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High School — Writing
Writing Applications

Writers select appropriate forms -- narrative, informational and persuasive--to address particular audiences and purposes. For example, a letter to a friend is different from a response to literature in both form and content. Writers use various forms and structures to solve problems, identify issues, pose questions and develop ideas. The thought process used to compose these varied forms is influenced by the audience as well as by the information that the writer organizes. Writing is both a tool for thinking and a means of communication.

Each time writers work within a different form, they become more experienced with the process and the product. The word application means putting something to use. In this instance, it refers to the skills of working within various types of writing.

In addition to giving students ample opportunities to practice writing, teachers must take an active role in helping students become better writers. Teachers should present errors as opportunities to rewrite and improve.

The Ohio Academic Content Standards establish the following expectations for student performance in the area of Writing Applications:

  • Students understand that various types of writing require different language and formatting;
  • Students explain why some text forms are more suited to a purpose than others;
  • Students use content-specific vocabulary to achieve communication goals;
  • Students control the language and structural features of a wide variety of text forms;
  • Students select text forms, choose vocabulary and structure writing to suit purpose and audience.

The content in this Teaching Tool is based on Ohio's Academic Content Standards and Benchmarks and includes the types of questions asked on the Ohio Graduation Test in Writing. While various suggestions and activities for working with students are included, this Teaching Tool is designed to complement a rigorous, research-based curriculum, not to substitute for one.



Writing Applications


1. Writing Applications

Click on the following benchmarks for more information.

a.

Benchmark A: Compose narratives that establish a specific setting, plot and a consistent point of view, and develop characters by using sensory details and concrete language.

Benchmark A: Compose narratives that establish a specific setting, plot and a consistent point of view, and develop characters by using sensory details and concrete language.

When working on narrative writing with students, focus on a few specific concepts. Help students to analyze essential narrative elements, so that teacher and student assessment of narrative writing is specifically targeted to objectives.

A gripping narrative is built on three pillars: a well-developed and engaging plot, rich and effective literary devices, and an organized and effective structure. Offering students the formula of adding rich literary devices to an engaging plot and an organized structure is the first step in helping them write well-crafted narratives.

Plot is the careful sequencing of events in a story generally built around a conflict. Stages of plot include exposition (background), rising action, climax, falling action and denouement (resolution). An enticing beginning invites the reader to the narrative, a detailed middle sets up a series of related events that help readers understand the things that are happening to the characters, and an effective end ties together the events and reveals what has happened to resolve the characters' conflicts (or leaves us questioning, depending on the author's choice).

Literary Devices, including (but not limited to) figurative language, imagery, irony and satire, enrich a narrative. Narrative writers use language in interesting and unusual ways. Sensory language deepens a reader's connection to a narrative and helps a reader visualize the events that unfold.

Narrative Structure is the framework that underlies both the order of a story and the way in which it is presented to a reader. The purpose of a narrative structure is to recount events for the reader. Writers build a story on some kind of organizational plan, either in the form of a simple narrative, which chronologically conveys events (as in a newspaper account), or in a narrative with plot, which is often less chronological. Text structural elements might include an introduction, which describes a story's characters and circumstances; a chorus, which uses the voice of an onlooker to describe events or indicate an emotional response; or a coda, which offers concluding remarks.

Examine the work of writers who have successfully crafted each of these key narrative elements. This will help your students isolate the importance of each element and how the elements synthesize in narrative writing. Ask students to share a story they just couldn't put down. In addition to the student-selected texts, provide your own examples of narratives that sustain reader interest.

It is possible to encourage even the most reluctant readers to select texts that they find interesting. Use current best-sellers to help students identify the essential elements of a page-turning narrative. Students might also find short stories and graphic novels particularly intriguing.

Ask students to consider the following questions:

  • Plot: What happens in the story that grabs your interest? How does the writer create tension and suspense? How does the writer keep you involved?
  • Literary Devices: What examples can you find of figurative language? Who is the narrator and how does this speaker's use of language contribute to keeping your interest? (For example, why does T.S. Eliot write, in his poem The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock, that "the evening is spread out across the sky/like a patient etherized upon a table," instead of just writing, "it was evening"?)
  • Structure of a Narrative: What do you notice about the format or structure of the narrative?

As students consider examples of successful narratives, they will gather ideas and models for their own narrative writing. Have them pore over their own texts and the texts of their peers to discuss the plot, literary devices and structures. Ask them to consider if and how their texts have incorporated elements from published work.

b.

Benchmark B: Write responses to literature that extend beyond the summary and support references to the text, other works, other authors or to personal knowledge.

Benchmark B: Write responses to literature that extend beyond the summary and support references to the text, other works, other authors or to personal knowledge.

Your students' class readings will help them improve as writers. Because reading and writing are closely related, frequent conversations about the connections between what we read and what we write are helpful.

