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3rd Quarter, Language Arts 12

0.00 Start Here (English 12)

Course Description


The skills and understandings students are expected to demonstrate in this class have wide applicability outside the classroom or workplace.

In this class, students:

  • undertake the close, attentive reading that is at the heart of understanding and enjoying complex works of literature.
  • habitually perform the critical reading necessary to pick carefully through the staggering amount of information available today in print and digitally.
  • actively seek the wide, deep, and thoughtful engagement with high-quality literary and informational texts that builds knowledge, enlarges experience, and broadens worldviews.
  • reflexively demonstrate the cogent reasoning and use of evidence that is essential to both private deliberation and responsible citizenship in a democratic republic.

In short, students who meet the the requirements in this class develop the skills in reading, writing, speaking, and listening that are the foundation for any creative and purposeful expression in language.


The "parental notification" file provided at the top of this page will show you how to set up ways to keep track of your student's progress.


Class Overview

WHAT THIS CLASS IS: This class is another way for you to earn your English 12 credit.   This is a one-quarter (.25 credit) class. You will work on your reading, research, writing, viewing, listening and speaking skills as specified in the Utah State Core Curriculum for Language Arts.

WHAT THIS CLASS IS NOT: This class is NOT an easy way to get your English credit without doing any real work. If that is what you are looking for, you will be disappointed. Plan on spending approximately the same amount of time on this class as you would in a traditional English class.


At least 11th grade level reading and writing skills.


To take this class, you will need:

  1. A computer with internet access.
  2. Word processing software to type your assignments. Microsoft Word is best.  

    You MUST have the ability to submit documents in one of the following file formats: .doc/.docx (Microsoft Word), .ppt/.pptx (PowerPoint), or .pdf. 

    If you use another program such as Pages or Open Office, make sure that you save your documents in one of the above formats before you upload them.

     *****! ! ! ! Contrary to what you read in the "homework note" in Module 1, DO NOT use "Notepad" or "Text Edit." (that note is intended for classes other than this one). I would prefer all documents to be submitted in one of above three formats as attachments or uploads.

  3. A .pdf converter if your word processing software doesn't allow you to save in one of the above fiile formats. Several are available free online from sources such as adobe, nemopdf, cutepdf, etc. 
  4. Acrobat Reader, Quicktime reader, and a PowerPoint reader (all available free online)



Each quarter will include the following requirements:

Reading Assignment.  A full-length book (or 2 plays--4th quarter). Details are given in the first overview of the quarter.  Many of the assignments you do throughout the quarter will relate to the book you are reading, requiring that you get a copy and get into it quickly.  You will also be required to respond to questions given on the novel study guide.  So you will need to copy it to your computer or print it out to have it available as you read.

Unit assignments:  These assignments are varied and are based on the skills outlined in the Utah State core.  Because the assignments are designed to build upon previous assignments, make sure that you do them in order (unless otherwise instructed.)  Most assignments require material that is available at links given.  Make sure that you access all required links. The information there is links is essential to completing the assignment accurately, and most of the quiz questions come from this material.

Vocabulary:  Vocabulary words are found on reading guide and/or the first overview of the quarter.  You will need to master these words--understand them and be able to use them in your writing.  These words will show up in quizzes and tests.

Skill Builder assignments:  These are mandatory reviews of writing skills or mechanics, usage, and grammar rules.  The are all are based on skills needed to complete an assignment and/or the most common errors in student writing.  Each review will come with explanation, and links for more help.  You will find many quiz and test questions coming from these reviews as well.

Literature Connection:  Within each unit is an assignment which will connect the ideas/skills from that unit to the novel you are reading.  These assignments are designed to help you read with more focus and skill and also to write effectively on the book.

Quizzes & Tests:  There will be quizzes for each unit and one final exam.  The final exam will need to be supervised by an approved EHS proctor.  The instructions at the "arranging to take your proctored final," will explain how to set up and take the test.  Note:  You must pass the final exam with a 60% or higher to receive credit for the course.

SUBMITTING ASSIGNMENTS:  Read instructions carefully to make sure you have fulfilled the requirements of each assignment.  Make sure that you do all your work on your own word processing software first. This way you will have access to the spelling and grammar checkers typically offered with this software and you will be able to archive your own copy of each assignment.  Unless you have made other arrangements with me, plan to save each of your assignments as .doc/docx, .pdf, or ppt/pptx files and submit as attachements or uploads.


With each activity, I’m looking for in-depth, critical thinking, creativity, and clear expression of ideas. The rubrics for each assignment will vary slightly depending on the objective of the lesson, so read each rubric carefully before you even put pen to paper, or in this case, finger to keyboard. This is much like the six-trait assessment you may have had experience with. Each assignment has a version of the rubric below.

Assessment Rubric:

Content   Thesis statement is clear and all requirements for assignment are met.   /4  
Support   Supporting paragraphs include detail which is specific and directly supports the thesis.   /4  
Clarity   Writing is clear, focused and well organized.   /4  
Conventions   No significant errors in grammar, usage, punctuation or spelling.   /4  

What do the numbers mean?

  • 4 – Great – Did what was required and did it well.
  • 3 – Good – most of requirement elements there.
  • 2 – Fair – missing several of the required elements.
  • 1 – Needed much more work to be satisfactory.

If you think better in the A,B,C,D arena, you can correlate each number with a grade.


Important: because learning and writing are processes, you may always submit a revised, improved version of any assignment to improve your grade. Your final grade is determined by your average on assignments and quizzes, as well as your final test grade. The assignments and quizzes count 75%, and the final test counts 25%.

Grading scale:

  • A 90-100*
  • B+ 86-89
  • B 80-85
  • C+ 76-79
  • C 70-75
  • D+ 66-69
  • D 60-65
  • No credit - below 60

*Note:  An A grade will not be awarded to a student with zeroes on any of his or her assignments.

Time Requirements:  You have 10 weeks to complete the course.  You will have 2 weeks to complete each unit, and 2 weeks to get your final exam taken.  My suggestion:  Get out of the gate early--don't procrastinate.  Invariably, complications will arise in your life, and if you have given yourself a time-cushion, you won't get stuck with too much to do in too little time.  Even though you have 10 weeks, you may certainly choose to complete the course faster than that.

Suggested deadlines are as follows:

Unit 1, including the "About me," novel choice, and overview assignments:  2 weeks from the day you are enrolled in the course.
Unit 2 - 4 weeks from enrollment date
Unit 3 - 6 weeks from enrollment date
Unit 4 - 8 weeks from enrollment date
Final Exam - 10 weeks from enrollment date

The syllabus will give you an approxmiate length of time each assignment may require to complete.  Keep an eye on those time estimates to help you judge your time wisely.  There is also also a reading requiement (novels in quarters 1-3 and 2 plays in quarter 4).  You will also want to allow for 5-10 hours of reading time for the quarter reading assignment as well.

I'm glad to have you in my class.  Please review my contact information and feel free to contact me whenever you have questions or concerns.

