Writing an Informational, or Expository, Essay

For our unit’s writing assessment, you will have to either write an informational essays over a series of selected passages that you are provided. Many of you have written informational essay before in 9th grade, and even in middle school, but a little bit of review can always help! 🙂

According to Owl Purdue:

“The expository essay is a genre of essay that requires the student to investigate an idea, evaluate evidence, expound on the idea, and set forth an argument concerning that idea in a clear and concise manner. This can be accomplished through comparison and contrast, definition, example, the analysis of cause and effect, etc.

Please note: This genre is commonly assigned as a tool for classroom evaluation and is often found in various exam formats.

The structure of the expository essay is held together by the following.

  • A clear, concise, and defined thesis statement that occurs in the first paragraph of the essay.

It is essential that this thesis statement be narrowed to follow the guidelines set forth in the assignment.  Does your thesis answer the prompt? If not, fix it!

  • Clear and logical transitions between the introduction, body, and conclusion.

Transitions are the mortar that holds the foundation of the essay together. Without logical progression of thought, the reader is unable to follow the essay’s argument, and the structure will collapse.

  • Body paragraphs that include support.

Each paragraph should be limited to one general idea. Each paragraph in the body of the essay must have some logical connection to the thesis statement in the opening paragraph.

  • Support! Support! (whether factual, logical, statistical, or anecdotal).

You should have two pieces of quality evidence from the sources that support your thesis statement in general, and the topic of that particular paragraph specifically. Use a mix of direct quotes and paraphrases.

  • A bit of creativity!

Though creativity and artfulness are not always associated with essay writing, it is an art form nonetheless. Try not to get stuck on the formulaic nature of  writing at the expense of writing something interesting. Remember, though you may not be crafting the next great novel, you are attempting to leave a lasting impression on the people evaluating your essay.

  • A conclusion that does not simply restate the thesis, but readdresses it in light of the evidence provided.

It is at this point of the essay that students will inevitably begin to struggle. This is the portion of the essay that will leave the most immediate impression on the mind of the reader. Therefore, it must be effective and logical. Do not introduce any new information into the conclusion; rather, synthesize and come to a conclusion concerning the information presented in the body of the essay.”

You will be graded with a rubric based on the EOC test rubric – please click here to review the grading tool.

Your essay will explain  how visuals can aid learning by using information from BOTH passages provided to you. Please click here to access the essay prompt and the sources.

Remember:

• Use information from the two texts so that your essay includes important details.
• Introduce the topic clearly, provide a focus, and organize information in a way that makes
sense.
• Develop the topic with facts, definitions, details, quotations, or other information and
examples related to the topic.
• Use appropriate and varied transitions to create cohesion.
• Clarify the relationship among ideas and concepts.
• Use clear language and vocabulary to inform about the topic.
• Provide a conclusion that follows the information presented.
• Check your work for correct grammar, usage, capitalization, spelling, and punctuation.

For a sample of a student’s first page with correct MLA headings, an interesting title, a creative hook and clear thesis in the introduction, clear topic sentences and skillful use of evidence in the first body paragraph, click here.

10th Grade Literature Fall 2017 Spring 2019

Diagramming Sentences: Verbals

Before you can effectively write using the English language, or even analyze how others use writing effectively, you need to be familiar with the basic parts and components of the English language. I know grammar isn’t your favorite subject to study and learn (hey, it isn’t my favorite either), BUT knowing and being able to identify these smaller component of your own language will allow you to write more effectively and assess and improve your own writing as the year progresses.

This week we will be examining how to correctly diagram verbals – gerunds, participial and infinitives.

Gerunds end with -ing and act as nouns.

Participials end in -ing, -d, -t, or -n, and act as adjectives.

Infinitives are to+verb, and they act as adjectives, nouns or adverbs.

 

Gerunds are function as subjects, direct object, indirect objects, objects of prepositions and more. When you diagram a gerund, you place them on ‘steps’. Put the -ing of the verb on the lower step and the rest of the verb on the upper step. You then attach your steps to the sentence with a pedestal in whichever part of speech the gerund is functioning as.

