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Making a Strong Argument & Writing a Good Essay PowerPoint Presentation
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Making a Strong Argument & Writing a Good Essay

Making a Strong Argument & Writing a Good Essay

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Making a Strong Argument & Writing a Good Essay

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  1. Making a Strong Argument & Writing a Good Essay

  2. Mission Statement • The purpose of this PowerPoint is to help you learn how to write a persuasive essay in which you convince the reader of something. • The guidelines in this PowerPoint will not apply to every single persuasive essay you write in your life. Different audiences have different expectations. However, these guidelines will apply to the persuasive essays you write in WCCP I, and understanding them will make you a stronger writer and critical thinker. • You’ll get your first chance to practice writing a persuasive essay in our class next Monday, Oct. 14th, when you’ll write a 5-paragraph essay attempting to convince me either that (1) the Neolithic Revolution was a step forward for humankind, or (2) the Neolithic Revolution was a step backward for humankind.

  3. Part One – Before You Write an Essay(this is what you’ll do before Monday, October 14th)

  4. Step 1. Understand the Question • Let’s say you’re assigned to write an essay answering the following question: “Who is currently the best NBA player?” • First, you need to understand the question. You need to make sure you know what the NBA is and what “best” means to you.

  5. Step 2. Gather Evidence • Read about basketball players and gather evidence that will help you answer your question. Keep track of where you got your information. For example: -In 2013, Carmelo Anthony scored the most points per game (28.7). [Source 1] -In 2013, Rajon Rando had the most assists per game (11.1). [Source 1] -In 2013, Chris Paul had the most steals per game (2.4). [Source 1] -In 2013, LeBron James made the most baskets (765). [Source 2] -In 2013, Kobe Bryant took the most shots (1595). [Source 2] -In 2013, Omer Asik grabbed the most rebounds (956). [Source 3] -In 2013, Serge Ibaka had the most blocks (242). [Source 3] -In 2013, Kevin Durant scored the most points (2280). [Source 3] -In 2013, Lebron James won the MVP and the NBA Finals MVP [Source 4]. -Etc. [NOTE: This assumes that you’ve written down what Source 1 is, what Source 2 is, etc. on a separate piece of paper]

  6. Step 3. Decide What You Think • For example, you might decide, after doing all the research, that the best player in the NBA right now is LeBron James.

  7. Step 4. Gather More Evidence • Find additional evidence to support your thesis. For example: -LeBron James has won four MVP awards [Source 5] -LeBron James has won the NBA title the last two years in a row [Source 6] -In February 2013, LeBron James became the first player to score 30 points and shoot better than 60 percent in six straight games [Source 7] -After playing against LeBron, Nicolas Batum said, “You have to play him tough and we did that. But, I mean, we’re just human. He’s not.” [Source 7] -After playing against LeBron, Elliot Williams said, “I’ve never seen anything like him. That was amazing.” [Source 7] -LeBron’s teammate Dwyane Wade said, “He’s off the planet right now. He’s not even the best basketball player on the planet. He’s surpassed the planet. He’s somewhere else. He’s playing phenomenal.” [Source 7] -etc. [NOTE: This assumes that you’ve written down what Source 5 is, what Source 6 is, etc. on a separate piece of paper]

  8. Step 5. Make an Outline to Organize Your Evidence • Put your evidence into different categories. Make sure you don’t repeat the same piece of evidence in multiple categories. For example: • Category 1: Statistics -LeBron James made the most baskets in 2013 (765) [Source 2] -In February 2013, LeBron James became the first player to score 30 points and shoot better than 60 percent in six straight games [Source 7] -Etc.

  9. Step 5 (continued) • Category 2: Awards & Championships -LeBron James won four MVP Awards [Source 5] -LeBron James won the NBA Finals MVP in 2013 [Source 4] -LeBron James won the championship the last two years in a row [Source 6] -Etc. • Category 3: Other Players’ Views -After playing against LeBron, Nicolas Batum said, “You have to play him tough and we did that. But, I mean, we’re just human. He’s not.” [Source 7] -After playing against LeBron, Elliot Williams said, “I’ve never seen anything like him. That was amazing.” [Source 7] -LeBron’s teammate Dwyane Wade said, “He’s off the planet right now. He’s not even the best basketball player on the planet. He’s surpassed the planet. He’s somewhere else. He’s playing phenomenal.” [Source 7] -Etc.

  10. Step 6. Write a Thesis Statement • Your Thesis Statement is one sentence in which you (1) tell the reader what your argument is, and (2) briefly summarize what your main categories of evidence will be. For example: • LeBron James is the best player in today’s NBA, as demonstrated by his impressive statistics, his many awards and championships, and statements made by awestruck teammates and opponents alike.

  11. Part Two – Writing an Essay(this is what you’ll do in class on Monday, October 14th)

  12. Step 1. Write an Intro Paragraph • In your intro paragraph, you should do three things: • First, have a section heading that says Introduction. This helps your reader know what’s going on. • Second, introduce the topic and provide any background that your reader will need in order to be able to understand what’s going on. • Third, end your intro paragraph with your thesis statement.