00.01.01 Student Software Needs


Students need access to a robust internet connection and a modern web browser.

This class may also require the Apple QuickTime plug-in to view media.

For students using a school-issued Chromebook, ask your technical support folks to download the QuickTime plug-in and enable the plug-in for your Chromebook.


00.01.02 ABOUT ME

Write a short paragraph to the teacher. Introduce yourself. Use proper sentence structure including capitalization, punctuation and spelling. In this paragraph please also include the following information:

  • What year you are in school. 
  • Name of High School you attend.
  • Your counselor's name and email address.
  • The number of quarters of English 12 you will be taking from EHS and when you expect to graduate.
  • Parent's name and contact information.
  • A contact phone number for you.
  • Any specific information that would help me to understand how best to support you in this class.
  • IMPORTANT:  Click on the "How to review your assignments" link at the bottom of the page.  Review this short video and then include a sentence in your response letting me know that you understand how to see comments and feedback for your assignments.

VERY, VERY IMPORTANT:  By submitting your "About Me" you are agreeing to the stipulations set out in the "start here" section and to abide by the EHS honor code:  "As a student of the Electronic High School, I agree to turn in my assignments in a timely manner, do my own work, not share my work with others, and treat all students, teachers and staff with respect."

Make sure you've carefully reviewed all information in the "Start Here" section--especially the Course Requirements--and let's get to work.


09.00.00 - QUARTER 3 - Unit 9: Media Literacy

From the moment you open your eyes each morning you are bombarded with a multiplicity of images, ideas, and opinions. Billions of dollars are spent each year in media presentations intended to influence your thoughts, behaviors, and, most significantly, your spending habits.

This quarter will focus on media and how claims and arguments are presented to maximize their influence.

Reading Assignment for Quarter 3 The reading assignment for this quarter will be 1984, by George Orwell. This novel has a lot to say about media and the use of media to manipulate people within a society. So as you read the novel, keep this idea in mind and look for techniques exercised by Oceania’s ruling class (the Inner Party) to manipulate and control its citizens. You should begin reading the book right away and then you may work on the rest of the assignments in the quarter as you are finishing it. Although I encourage you to get an actual copy of the book, online texts are available at the links provided.

In 1984, Orwell presents a disturbing glimpse into Oceania, a futuristic world (despite the dated title) dominated by ruthless brutality and mindless conformity. This conformity is achieved and maintained, in part, because of the unwillingness or inability of Oceania's citizenry to critically evaluate their media environment. Orwell's 1984 stands as a testament to the importance of education and critical thinking in a democratic society, and it is, therefore, an appropriate work to read in the context of a study in media literacy.

It is important to note that Orwell does not offer 1984 as a prophecy. Instead, it is, as many have noted, a warning about the future of human freedom in a world where political organization and technology can manufacture power in dimensions that would have stunned the imaginations of earlier ages. In order for Orwell's warning to be successful, however, we need to be mindful of "Orwellian" trends in contemporary society.

Because 1984 holds such a deeply rooted place in our culture, you may recognize some of the terms and ideas Orwell introduced in his novel—such as “Newspeak” or “Big Brother.” (You thought it was just an HBO reality show, huh?) Understanding these terms will be helpful in understanding, and writing about, the novel as well.

The reading guide found at the file attached above will help you look at some of the important ideas presented in the novel.  Copy the reading guide to your own computer and fill it out as you read.  There will be times when I will tell you what to write on your reading guide, but I will rely on you to fill most of it out on your own--as you read the novel.  Hold on to the guide until you have finished your final writing assignment and turn it in with that assignment.  A number of the quiz and final exam questions will come from this guide, so make sure you are able to work through each section of it.

Vocabulary Assignment:   The vocabulary assignment for this quarter will be to become familiar with the words specific to the novel found on your reading guide and the terms that are found in the propaganda .pdf (unit 10 overview) assignments:



teacher-scored 12 points possible 10 minutes

Before we start this quarter, it is essential that you have a clear idea of what we mean by "media literacy."

The dictionary defines media as “any means, agency, or instrumentality specifically designed to communicate a message that reaches the general public."  So that means T.V., radio, books, magazines, the internet. It means news programming, sit-coms, blogs, social networking, movies, and advertisements. It would be almost impossible to live in this world without being exposed to media of some sort. Therefore, because it is so pervasive, a certain amount of media literacy is important. For the first exercise then, copy the questions between the asterisks into a  document on your own computer.  Use the information at the “media literacy link” to answer the questions.  Save a copy for yourself and then submit your work by pasting it into the assignment submission window or attaching the file.


1. What does it mean to be media “literate”?

2. Give me a brief explanation of the eight key concepts of media literacy? (Do not copy from the source, and do not just re-word the bolded title--it doesn’t explain the concept)


Assessment Rubric:

Content   Each question answered completely and in a way that shows knowledge and understanding of the selection.   /4  
Clarity   Writing is clear, focused & well organized—didn’t give me any “huh?” moments.   /4  
Conventions   No significant errors in grammar, usage, punctuation or spelling.   /4  

Pacing: complete this by the end of Week 1 of your enrollment date for this class.



Every day, we encounter hundreds of media messages. On television and in movies, fictional characters affirm and denounce various values and lifestyles. In the news media, networks and newspapers provide photos and commentary of events considered newsworthy. On the internet, electronic billboards announce the latest online attractions. In popular magazines, athletes and entertainers dictate what to eat, drink and do.

Students themselves carry media messages through images on their Nike shoes, Levis jeans, Old Navy t-shirts, and more. From the wrapper on a cheeseburger to the "Sunkist" stamp on an orange, even our food bears the name of various commercial entities. Our environment is saturated with media messages. From the morning radio to the evening news, we are blitzed with messages promoting products, places, ideas, and even people.

For this exercise, I'd like you to be especially sensitive to every media message that you're exposed to for one day. (You might want to take a small notebook with you wherever you go in order to note the various messages that you encounter.)

Then turn in a list of five forms of media you have been exposed to today (ex: T.V., ads, radio, music videos, movies, news print, texts, books, magazines, the internet, etc.) and a specific message from each.  Then for each message, include a discussion about what you believe to be objective and identity of the individuals and/or organizations that formulated  messages.


teacher-scored 12 points possible 20 minutes

Assessment Rubric:

Content   Includes five messages and the analysis of each.   /4  
Clarity   Writing is clear, focused and well organized and didn’t give me any “huh?” moments.   /4  
Conventions   No significant errors in grammar, usage, punctuation or spelling.   /4  

Pacing: complete this by the end of Week 1 of your enrollment date for this class.

09.02.00 – Lesson 2: What's on T.V?

Let's start out with a look at the most pervasive and influential form of media for the last half of a century--the television.   For this lesson, I'd like you to look closely at network programming strategies as well as some typical strategies used by the companies who buy advertising time on television.  I think this scrutiny will provide some insight into the realities of commercial television programming.

