What Makes a Good Essay?
February 26, 2003
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
Brad's opinion: Write the title last.
Class opinion: Could be done first (then
changed) or done some
time during the process.
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).
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
Teacher opinion. Write these paragraphs first, before any others.
Before you make the sandwich, choose the meat.
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
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.
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.
What is an “engaging lecture”?
An "engaging lecture" is a lecture that captures our attention and
Why did the young man “mutter” his response to the teacher’s
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.
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
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.
Why is the “excitement” generated by learning “beyond what they [the
students] can imagine”?
Because of boredom or past experience students cannot imagine
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.
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
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).
Why does Carley see computer use as positive? What is her caution
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
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.
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.
What are the four levels of consciousness of an “active learner”?
“Being attentive to data.”
“Making reasonable judgments”
“Responsible maker of value decisions”
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.
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.
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
"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
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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