  13. Example Intro Paragraph Introduction The National Basketball Association, or NBA, is a sport in which extremely talented athletes perform high-flying feats in an attempt to help their team score the most points. While many NBA players are remarkable, one towers above the rest. LeBron James is the best player in today’s NBA, as demonstrated by his impressive statistics, his many awards and championships, and statements made by awestruck teammates and opponents alike.

  14. Step 2. Write Body Paragraph #1 • Each body paragraph will present one category of evidence. In each body paragraph, you should do three things: • First, provide a Section Heading – a short phrase, underlined, above the paragraph. The reader should be able to glance at this and have a sense of what the paragraph will be about. • Second, the paragraph should start with a Topic Sentence – an explanation of how the category of evidence in this paragraph supports your overall point. • Third, the paragraph should walk through each piece of evidence in the category that this paragraph’s about. You should provide at least three separate pieces of evidence.

  15. Example Body Paragraph #1 Statistics While a basketball player cannot be defined by numbers alone, LeBron James’s statistical dominance helps to demonstrate what a truly superior player he is. For example, in 2013, he scored more baskets (765) than any other player in the league. [Source 2] Furthermore, he is the only player in the history of the NBA to score 30 points and shoot better than 60 percent in six straight games. [Source 7] Etc… (Note: This is only two pieces of evidence. A good paragraph would have at least three!)

  16. Step 3. Write Body Paragraph #2 • This is the same as Body Paragraph #1, except with the next category of evidence. Again, you’ll want a section heading, a topic sentence, and then lots of evidence.

  17. Example Body Paragraph #2 Awards & Championships In addition to his statistical dominance, LeBron James’s superior talent is also demonstrated by the numerous awards he has won. For example, he has been voted the Most Valuable Player four times. [Source 5] Last year, he was voted the Most Valuable Player in the NBA Finals [Source 4], and in fact, he has carried his team to the NBA Championship the last two years in a row. [Source 6] Etc…

  18. Step 4. Write Body Paragraph #3 • This is the same as Body Paragraph #2, except with the next category of evidence. Again, you’ll want a section heading, a topic sentence, and then lots of evidence.

  19. Example Body Paragraph #3 Accolades From Other Players Finally, perhaps the best evidence of how dominant LeBron James is comes from the testimony of those who have shared a basketball court with him. Nicolas Batum, for example, said the following after losing to LeBron’s Miami Heat: “You have to play him tough and we did that. But, I mean, we’re just human. He’s not.” [Source 7] And then there’s LeBron’s teammate, Dwyane Wade, who observed that LeBron is “off the planet right now. He’s not even the best basketball player on the planet. He’s surpassed the planet. He’s somewhere else. He’s playing phenomenal.” [Source 7] Etc… (Note: This is only two pieces of evidence. A good paragraph would have at least three!)

  20. Step 5. Write Your Conclusion • Your conclusion should do three things: • First, have a section heading titled Conclusion. (It might seem silly, but it makes life easier for the reader.) • Second, very briefly sum up what you just told the reader in your body paragraphs. • Third, offer the reader a broad “takeaway thought” that’s related to what you’ve already written about, but also invites the reader to think about some sort of larger issue.

  21. Example Conclusion Conclusion In short, LeBron James’s otherworldly statistics, his numerous awards and championships, and the breathless tributes offered by rivals and teammates alike demonstrate that he is the best player in the NBA right now. Perhaps the only two questions left to ponder are these: First, will he end up being the greatest basketball player of all time? And second, will he use the fame and wealth that he’s accumulated over the course of his career to change the world for the better? Is it even fair in the first place to think that he should?

  22. So, To Sum Up, Your Essay Should Be Structured Like This: • Introduction (say what you’re going to say) I. Introductory information II. Thesis is the last sentence • Body (say it) I. Paragraph 1 is point 1 of thesis II. Paragraph 2 is point 2 of thesis III. Paragraph 3 is point 3 of thesis • Conclusion (say what you just said) I. Conclude what you said in previous paragraphs II. Attempt to make a larger observation about the topic

  23. Part Three – A Few Things To Watch Out For

  24. Bears!!! (Note: This is not essay-related. It’s just a good idea to watch out for bears.)

  25. Series Agreement in Thesis • I often see Thesis Statements like this: • (Wrong) “LeBron James is the best player because he has put up impressive statistics, he has won several awards, and accolades from other players.” • Here’s the problem with that statement -- the three parts of it aren’t in series agreement. What I mean is this: • “he has put up impressive statistics” • “he haswon several awards” • “accolades from other players” [no verb – boo, hiss] • If you took out the middle clauses, you’d be left with this: “LeBron James is the best basketball player because accolades from other players.” That isn’t a sentence and makes no sense. Here’s how you fix it: • (Right) “LeBron James is the best player because he has put up impressive statistics, he has won several awards, and he has received accolades from other players.”

