Sharing our Drafts
This week in class students read aloud the rough drafts of their first persuasive essays. They are developing a range of interesting topics including: pharmaceuticals and health, factory farming, cheer as sport, climate change, the value of Lego toys, education, the possibility of alien life, and the dangers of government intrusion. Most students were able to refine their thesis statements from last week and begin to develop several supporting lines of argument. As a group, we provided each writer with feedback and support, which is a valuable process both for the writer and also for those doing the active listening and commenting.
We will continue this model of whole-group sharing as we proceed through the semester. It really helps dispel some of the anxiety the students feel about whether they're "doing it right" and also gives everyone a chance to receive and give feedback as well as celebrate each others writing process.
Crafting a Hook
Several students had developed effective "hooks" for their essays while others were looking for advice from their peers on how best to write one. We discussed various ways one can engage the audience with a hook, including opening with:
Organizing the Body of your Essay
Next week we will look specifically at how to organize the body of the essay.
The body of your essay contains the actual development of your argument. Each paragraph presents a single idea (or set of related ideas) that provides support for your main thesis. The effect of these paragraphs, like an ongoing dialogue, is to bring the reader closer and closer to accepting the validity of your thesis.
The first step in writing an effective body paragraph is the construction of the topic sentence. Just as the thesis sentence in the introduction holds together your essay, the topic sentence is the glue binding each individual body paragraph. A body paragraph's topic sentence:
Because each body paragraph is a step in building your argument, the paragraphs should be organized in an effective way. One good way to test the strength of both your topic sentences and your argument as a whole is to construct an outline of your paper using only your paper's thesis statement and your topic sentences. This outline should provide a logical overview of your paper's argument; all of your paper's topic sentences should work together to support your thesis statement.
Homework this week is to continue to work on developing your draft essay based on feedback received in class. For those students that did not get a chance to read their piece this week, please feel free to email me your draft and I will provide you with comments and direction. Specifically, students should work on any one or all of the following areas:
Next week we will listen to the remaining student essays and I will collect rough drafts from all students so that I can provide more in-depth feedback and advice. Please remember to bring in a hard copy.