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2014-2015 8th Grade Essays

Essay Rubric: Minimum Criteria for Grading 
(don't submit until these have been met)
          _____  1.  MLA Format (4 lines, exact)
_____  2.  Double Spaced (formatted--no hard returns)
  1. _____  3.  12-point Times Roman

    _____  4.  1 and 1/2 pages (or more) with a minimum of three paragraphs (beginning, middle, end)

    _____  5.   Attention grabbing title specific to the paper that draws the reader in

    _____  6.  Grade level punctuation (capitals, end punctuation, spacing, apostrophes, etc.)

    _____  7.  Grade level grammar and spelling; no run-on sentences, no fragments, accurate word choice, pronoun consistency, academic essay vocabulary (vs texting, email, informal), verb tense consistency

    _____  8.  Introductory paragraph with an effective hook that makes the reader want more (flashback, foreshadow, scenario, dialogue, narrative, quote exploration, etc.--show, don’t tell)

    _____  9.  Concluding paragraph that synthesizes the information in the essay and leaves the reader with a "so what"--why is what you have to say important; have value?

    _____  10.  Feedback (one positive comment, one suggestion) from two other sets of eyes (parent and peer). Proofread and make corrections, revise, using feedback. 

Explanatory Figurative Language Essay 

Topic: detail a search for something positive (something beautiful, courageous, fun, interesting, attractive, breathtaking, incredible, loving,, etc.). 

Prewrite: read the book Something Beautiful (in-class power point). 

Assignment:  Write a 1.5 page essay meeting minimum criteria on the different definitions of one of the traits above (or an adjective of your choice).. Minimum of at least three perspectives (three interviews) and three examples for each of the three perspectives (minimum five paragraphs). Must include three figurative devices UNDERLINED! 

Objectives/I CANs: 
Recognize we see the world differently--even commonly defined terms. Reflect on what is valuable to you, and what is not.  Organize a 5-paragraph essay (three traits sandwiched between a solid intro and solid conclusion). Show competency on Google Docs, write/submit grade level narrative paper on time, in MLA format. Use figurative language in creative writing

Paragraph #1) Introduction (hook with thesis, transition)
Paragraph #2) Define trait and give three examples/evidences
Paragraph #3) Define the same trait from a different perspective and give three examples/evidences
Paragraph #4) Define the same trait from a third perspective and give three examples/evidences
Paragraph #5 Conclusion--include reflection, why it matters

Explanatory Essay Civil Rights Movement

Topic: The Civil Rights Movement

Brainstorming/BackgroundRead Nightjohn; saw in-class video on history, leaders and events of The Civil Rights Movement (took notes); reading "The Watsons Go to Birmingham"

Assignment:  Write a 1.5 page essay meeting minimum criteria. showing competency in I CAN assessments listed below. Use imagery in a hook with a scenario or reflection; 3 part thesis, color coded to match body paragraphs, conclusion with summary and analysis, Minimum 3 intext citations; Works Cited page with URLs

Objectives/I CANs: 
1--W8.2a, 2--W82.b, 3--W8.2c, 4--W8.2d, 5--L8.3a, 6--W8.4.d, 7--W8.5, 8--W8.6, 9--L8.2, 10--W8.8

Essays receive points for a many aspects including those listed above, pre-planning (outlining, brainstorming, collaborating, etc.), the writing itself, and "I CAN" skills from the Core.
“I CAN” Key: 1--minimal, 2--almost, 3--adequate, 4--effective 

Due Dates
Computer Lab Notes (8 steps; must follow exactly; points are all or nothing)

in computer lab Researching  and writing 3 body paragraphs (historical background, leaders, events during) about the Civil Rights Movement (3-4 days)

3 Body Paragraphs going from general (from the movie clip) to specific, using evidence/details from personal research (URLs cut and pasted on Works Cited page), rubric, outline, movie notes

Corrections on 3 body paragraphs; SIS scores (send me an EMAIL once it's ready for me to look at again):
            0 Not shared correctly (I can't access it to grade)
            1 almost, but not quite; needs more before grading; can get full points once fixed (see my comments   on essay) 
            2 shared but not finished. Can still get 50% of the points on this part of the assignment

Intro paragraph with reflection or scenario hook using imagery (see examples below and on  attached pages), 3-part thesis statement, color-coded to correspond with the parts/paragraphs; header (last name and page #).

Conclusion with transition, summary of thesis and essay, answering the question "so what?" why is it important (reflection/analysis). Works Cited page with URLs (where they researched). At least 3 in-text citations. 

Points for Essay Assignments:
10 pts     Followed Lab Notes
5 pts     In-class Movie notes (must SEE movie to use/count it as a reference)
10 pts     Completed Outline
5 pts      Rubric in on time 10/1
40 pts    3 body paragraphs/parts. General info based on in-class movie notes, ending with specifics on  two different items (evidence/details) in each part, based on personal research.  URLs cut and             pasted on bottom of the page. 
            1 part/paragraph--history leading up to Civil Rights Movement (such as slavery, Civil War, formation of KKK,                 Plessy vs. Ferguson, segregation, etc.) 
            2 part/paragraph--Civil Rights Movement leaders (such as MLK, Malcolm X, Rosa Parks, Robert & JFK,                     NAACP, etc.)
            3 part/paragraph--Events DURING the Civil Rights Movement (such as Jackie Robinson, Brown vs. Board of                    Education; March on Washington, Freedom Riders, Montgomery Bus Boycott, Birmingham                     School Bombing, Little Rock 9, etc.) 

