ENGLISH 1100 – COMPOSITION I
WRITING PROJECT #2: WRITING WITH A TEXT
Word Count: 1,250 minimum Grade Value: 15%
In Writing Project #2, you will write a response to an issue raised in one of the texts
from the Composition Reading Bank or the “Supplemental Course Texts” section of
“Our Classroom” on our Blackboard site. This response will be like having a dialogue
with the author using just what he or she has expressed in writing: you and the author
are sharing and perhaps debating perspectives on the issues raised in the text.
Engaging in this dialogue will hopefully help you to develop critical thinking skills by
analyzing another point of view and comparing/ contrasting this point of view with your
own in a well-organized, well-developed response.
Purpose and Audience:
You must pick one specific purpose and one specific group of people to write to.
You should pick them early in the writing process, after you pick the essay you
want to respond to, and make each decision about content and tone with that
purpose and audience in mind. You must write in a respectful, non-
confrontational tone, one that tries to engage in a thoughtful dialogue about an
issue, not one that demeans other perspectives or is flippant.
Think about the issue under discussion—which groups of readers might be
interested in it, or which groups does the issue potentially impact? Then pick one
from that list to focus on. For example, if a writer were responding to one of the
topics in the essay “On the Fear of Death” by Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, they could
address parents, struggling with how to help their children deal with a loved
one’s death, or families, debating how to best care for their loved one during the
last months of their life, etc.
Your controlling idea for this writing project (which should be the last
sentence of your introduction paragraph) should be an argument to a
particular audience giving your perspective on a topic, advocating for something
or against something and explaining your reasons why.
Expectations for Sources:
Sources to be used:
Your choice of one of the texts from the Composition Reading Bank or the
“Supplemental Course Texts” section of “Our Classroom” on our Blackboard site.
It must be a text that touches on an issue you have personal experience with, so
you have something new to contribute to the topic to help engage your readers.
You will be expected to provide examples or a narrative or two from your
experience to illustrate what you are saying on the topic.
Do not use:
Outside source material should not be used to develop your ideas for Writing
Project #2. Any essay that contains outside source material (besides the chosen
text) will receive a zero for the assignment.
Prewriting for Writing Project #2:
Find and read your focus essay multiple times, taking notes:
Look through the Composition Reading Bank or the “Supplemental Course
Texts” section of “Our Classroom” on our Blackboard site to find texts that
discuss a topic on which you have your own interesting thoughts and
experiences to share. Do not pick any issue to discuss, such as abortion, or
gun control, that is a state or national issue and therefore hard to contribute
anything new to, and hard to enter the conversation without doing research. Pick
something that would make for a manageable conversation without the need for
research, since research isn’t a part of this project.
Read or listen to the text carefully at least three times. Make sure you
understand it by looking up any words you don’t know the meaning of or
references that are unclear to you and talking with me or the writing center tutors
about anything else that is confusing or unclear. It would be good also if you
could read it out loud (if it’s a written text) or read through the transcript (if it’s a
video text), and if you could find a partner to read it and discuss it with you. You
need to become an expert on this text.
Make a list of all the points the author brings up. Test your understanding of the
essay by seeing if you can write a sentence or two explanation of what the author
is saying for each paragraph or section.
Freewrite about your thoughts and personal experiences that come to mind with
each point from the above list. You can write in a loose freewriting style, not
worrying about how things sound or are spelled—just get all your ideas out on
paper while they are fresh in your mind. See which points you have the most to
say about / the most personal experiences to add.
Required Structure for Rough/Final Draft:
Format your draft just like the MLA sample paper in The Norton Field Guide to
Writing. Note also that the font is Times New Roman 12 point font. Use only third
person perspective (no “you”), except for personal experience examples, when
you can use “I.”
The introduction paragraph should:
o Explain the issue you’re exploring and give specific reasons and examples
for why this is an important issue for you and specific members of your
community. Make it feel real and relevant. Help readers understand the
various perspectives surrounding the issue.
o Include an introduction to and summary of the essay you picked that
presents an opinion on the same issue (a summary should include all the
author’s main points in your own words—no quotes—be thorough but
o End with a full sentence or two controlling idea (your overall message for
readers about the topic + a preview of the points you will focus on in your
body paragraphs). Be sure to avoid announcement language or use of “I”
except for when giving personal experience.
