, talk about upcoming work, and strategize.

What is the Final Self-Assessment Essay?
  • A persuasive paper (3-4 pages that defend a statement about your progress towards meeting the course goals -- see the syllabus)
  • Demonstrates your ability to SHOW with evidence (a framing story set on a particular day is not necessary, and may in fact squeeze out other, more important content)
  • Supports claims with quotations from your own work Use a "before" and "after" quote to demonstrate, for example:
    • The lesson on normative thinking showed me that the thesis sentence I wrote for Paragraph 3, "Quote your thesis statement here," was not actually an intellectually arguable position, but it was instead just a passionate statement of my personal preference.  After I learned that normative thinking is [define it here], and I learned that a better thesis statement would [do what?], I tried writing thesis statements that were more [describe your goal here]. For instance, my thesis for Paragraph 10 was "Quote that thesis here."  That's a much better thesis statement, because [explain why it's better than the thesis for Paragraph 3. Although I still find it challenging to [where are you still struggling with thesis statements?], I'm much more confident in my ability to [do what? wrap it up by demonstrating your progress towards meeting the course goals.]

Write the "con" side of the same argument that you wrote in P8. 200 words, uploaded to

I'm not asking you to change your mind about the topic you chose, but I am asking you to demonstrate your ability to construct a logical argument by presenting the best evidence against the claim that you made in Paragraph 8.

The purpose of this exercise is to give you experience seriously thinking about "the other side" of an argument. If you chose a topic for P8 that is non-obvious and debatable, you will have a much easier time writing P9. When you revise your draft of Paper 3, I will ask everyone to pay extra attention to beefing up the opposing argument. The experience of writing P9 should help you with that revision assignment.

If it turns out that there is not enough evidence to write against your thesis for P8, you may choose a related topic. You might have written your P8 on a thesis like "X is a good thing," which means the most obvious counter-argument would be "X is a bad thing." But if there isn't any credible evidence to support "X is bad," you might say, "Just because X has good qualities A, B, and C does not mean that X is a good solution to problem Y."

For instance, if you wrote "Hitler was evil" for P8, you would have a very hard time finding evidence that would convince a rational person that "Hitler was not evil." However, you might be able to write, "Although Hitler was undeniably evil, his twisted morality was not the sole cause of World War II; at the end of World War I, Europe created the economic and political conditions that led to World War II."

We will do an in-class peer review of Essay 3, and discuss P9 (due next next Tuesday).


Sign up for an individual conference.

You can think of this as the "pro" side of a pro/con argument. A position would be some debatable claim that you can back up with evidence. As always, 200 words, uploaded to

A claim is debatable if a reasonable person would be able to point to credible evidence to back up an opposing (or alternate) position.

As I've frequently stated in class, this assignment is not looking for a bumper-sticker position that involves repeating slogans on ready-made controversies such as abortion, gay marriage, legalization of pot, or unrealistic portrayals of women in the media.

Avoid normative statements. "people should stop stealing" or "the government should lower taxes" are statements about what what you would make happen if you were ruler of the world. But a list of what "should" happen is not the same thing as a list of reasons for a position.

"Teachers should challenge their students." (A normative claim, not an argument.)

"If teachers do not challenge their students in the classroom, then the next generation of graduates will enter the world with the expectation that the surest path to success is to do what is safe and expected of them, rather than pushing themselves to their personal limits." (This states a position, rather than merely asserting what everybody ought to believe if you ran the universe.)

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