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What Makes a Good Essay?
Questions-Teaching and Learning
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Spring Term Lessons-02

 

What Makes a Good Essay?
February 26, 2003

Title:

A title is a short phrase that lets us know what we can expect to read, generally speaking. (not a sentence) It can include a subtitle (more information). It is placed on top of the writing, centered, with the important words capitalized. A title written in all capitals, MY FRIEND AND I, is also correct.

Brad's opinion: Write the title last.

Class opinion: Could be done first (then changed) or done some time during the process.

Introduction:

An introduction is a way to introduce the reader to the exact topic you will discuss and to interest them in continuing. You will let the reader know of your body paragraph plan (thesis sentence). It does not necessarily specify each topic exactly. It is shorter by about 1/2 than any body paragraph.

Class opinion: Write it first (after the title).

Brad's opinion: Write it last (after everything else is done).

Body Paragraphs:

The body paragraph is the meat in the sandwich. These paragraphs are the same as you have written for assignment in the past.

Student opinion: Write these paragraphs third, after your title and introduction.

Teacher opinion. Write these paragraphs first, before any others. Before you make the sandwich, choose the meat.

Conclusion:

A conclusion is the ending and reminds us of the thesis. It refers to the opinions of the writer (generally and in a concise manner) and then ends gracefully.

Student opinion: The conclusion is written last, after all the other parts are complete.

Teacher opinion: The conclusion is written second, after the body, and before the introduction.

 

 

“Teaching and Learning” by Moira T. Carley
Discussion: Guided Reading and Group Work
February 26, 2003

Students spent an entire class discussing and deciphering a difficult text taken from an article in The Globe and Mail national newspaper. Questions and their answers follow.

Paragraph One

What is an “engaging lecture”?

An "engaging lecture" is a lecture that captures our attention and interest.

Why did the young man “mutter” his response to the teacher’s question?

He mutters because he didn't really want the teacher to hear what he said. So, this is the probably the truth from that young man and not the polite response he may give publicly.

Paragraph Two

Why do you think students “lose interest in learning for themselves”?

Students "lose interest" because they are studying to please the parents, studying to get a diploma, studying too much (overload) and so on.

What is a “state of robotic passivity”?

It is inactive like a robot and passive (like a sponge). Not thinking, but just listening and noting.

Do you agree with Carley on her points?

Yes, generally students agree with her.

Paragraph Three

Why is the “excitement” generated by learning “beyond what they [the students] can imagine”?

Because of boredom or past experience students cannot imagine anything better.

What is an “intelligent questioner”?

An "intelligent questioner" is a person who asks the question that needs to be asked and makes the questions for themselves.

Paragraph Four

Do you agree that lack of “imagination” leads to “boredom and despair” and “lack of hope”?

Yes, again this is generally true.

Is learning how to “pass exams” as important as human curiosity in your view?

No, in the teacher's opinion, it is not. Human curiosity is what leads to things like the discovery of vulcanization (accidentally by a person who spilled some rubber on a stove and imagined he should check its properties).

Paragraph Five

Why does Carley see computer use as positive? What is her caution (but)?

She sees computer use as positive because it gives the students more power and time to learn for themselves. Her caution is that this is only true with the application of “active human intelligence” to data (and that “mere data” is not a form of intelligence).

Paragraph Six

What are the two ways that teachers can act with their students?

A teacher can point to knowledge like a guide in a museum and make students repeat the knowledge on exams. Or, the teacher can “engage students” and make them work with their own intelligence.

Paragraph Seven

Do you also agree with Carley in this paragraph?

Yes, students (and the teacher) agree that to “drift mindlessly” is a common pattern and one, unfortunately, that is recognized by the students from many different countries represented in our classroom.

Paragraph Eight

What are the four levels of consciousness of an “active learner”?

“Being attentive to data.”

“Intelligent questioning”

“Making reasonable judgments”

“Responsible maker of value decisions”

Paragraph Nine

Why would teaching football players be “daunting”?

There is a common image of players as being not very bright and more interested in physical exercise than in academic subjects.

Paragraph Ten

Do you agree with the teacher that using information from football (“run to daylight”) helps to explain a complex idea?

Yes, we find the analogy a good one, overall. It becomes easier to understand any new idea by comparing it to something we know well.

 

Three Poems for Study

This week, the class looked at Three Poems for Study. Our discussions covered a broad range of topics, including poetic uses of sound, rhythm, metaphor, and paradox.

The Three Oddest Words: Wislawa Szymborska

The poet's title says that these three words are the most unusual in the language. The ideas here are somewhat strange. Also, for some, the ideas are generally known and typical in their thinking. (study philosophy; others are Buddhist)

The first two lines speak of something that is scientifically true. When a word is spoken, the first syllable of any word exists in the past before you say the second syllable. The question from this line might be, "Does the present time really exist?"

Paradox: something is both true and not true at the same time. For example, "If you hurry, you will be even more late than before." OR "I never tell the truth. "(Well, is what he says now, "the truth"?

Maybe she wants us to think, be disturbed and irritated, since when we are in this condition, we are paying attention. The attention is, perhaps, what the poet wants from us.

Erosion: E. J. Pratt

The literal meaning of the poem is the sea shapes a cliff over a long period of time. The same sea can shape a woman's face in only one hour.

There is more to this than the words. Perhaps the poet speaks in metaphor. Life can change quickly. A woman's face can be changed by one calamity. The storm is a metaphor for some life event that is terrible.

When reading the poem, it has a strong and clear rhythm. Trace and base and place and face all rhyme. Words that have the same vowel sound or vowel and consonant sound at the end are rhyming. So, "cat" rhymes with "hat." Also, "ray" rhymes with "pay."

Dark Pines Under Water: Gwendolyn MacEwen

The first and second lines show alliteration, repeating the first consonant sounds in words like "land" and "like" or "forest" and "furtive."

"This land like a mirror" is a special kind of metaphor (comparing two things) called simile. "you become a forest" is metaphor (the explorer "becomes" a forest)

The words"pines" and "mind" or "dream" and "green" have the same vowel sounds, but different consonants at the beginning and end of the word. This is called assonance and is also called near rhyme or slant rhyme.

Is the sound of "g" the same as "gr"? No, so really it is not complete alliteration.

Rhyme on one syllable is masculine. Rhyme on two (or more) syllables is feminine. So, "deeper" and "sleeper" are feminine rhyme.

If two words, such as "world" and "told" are used, which have different first consonant sounds and different vowel sounds they show consonance. (but, also, near or slant rhyme)

 

 

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