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4.3: Creating Paper Topics

  • Page ID
    225901
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    Example: Writing Assignment #1 - Position Paper (Argumentative)

    English 100
    WRITING ASSIGNMENT #1: Position Paper (Argumentative)
    DUE DATES: Tuesday, January 28th– First Draft
    Tuesday, February 4th– Second Draft
    Tuesday, February 18th-Final Draft

    Your first major essay assignment of this semester involves responding to and taking a position on an idea that

    Michelle Alexander presents in her book, The New Jim Crow, Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness.

    Your essay must be a minimum of 4-5 double-spaced pages and must specifically address the topic given below. Refer to your “Formal Essay Guidelines” handout for details about essay policies and formatting guidelines.

    Carefully reread Chapters 1-6 in The New Jim Crow, Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness, and prepare yourself to use information from those chapters to help you support and clarify your own points and ideas. To help you with developing and organizing ideas for your essay, plan out your ideas on your Planning & Prewriting Worksheet (handout) before writing your first draft. Feel free to discuss your ideas and drafts with me and/or a tutor, and go to the Writing/Reading Lab in the Learning Center (Bldg. 5) to get additional assistance on your essay.

    * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

    ESSAY TOPIC

    In The New Jim Crow, Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness, author Michelle Alexander argues that it is important for us to understand that The New Jim Crow is the Prison Industrial Complex system which has disproportionately incarcerated black men at an alarming rate in the United State. She writes: “Like Jim Crow (and slavery), mass incarceration operates as a tightly networked system of laws, policies, customs, and institutions that operate collectively to ensure the subordinate status of a group defined largely by race (Alexander, 13).

    Carefully consider the four key points that Alexander raises in the passage above. In your essay of 4-5 pages, discuss whether or not you support Alexander’s position on her insights about mass incarceration in the Age of Obama. Remember to do the following in your essay: state your own position in your thesis statement, and support your thesis by discussing specific points that address Alexander’s main arguments. All in all, your essay will include a combination of your own ideas, analysis, observations, and examples/details as they relate to the main points that Alexander makes.

    Looking again at the step-by-step process, let’s do the tasks and apply them to this assignment:

    Breaking down a writing assignment/prompt:

    1. Read the prompt carefully and several times.
    2. Sum up the topic in a few words (What is the focus of the prompt?)
    3. Restate the prompt in your own words to help you fully understand it.
    4. Circle and/or underline the key words.
    5. Identify and count the required steps in the writing task.
    6. Make a list of the paper requirements.
    1. Read the prompt carefully and several times.

    As you read, highlight, take notes, and ask questions in the margins.

    1. Sum up the topic in a few words (What is the focus of the prompt?).

    Mass incarceration of black men

    1. Restate the prompt in your own words to help you fully understand it.

    Do I agree with Alexander that the U.S. prison system operates as a new Jim Crow system that oppresses black men? Do I agree that “mass incarceration operates as a tightly networked system of laws, policies, customs, and institutions” that guarantees the subordinate status of black males in our society?

    1. Circle and/or underline the key words.

    Carefully consider the four key points that Alexander raises in the passage above. In your essay of 4-5 pages, discuss whether or not you support Alexander’s position on her insights about mass incarceration in the Age of Obama. Remember to do the following in your essay: state your own position in your thesis statement, and support your thesis by discussing specific points that address Alexander’s main arguments. All in all, your essay will include a combination of your own ideas, analysis, observations, and examples/details as they relate to the main points that Alexander makes.

    1. Identify and count the required steps in the writing task.
      1. Consider Alexander’s four key points: laws, policies, customs, and institutions
      2. State whether I support Alexander’s position about mass incarceration.
      3. Discuss and support my position using Alexander’s main points
      4. Include a combination of my own ideas, analysis, observations, and examples/details
    2. Make a list of the paper requirements:
    • Use Chapters 1-6 in Alexander’s book
    • Plan out ideas on “Planning & Prewriting Worksheet” before writing first draft
    • Length should be 4-5 pages
    • Not required but good idea: meet with tutor or instructor to discuss ideas and drafts
    • First draft due 1/28, second draft due 2/4, final draft due 2/18
    • Refer to “Formal Essay Guidelines” for essay policies and formatting

    BREAKING DOWN A PROMPT: An approach for visual thinkers

    Using a graphic organizer, you can make a visual breakdown of an assignment/prompt:

    Topic Breakdown of Writing Task Requirements
    State the topic in its most basic form.

    What is this prompt about?
    Describe the writing task or tasks in your own words.

    What is the prompt asking you to do? How many parts/tasks are there?
    Make a list of key essay requirements.

    What are the main requirements of this essay?
    Example: Essay #1 - Intelligence and Mindset

    ESOL 400

    Essay #1: Intelligence and Mindset

    What is intelligence, anyway? So far this semester, we have touched on the themes of intelligence in Isaac Asimov’s “What Is Intelligence, Anyway?” and Carol Dweck’s “Brainology.” These authors challenge our traditional notion of intelligence and discuss different ways of thinking about intelligence.

