If you're only going to buy one assignment on this site ever, this should be the one. While it's called a "Love" project, it can easily be adapted to ANY persuasive writing assignment (I even highlighted the areas you'd need to change). Honestly, in twelve years of teaching, no assignment has provided students with such a foolproof and lasting method for creating excellent papers.
The assignment begins with an introduction that encourages students to pick the right topic and create a thesis that will make the rest of the paper easier to write.
The second part of the assignment is to find sources and fill out source cards, which are in the template. Of course, you don't need to use all ten source cards, but if I could get regular (16-19 skills bands) freshmen to write papers using ten sources, I bet you can get your kids to do the same. I also forced students to use all kinds of sources, but you can limit them to books or movies or poems. Once you have the file, just make a few changes.
The third main part of the assignment is the paper template itself, which is a basic MELCon template with a few of my own bits of advice as tool tips. ANY student can fill out this template. ANY student can copy and paste their own words into the final paper.
Be sure to grade the templates, since some students will try to skip them. Maybe if you're using this assignment with seniors, you can allow it more, but I tried to get the freshmen to fill it all out.
Another handy section of the assignment includes basic instructions for creating a presentation based on the assignment. Some of these turned out very well, and I could see it as a very valuable version of a research assignment without having to create the entire paper or a way to divide the assignment for partners.
The last part of the document you will receive includes links to examples. You do not have to let your students see them, but you should see the few that I could track down. I proud;y used these or similar papers as exemplars for my school's senior composition teacher because I'd taught senior composition and often did not get the results these freshmen were providing. Remember their age when you see the papers and then imagine using this basic assignment every year throughout high school, maybe eventually abandoning the template and allowing a bit more freedom.
This assignment is perfect for English classes using textual analysis, but it can be used in ANY classroom that uses a writing or presentation element. It is perfect of social studies and should help reduce the plagiarism I saw too often from students in history classes. It lends itself nicely to a science class writing assignment, and yes, you should be writing in science. Use it with art or music (in fact, the sources included images and song lyrics). World languages can benefit from the organization.
The one thing to keep in mind is that it takes a lot of work (from the students, not the teacher). Students like to skip a lot of work. Do not let them. This method of writing will help them throughout high school, ACT or SAT essay writing, college, and even in that elusive career that requires five-page papers. Whether you're a teacher, an administrator, a school board member, or a parent, you should have access to this assignment in order to see the possibilities.
I combined about four different assignments into this one project, and I estimate that it took dozens of hours over a dozen years to get it to this point. Do you have time for all that?
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