Writing Skills

Unit 1 Overview
In this unit, we will begin our work further developing your college-level writing skills as you produce the first essay of the course. The learning activities and due dates for each is described in the Unit 1 Schedule and Assignments section below.

By the end of this module, you should be able to:

Better understand rhetorical situations.
Better understand persuasive (or argumentative) writing.
Perform prewriting strategies including brainstorming and outlining or bubble mapping.
Perform writing strategies involved in composing a rough draft.
Perform post writing strategies including revising and editing.
Formulate an adequate thesis to express reasoned, well-developed judgments on a meaningful topic.
Correct sentence construction errors, second-person shifting, and number disagreement.
Begin to use information from a variety of disciplines and across a range of differing positions.
Cite scholarly sources of this information using MLA format correctly.
Unit 1 Essay Assignment
We will work together to explore a central generative question in each unit during the semester. For your first unit essay assignment, please begin with our classwork on the general exploratory question of what our responsibilities are toward those who came before us, what we owe previous generations, what we should do or think (or should not do or think) with respect to our forebears and cultural traditions. As we consider this very broad question, we will explore more tightly focused issues arising from it that promise a way to make a reasoned claim, to take a stand and offer support for it. I want you to choose one of these more narrowly focused issues and build an argument around it. Clearly state your own position, make sure that it has a firm foundation, offer support for it, and defend it against potential opposing positions. Tighten your focus; do not try to answer the broader exploratory question we are using to spur class discussion. It is simply too much to handle in this situation.

This first essay should be two-and-a-half to five word-processed, multiple-paragraphed, double-spaced pages long in 12-point font with one-inch margins, plus a “Works Cited” page. It should include appropriate citations for at least one source. Please note that the essay must incorporate material from one properly cited source to meet the minimum passing requirements of the assignment.

I want you to use your writing to think through some more focused part of this seemingly simple exploratory question in more depth than you would have imagined possible before we began working on it in class. Use your writing to look critically at the issue (and consequently at our world), to push your thinking beyond what you might have already worked out. In short, work on writing an argument that is worth writing as well as worth reading. This is an admittedly difficult task. But it is one worth doing, and I know you can do it. Remember the words of Socrates: “An unexamined life isn’t worth living.” That’s what our larger project is this semester—we are using writing to critically examine our world and our lives. (Incidentally, you may recall that Socrates was executed for his work educating his fellow Athenians. Critical thinking can be a dangerous business in more ways than one.)


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