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Journal Format. Start by putting your name and the journal # in the upper left hand corner. Also include what time the class meets (mornings/afternoons) No MLA format on journals. Skip down a line and begin your answer. Answering the Question.

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Journal format
Journal Format

  • Start by putting your name and the journal # in the upper left hand corner. Also include what time the class meets (mornings/afternoons) No MLA format on journals.

  • Skip down a line and begin your answer.


Answering the question
Answering the Question

  • Always begin with your topic claim and make sure it directly answers the question in the form of an argument.

    Question: After reading the opening section of The Last Stand, Julia Butterfly Hill's reading, and seeing the HWC's PowerPoint, I'd like to know what you think about this history.  Start with a thesis sentence (underline it) and support your idea with evidence that you've heard or read about in our study.

    Wrong: After reading about this issue, I hope to learn more about how man interacts with nature. (Doesn’t answer the question and not an argument.)

    Wrong: After these readings, I have learned a lot about Palco, Julia Butterfly Hill, and clearcutting. (Doesn’t answer the question and not an argument.)

    Right: Charles Hurwitz acquired the company without being prosecuted, he has complied with the statutes concerning timber harvest plans, and the trees that he has cut have been on private land; thus, as the majority stock holder, he has every right to do the things described in these readings.


Evidence to prove your point
Evidence to Prove Your Point

  • Following the topic sentence, you should provide evidence in the form of quotes, paraphrases, or ideas.

  • One method to do this is to introduce an idea followed by specific evidence, i.e., a chunk.

    Example: (idea) Palco’s clearcutting policy has had serious negative consequences for people in the affected watersheds. (evidence) For example, after only minor rainfall in the Freshwater, Mattole, and Elk River watersheds, severe flooding is occuring.


Multiple chunks
Multiple Chunks

  • The topic sentence might be followed by about three chunks, with the chunks organized in emphatic order, from least important to most important. Or they might be arranged chronologically to mimic a sequence of events.


Common errors
Common Errors

  • Drop “I feel,” “I think,” “I believe.” Instead just state your thought.

  • Avoid generalizing about a text. Provide specific evidence from the text and use quotes too.

  • Very important: Don’t merely summarize evidence; rather, analyze it. Instead of telling us what we’ve already read, tell us what the implications of these facts are.

  • Don’t use questions as your key claim for your journals: they are hooks to come to arguments. Also don’t use questions for a thesis or topic sentences. Again, questions are a means to lead to your argument.

  • When you answer the question in your first sentence, don’t let that sentence be a paragraph unto itself; rather, let it open out onto a full paragraph that further explores that idea.


More common errors
More Common Errors

Remember, authors don’t “say” anything: they “write, posit, argue, point out, exemplify…”

Try to keep your journals to one paragraph, unless you’ve written two pages.

Don’t use an ellipsis at the start of an embedded quote.

Essay titles (from readings) go in quotes; books, films, websites are in italics. Underlining is for the typewriter age.


Consider your opposition
Consider Your Opposition

  • An argument will typically be more complete if it consider the strongest argument that the opposition offers—and then undermines that claim.

    Example: Hurwitz typically argues that he operates within the law and has benefitted workers and the community (through taxes, services employed, and scholarships. However, this argument ignores the much larger cost that Palco has thrown off on our county, which consists of harm to endangered species, negative watershed effects, unemployment and its fallout, and ultimately the effect of the company’s bankruptcy—which are costs that Palco will do everything in its power to avoid shouldering.


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