In writing a literary response, students must interpret literature and support their interpretations with examples from the text. Writers draw upon references to the original text, to other texts, and to prior knowledge to support their ideas. When discussing literature with your class, frequently refer to the text. This will ensure that students are accustomed to using direct quotations, page numbers and narrative details in their conversations. This practice will transfer to their writing.

When analyzing a literary response, teachers should assess the students' knowledge of the text and the quality of the writing.

c.

Benchmark C: Produce letters (e.g., business, letters to the editor, job applications) that follow the conventional style appropriate to the text and include appropriate details and exclude extraneous details and inconsistencies.

Benchmark C: Produce letters (e.g., business, letters to the editor, job applications) that follow the conventional style appropriate to the text and include appropriate details and exclude extraneous details and inconsistencies.

In every type of writing, the writer addresses a particular purpose and audience. When producing letters and workplace documents, writers must isolate appropriate facts and details, select the proper vocabulary and terms, and exclude extraneous information.

As with all genres, students need to practice reading and writing conventional letter styles. Exercises in letter writing reinforce the tenets of effective writing. Treat the letter as a microcosm of writing skills. Business letters, letters to the editor and cover letters have visible real world relevance that can motivate students to work on writing skills. Dedicate class time to studying and writing workplace documents and letters. This practice illustrates the importance of writing as a tool, not just for thinking, but for communication in crucial aspects of life.

d.

Benchmark D: Use documented textual evidence to justify interpretations of literature or to support a research topic.

Benchmark D: Use documented textual evidence to justify interpretations of literature or to support a research topic.

Reading is a vital source of information and ideas. In order to write about a topic in an informational essay or report, students should first familiarize themselves with other writers' thoughts on the topic. Encourage your students to structure their background reading by framing their reading with an essential question. Writers generally explore some human problem. Ask your writers to read and write in search of their own answers to such human problems or essential questions.

Once students have developed a question, they can organize their thoughts. Clear, coherent informational writing, like all types of writing, relies on good organization. Because nonfiction writing works mainly to define, explain and interpret facts and ideas, the clarity of its organization is particularly important.

Many informational essays follow a standard format that presents ideas in a cohesive and thorough way. The introductory paragraph provides a clear and accurate perspective on the subject. The key elements to a clear piece of informational writing are the central idea and thesis statement. The central idea reflects the overall topic of the informational essay, while the thesis statement identifies the specific subpoints that will be discussed in the writing, creating an organizing structure appropriate to the purpose, audience and context.

As they start to identify and understand the key features of an introduction to an expository piece, ask students:

  • What is the subject of the piece? What is the essential question?
  • Can you identify and underline the thesis statement?
  • What are the subtopics of the main subject?

Once writers determine the points to discuss in the writing, they must consider the specific information to include in the informational piece. Informational writing often uses specialized vocabulary--and offers support for each point of the main subject. For example, an essay on the Internet might include such terms as search engine and Web site. Perhaps the author of this essay decides to question and provide information on how the Internet affects society today. He or she might plan to discuss the history of the Internet, online advertising and how the Internet has improved communication. These three subtopics (history, advertising, and communication) must be supported with specific details or relevant examples from information that the author has gathered.

A writer must support the main ideas with facts, details, examples and explanations from sources. Each body paragraph of the essay explores a subtopic in depth, with supporting details and relevant examples. A writer must ask, What kind of specific examples/evidence can I use to support my point? Writers of informational texts might answer this question by choosing the most relevant examples from personal experience. However, research is often necessary to write a reliable informational text. Articles, books, interviews, films and essays provide key ideas for writers to research before they write their own explorations of a topic. Writers use both primary and secondary sources for informational essays. This challenges them to verify facts or principles related to the subject.

Primary sources are sources of firsthand information, such as eyewitness accounts.

Secondary sources are sources that analyze information from another source.

Parenthetical Documentation. It is imperative that writers reference the works of others in a text. A common format, the author-page method of citation, involves including in the text the author's last name and the page number(s) from which the quotation is taken. For example:

Though she wrote at a time when it was not common for women to support themselves, Virginia Wolf believed "a woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction," stressing the importance of financial independence for creative women (Woolf, 4).

Works Cited. Each book, article, journal, film, interview, etc. that the writer uses must be listed in a document at the end of the informational text. This document, called Works Cited, provides the information necessary for a reader to locate any sources cited in the essay. Each source mentioned in the essay must appear in the works-cited list and each entry in the works-cited list must be used in the text.

The information required for different types of texts varies but generally includes the author's name, title, place of publication, publisher and publication date. For example, the works-cited entry for the sample Woolf quotation above would read:

Woolf, Virginia. A Room of One's Own. New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, Inc., 1957.

