Miss T’s Rules for Writing



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Miss T’s Rules for Writing

  • Avoid fluff—make each sentence strong and meaningful. Make your sentences relate back to the thesis and the topic sentences. Fluffy filler sentences will get you nowhere!
  • No shout outs—PLEASE don’t ever write “In this paper I am going to . . . I will write about . . . I have shown you.” Just don’t. Don’t.

Five Paragraphs?

  • For most high school writing, the five paragraph essay will suffice.
  • A five paragraph essay contains:
    • Introductory paragraph
    • 3 body paragraphs
    • Conclusion paragraph
  • Many writers find it easier to write the introduction AFTER writing the body paragraphs, but it’s ultimately up to you.
  • First, though, you have to write your THESIS!

Intro Paragraph

  • Two parts:
    • Get the reader’s attention so he or she will want to keep reading
    • Tell the reader what the author is writing about
  • Includes the thesis statement, the point you are trying to prove. The thesis is the LAST sentence in the opening paragraph

Intro Parts

  • First sentence: Attention Grabber
    • Makes the reader want to keep reading
    • In a formal essay, avoid asking a question as the attention grabber.
    • Some great attention grabbers:
      • Historical review of your topic
      • Anecdote (story)
      • A surprising statement or fact
      • Name dropping (pull in famous people)
      • Declarative

Intro Parts

  • Next, add important background information to give the reader context for your paper.
  • Possible background information
    • Important historical or literary information
    • A BRIEF overview of the work you are writing about (two sentences MAX)

Attention!

  • In my first classroom, there were only five students, three of whom had fur. From the age of four, I spent most of my playing hours teaching my stuffed animals and unwilling playmates, most of whom were tired of “real” school already. I spent hours creating worksheets and selecting books for my play school. My parents thought I would grow out of my play school phase, and eventually I decided I might want to try a career as a surgeon or even a government analyst. However, influenced by a group of nurturing and challenging teachers, I decided that my passion for education was too strong. Now I need a thesis statement!

Thesis Statement

  • ONE sentence
  • Appears at the END of the introductory paragraph
  • Reveals the opinion you will defend in your paper
  • Includes the subject you will discuss and your opinion of that subject
  • Tells the reader why your subject and opinion even matter!

Try it!

  • Subject: My dream career
  • Opinion: It is the best career option for me
  • So what?: WHY is it the best option?
  • Although I have considered many careers, teaching is the career that best suits me because it allows me to showcase my passions and connect with new people everyday.
  • Now, you try it!

Body Paragraphs

  • The “meat” of your paper
  • Begin with a transition and a topic sentence—what the whole paragraph is about
  • All sentences should connect back to the topic sentence.
  • Use the remaining sentences to “support” the topic—show how your example backs up the topic and why it matters.

How’s this for a topic sentence?

  • While many people think teaching is all about summer vacation, I most enjoy the creativity I employ when making new lessons.
    • What is the paragraph about?

Do these sentences go with the topic sentence?

  • While many people think teaching is all about summer vacation, I most enjoy the creativity I employ when making new lessons. When I am ready to create a new unit, I get excited about the projects my students will produce and the connections they will make with new texts. Of course I realize that many of my students will think I am a nerd for being so passionate, but most of them will appreciate it eventually. I also like talking with my students and learning about their interests. In addition, I love to assign essays to test my students’ critical thinking skills.

NO! Something’s wrong!

While many people think teaching is all about summer vacation, I most enjoy the creativity I employ when making new lessons. When I am ready to create a new unit, I get excited about the projects my students will produce and the connections they will make with new texts (MAYBE about creativity, but it’s a stretch!). Of course I realize that many of my students will think I am a nerd for being so passionate, but most of them will appreciate it eventually (Does nerdiness = creativity? No.). I also like talking with my students and learning about their interests (Any creativity here??). In addition, I love to assign essays to test my students’ critical thinking skills (Still no creativity).