In the sentence ‘Running is fun’, running is a gerund. It is formed from the verb ‘run’ and ends in -ing, and functions as a noun in the subject of the sentence.

Gerunds can also have compliments (direct/indirect obj) or modifiers (adj, adv). These are called gerund phrases.

The sentence ‘Running marathons is fun’ is a gerund phrase. It’s made up of the gerund ‘running’ and the direct object ‘marathons’.

Now practice with the following sentences:

  1. My sister and I enjoy laughing.
  2. Wow! Riding my bike is really fun.
  3. Jumping rope for twenty minutes is good for your heart.
  4. My favorite game is throwing a frisbee to my dog.
  5. I dream of diving to the bottom of the ocean.

 

Next, you should practice diagramming sentences with infinitives.

Infinitives act as a noun, adjective or adverb and is made up of two words: to+verb.

For example, in the sentence Kittens want to play, the infinitive ‘to play’ acts as a noun (or direct object) of the verb ‘want’.

infinative1

There are also ‘bare infinitives’  – these are infinitives that do not have the ‘to’ in front of the verb. They normally occur with verbs like feel, hear, help, let, make, see and watch.

Additionally, there are also infinitive phrases, where you have the infinitive and the words that modify and/or compliment it.

infinative2

To diagram infinitives, you’ll need to follow these rules:

infinative3

 

Now practice with the following sentences:

  1. I love to go to the movie with my friends.
  2. The best thing for me to do is to try to control my urge to shop.
  3. If I plan to save my money for the trip, I definitely need to resist the temptation to shop online.
  4. I can hardly wait for Thanksgiving Break to get here.
  5. I cannot wait to see The Last Jedi on opening night.

 

Next, participles are words that are formed from verbs but act as adjective. They end in -ing, -d, -t or -n.

Now practice with the following sentences:

  1. Can you help me fix the leaning column of blocks?
  2. Have you ever read The Giving Tree?
  3. The broken glass cut my foot.
  4. Ben, exhausted, took a nap on the couch after school.
  5. The torn paper is my homework from yesterday.
10th Grade Literature 11th Grade American Literature AP Language and Composition Spring 2017 Spring 2018 Spring 2018

Naturalism in American Literature

As we move away from the Realist period in American literature and into the 20th century, we approach the literary period known as ‘Naturalism’. While many of the other periods of writing in American literature had fairly distinct timelines and major events that acted as ‘endcaps’, the Naturalist period overlaps many of the other time periods – Realism, and The Harlem Renaissance. While very similar to Realism, there are distinct differences between the two periods:realism-and-naturalism-in-acting-context-6-638

As we read through these texts, pay attention to how we are finally presented with stories that have characters who struggle with their emotions and their own psychology. We will also be examining stories that develop the struggles of characters in poverty and characters who are disenfranchised in society.

 

Please watch the video below to catch up on your in-class notes if you missed them!

11th Grade American Literature Spring 2018

Charlotte Perkins Gilman – The Yellow Wallpaper

charlotte_perkins_gilman_3414

Over the next two days we will be reading the short story “The Yellow Wallpaper” by Charlotte Perkins Gilman. A feminist, social reformer and novelist, Gilman based the story of “The Yellow Wallpaper” on her own experiences with depression and the popular 19th century ‘rest cure’. In her short story she examines the impact that this ‘cure’ has on the mental state of her female protagonist, and makes a clear statement against the control that a patriarchal society held over every aspect of women’s lives in the 19th century.

 

As we examine this text, remember to apply the lens of Feminist Criticism to your analysis. If you’ve forgotten how to do this, remember:

Feminist Criticism:  Feminist criticism is concerned with the impact of gender on writing and
reading. It usually begins with a critique of patriarchal culture. It is concerned with the place of female writers in the literary cannon. Finally, it includes a search for a feminine theory or approach to texts. Feminist criticism is political and often revisionist. Feminists often argue that male fears are portrayed through female characters. They may argue that gender determines everything, or just the opposite: that all gender differences are imposed by society, and gender determines nothing.

