After observing five elementary schools of different social classes, Jean Anyon claims that while the teachers at all of the schools were well-intentioned, their pedagogical choices—classroom assignments, tasks, interactions—acted upon assumptions of the assumed jobs these students would have as adults. Meanwhile, when Darryl Robinson and Mallory McDuff entered college, the qualitative differences between what they and their classmates could do academically was glaringly obvious. Instead, Robinson and McDuff had to figure out how to prepare themselves to succeed in college.
For this essay, imagine that your high school is contacting previous students to receive feedback about the education they provided. Compose a letter that includes a minimum of 3 complete body paragraphs with an introduction and conclusion addressed to your school to answer the prompt below:
|Drawing on at least two texts that we’ve read for class (Anyon and at least one other) and at least one outside source as well as your own experience, what advice would you give to the teachers and administration at your school about how to offer more meaningful educational experiences for future students? What would be the benefits of your suggestions, and why would they be effective? Note: We’re referring to this essay as a letter primarily to help remind you of who your audience is for this essay, however the essay structure that we’ve been working on since the beginning of the semester is still what we’re using to craft this essay. If you’re aiming for a high pass, make sure your quotations are chosen and explained carefully and that your outside source provides useful information that is not already covered by something else we’ve read for class.|
- ● Does your essay include quote sandwiches from Jean Anyon, at least 1 other class source, and a research source?
- ● Does your research source actually contain useful information that you have quoted to your reader? Is it trustworthy? Does the information from it come from research? Does it state something obvious or does it provide something interesting to draw your reader in? (It should do the latter.)
- ● Do you have at least 3 body paragraphs and an introduction and conclusion?
- ● Do you have at least one quote sandwich in each body paragraph?
- o Your research source should be used as 1 of 2 sources in a 2-quote body paragraph.
- ● Do you have a Works Cited page with properly formatted citations for each of your sources?
- ● Is your essay in MLA format, as demonstrated in class?
- ● Did you spend a significant amount of time revising your essay and considering whether the quotes, words, explanations, etc. you used are clear to your reader?
- ● Did you proofread your essay out loud?
- ● Did you go through your essay thinking about tone? Remember, the goal is to convince your school that your advice is worth their time–if you come in too angry, they are unlikely to listen. Consider why they should care about your position. How can you make them listen to you? What language will be most effective?
- ● Did you go through your essay thinking about what you’ve written from the perspective of someone who isn’t in the class? Use this to help you identify areas that need more explanation.
- o If you’re summarizing something that was normal at your high school but may not be normal everywhere, make sure you explain it as if to someone who didn’t attend the high school. On a practical level, this ensures that anyone who is reviewing your paper (like me or a classmate), can understand what you’re saying, and in the context of the paper, the current administration at your school may not be familiar with whatever policy or program you’re referring to because things may have changed since you’ve been there or they may not have the same perspective of how the school works that you do.
- Does your essay have a unique title that isn’t “Essay 2” or “Letter to High School”?
- ● Does your introduction begin with a hook?
- ● Do you summarize all of the texts you use in the essay in their own 2-3 sentence summary? (A text summary should give a reader who hasn’t read the article a fighting chance at passing a pop quiz.)
- ● Do those summaries also use TAG (Title, author, genre?) After you’ve done the TAG, you should refer to the author by their last name for the rest of the essay.
- ● Do you have your own one-sentence thesis that explains overall the advice you’re giving to the school?
- o Since your readers don’t have a time machine, your essay should give advice to the school by addressing the larger perspective of how what you’re saying can be used to create more meaningful learning experiences for current or future students. Make sure you’re giving advice instead of only giving a list of complaints.
- ● Did you mention what school or schools you’re writing to somewhere in this introduction?
- Do you have an argumentative topic sentence at the beginning of each paragraph that is directly related to the thesis and accurately sets up the point of each paragraph? For this essay, each topic sentence should be worded as advice to the school to help students in general, not arguments or statements about the writer specifically.
- ● Do your top buns for the quote sandwiches mention the author’s name or do they sound like they could be general statements that you, the writer, are making? (They should clearly be about the author, using the author’s last name, and should prepare the reader for the quote they’re about to see.)
- ● Do the meats for your quote sandwiches have signal phrases and citations? Did you check to make sure the punctuation around the citations is correct (see my examples)? The citations should only use page numbers.
- ● Do the lettuces for your quote sandwiches put the quotes in your own words? Did you paraphrase the whole quote or are you missing part of it? Did you accidentally paraphrase or summarize other information from the article instead? (Any additional information that your reader needs should either be background included in the top bun or should be included in its own quote sandwich.)
- ● Do the bottom buns for your quote sandwiches explain why the idea in the quote matters? If you’re stuck, think about how the idea might affect students, so that you can start to show your reader the connection that you will eventually make in the experience section.
- o Think: Why is this good/bad/important? So what? Who cares? What effects will it have both short term and long term? Focus less on the author specifically here and more on how the idea matters more broadly.
- ● Did you make sure to keep your experiences out of the quote sandwich and save them for the second half of the paragraph?
- ● Do the experiences used in each body paragraph clearly show how the idea from the quote connects to the experience you had as a student and show why you’re giving the advice in the topic sentence? Do they have enough detail to make the connection clear without including unnecessary information? Are you showing a specific moment or are you making broad, general statements? (You should be showing a specific moment.)
- o This could include an event that you observed or experienced, perhaps the exact wording of a conversation or detailed recollection of a part of your experience as a student, a particular assignment, or an interaction with a teacher, parent, or peer. (i.e. “My teachers were mean, so I didn’t like math” is not a detailed example.)
- o Consider: What details does your reader need to understand the connection between your experience and the text? Why is the experience important? What does it mean? How did it influence you? Does this demonstrate what you said in your topic sentence?
- ● Do your last thoughts (the final sentence of each body paragraph) reiterate the argument you’ve made in the topic sentence without just copying and pasting?
- Does your conclusion have at least one sentence per paragraph summing up the argument made in each paragraph?
- Does it leave your reader with something to think about at the end?
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