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Most of the essays that you will do for this class will involve multiple components.
 Essay Components
1. Pre-Write:  This is a collection of thoughts and ideas regarding the topic.  It can be messy, unorganized, and contain words, diagrams, and pictures.  The idea is to let your hand document the flow of unfiltered ideas created by your brain (and/or other people's). Samples: Maya 
2. Outline: To create this you will consider the contents of your pre-write and decide upon a set of topics and subtopics, then put them in an order that best fits the parameters of the assignment.  Samples: Neha 
3. Draft: Take the outline and turn each topic's information into complete sentences and well-organized paragraphs.  You may need to add details and examples in order to make the writing clear and complete.
4. Edits: Work with someone to improve your essay with regards to simple things like spelling, punctuation, and grammar, but also (and more importantly) with attention voice, clarity, style, and grade-level quality (or higher).  Sample: Taran 
5. Final: This is the easiest step.  Format the document so that it adheres to parameters such as font size, margins, spacing, etc.

Although most kids are accustomed to, and prefer, a thought-to-draft writing process, I am asking them to go through a set of structured steps.  I'm not a great writer, but I do know that when an author invests in the pre-writing brainstorming, organization, and draft-revision process, the final product is invariably better than if one just writes sentence after sentence until the required length is achieved.  As some of the kids are tackling their high school application essays, I know that they are being faced with similar challenges.

Abbreviations list:  An ever-growing list of abbreviations that I often use when leaving comments on essays

Six Traits of Writing (simplified rubric)

6-8 Writing Rubric

Comparison of Writing Styles (copies or adapted from benchmark essays)

Writing Assignments 2015-2016 (most recent at the top):
Planet essay (October 26 to 29, 2015)
Theme-Evidence Essay (September 28 to October 9, 2015)
You as a Reader Essay (September 18 to August 8, 2015)
Photo-Essay (September 2 to 11, 2015)
Your Name (August 20 to Sept 8, 2015)

Writing Assignments 2014-2015

Simple Thing Analysis (June 1 to 16, 2015)
Photo Essay of Your Summer (August 22-?, 2014

The Ratings Game (quickwrite)
Steinbeck Book Supplementary Chapter Synopsis
Descriptive:  (March 5-9, 2012)
Gift I Gave (December 12-16, 2011)
Composition Composition (November 28, 2011 - December 2, 2011)
Quick-Write (October 7, 2011 & November 21, 2011)
Informational Article (Nov. 3 to 14, 2011)
Compare & Contrast (May 18 to 22, 2015 and Sept 15 to 23, 2011)
Reader Profile (Sept 6 to 13, 2011)
Your Name (August 30 to Sept 2, 2011)

Persuasive Writing:
  1. pathos, logos, ethos handout from ReadWriteThink
  2. Rhetoric Lesson Plans from ReadWriteThink
  3. I used a Prezi that showed some commercials as a resource for our discussion and they analyzed various commercials for audience, evidence, and relevance.  Today I showed this video which does a great job describing pathos, ethos, and logos.  

The information below is from the 2010-2011 year:

Rear-Round School Schedule vs Traditional School Schedule (5/2-5/9) click here

Collaborative Mystery Stories (April/May)
  1. Title by Jonathan, Kevin, and Evan ()
  2. Title by Cameron, Jeremy, and Christian ()
  3. Title by Alex, Samir, and Matt ()
  4. Title by Joshua, Josh, and Ted ()
  5. The Lonely Lion by Erin, Jana, and Anya ()
  6. Title by Cade, Owen, and Ibrahim ()
  7. Title by Ciara, Nina, and Marissa ()
  8. Title by Abby, Zahra, and Karina ()
  9. Title by Jessica, Erica, and Amanda ()
  10. Title by Veerali, Norma, and Rebeca (Mrs. Bolei)
  11. Title by Ashley, Izzy, Chloe, and Jenna (Mrs. Pawell)
  12. Title by Christian, K.C., David, and Cody (Mrs. Underwood)
  13. Title by Parker, Kyle, and Johnny (Mrs. Borst)
  14. Adventures in Euphoria by Martin, Elijah, and Matt (Mrs. Breunling)
  15. Title by Connie, Sasha, and Laura (Mrs. Pawell)
  16. Title by Rory, Jon, and James (Mrs. Breunling)
  17. Title by Devon, Devin, and Nick (Mrs. Borst)
Autobiographical Excerpt (Mid March):  Write a story about something important that has happened in your life.  Use the following sequence of steps and do all of them.
  1. Create a pre-writing document for an autobiographical excerpt.  This can be a bullet list, a mind map, or even some annotated doodles.  It should show a "focus and expansion" process. I explained and wrote one the whiteboard on Thursday.  
  2. Next, move on to creating an outline from the expansion section of your pre-writing document.  This should also be hand written and include section titles and bullet points.
  3. Third, build a rough draft from your outline.  Grammar and mechanics don't matter much at this point, but be sure to create a good flow and appropriate 'voice'. Remember, even a writing such as this should have the components of a good story -- character, setting, action, climax, resolution.
  4. Now type up a rough draft and print it out (double spaced).  
  5. During class you'll be getting suggestions for "revisions", which are large structural changes; as well as "edits", which are the smaller mechanical changes.  Those will be done on the printed copy.
  6. Over the weekend, you will incorporate those changes into your typed copy, printed again, and then try to get it edited by one or more other people.
  7. Monday, you'll turn it in the results of steps 1, 2, 5, and 6.
As far as length goes, I didn't give a length guideline, or at least not intentionally.  The whole essay should involve about 3 to 4 hours of total work time.  I am assuming that time investment should yield about 2 tight pages, but length will vary greatly from student to student. 

A Gift I Gave (January 3 to 7, 2011):  As you get older your holiday focus will switch from getting to giving.  Write a 3 or 4 paragraph essay that describes a situation in which you gave a gift to someone.  We brainstormed possible paragraph topics during class on Monday and then you started the pre-writing process in your comp book.  The essay itself should be finished and posted on your website (on the writing page) by Friday 1/7... yes, even you, StuCrew)

Creating a creative collaborative story (December 9, 2010 to January 3, 2011)
Groups of 4... my (random) configurations
Agree upon setting, plot, and storyline
4 roles: storyteller, dialog, details, mechanics
Create story and post on all of your websites on "writing" page

Other ideas (not assigned)
  1. Group (of common interest) blogs.  One person chooses topic and writes the main piece.  Others comment.  English counts.
  2. Elements of humor... find, share, and analyze humorous writing.
  3. Five Card Flickr:
  4. Video games and storytelling (YouTube video)
  5. Elements of Style, Twitter Version (blog post)
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