See the “Beginning and Ending” chapter of the Field Guide for more ideas for
writing introductions. Be sure you’re using an appropriate tone and style and
content for your audience as explained in the first section of this assignment
Your body paragraphs:
Write around three to four body paragraphs. Each body paragraph should
o Include a topic sentence, or message for readers. (This should also be
one of the points you raised in your controlling idea.) Make sure each
paragraph develops only one main point.
o To properly integrate quotes from the course text you chose, 2) Use a
signal phrase and a comma, 2) use quotation marks properly and quote
the author’s full thought, 3) include an in-text citation (parentheses with
page number), 4) explain the quote, and 5) talk about why the author’s
idea is important.
o Bring in relevant personal experience (use your Writing Project 1 skills of
narration and description!) to help show readers what you mean. Think
about specific scenes from your past that show how this issue has
o End by returning to the topic sentence, or main point of the paragraph.
Every paragraph should feel circular and comprehensive, like a mini paper
within the overall paper.
End with a full conclusion paragraph that
o ties everything together / summarizes your main points
o makes your conclusions and recommendations for future thinking or
actions clear to your audience.
See the “Beginning and Ending” chapter of the Field Guide for more ideas for
Works Cited page:
When creating the proper format for a Works Cited page, look at the end of the
“MLA Style” chapter of the Field Guide; there you will see a sample MLA essay
with a sample Works Cited page at the end. Follow that model exactly.
When writing a citation for your course text for your Works Cited page, use the
appropriate citation style within the “MLA Style” chapter. If you aren’t sure which
model fits, ask for help!
Steps for Integrating Source Material:
You must properly integrate references to all sources used within the essay by using the
following steps for integrating source material (these are mandatory!! DO NOT turn
in a rough draft without trying to do each of these, in this order!)
1. Set up each quote or paraphrase by introducing the source fully and trying
to establish credibility for the source. This could involve giving the author’s
name, the title of the article, sometimes the title of the publication, the date of
publication if it’s time sensitive information, the author or organization’s
credentials, etc. Also, try to provide some context for the source so that
readers understand what point the author was making in that part of the
essay. This might take a sentence or two. Remember you are writing to
people who may not have read the essay, and need to understand it before
they can try to care about what is being said.
2. Use a signal phrase to clarify who is speaking before giving the quote or
paraphrase. For a quote, this would sound like the following: John Smith
writes, “…” or Sarah Thomson argues, “…” For a paraphrase, this would
sound like the following: John Smith writes that…. or Sarah Thomson argues
that… Note that with the quote, you use a comma before the quote. With a
paraphrase you replace the comma with the word “that.” Write a quote exactly
as it was written in the book, replacing any double quotation marks in the
book with single quotation marks. Write a paraphrase using completely your
own words and phrasing. If you use any of the author’s words you need to
show that with quotation marks.
3. End the quote with an in-text citation—the in-text citation is usually the first
item of the matching Works Cited page citation in parentheses, so it’s often
the last name of the author. However, if you mention the author’s name in the
signal phrase, as I am asking you to do here, you do not need to repeat it in
the in-text citation. What you do need to include is the page number, since
you are quoting or paraphrasing from a print text. That might look like the
following: John Smith argues, “We should all try to get along” (56). Note that
the period needs to be moved from the end of the sentence to the end of the
4. Explain the meaning of the quote to readers—don’t assume that your
readers are getting the same thing out of it that you did. Tell them what you
think the author means.
5. Compare or contrast what the author said or did in the quote or paraphrase
to your beliefs/experience to further develop the point for readers. Make sure
the point you are making is the same point you’ve been developing for the
whole paragraph. Keep tying everything together.
6. If you used a quote, triple-check the accuracy of your copying of it. It’s very
bad to not be diligent enough to faithfully represent another person’s words.
Submission of Work:
Rough Draft for peer review:
After you improve your draft as much as you can in the time available, you will
submit the draft for peer review. Each person will complete a peer review of two
classmates’ essays. Reviewing someone else’s draft will help you think critically
about what makes a successful, enjoyable reader-oriented essay, and you can
hopefully apply those lessons to your own work.
Final draft for instructor review and a grade:
Based on the feedback of your classmates/instructor/writing center tutors, you
will revise your essay and submit a revised draft to be evaluated by the
Important: Completing process work and responding to feedback is an important part of
the writing process in this class. If you do not submit a Writing Project 2 plan and rough
draft, your final draft will not be graded. You would need to email me letting me know
your plan, go back and do these things, and then submit your final draft late (with a one
letter grade late penalty).
Being a Responsible, Ethical Writer/Avoiding Plagiarism:
Do not use any papers or parts of papers you have done for any other class for this
writing project without first discussing this with your instructor. Make sure you are
familiar with plagiarism guidelines as outlined in the syllabus—the work you turn in
needs to be your own, not the work of family or friends, or someone else’s work from
the Internet, etc. It is also plagiarism to have someone else type your paper, when they
fix your grammar or capitalization or make other changes to your work as they type.
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