Journal Prompts

 

#2.4

Hey gang!  The argument essay scrimmage is #2.4. (Practice timed writing to be completed outside of class.)


#2.3

For this one you’ll want to reserve a handful of pages, as for each of the nine chapters of The Great Gatsby you’ll be generating questions based on the text – ideally ones that require higher order thinking to answer.  And what, exactly, does that mean?

In school – in life – the best learning starts with a good question.  More specific to this class, the thesis of any essay/paper you write is, in essence, the answer to a question; the better your question, the better your thesis will be, and the better your thesis, the better your paper will be.

What’s more, at a certain point in your life, you’re going to have to actually choose whether or not you want to continue learning; sooner than you think, your education will be entirely self-directed, and again, the better you are able to question things, the better that education will be.

So what makes up a good question?  I’ll answer this using English class, in particular literature, as a context (naturally).  To really understand a text – any text, regardless of subject – it’s fundamental that you are able to ask good questions of it.

  • A good question should somehow connect to a larger idea – a larger idea present in the book or in real life (or both).
  • It shouldn’t be tedious or superficial.  For example, ‘what is the exact year that Romeo and Juliet takes place in?’ is a bad question.  The answer is trivial and ultimately unimportant.
  • Your question should require a response that’s textually specific – make someone go to their book to answer correctly.
  • (This is something I try to do, which is why you always need to bring your books to class!).
  • A good question should be easy to understand, yet challenging to answer [like ‘Is it sometimes necessary to break the law? To lie to your loved ones?’ from the Antigone agree/disagree).
  • Ideally, it would lead to more questions; it should provoke a conversation, rather than end one.
  • A good question will positively affect your understanding of a text.
  • A good question might lead a conversation towards something that has personal relevance, or some sort of relevance to the now.
  • Also, they can be about a minor, seemingly insignificant detail (for example the uncut pages in chapter three), but if they are, it must be exemplary of a larger truth, or idea (like using Like Water for Chocolate and/or Antigone to discuss the negative ways one generation is molded by the preceding generation).


#2.2

So... You're back.  The ground floor, negotiating with a new type of timed writing.  The synthesis essay.  So as you did after your first rhetorical analysis, for this journal entry briefly reflect on the experience - what did you learn?  

  • Was there any aspect that was more challenging than you thought it'd be?  
  • Did you find something surprisingly easy?
  • What did you get right about the process?  
  • How do you plan on improving the next time?
  • Did you make a conscious effort to integrate any of the conventions of style (like what you identified in the columnist project, for example)? Any specific rhetorical strategies (like from the rhetorical analyses)?  Any of that stuff we worked with the first quarter? (Because really, that's the point of this class, cultivating your voice as a writer.)
  • What questions do you have for me?

As usual, don't feel as though you have to address all of the questions above, or address them in equal measure - they're just there to help you get started...


#2.1

At this point in your academic career, you’ve no-doubt had to use outside sources to support your work – whether in writing, seminars or in presentations.  For this journal entry, reflect on the difficulty you’ve experienced in determining what is/isn’t a credible source of information.  In addition, discuss one thing you found interesting/illuminating from the Georgetown University website (and why be sure to articulate why).


#1.6

Okay, second timed writing in the can! 

What went well?  What went... less well?  Why?

Listen to the audio feedback I've left you and for this journal entry set (at least) two concrete goals for improving your performance.  

In addition to listing your goals, provide a brief rational as to why you chose each.


#1.5

Consider the various nature essays and excerpts we've examined recently (“Save the Whales, Screw the Shrimp,” “The End of Nature,” Walden, Emerson's "Nature") as distinct examples of persuasive rhetoric.  Which do you think is the most effective?  Why? (note: yeah, you should discuss with is better in a general sense, but more specifically this question is asking you to examine which text best achieves its intended effect - whatever you deem that to be.)

  • For this entry you'll have to discuss, to varying degrees, each text's main idea (their theses), and you'll have to provide direct quotes from each.  Naturally, you'll be focusing more so on one more so than the others.

#1.4

As you get your first timed writing back, you must listen to the audio feedback I've left you and for this journal entry set (at least) two concrete goals for improving your writing/analysis next time.  

In addition to listing your goals, provide a brief rational as to why you chose each.


#1.3

Okay.  Two accomplishments this week worth mentioning: #1 you wrote your first timed writing for this class - is no easy feat - and #2, you've performed your first rhetorical analysis of a text ostensibly chosen at random.  So for this journal entry, briefly reflect on the experience - what did you learn?  

  • Was there any aspect that was more challenging than you thought it'd be?  
  • Did you find something surprisingly easy?
  • What did you get right about the process?  
  • How do you plan on improving the next time?
  • How can you take the various rhetorical strategies you're analyzing and implement them in your own writing, making you a stronger writer (because really, that's the point)?
  • What questions do you have for me?

Don't feel as though you have to address all of the questions above, or address them in equal measure.


#1.2

In what you are designating as your AP Language and Composition Journal, complete the following for each of the six essays where six different writers offer different takes on the idea of happiness (in the heading, somewhere indicate that this is journal entry #2 – you’re also encouraged to give the entry some sort of clever title):

  1. Identify the phrase/sentence/passage you feel best encapsulates the main idea, purpose (or thesis). (What are they saying about happiness?)

  2. As you go through, identify specific instances where the writer uses some of the stylistic elements elaborated on in last night’s reading – that’s anything from sentence structure (length, parallelism, etc.), to punctuation, to diction (word choice), to figurative language (tropes, schemes).  And try to go broad with this; don’t just pick out the metaphors in each essay.  In addition, write a little bit about the effect of these choices – think about how the writer’s style works with what the writer’s saying.

  3. Finally, for each essay, write a little bit about how the author’s definition of happiness compares to your own?  Was your idea of happiness challenged? Confirmed?  Try to be specific (vivid, concrete) with regards to both the text and your own thinking.

And here are links to the essays:

 


#1.1

Think about your own experience as a writer.  To what extent do you think you’ve cultivated a distinct style?  What are some things that have helped, or impeded this process?

Looking back through the “Style in Argument” chapter, which stylistic elements do you feel fit you best, the way you naturally think and express yourself?  For example, my cognitive process like 90% analogy-reliant, and I find myself frequently interrupting my thoughts to clarify my thoughts.  As a result, my writing tends to be analogy-heavy, and I tend to use a lot of appositive phrases – you know non-essential, clarifying interruptions set off by dashes, my favorite form of punctuation.

Set some goals for yourself this semester: which stylistic elements do you want to become more competent with as you develop a more authentic voice in your writing?