I doubt it would surprise you to know that providing quality shows and entertainment is not the primary objective of network television. While the networks do value programs that are entertaining, they do so because such shows typically generate a large viewership, which, in turn, allows them to charge high rates for advertisements during that show's time slot. Consequently, television “success” is determined by revenue dollars.

Of course, that’s what drives advertising as well--$.  And how do advertisers get you to buy what they are selling?  Image.  In advertising, image is everything. One of the reasons that ad campaigns rely heavily on images is that there are so many parity products. "Parity" means that two competing brands have a product that is very similar, if not the same. (Can you tell the difference between Sprite and 7-Up?) In order to get around this, advertisers need to sell more than the product; they need to sell an image. By doing this, advertisers get people to buy not only their products, but also the lifestyles that they represent.

So what techniques do television programmers use to get you to stay planted on the couch, eyes glued?  And what strategies do advertisers employ to get you to buy into (and therefore “buy”) the “image” they are selling? 

Follow the requirements below to begin your examination.  Read carefully through all the instructions before you get started.

A.   Access both the "television programming terms" and the “advertising strategies” links.  Read through and familiarize yourself with these terms.  (A lot of quiz questions come from these two links.) You may also want to print them out or have them available on your computer as you do this assignment.

Very Important:  There is a difference between the "television programming terms" and the “advertising strategies” links.  The "television programing terms" link shows you the strategies the brodcasters (CBS, FOX, TBS, etc.) use to keep you watching their channels.  The "advertising strategies" link shows you the strategies advertisers use to get you to buy their products.  Make sure you access both links.

B.  For the next step, I would like you to analyze the prime-time television programming for a major network on a given night.  (“Prime-time” is basically 7-10  p.m.)  If you don’t have access to a television,  see the note below. 

For this portion of the exercise, once again, copy and paste the section between the lines of asterisks into a word-processing document. Answer the questions, save a copy for yourself, and then submit your work to me.


  1. What types of shows (drama, news magazine, sitcom) are shown during this block?
  2. Which programming techniques are used?  Explain how they are used. 
  3. What types of commercial products are advertised during specific shows and what audience do they appear to be directed at?


C.  Now, review again the information at the second link "advertising strategies."  Then choose one commercial where a product is linked to an image and answer the questions between the asterisks using the same procedure explained earlier.


  1. What is the commercial advertising? 
  2. What happens in the commerical? (Write a short summary of the commercial.)
  3. What is the ad's target audience and what the intended effect on this audience?
  4. Which advertising strategies did you see in this commercial and how they were used?
  5. What did you notice about differences between the amount and kind of text versus graphics? Does the text take advantage of vagueness, ambiguity, over-generality, or emotive meaning to deceive or manipulate?
  6. What did you notice about colors, music and camera angles?
  7. Does the method and content of the ad relate to any bigger social issues (obsession with thinness, obsession with money, glamorizing illegal or violent behavior, any abnormal or dysfunctional human relations, etc.)?


Remember the 8 key concepts of media literacy?  Media, to a large extent provides the material we use to construct our idea of reality—and that material comes at us “loaded” with social, political, and ideological values, attitudes, and conclusions.  So the point of this assignment is awareness and analysis.  I want you to be aware of what ideas and images you are subject to and to be able to view them with an improved critical eye.


*If you don't have access to TV for this assignment, you can still analyze programming strategies by going to a particular channel’s website and looking at the T.V. schedule.  There are also sites like which will give you programming for multiple channels.  Commercials can also be easily accessed on line.  Pick a product, and a search for commercials will produce a number of places where you can view the ads.



teacher-scored 16 points possible 120 minutes

Assessment Rubric:

Content   Each question answered and all required elements included.   /4  
Support   Responses show effort and adequate analysis   /4  
Clarity   Writing is clear, focused and well organized.   /4  
Conventions   No significant errors in grammar, usage, punctuation or spelling.   /4  

Pacing: complete this by the end of Week 1 of your enrollment date for this class.

09.03.00 – Lesson 3: PITCH YOUR PROGRAM

After your prime-time analysis, you should be better versed in the workings of television programming.  This assignment will serve as a creative follow-up. It provides you an opportunity to devise and pitch your own idea for a potential prime-time series. Imagine you are a producer at a major television network that has just completed a season of big budget flops. If you don't come up with a hit prime-time series, the network will lose advertising revenue and go bankrupt. You must therefore devise a pilot (introductory episode) for a series that you feel will be a sure-fire hit. At the same time, however, as a parent and an upstanding citizen, you are sensitive to the concerns about gratuitous sex and violence on television and are unwilling to devise a show that glorifies such phenomena. Consequently, your show must be entertaining without being what mainstream values would deem inappropriate.

  1. Write up a proposal for your series, including the following information:
    • name of series
    • running time
    • type of program (sitcom, drama, game show, talk show, etc.)
    • setting
    • target core audience or demographic group
    • names of the central characters and potential actors to portray them (if applicable)
    • day and time the series will air
    • which products might be advertised during commercial breaks
    • which programming strategies will be used to ensure higher ratings. (These are the "programming terms" which you studied in the previous assignment--the link is repeated below.)
  2. Write a short synopsis (less than a page in length) of your pilot, outlining what it is about and what you intend to have happen in the opening episode.


teacher-scored 16 points possible 40 minutes

Assessment Rubric:

Content   Includes all required elements.   /4  
Presentation   Idea is well thought-out and shows creativity.   /4  
Clarity   Writing is clear, focused and well organized.   /4  
Conventions   No significant errors in grammar, usage, punctuation or spelling.   /4  

Pacing: complete this by the end of Week 2 of your enrollment date for this class.

09.04.00 – Lesson 4: "P"-T.V.

For many of you, the most prevalent form of media in your life might be music--radio, ipods, stereos, music videos etc.   In this section,

This assignment has two steps:  first analyze, then create.

A.  First choose a music video to watch. (There are some online sources linked below) Try to find a video that you're not familiar with, so your analysis won't be affected by what you've already seen. You will also need to get a copy of the lyrics associated with the video from one of the many sites that feature music lyrics. Before you view the video, carefully read the lyrics of the featured song. Note your impression of the lyrical content of the song independent of the video. What images come to your mind? What themes are suggested? Ask yourself how you would best capture these elements in a video form.

Next, view the video with the sound turned way down, so you can concentrate on the visual presentation of the video. Then, view it again with the sound on. Consider the following elements as you view and review it: camera angles, lighting, imagery, characterization, and tone. (Is the overall tone of the video in-your-face, humorous, serious, psychedelic?) In your estimation are the song lyrics and video interpretation compatible? Do they tell the same story? Does the video add depth or value to the song, or does it seem to be more of a marketing ploy?

Write a brief analysis of the video, commenting on the appropriateness of the video to the song lyrics.  Save this and turn it in together with the assignment outlined in section B.