  • While many people think teaching is all about summer vacation, I most enjoy the creativity I employ when making new lessons. When I am ready to create a new unit, I get excited about the projects my students will produce and the connections they will make with new texts (MAYBE about creativity, but it’s a stretch!). Of course I realize that many of my students will think I am a nerd for being so passionate, but most of them will appreciate it eventually (Does nerdiness = creativity? No.). I also like talking with my students and learning about their interests (Any creativity here??). In addition, I love to assign essays to test my students’ critical thinking skills (Still no creativity).

How can you fix it? Brainstorm and Outline!

  • Topic sentence focuses on passion for creativity
  • Ideas for supporting sentences:
    • What happens when I think of a creative lesson?
    • What my students think of my creativity
    • An example of a creative lesson I like
    • Results of my creativity

Details and Commentary

  • After you formulate a strong topic sentence, you must back up your claim with details and commentary
    • Topic sentence
      • Concrete detail 1 – fact, quote, paraphrase, summary, or example
        • Commentary 1 – Explain why it is important/how it relates to the thesis.
      • CD 2
        • Commentary 2
      • CD 3
        • Commentary 3

What about now?

  • While many people think teaching is all about summer vacation, I most enjoy my job because I can be creative when I plan lessons. When I am ready to create a new unit, I get excited about the projects my students will produce and the connections they will make with new texts. When my students learn or are enthusiastic about a project, I love my job all the more. Also, my creativity and that of my students livens up my classroom. Displaying my students’ work shows them that I care about their work and that their hard work does not go unnoticed.

Who gives a rip? Conclusions!

  • A strong conclusion will sum up your thoughts and leave your reader with a clear picture of your argument or point and why the reader should care.
  • Summarize and then clinch the deal!
    • Draw on ideas from your introduction, but don’t simply restate it and change a few words around.
    • Don’t bring in entirely new ideas.
    • Make your reader think or call him or her to action (The Clincher).

Example Conclusion

  • Ultimately, I am not sure how long I will spend in a high school classroom, but I am positive it will be many years. The demands of my family and my unwavering passion for learning may take me to a preschool or a college classroom in the future. Perhaps I will end up teaching my own children the proper techniques for teaching their stuffed animals. No matter what, my desire to create and connect will likely keep me in a teaching role for the rest of my life.

The End! 

  • Analysis at a Higher Level

Thesis Statements

  • The subject is what your paper is about: The American Dream in literature and film we discussed in class
  • Your opinion is what you are trying to prove: In the pieces we saw/read, the American Dream was not perfect. Sometimes the families’ dreams matched the “perfect” picture but often they didn’t. The dreams still mattered and still worked for the families even if they never achieved the “perfect” American Dream.

Thesis Statements

  • Which sounds better?
  • The American Dream is never perfect; it is different for different people.
  • Everyone has an American Dream including the families in In America, “Two Kinds,” and Call It Sleep.
  • While the American Dream differs for the characters in In America and “Two Kinds,” each family’s dream propels them toward a better life, even if that life is not perfect.

Thesis Statements

  • Appears at the END of the introductory paragraph
  • Reveals the opinion you will defend or the subject you will discuss
  • The statement includes the subject and your opinion of that subject

Concrete and Abstract

  • A good literary paper analyzes how an author uses a concrete element to reveal an abstract concept.
  • It’s not as crazy as it sounds!

Concrete Literary Elements

  • Things you can pick out in a text like:
    • Diction
    • Details
    • Imagery
    • Point of view
    • Setting
    • Figurartive language (simile, metaphor, personification, hyperbole, etc.)
    • Irony
    • Repetition
    • Sound devices

Abstract Elements

  • Revealed by the concrete elements
    • Characterization
    • Mood
    • Tone/author’s attitude
    • Theme
    • Author’s purpose

Putting It Together

  • A good thesis tells how an author uses concrete elements to show an abstract element.
  • Concrete Abstract Opinion
  • For example, in Beowulf, the author uses elevated diction and figurative language (kennings) to characterize Beowulf as noble and brave.