Writers draw together the critical ideas, supported by information from their sources, in the conclusion. The conclusion not only pulls together the main ideas but also explores the implications of all that has been discussed. As writers close informational texts, they consider the following questions:

  • What are the central points made in the conclusion?
  • How well are the implications of the ideas discussed identified in the body of the piece?
  • Has the point of the central idea been made as stated in the introduction?

e.

Benchmark E: Write a persuasive piece that states a clear position, includes relevant information and offers compelling evidence in the form of facts and details.

Benchmark E: Write a persuasive piece that states a clear position, includes relevant information and offers compelling evidence in the form of facts and details.

Writers use persuasion to convince readers to do or believe something. Before attempting to persuade an audience to believe in a certain issue, writers must decide which position to support. The purpose of persuasive writing is to defend an opinion by offering research or support that will convince a reader to agree.

The first step in crafting an argument is the creation of a clearly stated position. When students are asked what they think when they hear the word "argument," they will probably say conflict. When talking about nonfiction, however, argument refers to the main ideas that the larger piece explores and substantiates through evidence. In order to arrive at a persuasive and convincing conclusion, a piece needs not only clear and well-supported ideas but also a solid structure in which the ideas can logically unfold. Therefore, the thesis statement is an essential component of the introduction to a persuasive speech or written work that states an argument that will be developed.

To support their arguments, writers must gather convincing evidence. Students should brainstorm details they need to support their positions. Persuasive essays should include documentation, which will require research. By investigating the topic and including supporting comments from recognized authorities, writers make their arguments credible.

Depending on the topic of the essay, students may want to ask probing questions about an argument's credibility. Consider the following:

  • What is the evidence for or against the argument?
  • Is the argument convincing? Why or why not?
  • What are the reasons for agreeing or disagreeing with the argument?

Encourage students to rate all possible support for their arguments in order of importance or relevance to the thesis statement. Each point of the argument must be supported with examples, facts, statistics, quotations from recognized authorities, details, reasons or narratives. Reinforce the idea that all sources must be properly cited in the text and in a works-cited list, so that readers can locate them. Quoting authoritative sources in a persuasive piece of writing contributes to the argument's integrity.

To argue effectively for a viewpoint, an author must anticipate and counter possible arguments against the stated opinion. Additionally, writers may make both emotional and rational appeals. All reasoning should lead to a convincing conclusion, so students should be expected to state their opinions using a reasonable tone (no exaggeration). Consider these guidelines:

Weigh the other side. What are the arguments against this issue? Writers use "reluctant testimony," the words of their opponents, to further support their own claims. Writers also break down the logic of the other side, not with empty arguments, but with facts and evidence gathered to counter the opposite position.

Use testimony from experts and everyday people. It is necessary to include the words, or testimony, of the authorities on a subject, but writers might also gather evidence from a group of people affected by the issue. For example, if a writer of a persuasive letter wants to convince the school board that the school year should not be lengthened to twelve months, he or she might quote both educational researchers (experts) and students in a school. The students may not be classified as experts, but their testimony may be relevant since they represent the affected group.

Appeal to emotion as well as logic. A writer who feels strongly about an issue, can touch on the way that the audience might also feel about the topic. How does the issue affect readers' lives? How does it affect the lives of others?

Leave the reader with a call to action. Writers might ask the audience to take action to support a particular cause.

Click here to view annotated items from the 2005 Ohio Graduation Test that address this benchmark.

 



Activities

Help With Fundamentals

These activities can help you address the fundamentals of Writing Applications with your students.

Activity 1

Introducing the Writer's/Reader's Journal

A journal can serve as a place for student writers to write often and free from formal assessment. Asking students to keep an ungraded journal can promote deep thinking about subjects discussed in students' classes or daily lives. Encourage your writers to decorate their journals with art, photography or color so they feel a personal connection to them.

The journal is also a place for students to write informally about their reading. The journal entries will range in length for a few sentences to several pages. The writing must be legible, but it need not be entirely correct or revised. Instead, encourage students to start writing quickly and let ideas develop as they write.

Explain to students that the reader's journal is not a diary or a class notebook; rather it borrows features from each. Like a diary, the journals are written in the first person about issues that students care about as readers and writers. Like the class notebook, journals are concerned with the content of the course. They are intended as a place for literary response.

