Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Writing Workshop Session 10 (Argument)

First Impressions and Closing Remarks


When writing, people get to do something that you never get to do in life.  You get to redo your first impressions.  Have you ever met someone for the first time and felt awkward?  Well, sometimes when writing on a new topic, a writer can start off in that same awkward way.  Today, you'll learn ways to go back into a draft and fix up the introduction so that in the end, the first impressions your writing makes on your reader will be strong.  

Right now what I want to teach you is this: when literary essayists write introductions, they often lead with a universal statement about life and then transition to the text-based claim itself, by narrowing their focus to the particular story they are writing about.  


1.  It is tough to find a way to show that you love someone.  In his short story, "The Gift of the Magi," O'Henry teaches that the greatest gifts are those that require a character to be willing to make a sacrifice. 

2.  Sometimes, from reading stories, we learn how to be better people.  We learn how to sacrifice, how to show our affection, how to be a good person.  These are all admirable qualities.  

3.  While we often think of heroes being extraordinary people who do extraordinary things, I like to find heroes in my everyday life.  People who are kind, who sacrifice for others, who show up for the people they love. These are all admirable qualities, as admirable as a superhero's strength or super speed.  In O'Henry's surprising story, "The Gift of the Magi," we meet two heroes, Jim and Della, who have many admirable qualities.  

Debrief: How to make a good first impression...

  • Sound like you know what your talking about 
  • What is the biggest thing you are trying to say?
  • Define what the trait means
  • Generate a list of possible leads and choose the one that best represents what you want to say

Active Engagement:

Jot a few possible general ideas you could say that your essay addresses.  What is the larger, more universal ideas in your story.  
With your partner, taking the idea you picked, practice at least one way your introduction can go.  Start by talking about the world or life in general.  Your introduction needs to be universal.  
Try writing-in-the-air an introduction.  Try using...
  • "In life, many people..."
  • "Life is..."
  • "Across the world, many people struggle with..."
  • "In my life I always...and in the story..."
  • "(The problem) means..." Define the problem or trait.


Begin to revise your introduction.  Refer to the Revision Strategies chart.


Sometimes when kids write essays, they put so much work into the essay itself that when they get to the end, they run out of steam, and their conclusions are kind of, well, yuck.  But it's essential that an essayist's final thoughts are really powerful-that they leave the reader feeling like, "Wow, that's right!"

Share conclusions about Raymond's Run.


The conclusions you write matter.  So, tonight, reread what you have drafted today and then make a strong final statement to conclude your journey of thought.  Refer to Alternative Ways to Conclude an Essay chart and Raymond's Run conclusions.

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