B.  Now you are in the production seat. Instead of MTV (this channel used to be entirely devoted to music videos--Music T.V), you are going to help create the literary equivalent--“PTV” or a Poetry T.V. video. To further demonstrate your awareness of how visual images can flavor the interpretation of a idea, you will have the opportunity to plan out your own "video." Instead of a song, the subject of your video will be a poem.

You need to choose a poem published by a reputible poet from one of the sources below.  Your job will be to carefully analyze the poem's tone, theme, and imagery, and creatively determine how to convey those elements in a video or storyboard format. Think about camera angles, lighting, and shot frequency and composition. Ask yourself how you can best achieve the "tone" of the poem in a video format. I don't expect you to become a video professional here, but try to think along these lines. You may find some of these production tips useful. (Use the “camera angles” and “production tips” links given below.)

Once you decide how you would best express this poem in a video, you may choose to produce the actual video, or you may submit, as an alternative, detailed storyboards that provide a chronological list of the visual content of your "ideal" video (may be actual photographs or neatly sketched images) as well as textual information about what text from the poem and any other corollary sound effects accompany each image. In either case, you will need to decide what content will represent the language of the poem you select. You don't need to be real literal here. For example, in Robert Frost's poem "The Road Not Taken," you would need to show a character at a crossroads in life. This could be done literally, with a forked road, but it could also be accomplished by showing a person at a point in his or her life when an important decision needs to be made.

Your finished video (should not exceed five minutes) or storyboards must be accompanied by an explanation of how your video reflects your interpretation of the poem. Indicate what theme you think the poem expresses and why the various images you've elected to use represent different portions of the text.  Please include the text of, or a link to, the poem you use.

Use the links below if you need examples of, or templates for, a storyboard.



09.04.02 Online poetry sources


teacher-scored 24 points possible 90 minutes

Assessment Rubric:

Content   Video or storyboard choices show interpretation of poem's tone, theme and imagery.   /4  
Clarity   Information is clear and easy to navigate.   /4  
Conventions   Title and author of poem are clearly referenced and no significant errors in grammar, usage, punctuation or spelling.   /4  
Presentation   Video or storyboard is attractive, creative and interesting.   /4  
Additional Requirements (section A)   Analysis of music video is included.   /4  

Pacing: complete this by the end of Week 2 of your enrollment date for this class.

09.05.00 - Lesson 5: LITERATURE CONNECTION - MEDIA IN 1984

Sometimes we forget how powerfully media can influence us.  While it might not seem too serious that we are influenced to buy the latest i-phone or the right pair of jeans, media can also influence us in more disturbing ways--just look at the thousands of "fans" who filled social media with support for the Boston Marathon bombing suspect after he was featured on the cover of "Rolling Stone."  Why did that image seem to supplant the photos and videos which seem to show him placing one of the bombs that killed 3 people--including the young boy standing right in front of him? 

In 1984, Orwell speaks to the more destructive impact media can have on a society.  You should be well into the novel by now.  Take a minute to list the forms of media that are present in Winston's society and to explain the impact they have on the people of Oceania, as well as on Winston himself.

You will "turn in" this assignment in two places.  Turn it in here, and then you will also need to copy it to your reading guide in the space provided.


teacher-scored 12 points possible 20 minutes

Assessment Rubric:

Content   List shows the required inquiry and research.   /4  
Support   Each item includes discussion on the effects of the media.   /4  
Clarity   Writing is clear, focused and well organized.   /4  

Pacing: complete this by the end of Week 2 of your enrollment date for this class.



In the previous unit we introduced "advertising strategies" as persuasive techniques.  Now we're going to take that a little further and enter a discussion on propaganda.  This is a big topic in 1984, and if you've been reading, you've encountered the steady stream of propaganda used to control the citizens of Oceania.

Access the "Propaganda.pdf" attachment above for a discussion of propaganda and the information you will need to complete the assignments in this unit. 



Now that you've got an idea of what propaganda looks like, let’s look for it in writing.

Choose one of the articles listed below, or you can find your own article to analyze if you wish (submit the article with your analysis)

Keep that list of propaganda techniques (from the .pdf in the unit 10 overview) in front of you as you read the article and note which types of propaganda you can see in the article.

Then, write a short analysis of your findings. Include the evidence you found and speculate what you think the author’s purpose is in presenting this article.

10.01.01 Article Choices


teacher-scored 16 points possible 60 minutes

Assessment Rubric:

Content   Analysis includes explanation of techniques and speculation about author's purposes.   /4  
Support   Supporting paragraphs include detail which is specific and directly supports your analysis.   /4  
Clarity   Writing is clear, focused and well organized.   /4  
Conventions   No significant errors in grammar, usage, punctuation or spelling.   /4  

Pacing: complete this by the end of Week 3 of your enrollment date for this class.

10.02.00 - Lesson 2: PROPAGANDA IN NEWS MEDIA

Now your job is to find “propaganda techniques” or logical fallacies in television news media.

I'd like you to watch at least two different news networks and find instances of these techniques. You will have better luck analyzing the commentary, (“opinion columnists,” or “shows”) sections of the news. To get a balanced look, try to pick two networks which traditionally have different perspectives.

If you need some ideas, I have listed links for two which tend to have opposing perspectives. By listing these links, I am not in any way suggesting that these are the only two news media sources that are guilty of using propaganda from time to time. You’ll be able to find it in any news source; I have just listed these because one is on the more conservative side and one is on the more liberal side. One more hint before you begin: you will probably find it much more difficult to spot propaganda when you agree with the writer or speaker than when you disagree with him or her.

Once again, open the "Propaganda.pdf" file from the unit 10 overview and keep the list of propaganda techniques in front of you as you evaluate the news media spots you choose.



teacher-scored 12 points possible 40 minutes

For this assignment give the name of each news source, the title of the article or video presentation, and a link to it.  Then disucss the propaganda techniques or fallacies you find in the source, giving examples from the source itself.

Assessment Rubric:

Content   Shows the required inquiry and research.   /4  
Clarity   Writing is clear, focused and well organized.   /4  
Conventions   No significant errors in grammar, usage, punctuation or spelling.   /4  
Additional Requrements   Includes source information and links to assignments or commentary that were read or viewed.   /4  

Pacing: complete this by the end of Week 3 of your enrollment date for this class.


You have begun to look at how media is used to manipulate the citizens of Oceania in 1984.  You should have also begun to examine how media is used in our society to influence and sometimes manipulate us. 

Orwell believed that language has a powerful impact on society--that words can actually control thought.  In the novel he creates the fictitious language, "Newspeak."  Turn to the Appendix A in your novel  (or you may use the link provided below) to read his explanation of why Newspeak was to be introduced to Oceania.  Use that section to answer the first 3 questions.  Use the second link to help you respond to the second 3 questions.  Your responses to the questions below need to be inserted into your reading guide where indicated and also be turned in to me here.


1. What are the main purposes of Newspeak?

2. What are the three types of vocabulary targeted and how did the party benefit from controlling vocabulary in these three areas?




