Non-English Teachers

             Quick and Easy Essays for Teachers of Non-Literary Subjects
Out-of-Order Construction = Easy to Write, Easy to Grade Short Essays.
Perfect for short, in-class assignments
that are easily graded. (see #11)

  1. Find interesting ideas or concepts in the text that you're studying
that can be discussed in a way in a way which requires the students
          to explain, to have an opinion,  and to relate to research outside
the text you are using for this assignment

  2. Find a good narrow quote which illustrates ONE idea before writing
         anything else on your paper! - ONLY ONE NARROW IDEA!
         Put the quote in the middle of a separate page (9-15 lines down),
         leaving room for the later stuff which will go above and below your
         quote. Quotes are the exact words of the source.

      - Do not put any part of a quote or discussion on the back of a page!
         Treat the back as if it doesn't exist!

      - For rough drafts, write in dark ink, in readable form,
         with no frizzy paper.

 3. Quoted passages must always be completely indented on the
       left side
(1 inch).
       A. Handwritten (for rough draft): left margin only and
              don't double-space.
       B. Typed double-spaced is correct for whole paper [though Andrews
              likes single-spaced quotes better!].

 4. Quotes should not be too long, too short, too vague, or
       too boring:
       A. Excessively long  including much material not relevant to point.
       B. Too short to have enough meaningful detail.
       C. Summaries of general information which lack vivid detail which
             will enable the reader to understand the issue being discussed.

 5. Quotes should be vivid and should clearly illustrate the idea
        under discussion.
      - Make quotes interesting, so readers can have an emotional as well
        as an intellectual reaction to them.
      - Make sure that the quotes have "bullability": good stuff that you
        can discuss thoroughly.

 6. Shorten long quotes to include only parts of the text that are
      relevant to the NARROW IDEA being discussed.
Put sections
      together using the ellipsis […] where you leave stuff out,
     but don't overuse it. You don't want to have a whole bunch of ellipses.

 7. Each POINT should be introduced with a clear and precise
       definition of the idea
to be discussed in the following related blocks.
      - Make sure that the idea is not too broad or too vague.

 8. Introductory material of the BLOCK should include:
       A. Appropriate  transitional phrases (next, secondly, however, etc.).
       B. A clear but short pithy statement  telling the reader exactly what you
             will prove in the following quote(s).
       C. The author and title of the work the quote came from, if it would not be
             redundant to give this information.

 9. Background and context (very important!):
       A. Give the who-what-when-where of the quote, so that the reader isn't
            dropped into the middle of an unknown situation and expected to
            understand an isolated quote. Where or when is the idea an issue?
      - Do not summarize the information that will be in your quote before you
             have given the reader the quote!    
             Give only a general idea of the nature of the quote.
       B. Lead into quote with a transitional phrase
            (often beginning with "when")
          - For a smooth transition, make sure that the last words of the transition
            match grammatically and stylistically with the first words of the quote.

10. Analysis following the quote may include clarification,
       judgment, and connections.
       A. Clarification: discussion of significant features of quote (not just
              repeating what was just said in the quote).- One can look at
             individual words and phrases which are unusual, obscure, or which
             graphically prove your point, and therefore need explanation.
          - Do not begin your analysis with the words
              "This is a good example because..."
          - Do not use the word "quote" anywhere in your paper.

       B. Possible types of judgment:
[Do not use the word "I" or "you" when stating your opinion!]
           1. Judgment: your opinion about the idea or concept
               Is the concept being handled properly by the text, by other authors,
               or by society in general? Is the treatment good or bad?
                       -or better or worse than average?  Why?
              - What would be a better way to handle this?
              - What would be a worse way of handling this?
              - What would an average way of handling it be?
           2. Judgment: your opinion as to whether the author did a good job
                of presenting the idea.
                a. Technically, are the examples absurd or unrealistic or
                     poorly crafted?  Explain!
                b. Ideawise, is the author's presentation unrealistic or overdone?
                    Tell how and criticize.
           3. Remedy: what could or should characters or the author have
                 done to present the idea in a better way? Explain!

       C. Connection: Go to another authority or text to explain how the
            present author's treatment of the issue is the same or differs from
            the approach of another author or by society in general.
            Give a contemporary or historical application which illustrates how
             the quote reflects human nature or situations that exist today - or
            how things were handled at a different time or place than the quote.
              - Give enough concrete, specific details to prove to the reader that
                 you really understand your connection.

11. One of these "blocks" is just right for a class writing exercise,
as it will give each student a chance to exercise different types
      of analysis in a class period or less.
      -Why In-Class? Short, In-Class writing assignments are excellent
          ways of developing students' writing abilities, as they are done
          under a little pressure, and the teacher can be sure that the
          students are actually doing the assignments themselves, which
          is not always the case when they write things outside of class.
      -Rough Drafts: -The in-class portion can be a rough draft,
with BOTH drafts- the rough and the final - being turned in
               to make it easier for the teacher to read and grade them.
      - Assignment Methods:
        A. The teacher can either choose quotes in advance
and then
             give the students a choice of ideas to write about - or can
             assign specific passages to specific students.
        B.  As the students get more comfortable with finding significant
             ideas for themselves about which they can have opinions,
they can be required to find quotes or ideas for themselves
             which they will have located before they come into class for
             the actual writing assignment.
        C. Easy Grading: Use 1/4-page grading sheets
(Click to see  sample grading sheets).
            Grading procedures:
            (1) Check to see if the quote is good - relevant and narrow;
            (2) Check to see if background is enough;
            (3) Check to see if the Introductory Phrase is correct;
            (4) Check to see if the quote has been clarified;
                     or explained adequately. Does the student understand?;
            (5) Check to see if  the student has a clearly-stated opinion about
                     the concept in the quote
                    - or about the quality of the author's
                       presentation of the idea;
            (6) Check to see if the student has related the idea or concept
                     to an outside authority.

   If graded in that order, it's easy to just check off items on the grading
    sheets and make short comments if necessary.
12. Combine blocks for longer essays: The Multi-Block Essay
More blocks may be used either to present more examples of
       the same idea or to have contrasting ideas in the same essay.
      -If a multi-block essay is assigned:
         A. A clear Introduction
must be given stating the purpose of the
             whole essay, whether it is to discuss one idea with multiple
             examples, or to present contrasting viewpoints.
         B.  Don't be repetitious in analysis
of each block, saying the
               same thing over and over in succeeding examples.
               - Avoid repetitious analysis by using narrow analysis directly
                 after each quote. Use specific analysis which refers only to that
                 specific quote - ie.
clarification and judgment relating
                 only to that quote.
         C. "Big Analysis": put general concluding statements, which may
             refer to all examples in a point, into a "big analysis" at the end
             of the whole point
             - A connection might also go in this "big analysis,"
               instead of putting a connection after each block, which might be

13. Do not use the following words or phrases in your paper unless
       they are part of a quote: I, you, me, my, we, our, us, quote,
        "This is a good example..." 
      - State your opinion as an authority.
            1st and 2nd-person personal pronouns weaken your argument.
            Say "It is!" not "I think it is!" or "You might do this."

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  © 2002  j r Andrews