  26. First Person • Avoid saying “I.” I know that you’re telling me your view. • Wrong Twice: I believe LeBron James is the best NBA player because he has put up impressive statistics, he has won several awards, and accolades from other players. • Wrong Once: I believe LeBron James is the best NBA player because he has put up impressive statistics, he has won several awards, and he has received accolades from other players. • Wrong Zero Times: LeBron James is the best NBA player because he has put up impressive statistics, he has won several awards, and he has received accolades from other players.

  27. Citing Your Sources • Whenever you provide a piece of evidence, you need to tell the reader where it came from. • Later in the year, we’ll talk at length about how to do proper footnotes. • For purposes of this paper, whenever you cite a specific piece of information, just indicate in parentheses at the end of the sentence where you found it. Use “Crash” for the Crash Course video, “GGS pg. __” for the Guns, Germs & Steel packet, and “Chimp pg. __” for the 3rd Chimpanzee reading. Always be sure to provide the page number your info comes from (except, of course, if it’s from the Crash Course video). • Examples: • As a result of the Neolithic Revolution, it is possible to buy a 490-calorie double cheeseburger for the amount of money that a minimum-wage worker in the United States earns in 11 minutes. (Crash) • As a result of the Neolithic Revolution, Eurasia developed more sophisticated weaponry and more diseases than the Americas (GGS pgs. 2-4) • As a result of the Neolithic Revolution, people practiced less infanticide (Chimp pgs. 189-190).

  28. Acknowledging and Refuting Inconvenient Evidence • The strongest essays will acknowledge counter-arguments and then shoot them down. For example, the next slide offers an even better version of Body Paragraph # 2 from before, in which an anti-LeBron argument is considered and refuted.

  29. Example of Acknowledging and Refuting Inconvenient Evidence Awards & Championships In addition to his statistical dominance, LeBron James’s superior talent is also demonstrated by the numerous awards he has won. For example, he has been voted the Most Valuable Player four times. [Source 5] Last year, he was voted the Most Valuable Player in the NBA Finals [Source 4], and in fact, he has carried his team to the NBA Championship the last two years in a row. [Source 6] Of course, some people have argued that the only reason LeBron James won those two championships is that he heartlessly and gutlessly abandoned the good people of Cleveland in order to join with the supremely talented Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh in Miami, and that LeBron never would have won without Wade and Bosh. [Source 9] However, those critics ignore the fact that Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh were injured and either played badly or not at all during significant portions of the Miami Heat’s championship run, and that LeBron James at times carried the Heat to victory practically single-handedly. [Source 10]

  30. Avoid Redundancy • Don’t use the same piece of evidence in more than one body paragraph.

  31. Avoid Redundancy • Don’t use the same piece of evidence in more than one body paragraph.

  32. A Few Stylistic Things • As mentioned above, use section headings. These become even more useful as you write longer essays. • Put page numbers in the bottom right corner. They should be formatted “page ___ of ___.” This will make things easier for the reader. • Indent every paragraph. • If you’re typing, double-space your essay. If you’re hand-writing, skip a line between each line you write. This way there will be room for me to write comments. • Proofread for grammar, spelling, etc. • Look over the rubric to see how your essay will be graded.

  33. Zombies Also not essay-related (one hopes). But definitely something to watch out for.

  34. Part Four: Some Stuff Specific to the Neolithic Revolution Essay

  35. Introduction Paragraph • In your introduction, you’ll want to be sure to: • Define “Neolithic Revolution.” • Explain exactly what you mean by “a step forward/ backward.” • Provide a thesis statement listing three categories of evidence you’ll point to in order to convince the reader that the Neolithic Revolution was either GOOD or BAD. • Example Thesis Statement 1: “The Neolithic Revolution was a step forward for humankind, because it led to more complex societies, advancements in technology, and healthier lifestyles.” • Example Thesis Statement 2: “The Neolithic Revolution was a step backward for humankind, because it led to worse diets, more disease, and social inequality.

  36. Topic Sentences • You’ll want to make sure that the first sentence of each body paragraph (the topic sentence) indicates what category of evidence you’re about to provide, and also explains how that evidence is related to your overall argument that the Neolithic Revolution was a step forward (or backward). For example (going with Thesis Statement 2 on the previous slide): • Topic Sentence 1: The Neolithic Revolution was a step backward because it led to people eating less balanced diets and therefore being much less healthy. For example, paleo-pathologists have reported that…. • Topic Sentence 2: The Neolithic Revolution was a step backward because it led to people suffering far more disease. As Jared Diamond explained in Guns, Germs & Steel, disease is more common when…. • Topic Sentence 3: The Neolithic Revolution was a step backward because it led to far more social and gender inequality. For example….

  37. Finally, if you have any questions, you should not wait until Monday, Oct. 14th. Please talk to me or email me beforehand! On Monday, Oct. 14th, you should walk into class with:1) Paper and pen (or a fully charged computer).2) A print-out of your thesis statement and outline of evidence.3) Your chart listing advantages and disadvantages of the Neolithic Revolution, which I will collect, and any other documents you’d like to rely on in writing your essay (e.g., the GGS Packet or 3rd Chimp).I hope you found this PowerPoint helpful in learning how to write a persuasive essay for WCCP I. Please let me know if you have any questions, and I look forward to reading your work!