3. Look at the definition of "doublethink."  This was another term coined by Orwell.  What does it mean?

4. Orwell didn't invent the term "doublespeak," but it has become a common term in our society as kind of a combination of "doublethink" and "newspeak."  What does this term mean?

5. Now list an example of doublespeak in our society.

6. How does the use of "doublespeak" affect the way we think and view the world?





teacher-scored 12 points possible 60 minutes

Assessment Rubric:

Content   All questions answered and show understanding of the ideas.   /4  
Support   Explanations are supported with specific examples from the novel and/or contemporary society.   /4  
Clarity   Writing is clear, focused and well organized.   /4  

Pacing: complete this by the end of Week 4 of your enrollment date for this class.

Additional Helpful Links


As you have probably noticed by now, the key to uncovering propaganda is to look for faulty logic.  Propaganda tries to sell ideas based on faulty logic--or what writing teachers like to call "logical fallacies."   What's a logical fallacy?  If you do a search for a list of "logical fallacies," you'll find that list bears a overwhelming resemblance to a list of propaganda techniques. Good argumentative writing, therefore, must be free of any logical fallacies or propaganda.  

In the next unit, you will to get some practice establishing an argument on solid evidence and avoiding propaganda or fallacies in reasoning, so to clarify the distinction between an "argument" and "propaganda" and to give you a review of the comparison/constrast organizational structure and practice, I'd like you to follow the steps below.

  1. Take some time to review the site "Comparision/Contrast Essay."
  2. Then use the "readwritethink" link to look at the similarities and differences between propaganda and argument.
  3. Use the information from this chart to write two to three paragraphs comparing and contrasting argument and propaganda.



teacher-scored 16 points possible 40 minutes

Assessment Rubric:

Content   Shows understanding of the material presented. Thesis statement directs the rest of the essay.   /4  
Support   Supporting paragraphs include specific similarities and differences which support the thesis.   /4  
Clarity   Writing is clear, focused and well organized.   /4  
Conventions   No significant errors in grammar, usage, punctuation or spelling.   /4  

Pacing: complete this by the end of Week 4 of your enrollment date for this class.

11.00 QUARTER 3 - Unit 12 - Lessons of 1984

Before you start: Unit 11 is the final unit dealing with 1984. If you are finished with the novel and have filled out your reading guide, continue on with Unit 11. But if you are not yet finished with the novel, skip to Unit 12 and then return to finish Unit 11 when you are done.

As I mentioned earlier, if you only look at 1984 as a warning about totalitarian governments, you'll miss the significance of the novel--especially in a day when this type of threat seems quite remote. 1984 remains such an integral part of our cultural environment because of the implications of Orwell's ideas in other social arenas. For example, is it possible to imagine "Big Brother" as large multinational corporations, or scientific and technological advancement, or Madison Avenue (advertising firms)? Think about the ideas of Newspeak and Doublethink in terms of our current social trends. How much of the news we hear consists of political spin & commentary, celebrity "news," or sports scandals? How many people do you know that actually take the time to research and understand issues before they form opinions on them? Is our education getting watered down? Do we have an understanding of and connection to our history? All are questions that 1984 lets us "swim in" for a while.

In section III of your reading guide, you have been taking notes on 3 different topics: Language, Media Manipulation, and Education. The last two assignments in this unit will require that you develop one of those ideas into a complete essay--so be finishing up your notes and thinking about which topic most interests you (and on which you have the most compelling evidence)

11.01.00 Finding Big Brother

Just for fun, lets see how society uses the ideas from 1984 in our public and intellectual discourse.

Choose 3 of the articles (they're short). Read the article and watch the related video if one is available. Then copy and paste the section between the lines of asterisks into a word-processing document. Answer the questions, save a copy for yourself, and then submit your work to me.

Article 1

Name of article
How does the Orwellian term or idea relate to the topic of the article?

Article 2

Name of article
How does the Orwellian term or idea relate to the topic of the article?

Article 3

Name of article
How does the Orwellian term or idea relate to the topic of the article?

Add any important ideas you get from these articles to your reading guide notes.



teacher-scored 8 points possible 20 minutes

Assessment Rubric:

Content   Information for all three articles complete.   /4  
Clarity   Writing is clear, focused and well organized.   /4  
Conventions   No significant errors in grammar, usage, punctuation or spelling.   /4  

Pacing: complete this by the end of Week 5 of your enrollment date for this class.

11.02 - Lesson 2: 1984 OUTLINE

Look now at the notes you took on section III of your reading guide.

Each of those questions has required that you compare what Orwell has presented in 1984 with trends in our contemporary society.  You will be required to write an essay on one of those topics (the 4 questions in section III).  To help you choose the topic on which you can best write--or best make your case--I'd like you to craft 3 separate outlines for possible directions you could take your essay. The three outlines can be on the 3 different topics or different takes on the same topic--doesn't matter. Just choose your three strongest ideas and outline them.

Once you have drafted your outlines, evaluate the strength of each and choose the outline you'd like to work with for your essay.

Each outline should include:

  1. A possible thesis statement
  2. A clever introductory idea (Take a look at the "Introductions" site for help with this.)
  3. At least three supporting ideas. Include with each, a specific example from the book and/or specific example from something in our society

Turn in to me all three outlines and indicate which you have chosen to write on.



teacher-scored 16 points possible 30 minutes

Assessment Rubric:

Content   3 Outlines include thesis statement, introduction.   /4  
Support   Includes at least three points of comparison to support each thesis idea.   /4  
Clarity   Ideas are clear and show understanding of issues.   /4  
Organization   Clear outline format & Ideas show logical reasoning.   /4  

Pacing: complete this by the end of Week 5 of your enrollment date for this class.


In the next lesson you will be required to write a rough draft of your essay on 1984. But before we go there, I’d like you to get a little practice writing powerful sentences. Look at the “powerful sentences” link. This is a page from a guide to writing personal statements, so the introduction isn’t really pertinent to our task here; the ten suggestions, however, are excellent guidelines for any writing activity. Each sentence below needs revision. So for this activity, copy the sentences into your document, study the explanation given for each recommendation, and then below each sentence, write your revised sentence. ************************************************************************

  1. Hook your reader immediately: My essay will focus on the way the media manipulates people today. (zzzzzzz)
  2. Write strong sentences: Winston didn’t like his life very much.
  3. Use the active voice: There were many news reports changed by Winston every day.
  4. Vary your words and sentences: I read the book, 1984, and I saw many comparisons between the society in the book and the society of today.
  5. Write in a professional and formal tone: It would have been a real drag to live in Oceana.
  6. Do not make elementary writing mistakes: Winston and the people of Oceana couldn’t even choose there own jobs.
  7. Do not mismatch the number of a noun and its verb: Each of the citizens of Oceana are watched carefully by the government.
  8. Avoid clichés: Winston was supposed to get up at the crack of dawn to exercise, but instead he tried to go against the grain by writing in his journal.
  9. Avoid sentences with empty subjects: There are many comparisons between Orwell’s 1984 and present-day media.
  10. Conclude powerfully: So you can see that the way the media manipulates our society is pretty different than the way the media controlled people in 1984.