Advantages: Women have been underrepresented in the traditional cannon, and a feminist approach to literature attempts to redress this problem.

Disadvantages: Feminists turn literary criticism into a political battlefield and overlook the merits of works they consider “patriarchal.” When arguing for a distinct feminine writing style, they tend to relegate women’s literature to a ghetto status; this in turn prevents female literature from being naturally included in the literary cannon. The feminist approach is often too theoretical.

Checklist of Feminist Critical Questions:

  • To what extent does the representation of women (and men) in the work reflect the place and time in which the work was written?
  • How are the relationships between men and women or those between members of the same sex presented in the work?
  • What roles do men and women assume and perform and with what consequences?
  • Does the author present the work from within a predominantly male or female sensibility?
  • Why might this have been done, and with what effects?
  • How do the facts of the author’s life relate to the presentation of men and women in the work? To their relative degrees of power?
  • How do other works by the author correspond to this one in their depiction of the power relationships between men and women?

Please click here for access to Gilman’s story “The Yellow Wallpaper”.

11th Grade American Literature Spring 2018

Paul Lawrence Dunbar – We Wear the Mask

dunbar1

Paul Laurence Dunbar was an American poet, novelist, and playwright of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Dunbar’s parents had both been slaves prior to the Civil War, and he was apart of the first group of African Americans to be born free and emancipated from slavery in the United States. His work focused on the dialect and language of the Southern slaves and African Americans, though he had a difficult time publishing this work. He wanted to record and preserve the language of the southern African Americans, as slaves had been kept illiterate, and he knew that this history would be lost. Eventually Dunbar would go on to write poems, stories and articles in standard forms, and would receive acclaim and praise for them.

 

In class we are analyzing Dunbar’s poem ‘We Wear The Mask’, and tracing how not only the tone of the poem shifts in each stanza, but also how the speaker feels about the ‘mask’ they where. Please be sure to analyze this poem thoroughly, and it will be on your test!

 

Click here to access Dunbar’s poem.

11th Grade American Literature Spring 2018

Lincoln’s Oration

As we continue to examine primary source documents from the Realist period of American Literary history, we turn to one of the country’s most amazing Presidential writers, Abraham Lincoln.

We have discussed how a speaker’s audience, purpose and persona impact their writing and oration, as well as the way they employ rhetorical devices.

 

11th Grade American Literature Spring 2018

Women’s Rights – Sojourner Truth and Elizabeth Cady Stanton

elizabeth_stanton

One of the major issues that we are examining during the Realist period is the fight for women’s rights. In class we will be examining the work of two women – Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Sojourner Truth.

Each of these women worked to further the cause of suffrage and the abolitionist movement.

One of the main figureheads of the suffrage movement in America, Stanton wrote the ‘Declaration of Sentiments’, which were presented in 1848 at the Seneca Falls Convention. Stanton not only fought for women’s right to vote, but also for women’s property rights, employment rights, custody  rights, and right to birth control.

 

Click here to read her ‘Declaration of Sentiments’

sojourner_truth_lc1In addition to Stanton, Sojourner Truth also worked to support the cause of suffrage and abolition. Born into slavery, Truth would have 13 children (11 of them sold into slavery themselves, never to be seen again) before escaping to freedom. She then took on the role of public speaker, and used her own experience to encourage others not only to support the abolition of slavery but also the equality of women. Though she was illiterate herself, her speaking was clear and powerful. Many different versions of her famous ‘Ain’t I A Woman?’ speech exist today, but all of them share the similarity of tone and passion.

Click here to read her speech ‘Ain’t I A Woman?’

Also, please watch the amazing performance of Truth’s speech, performed at Kansas State University’s 8th Diversity Summit on April 1, 2011 by Ms. Pat Theriault.

BONUS: Did you know that the original document ‘The Declaration of Sentiments’ has been lost? Click here to listen to an AMAZING podcast episode from the ladies over at ‘Stuff You Missed in History Class’ to learn more!

Be sure to watch the second half of the ‘Women in the 19th Century’ Crash Course video below!

11th Grade American Literature Spring 2018