Putting It Together

  • Rememeber this: A thesis includes the subject you will discuss and your opinion of that subject.
  • A thesis includes the subject (ABSTRACT) you will discuss and your opinion of that subject (the point you are trying to prove by using CONCRETE elements).

Examples

  • In A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, the author uses many different types of figurative language to characterize Scrooge.
  • Subject: Scrooge’s character in A Christmas Carol
  • Writer’s opinion: MISSING!
  • In A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, the protagonist Scrooge is characterized as a greedy, cold-hearted character through Dicken’s use of figurative launguage, such as similes and metaphors
  • Subject: Scrooge’s character in A Christmas Carol
  • Writer’s opinion: Scrooge is greedy and cold-hearted
  • Concrete elements: characterization is proved by similes and metaphors

Practice

  • In Holy Sonnet X, Donne’s use of personification and mocking comparisons clearly reveal his disdainful (hateful) attitude toward death.
  • Subject (abstract):
  • Writer’s opinion:
  • Concrete elements:

Practice

  • In Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird, Atticus’ strong diction and religious references reveal his belief that his defense of Tom Robinson is both moral and necessary.
  • Subject (abstract):
  • Author’s opinion:
  • Concrete elements:

Practice

  • With a partner, evaluate the thesis statements on the worksheet. We will share shortly.

Write Your Own

  • In (title of work), (author’s name) uses (concrete elements) to (abstract) as (opinion of subject).
  • Using Quotes Effectively

Using Quotes Effectively

  • When you choose your abstract, concrete and opinion elements and write your thesis, then you need to write topic sentences and use quotes to back them up.
  • Topic sentence: The first sentence in a paragraph which introduces what the paragraph will be about.
  • Example: Chaucer uses specific diction to characterize the clerk as studious and humble.
    • Then the whole paragraph will use quotes/examples and explanations that prove he is humble and studious.

Picking Topic Sentences

  • Below is a thesis statement. Which topic sentences would support that thesis?
  • In the poem “Sea-Fever,” John Masefield reveals his complex attitude toward sailing by using diction, imagery, and figurative language to convey the lonely but exciting life of a sailor.
  • _________Masefield’s use of alliteration reflects his desire to return to the sea.
  • _________The poem is divided into three four line stanzas.
  • _________The excitement and adventure of the sea create a call that is irresistible to the speaker.
  • _________The speaker says that “I must go down to the seas again.”
  • _________The sound devices of the poem intensify the excitement of the sea.

Using Quotes

  • Analysis = using quotes to prove your opinion and explaining HOW the quote proves your opinion.
  • There are five pieces you need to quote effectively:
    • Assertion (or your opinion)
    • Introduce quote that proves opinion
    • Quote that proves opinion
    • Documentation (line number, page number, etc.)
    • Commentary (or explanation)
  • Let’s look at our parson page. If we want to characterize the parson as pious (religious) and moral, we could use the first few lines of his portion in the “Prologue.”
  • Assertion: The parson is pious and moral.
  • Intro quote: When Chaucer describes the parson . . .
  • Quote/Documentation: Lines 487-492
  • Commentary: By using the words “holy-minded,” and “learned,” Chaucer implies that the parson is religious in his thoughts and in his schooling.
  • You don’t need the whole quote, just the most important words!

Copy these notes when you are finished with your test. Then create your own thesis statement. Change the example as you need to. This may be done on the graphic organizer.

  • The SUBJECT of an essay is what it is about.
    • Subject: Three traits that make me unique.
    • Subject: A day that I will always remember.
    • Subject: Personification in the poem “To His Excellency, General Washington”
  • The THESIS combines the subject with an opinion about the subject AND the importance of that subject.
    • Thesis: The three traits I possess, ________________, _____________, and _____________, make me unique and set me apart from other people, showing them that I am not one to settle for being just a part of a crowd.


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