1DeLeon, J.D, Ken. TLS Guide to Personal Statements. Top Law, 2008. Ch.5. Web.



teacher-scored 12 points possible 45 minutes

Assessment Rubric:

Content   Each sentence revised correctly.   /4  
Conventions   No significant errors in grammar, usage, punctuation or spelling.   /4  

Pacing: complete this by the end of Week 5 of your enrollment date for this class.

11.04 - Writing your Essay on 1984

Now that ideas about 1984 have begun taking shape, use the steps below to write your essay.

1) Review your outline from lesson 11.02. Does the outline reflect what you want to say in your essay? Do you have specific examples from both the novel and contemporary society to back up your ideas? Do you have a good idea for a thesis statement?

2) A respectable essay needs to have a solid argument--the thing you want to prove or demonstrate and a focused thesis statement. Before you begin your rough draft, read the information carefully at the “What Makes a Good Literature Paper?” link. (Some of this is on the test.) Then start with a rough draft of your thesis statement. After you’ve drafted your thesis statement evaluate it with the information you learned at that site.

3) Now continue your rough draft following the outline you generated. Get all of your ideas out before you mess with language/conventions issues. Keep a copy of your rough draft so that you can turn it in with your final draft.

4) Once you have a rough draft, you can start to get your ideas organized and write your working draft. Then put your working draft away for a day so your ideas can percolate a little and you can come back to it with fresh eyes.

5) With your thesis statement written, and your organization set, you can take some time to write or refine the introduction and to write a conclusion. It can be tough to craft a conclusion that isn’t trite or boring. Take some time to look at the “Strategies For Writing a Conclusion” link. There are four excellent strategies suggested (and they’ll show up on the test as well).

6) As you polish this into your final draft, review the guidelines for writing powerful sentences (from 11.03). Remember to proofread carefully and run a spell check before you turn in your essay. Clearly label both rough and final drafts and hand in both for credit.



teacher-scored 24 points possible 120 minutes

Assessment Rubric:

Content   All elements of comparison/contrast essay present, including a strong thesis statement, an interesting introduction and a dynamic conclusion.   /4  
Support   Supporting paragraphs include specific detail from the novel as well as contemporary society which directly supports the thesis.   /4  
Clarity   Writing is clear, focused and well organized.   /4  
Conventions   No significant errors in grammar, usage, punctuation or spelling.   /4  
Rough Draft   Clearly labeled rough draft included.   /4  

Pacing: complete this by the end of Week 6 of your enrollment date for this class.

11.05 Future Trends

You've gazed into the future through Orwell's eyes. This next assignment asks you to continue to think along those lines, but to look at the future through some contemporary perspectives as well.

A. Take a look at the first link. "What Will Life Be like in the Year 2008?" By James R. Berry. Note the date the article was written. As you read, note what predictions materialized and what didn’t. In a paragraph, comment on what the author predicted accurately--and what was not so accurate.

B. Now, your turn. The site, "bigthink," offers some predictions about what our world will look like in 2050. Read the article and in an additional paragraph, explain which future predictions you find most interesting/believable and why?

C. So how would you write it? If you were writing a futuristic novel how would you see the future? Add a final paragraph giving your own predictions about the future of our planet.


teacher-scored 12 points possible 60 minutes

Assessment Rubric:

Content   All required information given.   /4  
Support   Each paragraph includes specific detail.   /4  
Clarity   Writing is clear, focused and well organized and didn’t give me any “huh?” moments.   /4  
Conventions   No significant errors in grammar, usage, punctuation or spelling.   /4







Pacing: complete this by the end of Week 6 of your enrollment date for this class.


You've spent some time looking at what makes for a weak argument.  In this unit you will be asked to write an argumentative essay, avoiding propaganda (or logical fallacies).  To start our discussion of good argumentative writing, first take a look at "Argument Clinic," Monty Python’s slant on the topic:


12.01 Lesson 1: MAKING AN ARGUMENT

Hopefully, after watching the video, “Argument Clinic," you got the distinction between “argument,” as we often use the word, and a real argument: a logical, reasoned, well-supported position. A good argument should stand on these three legs

  • Logic
  • Support (this means research)
  • Clear writing

Logic: So what is the difference between a logical conclusion and an emotional point of view? Look at these two sentences:

1. All high school students should take Calculus.

2. High school students do better in college if they have taken Calculus.

The first statement is an opinion based on personal taste--not arguable. The second is an argument--a judgment based in verifiable facts. To support this claim, you could find studies, information on college attrition rates, grades for students who did and who didn’t take calculus, etc.

Support: Without support your roof on your home would crash to the floor. Without support your arguments cannot stand.

  • To find support, you need to research. You need to find facts. If you want to argue the value of high school calculus, you have to have proof that calculus produces some measurable benefits.
  • Not only do you need facts, but they must come from reliable sources. Make sure that the information is current and that you have found similar information from more than one source.
  • Include quotes from reputable sources. Make sure you establish who those sources are and why they would be considered “experts.”
  • You need to research not only your position, but opposing arguments as well. You can only be convincing if you have understood and intelligently answered all counterarguments.

Clear Writing:

The pamphlet,"Clear Writing: Ten Principles of Clear Statement," from the University of Missouri has some suggestions. Read each of the ten principles and then bookmark this site so that you can visit it again when you are ready to write your essay.



teacher-scored 20 points possible 90 minutes

I’d like you now to take a critical look at two essays--same topic; different argument.

  • "The Organic Myth."
  • "New Study Finds Organic Veg 'May Be More Nutritious'"

To view these essays:

1. Access Pioneer Library either through your EHS course homepage or through the link below.  The log-in and password are located on your EHS homepage.

2. Once you log-in, a list of icons will appear.  Click the EBSCO Host icon at the top of the page.  

3. Next to the EBSCO icon, click “all databases.”  

4. Then a list of databases will pop up.  Click the one at the top titled “Academic Search Premier.”  

5. Next click “continue” and a search screen will finally pop up to allow you to search for the articles.

Use the "Research with EBSCO" link at the bottom of the page for a quick video that will show you how to find the articles.

For this assignment you will need to read these two articles and evaluate which article presents the better argument—which has the better logic, support, and clear discussion of the argument.

Copy and paste the section between the lines of asterisks into a word-processing document on your computer, and complete the outline as you read the two articles.  Save your work on your own computer.  Then, craft a 2-3 paragraph response which explains which article you believe has the better argument. Turn in the outlines and your evaluation response.


Article 1: Title________________________________

A.  THESIS:  What is the thesis? (What is the author’s topic and stance on that topic?)

Is the thesis based on opinion or fact-based judgment?

B.  SUPPORT: List the support for the thesis.  Include arguments, facts, examples, quotes, etc.

Are opposing arguments considered?