    In this essay, you will explore new ideas about intelligence and argue your own beliefs about intelligence and mindset.

    Please choose ONE of the essay topics:

    1. Isaac Asimov’s “What is Intelligence, Anyway?”

    What does Asimov believe about the nature of intelligence? Do you agree or disagree with his ideas about intelligence, and why or why not? Explain the significance of his ideas about intelligence in terms of education and to your life. Give specific examples to support your opinion.

    1. Carol Dweck’s “Brainology”

    What does Dweck believe about the different types of intelligence? Do you agree or disagree with her ideas about intelligence/mindset, and why or why not? Explain the significance of her research in terms of education and to your life. Give specific examples to support your opinion.

    In this essay, you should first SUMMARIZE the article and then give your response to the essay question.

    Requirements:

    • Length should be approximately 2 pages (no shorter than 1 ½ pages, no longer than 2 ½)
    • Essay should be typed in 12-point standard font (such as Times New Roman or Arial)
    • Use MLA format (double spaced, with proper heading)
    • You should incorporate ONE quotation in your paper using MLA format
    • Essay should have a creative title (centered in the middle of the page)
    • You need to turn in a signed tutor feedback form with your rewrite
    • All essays must be turned in on the Turnitin link on WebAccess (due the same day as the rewrite)

    Due dates:

    • Outline, typed, one page, due: Wed., Feb. 5
    • Rough draft, typed, one page, due: Wed., Feb. 5 (be ready for peer review)
    • Final Draft due: Wed., Feb. 12

    Using the graphic organizer, you can visually separate the different parts of the assignment to better understand it and to break it down into manageable tasks:

    Topic Breakdown of Writing Task Requirements

    What is this prompt about?

    New and different ways to think about Intelligence.

    What is the prompt asking you to do? How many parts/tasks are there?

    1. Choose Asimov OR Dweck as my paper topic.
    2. Summarize the author’s position on the nature or types of intelligence.
    3. Agree or disagree with the author. Provide specific examples to support my position.
    4. Explain the significance in terms of education and my life.

    What are the main requirements of this essay?

    • Due dates: outline (2/5), draft (2/5), final (2/12)
    • 2 pages, 12pt font
    • MLA format
    • 1 quotation
    • Creative title
    • Meeting with tutor required
    • Use Turnitin
    Practice: Breaking down Art History Term Paper

    Using the step-by-step process, break down the following assignment:

    Breaking down a writing assignment/prompt:

    1. Read the prompt carefully and several times.
    2. Sum up the topic in a few words (What is the focus of the prompt?)
    3. Restate the prompt in your own words to help you fully understand it.
    4. Circle and/or underline the key words.
    5. Identify and count the required steps in the writing task.
    6. Make a list of the paper requirements.

    ART HISTORY TERM PAPER

    OBJECTIVE:

    A very basic objective of this course has been to learn how to examine the culture and social structures of a civilization during a particular period in order to understand the artwork. This approach to the study of Art History is called "iconology." To make this process of investigation a little more personally meaningful, you are to prepare a term paper about any artwork produced in any time period we cover in this course. Therefore, select one work from your textbook as the subject of the paper.

    The major theme of your term paper is try to explain why the selected artwork fits within its culture and time period. For instance, if the work is from the ancient Egyptian culture, what makes the work "ancient Egyptian?" How does one identify the work from that time and place as opposed to similar works made elsewhere? What reasons are given as to what the artists were doing at the time that was different from the styles before their time? What was the artwork for? Thus, how does the artwork reflect the time and place (the culture) in which the works was produced?

    In the attempt to explain the "why" it will be necessary to discuss many aspects of the culture that influenced the choices made for the design and look of the artwork. For example, what possible choices were made because of the religious or spiritual ideals held by the culture? Or what social structures influenced the artwork (i.e. class distinctions based upon sex, wealth, heritage, or any other differences used to separate peoples in the same society)? Was the art made to honor the culture from which it emerged, or was it done to demonstrate a rejection or disapproval of some element of the culture? It will be your choice as to how you want to discuss culture and the artwork.

    The objective of this research effort is to present the important factors which influenced the appearance of a specific art work. Thus, your paper should include the following:

    • Identification of an artwork (what is it, who made it, when, where, etc,? and a detailed description of the work (what does it look like?)
    • Why was it made, or what is thought to be the most reasonable function of the work? Why does it look the way it does?

    WHAT TO SUBMIT:

    The paper must be typed, double spaced, two to three pages, not including title and bibliography pages. The sources must be properly cited. Be sure you include footnotes or end notes and a bibliography.

    1. Read the prompt carefully and several times (As you read, highlight, take notes, and ask questions in the margins).
    1. Sum up the topic in a few words (What is the focus of the prompt?)
    1. Restate the prompt in your own words to help you fully understand it.
    1. Circle and/or underline the key words (rewrite the command portion of the assignment below and mark the key words).
    1. Identify and count the required steps in the writing task.
    1. Make a list of the paper requirements.
    Practice: Essay #2 (Mini-Research Paper) - Sula

    English 110
    ESSAY #2 (Mini-Research Paper) : Sula

    DUE DATES: October 23rd– Preliminary Citations Worksheet (20 pts.)

