Week 2: ENGL 1121
Goal/Purpose: This week we will begin thinking about the first essay and continue to practice skills of good reading and writing.
By Thursday, 11:59 pm:
· Assignment sheet for Essay 1 (uploaded to Content)
· MLA document format (uploaded to Content)
· In Norton Sampler:
· “The Sanctuary of School” (166 – 171)
· “Like Mexicans” (350 – 354)
· Chapter 3 (33 – 37)
· Chapter 2 (19 – 31)
Beginning this week, you will participate with a small group in Discussion and stay with this group until mid-semester. When you click on the Discussion link in Content, it will take you to Discussion for your group. Plan to read all posts of your group members.
· Discussion post
· Quiz 2
By Sunday, 11:59 pm:
· Discussion responses
· Identity assignment (see below)
As you prepare to start work on your first essay, it is important to understand the expectations for writing essays. Everyone has a different perspective or way of thinking about the world; therefore, each person will write a different essay that shows your perspective/thinking. But all college-level essays have certain qualities in common:
· a clear thesis that shows a stance on a particular topic
· paragraphs with clear topic sentences and plenty of support
· transitions within paragraphs and between them
This is the most exciting thing about writing—you have a unique idea to share, and you get to decide how to make that clear in your essay. There is no single correct way; but keeping these structures in mind will help you break down your thinking and show it clearly.
As the book says, your thesis is the main idea you want to communicate about a topic. The thesis must be:
· An assertion or opinion—not just a fact
· Written as a sentence that expresses your specific view
The book says your thesis can come anywhere in the essay, but I am going to ask that you present your thesis in the first paragraph of your essay. More on that next week.
All writing is made up of individual paragraphs. As the book says, every idea in your essay must relate to your thesis. Once you have a thesis, you can start breaking it down into smaller ideas; those ideas will become your paragraphs in the essay. Next week, you’ll read more about paragraphs, but for now here is a review.
The topic sentence is the first sentence in a paragraph; it expresses the main idea of the paragraph. That topic sentence must be more than a fact—it must express something about your opinion/perspective.
You can write a stand-alone paragraph—you’ll do that in many assignments—but in most cases, you write a group of paragraphs in an essay. I’m sure this is review, but it’s worth repeating: each paragraph in an essay has to have a point, and that point must support the overall point of the thesis. That’s how you create coherent essays.
In my experience, the main problem with paragraphs is not lack of coherence, it is not providing enough support. In other words, lack of development; students seem to worry they are repeating themselves, but I have never in my long career of teaching (more than 20 years) seen that kind of repetition. Instead, I see a reluctance to explain your thinking and give examples to illustrate your perspective.
This class is about learning to believe in your own ideas and making the effort to explain them thoroughly! We will work hard on development—to help you gain confidence in your own ideas and your ability to express them.
You have the essay assignment, so you can start thinking about how to approach this first essay. I suggest brainstorming, freewriting, or any of the suggestions from the Chapter 3 reading. Next week, we’ll start focusing in on thesis statements.
From this week on, all your assignments should follow the MLA document formatting; please review the handout under Content. You will lose points if your work does not follow the MLA document format.
When we talk about identity, we mean the distinct and individual personalities we have that influence our attitudes and behavior in the world—in short, identity is what gives us our personal perspective. We are not born with a full identity, however—we may be born with some traits, but we learn who and how to be in the world through our experiences.
For this assignment, you are going to write two separate, complete paragraphs about factors that directly influence perspective; one of them will focus on you, and the other will focus on ONE of the short essays we’ve read in the first two weeks of class.
This assignment will help you start thinking about this first essay.
For each paragraph, you will write a topic sentence and include enough support to show your idea fully. Each paragraph will show how ONE factor has influenced perspective (yours or the author’s); details in support of your idea will either come from your own experience or from the essay you are writing about.
Here are some examples of topic sentences that would work for this assignment—you can use them if they’re helpful or come up with your own.
Possible topic sentences:
· Growing up with a single parent significantly influenced how I see the world.
· The poverty experienced by Lynda Barry shaped her identity.
· My extended family had the largest influence on my developing perspective.
· The conflict with her mother deeply influenced Sotomayor.
Upload your work to the Dropbox by Sunday at 11:59 pm.