Do you see any statements that you would consider propaganda or logical fallacies?

C.  CONCLUSIONS:  Has the author made a clear and convincing argument? Why/why not?


Article 2: Title_________________________________

A.  THESIS:  What is the thesis? (What is the author’s topic and stance on that topic?)

Is the thesis based on opinion or fact-based judgment?

B.  SUPPORT: List the support for the thesis.  Include arguments, facts, examples, quotes, etc.

Are opposing arguments considered?

Do you see any statements that you would consider propaganda or logical fallacies?

C.  CONCLUSIONS:  Has the author made a clear and convincing argument? Why/why not?


Assessment Rubric:

Content   Shows thorough analysis of both essays and thesis statement shows your claim, or conclusion.   /4  
Support   Supporting paragraphs include specific detail from the texts proving the claim made in the thesis.   /4  
Clarity   Writing is clear, focused and well organized.   /4  
Conventions   No significant errors in grammar, usage, punctuation or spelling.   /4  
Extra Points   Outlines included with submission.   /4  

Pacing: complete this by the end of Week 7 of your enrollment date for this class.


12.02 - Lesson 2: CHOOSING A TOPIC

Now it’s your turn. A good argument says something important in a unique and powerful way and is supported with skillful research. To accomplish this, you must

Find a good topic

Consider and research both sides

Take a position Gather evidence.

Evaluate sources

Avoid logical fallacies or propaganda (Review your comparison of argument and propaganda from assignment 10.05)

I am going to ask you to write an argumentative essay in lesson 5, so let’s get started by choosing a topic. Your choice should be

  • Something that you care about (or would like to care about)
  • Something for which there is ample research material available—and is not dependent on purely opinions.
  • Something which has two legitimate “arguable” points of view.
  • Something which is NOT too emotionally charged to result in a rational conclusion. Abortion is an example of this. Think of the Monty Python skit—with the lack of substantial scientific evidence, a topic like abortion very often comes down to a “yes it is”--"no it isn’t” fight.
  • Something that is specific/narrow enough to handle well in one essay



teacher-scored 8 points possible 20 minutes

For this exercise, peruse the topic ideas and consider your own topic ideas. Jot down a list of the topics that sound interesting to you. Once you have a good list, look at the guidelines above to help you narrow your options down. Indicate your top two choices and turn your list in to me.

Assessment Rubric:

Content   List shows the required inquiry and research.   /8  

Pacing: complete this by the end of Week 7 of your enrollment date for this class.


Before I ask you to start researching your topic, I want to spend some time on evaluating online sources.

A. Take a minute to look at the two links for "Mankato, Minnesota." One of them is a legitimate website and the other is an entirely bogus one designed by a librarian to illustrate the need to critically evaluate information obtained on the Internet. Can you pick out the legitimate site?  How did you determine which was a hoax?

B. Most online sources will not be so easy to evaluate--so some tools are needed.  To get started, read this article entitled "Teaching Zack to Think"; It vividly demonstrates just why it is so important to be able to thoughtfully analyze a website.

So, for the second part of this activity, I would like you to provide a summary of the contents of the article emphasizing the three categories of information the author suggests you need to evaluate a web site.

The ability to critically assess and evaluate information on the Internet is an essential skill in the Information Age. To further augment your knowledge of critical evaluation tools, take a look at r the New York Times article entitled "How to Separate Good Data From Bad."

C. Once you feel confident that you've mastered some important critical evaluation skills, I would like you practice those skills on an Internet site by doing a website evaluation and analysis.

At this point, you should decide on a definite topic for your argumentative essay.  Start your research on this topic by choosing an internet site relating to it.  Then, once you have chosen a site, I'd like you to evaluate the site. Your evaluation should encompass the following criteria:

  • Content
    • What is in this website? (Make sure you state the title and URL of the website.)
    • How accurate and valuable is the content?
    • How well-written and interesting is the text? Is there real depth-of-content or is the information limited and superficial?
    • Do the sources of the information seem properly documented, or do you suspect or see signs of plagiarism or misinformation?
    • Is the information presented in an objective manner, with a minimum of bias? How current is the information (give dates of latest update if provided).
    • How appealing is the design of the website? (consider color, illustration, ease of reading, etc.) How well does the design fit with the purposes of the site?
    • Do you find the links to other sites useful? Do those links take you to trustworthy sites?
  • Purpose
    • What seem to be the primary purposes of this website? If you detect more than one purpose, discuss all of them.
    • Audience -  To whom is the website primarily addressed? (teachers, students of a particular age group, consumers, a certain cultural group, etc.) To what extent does the site succeed or fail in reaching this audience?
  • Author
    • Does this person appear to be knowledgeable about the content?
    • Does this person qualify as an authority or expert on the topic?
    • Can you contact this person from the site? Who sponsors the site?
  • Meta-Web Information
    • Where does the website reside?
    • What is the site's address/URL? Is the server at a school or university? A business? A governmental agency? Is this a personal page with a "~" or ".name" in the URL?
  • Conclusion & Recommendations Summarize your overall impressions of the site and discuss your recommendation for uses that students and/or classroom teachers might make of this site in or out of the classroom.





teacher-scored 16 points possible 40 minutes

Assessment Rubric:

Content   Analysis includes all the criteria listed.   /4  
Support   Specific explanation/examples support analysis of each criterion.   /4  
Clarity   Writing is clear, focused and well organized.   /4  
Conventions   No significant errors in grammar, usage, punctuation or spelling.   /4  

Pacing: complete this by the end of Week 7 of your enrollment date for this class.


Now you have looked at one source on your topic of choice, it's time to expand your research. 

For this step, you will need to identify, access, and evaluate a minimum of five credible resources in regards to your issue.  If you liked the source you evaluated for the previous assignment, you may use it as one of your sources. 

As you begin your research, it is important to remember that you should explore both sides of the issue. Perhaps one of the most useful resources for your research will be Pioneer Library, Utah's Online Library. Here you can find articles in local, national, and international newspapers as well as scholarly articles about a host of social issues. (Given the nature of this assignment, the SIRS Knowledge Source and EBSCO will prove especially useful.)

Your research, however, doesn’t need to be limited to the internet, try to access books magazines as well. Conduct your own interview or research if you can. The idea is to get a good grasp of the issue and to start your position on it. The results of your research efforts will be cast in the form of an annotated bibliography. An annotated bibliography, like a conventional bibliography, lists all the sources you have used in your research. In addition to the citation, however, an annotated bibliography includes a brief descriptive and evaluative paragraph to inform the reader of the relevance, accuracy, and quality of the sources cited.  An annotation, by nature, is fairly brief--approximately 100-150 words. It summarizes the central theme and scope of the reference source.  Since more of your sources will likely come from information on the Internet, continue to be mindful of issues of website credibility, and in your annotation, include a statement explaining how credible you feel the source is.

