Hooray, no response paper this week! In fact, today was supposed to be dedicated to the second installment of the new party game Homophone Feud that we started yesterday. The problem is, I lost my voice, and, stupidly, in the classroom I have no way of communicating my thoughts and feelings in any other way than my voice. So, here you are, back in the writing lab, sitting in front of the computer.
I have an idea! Let’s practice, just one more time, the kind of 5-paragraph, timed writing you’re all going to be asked to produce for a high stakes state test this month. Although this type of writing does cause most people severe posterior pain (I blame sciatica, personally), the good thing about it is that it’s short. The response papers we’ve been working on in this class take days, sometimes even weeks to complete. A timed writing is done in minutes, and then you hand it in for a score–no feedback, no revisions. In the immortal words of Homer (Simpson): Done, and done!
Here are some tips. If you do these things, you’ll pass the test every time:
- Before you write, decide what your opinion is and simply state it. (The prompts on these tests will always ask you to express an opinion.)
- Once you’ve stated an opinion, think of 2 or 3 solid pieces of evidence to back up your opinion, as well as examples of real-life situations that show your evidence is relevant.
- Write 4-5 paragraphs: First, an engaging and interesting introduction that states your opinion. Then, one paragraph for each piece of evidence (up to 3). And finally, a conclusion that sums up the big ideas.
- In your “evidence” paragraphs, focus like a laser beam on only that one piece of evidence. Don’t combine two evidences into one paragraph. Don’t spread your discussion of one piece of evidence into more than one paragraph. This isn’t sophisticated writing–keep it simple!
- Consider your audience and write with the appropriate tone. In general, here’s your audience:
Here’s today’s prompt:
The principal and school board are trying to decide whether or not to change to a 4-day school week. Classes would last 90 minutes each day, Monday-Thursday; students would attend school from 8:30-4:30. Write to the principal, school board, and parents expressing your opinion about whether or not this is a good idea. Use specific evidence and examples to support your opinion.
Again, you don’t have to change the world with this writing–you just have to make a logical, organized argument, and then be done with it. Keep it simple! Look at the picture above and think about what that guy (yes, I know it’s Barry Goldwater) would want to hear, and what kind of language and examples he would best understand.
You have the whole class period to complete and print your essay. After you hand it in to me, take some time to update your blogs, revise any papers you haven’t revised yet, and generally make sure you’re up to date on everything in the class so far.