Session 9 (11/12/2014): Recap


1. We reviewed the final paper timeline. Good news – you have an extra week to complete it! The paper is now due in class on December 10th. 

2. We discussed the next skill: Using Guiding Questions to Develop Content.

Even when you have a strong thesis statement and a rough outline, it can be difficult to know how to develop your content. One tool that can help you get started on this process is guiding questions. You can develop guiding questions on your own, though sometimes it can be helpful to include a friend or instructor. As an outside observer, a friend or instructor may be able to provide additional insight into what information a reader might expect to find in your essay.

To develop guiding questions and use them in creating paper content, do the following:

  • Start with a rough outline (thesis + major sections).
  • For each major section (not including the introduction and conclusion), brainstorm relevant questions and prompts.

TIP: If you get stuck, try putting yourself in your reader’s shoes. What would you as the reader want to know? What questions would you have? Alternatively, imagine you are interviewing someone else about this topic. What questions do you have for your interviewee?

TIP: If you’ve made an essay sketch, use your strategies to inform your questions. For example, if you plan to compare and contrast, you might ask questions like: In what ways is ______ similar to ______? In what ways are they different?

  • Brainstorm answers to your questions and prompts. If you can’t answer a question, you probably need to do some information gathering (e.g. refer back to your reading or seek additional sources).

I provided the following example:

3 page paper responding to “Like, Degrading the Language? No Way”

Thesis:  Critics of American casual language may characterize it as uncreative, but in his article “Like, Degrading the Language? No Way,” John McWhorter adeptly depicts the ingenuity of commonly criticized terms.  McWhorter’s article falls short, however, in its attempts to convince the reader that American casual language, on the whole, reflects increasing empathy for others.  On the contrary, while certain uses of American casual terms and phrases do reflect a level of social sensitivity, those same terms, in different context, are often used as a mechanism for social exclusion.

  1. Introduction (.5 pages)
  2. Summarize Article (.5 pages)
  • What is McWhorter’s thesis?
  • What are McWhorter’s major points?
  • What strategies and examples does McWhorter use to support his thesis?
  • Evaluate Strengths of McWhorter’s Argument (.5 pages)
  • What aspects of McWhorter’s argument were most compelling in terms of depicting American casual language as creative?
  • What were the strongest examples McWhorter provided?
  1. Reintepret examples to contradict McWhorter’s Argument(1 page)
  • Reinterpret the first example you discussed in the prior sections to demonstrate social exclusion.
  • Reinterpret the second example you discussed in the prior section.
  • Provide an additional/original example that supports your argument.
  1. Conclusion (.5 pages)

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