Annotations typically:

  • summarize the content of the source
  • analyze or critically evaluate the source
  • compare or contrast this work with other cited works
  • explain how this work relates to your theme or topic
  • point out valuable properties or qualities of the source in addition to the text
  • comment on the author's intellectual or academic credentials
  • identify possible bias or shortcomings in the work


A typical annotated citation for a web article, using “MLA documentation” would look something like the following example:

Doe, J. T. and Williams, W. R. "Parental supervision of television viewing and aggressive behavior in children." Journal of Television and Violence, 2 Jan. 1996. Web. 17 Feb.2014 <> 

The authors, researchers at Western State College, collected data from a group of 8 year olds to test their hypothesis that the amount of violence children saw on television relates to the aggressiveness of their behavior. They found that children who were allowed to watch evening police dramas and "made for TV" specials with abusive situations demonstrated increased aggressive behavior over children who were not permitted to watch these programs. The researchers did not find a connection between aggression in children and television violence as displayed in cartoons and news programs. Another study, conducted by Smith and Wesson, showed that the amount of television violence viewed by children does correlate with aggressive behavior. Smith and Wesson, however, do not consider the type of program viewed. The article by Doe and Williams is one of the few studies that examines aggressive behavior as it relates to different types of television programs.

Each citation for your bibliography needs to be in MLA format. Use the link below to help you with this. Another useful resource for putting together your bibliographic citations is the “Landmark Citation Machine.” This online tool enables you to identify the type of reference you need to cite. Then, by clicking the "Manual Entry Mode" it provides the necessary fields of information for you to fill in. Then you simply need to copy and paste the citation into your text file.



teacher-scored 20 points possible 120 minutes

Assessment Rubric:

Content   Contains at least 5 credible sources that represent multiple points of view.   /4  
Support   Annotations adequately summarize the source and evaluate the credibility of the source.   /4  
Clarity   Annotations are clear, focused and well organized.   /4  
Conventions   No significant errors in grammar, usage, punctuation or spelling   /4  
Citations   Citations are presented in alphabetical order and adhere to MLA format   /4  

Pacing: complete this by the end of Week 8 of your enrollment date for this class.

12.05 Lesson 5: DIALOGUE OF IDEAS

At this stage you should have been able to research both sides of your issue, and this activity will allow you to start to evaluate the controversies inherent in your issue.

Let two voices, A and B (or whatever you’d like to name them), discuss or argue your controversial issue. Set this down in dialogue form without stage directions. The main purpose of this is to produce as many ideas about the subject as possible, to explore all sides of an issue without feeling compelled to build up a single case that avoids contradictions. The very process of question-answer, parry-thrust, statement-response compels you, as the writer, to consider different sides of the issue. Be careful not to let A and B repeat themselves in circular fashion, or have a monologue in which B is too stupid or acquiescent to hold up his end. You also want to make sure that A and B are not just spouting unsupported opinions--or worse spinning those opinions with propaganda.

This assignment will be evaluated based on the degree to which you demonstrate your understanding of the issue from divergent perspectives. Your ability to develop a meaningful and coherent dialogue will also be considered.


teacher-scored 12 points possible 20 minutes

Assessment Rubric:

Content   Dialogue shows evidence of research into both sides of the issue.   /4  
Clarity   Writing is clear, focused and well organized.   /4  
Conventions   No significant errors in grammar, usage, punctuation or spelling.   /4  

Pacing: complete this by the end of Week 8 of your enrollment date for this class.


Now that you're firmly grounded in both sides of the issue, and you've had a chance to argue both sides--where do you stand? No fence sitting here.  Though you can conced that the opposing side has compelling arguments, you should be able to justify your stance with specific, and arguable superior, reasoning and evidence.

Based on your research and consideration of both sides of the controversial issue in question, you will now need to formulate a statement that effectively captures your personal stance on the issue. This statement will serve as the thesis statement for the argumentative essay you will then write. Your objective will be to defend the validity of your position by anticipating the opposing side's arguments, conceding their legitimacy where appropriate, countering with your own superior arguments, and offering a viable conclusion. I like to refer to this strategy as "The Four C's of Argumentation":

1. Context: This refers to the introductory portion of your essay where you provide any necessary background material for your audience to have an appreciable understanding of the basic nature of the issue. Consider giving examples, quoting authorities, or simply explaining the issue. If the issue might strike readers as unimportant, state explicitly why you think it is important and why, in your view, they should think so too. Somewhere in the introductory section of your essay, you need to clearly state your thesis (i.e., of the various sides to the issue, where do you stand?). You may want to consider qualifying your thesis to account for exceptions to your arguments. (You may find the following resource entitled "Writing introductions to argumentative essays" helpful for getting your essay started.)

2. Concede: Consider making concessions to the opposing viewpoint. Try to find common ground with opponents by acknowledging the legitimacy of their concerns. Show them where you share their values, interests, and assumptions. Note that this does not mean you're "giving in." Acknowledging the legitimacy of certain aspects of opposing viewpoints has the duel advantage of lessening the psychological distance between you and your opposition and mitigating the impact of that prospective argument when it is used against your position.

3. Counter: Having anticipated opposing arguments and made concessions where appropriate, you will need to refute opposing viewpoints and buttress your position with your own compelling arguments. Avoid attacking your opponents. Instead, provide solid evidence--quotes from authorities, case studies, facts and statistics from reputable sources--to convince your readers that you can objectively demonstrate the superiority of your position.

4. Conclude: In your concluding remarks, you may want to recap important points. Additionally, you could state a course of action or a direction the issue should take. You can restate a stronger point of view, more clarified than your original view of the issue, or you can propose a compromise. (You may find the following resource entitled "Writing conclusions to argumentative essays" helpful for concluding your essay.)

Remember, your essay should be an outgrowth of your previous work in this unit. You need to deal with the substance of the issue that you have discovered in the course of your research and exploration. Be careful to avoid the use of logical fallacies that cloud your logic and hamper your ability to effectively persuade your audience and make sure to provide a lot of solid evidence to substantiate your claims. Remember: LOGIC – SUPPORT - CLEAR WRITING.

Include a "works cited" section, and remember to use correct MLA documentation conventions. 

I’m not going to require you to turn in your rough drafts, but make sure that you turn in your essay only after you have proofread and revised to meet the standards set in the assessment rubric below.  Use the "proofreading checklist" link to help you polish your essay.

IMPORTANT:  Remember to turn you reading guide in here as well.


teacher-scored 24 points possible 90 minutes

Assessment Rubric:

Content   Strong thesis with clear position on issue.   /4  
Organization   Arguments are clearly organized using the 4-Cs model.   /4  
Support   Supporting paragraphs include arguments based on research, logic, and clear reasoning rather than opinion or emotion.   /4  
Clarity   Claims made and connections between arguments and supporting material are clear and focused.   /4  
Conventions   No significant errors in grammar, usage, punctuation or spelling.   /4  
Documentation   Citations are given in correct MLA format.   /4  

Pacing: complete this by the end of Week 8 of your enrollment date for this class.