    October 25th-- First Draft (6 pages-20 pts.)

    November 6th– Final Revision

    ESSAY TOPICS

    Like many other short stories and novels, Sula functions as a literary commentary that offers insight and/or criticism about the society and individuals that it describes. In an essay of at least 6 pages, discuss a specific, primary issue/concern that the novel conveys about race, class, gender, or identity. What is this issue/concern that you’ve identified, and why do you think it is significant enough to explore and discuss in your essay? Lastly, how do the details and specifics in the novel help to convey your ideas about it?

    Along with citations and information from the novel itself, you will be required to include information, ideas, and quotes from a minimum of 3 academic sources in your essay. The information from these sources should help to support and supplement your own ideas and should add insight to the points that you have made about the issue/concern you have chosen to write about.

    Topic Breakdown of Writing Task Requirements

    State the topic in its most basic form.

    What is this prompt about?

    Describe the writing task or tasks in your own words.

    What is the prompt asking you to do? How many parts/tasks are there?

    Make a list of key essay requirements.

    What are the main requirements of this essay?

    Practice: Blank step-by-step process for breaking down an assignment/prompt

    Here’s a blank step-by-step process for you to use in breaking down an assignment/prompt you have been given:

    Breaking down a writing assignment/prompt:

    1. Read the prompt carefully and several times.
    2. Sum up the topic in a few words (What is the focus of the prompt?)
    3. Restate the prompt in your own words to help you fully understand it.
    4. Circle and/or underline the key words.
    5. Identify and count the required steps in the writing task.
    6. Make a list of the paper requirements.
    1. Read the prompt carefully and several times.
    1. Sum up the topic in a few words (What is the focus of the prompt?)




    1. Restate the prompt in your own words to help you fully understand it.




    1. Circle and/or underline the key words (rewrite the command portion of the assignment below and mark the key words).




    1. Identify and count the required steps in the writing task.





    1. Make a list of the paper requirements.


    Practice: Blank Graphic Organizers for breaking down assignments/prompts

    Here are some blank graphic organizers for you to use in breaking down assignments/prompts you have been given:

    Topic Breakdown of Writing Task Requirements

    State the topic in its most basic form.

    What is this prompt about?

    Describe the writing task or tasks in your own words.

    What is the prompt asking you to do? How many parts/tasks are there?

    Make a list of key essay requirements.

    What are the main requirements of this essay?

    Topic Breakdown of Writing Task Requirements

    State the topic in its most basic form.

    What is this prompt about?

    Describe the writing task or tasks in your own words.

    What is the prompt asking you to do? How many parts/tasks are there?

    Make a list of key essay requirements.

    What are the main requirements of this essay?

    Answers: Using the Linear Approach/Using the Visual Approach

    Possible answer for USING THE LINEAR APPROACH:

    Breaking down the assignment/prompt for the ART HISTORY TERM PAPER

    1. Read the prompt carefully and several times.
    2. Sum up the topic in a few words (What is the focus of the prompt?)

    Understanding art by examining its cultural and social context

    1. Restate the prompt in your own words to help you fully understand it.

    Choose one artwork from the book, describe it, and explain how it fits within and reflects its culture, social structures, and time period.

    1. Circle and/or underline the key words (rewrite the command portion of the assignment below and mark the key words).

    The objective of this research effort is to present the important factors which influenced the appearance of a specific art work. Thus, your paper should include the following:

    • Identification of an artwork (what is it, who made it, when, where, etc.? and a detailed description of the work (what does it look like?)
    • Why was it made, or what is thought to be the most reasonable function of the work? Why does it look the way it does?
    1. Identify and count the required steps in the writing task.
      1. Choose one artwork we have studied from the textbook.
      2. Give a detailed description of it. (examine the culture, social structures, and time period when it was created using the guiding questions in prompt)
      3. Explain its purpose/function and why it looks the way it does
    2. Make a list of the paper requirements.
    • Paper typed and double-spaced
    • 2-3 pages plus a title page and bibliography
    • Footnotes within the paper

    Possible answer for USING THE VISUAL APPROACH:

    Breaking down the assignment/prompt for the ENGLISH LITERATURE SULA ASSIGNMENT

    Topic Breakdown of Writing Task Requirements

    State the topic in its most basic form.

    What is this prompt about?




    How novel offers insight and/or criticism of the society in regards to race, gender, class, or identity

    Describe the writing task or tasks in your own words.

    What is the prompt asking you to do? How many parts/tasks are there?

    1. Choose to write on ONE specific, primary issue/concern about race, class, gender OR identity in Sula.
    2. Why is this issue significant?
    3. How do the details in the novel help convey my ideas about it?

    Make a list of key essay requirements.

    What are the main requirements of this essay?

    • Due dates: citations (10/23), draft (10/25), final (11/6)
    • 6 pages
    • Quotes/ideas from 3 academic sources

    This page titled 4.3: Creating Paper Topics is shared under a CC BY-NC-SA 4.0 license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by Skyline English Department.

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