15 pts Introductory Part/Paragraph with imagery and 3-part thesis; color-coded; header
15 pts Conclusion Part/Paragraph with transition, summary, answering the question "so what?" with analysis
                   page break before Works Cited Page; at least 3 intext citations
40-80 pts   I CAN skills (10)  PASSING THESE SKILLS--see Blue Rubric-- IS THE OBJECTIVE

140-180 Points total (10 affiliated tests/I CANs)

      Helpful Resource!

See Examples of this year's PJHS student papers (except conclusion) at the bottom of this page: 

#5 Civil Rights Movement


Sample Introduction and First Paragraph

Kelsey White


English 1, The Civil Rights Movement

October 7, 2014


Part/Paragraph 1, Introduction including reflection or scenario hook with imagery, and the color-coded thesis statement: 
        The hold was rank from the sweat of the hundreds of bodies shoved, shoulder-to-shoulder in the bowels of the ship. Chains bound the bodies together, a physical reminder that they were tied together by their suffering, fear, and dark future. It was a grotesque, ominous foreshadowing of what was in store for them and their descendants over the next few centuries. It was not until The Civil Rights Movement in the 1940s, 50s, 60s, 70s--and some argue even today--that black Americans were seen as equal to white people, and that the laws of the land supported that perspective. However, few disagree that The Civil Rights Movement was the turning point. But it did not just happen. Significant historical events led to awareness, people stepped up and took leadership roles, and a myriad of life-changing movements, boycotts, marches--rebellion--resulted in a strong, definitive push toward creating a more equal society for Black Americans. 

Part/Paragraph 2, part 1 of the thesis statement, background/historical events leading to The Civil Rights Movement: 

         The history of slavery in America set the stage for black oppression. In the 1600s, shortly after the first permanent English settlements in America, slave traders ravaged the coasts of Africa, stealing black natives who brought them hundreds of dollars on the block in places like North Carolina and Virginia. It was an inhumane beginning. About 100 years later, Americans fiercely fought each other in the Civil War--a war between the northern and southern states--to end the inequality and abuse. There is no question that white people--depending on geography, religion, culture, and maybe heart-- looked at black people as being "different," Following the Civil War, rabid, angry Southerners passed Jim Crow laws that effectively barred blacks from things such as voting, holding public office, eating in public places, and having their voice heard. The Klu Klux Klan, formed shortly after the end of the Civil War enforced and perpetuated the violence and prejudice, especially in the South. In 1896, Plessy vs. Ferguson, came before The Supreme Court. The highest court in the land ruled that segregation based on skin color was legal. Over the next 40-50 years, segregation justified the “separate but equal” doctrine that kept blacks under-educated and in poverty. But the 50s and 60s saw the rise of some great leaders--people who were unwilling to sit back and let the status quo remain unchallenged. 

Part/Paragraph 3, part 2 of the thesis statement, leaders instrumental in The Civil Rights Movement)                         

leadership paragraph

Part 4, part 3 of the thesis statement, events during The Civil Rights Movement: 

events paragraph
Part 5, conclusion, answers the question "so what?" and analyzes the importance and impact of The Civil Rights Movement:   

Works Cited

Avoid Pronouns: 
Avoid using pronouns such as I, you, we, etc. in academic essays avoid talking directly to the reader in a folksy way using filler words such as: so, okay, I think, ummm, anyways, well, etc. Develop voice using word choice and description--make it personal, not informal (save those for texting, emails, letters, etc.). 

A strong conclusion includes:

"The conclusion (ending or closing) of your writing is what wraps it all up for the reader. Stop writing when you have said it all, but the conclusion should tie up all loose ends. Do not leave the reader hanging. Leave him/her with something to think about. Do not insult the reader by telling him/her what you have written about. Also, do not use the lead as the conclusion; you can restate what you wrote in the lead, but do not just repeat it. NEVER end with "...and it was all a dream." That has been overdone. Below are some ideas on how to write a good conclusion. Remember that not every type of lead will work for every writer or for every piece of writing. You'll have to experiment." --Kim's Korner

1) the importance of the topic/opinion 
2) a sense of completeness
3) a powerful final impression

Conclusion suggestions:
1) Answer the question "so what?" (why is the paper useful/meaningful)
2) Synthesize as you summarize (don't just repeat the main points. Show how the points you made were not random, but that they fit together)
3) Give your readers something to think about. If the intro was general and then you got specific, do the opposite in the conclusion--go from specific to general. 
4) Create a new meaning by showing how your ideas work together and create something new (the sum of a paper is worth more than its parts :-)
5) Universalize (compare to other situations)
6) Ask a provocative question, use a quote, end with a warning, suggest results or consequences (these suggestions are not as effective as 1-5)

Strategies to Avoid
1) Beginning the conclusion with an unnecessary, overused phrase such as “in conclusion,” “in summary,” or “in closing.” Although these phrases can work in speeches, they come across as wooden and trite in writing
2) Stating the thesis for the very first time in the conclusion
3) Introducing a new idea or subtopic in your conclusion
4) Ending with a rephrased thesis statement without any substantive changes
5) Making sentimental, emotional appeals that are out of character with the rest of an analytical paper
6) Including evidence (quotations, statistics, etc.) that should be in the body of the paper.
7) That's my story and I'm sticking to it--I don't care if you agree. People write this kind of conclusion when they can’t think of anything else to say--but they come across as being inflexible and narrow-minded. 
8) The “Grab Bag” Conclusion. This kind of conclusion includes extra information that the writer found or thought of but couldn’t integrate into the main paper. 

Signaling a Conclusion (transition words)
Sometimes “conclusion” words like these will help you write the conclusion of an essay. Most of the time, using the word or phrase in the middle of a
sentence is better than making it the first word of the conclusion. These are not words typically used in a narrative essay--but might come in handy:

in fact
in conclusion 
for these reasons
as a result of
in effect
to sum up
all in all
due to
in effect