Students may use the reader's journal for any of the following purposes:

  • Prewriting for essays, narratives or formal literary responses;
  • Answering questions posed in class;
  • Writing questions about puzzling passages;
  • Predicting what comes next;
  • Writing alternative beginnings and endings to stories;
  • Preparing to participate in class meetings;
  • Copying and commenting on favorite passages;
  • Making personal responses (such as opinions on the text);
  • Responding to the most important words, sentences or passages;
  • Associating personal experiences;
  • Expressing identification with characters.
Activity 2

Introducing the Writer's Conference: Focusing the Conference

Conducting individual writer's conferences with each of your students allows you to provide personalized feedback. It also saves you a great deal of time. A teacher's paper load can be exhausting. It can be challenging to provide relevant written feedback on all work you assign. The writer's conference enables you to reduce paperwork by delivering your feedback as a conversation with each student. They, in turn, can ask questions or make revisions. Confer with individual writers and assess while students are writing. This interactive process demonstrates that the act of writing is a dynamic, evolving process that is not necessarily linear.

For students who have difficulties grasping the fundamentals of writing, be sure to focus their conferences on particular areas. Rather than conferencing on every aspect of their work--from organization to conventions--establish some key areas for direction. Try to isolate three specific suggestions for the student. Offer some positive observation on their progress, a clear identification of the issue to address, and some pointed questions to guide them towards revision. It is also helpful to establish a timeline for students so that the revision process is contained.

Activity 3

Inspired Writers: Reading Letters to the Editor

Letters to the editor serve as useful models because these letters have often been edited and proofed and are unlikely to contain extraneous details and inconsistencies. They also show how to address audience, purpose and context in a clear and efficient manner.

Through class discussion or journal writing, discover issues that are important to your students. What events are happening in the world that they are concerned about or that seem important to them? Discuss the way that people are inspired to share their views on particular issues by writing letters to publications. Ask each student to find and share a letter to the editor, published in a school, local or national newspaper that addresses an issue of social importance. In groups, ask students to examine these letters and discuss the following elements:

  • Who is the audience for this letter and what is the stated purpose? (Why did the writer write this letter to the editor? How do you know?)
  • What technical terms or specific vocabulary did the writer use in the letter?
  • Which facts and details support the writer's point?
  • How did the writer bring closure to the letter?
Activity 4

Text Support: Analyzing Individual Examples

To help students use textual support in their writing, begin by selecting key passages or quotations from a text you are studying and writing about in class. Provide a structure to help students analyze the individual quotations. Suggest the following steps to guide students through textual analysis:

  • Read the passage/quotation once to get a sense of what the writer is trying to say. Jot down a few words to summarize the main idea.
  • Read the passage again and consider the characterization: How does the author present and describe the character in this passage? How do actions, words and thoughts reveal the character's personality and the personalities of others?
  • Read the passage a third time to look for details about the society: What political, economic or religious events are influencing the characters or events? How is this evident in the passage?
  • Finally, take a look at the language: Why does the author choose certain words? Is there figurative language that contributes to your understanding of the events? What imagery or symbols does the author use?

Have students use these four steps to analyze text samples individually, in groups and as a class. Using these four steps to practice textual analysis will provide scaffolding for using text examples to justify literary interpretations or support a research topic.

Activity 5

Building a Persuasive Argument: Analyzing the Persuasive Prompt

Encourage your writers to carefully analyze the prompt in order to generate ideas to meet the requirements of persuasive writing. Students should use structure to plan their response to the task. The following questions will provide guidance:

  • What is the central topic? What arguments can I make? What do I know about this topic?
  • Who is the audience? Is the audience clearly stated or is it not identified? How does this affect my choices?
  • What is the purpose of the writing task? How do I know I am being called upon to persuade (or narrate, respond, describe, etc.)?
  • What strategies should I use? (For example, can I provide definitions, analyze, explain cause-and-effect or compare-and-contrast?)
  • What is my role as the writer? Have I been given a particular role (like a representative or job applicant)? If not, is there a role I should take?

Analyzing the prompt will act as a springboard to prewriting.



Additional Instruction and Practice

These activities may be useful for students who require additional instruction and practice with Writing Applications.

Activity 1

Extending the Reader's Journal

Once students are comfortable using their journals with their reading, encourage them to consider the following questions and ideas. They might select a question each night as they read and prepare for the next day's class discussion.

  • What questions do you have about the chapter/section/passage?
  • What is the most vivid image from the chapter/section/passage? Why does this image resonate with you? How does the language work in this image?
  • What vocabulary or syntax challenges you?
  • What themes, symbols or motifs do you notice?
  • What figurative language impresses you?
  • How does this reading relate to the day's class discussion?
  • How does the dilemma of the character(s) connect to other texts, to you or to world events?
  • In what way does the author establish a sense of place?
  • Is there anything in this piece of literature that represents the culture of the writer? What cultural perspective is examined or represented?
  • What attitudes, behaviors or philosophies are questioned?
  • What insights from the text connect to your own experience?
Activity 2

The Writer's Conference: Talking about Students' Language

As students grow in their writing ability, ask them to focus on the language they use for various purposes. Begin by assuming students will be influenced by the language they use at home and in their speech, which may be a dialect of English or a different language altogether. The goal is to help students recognize the value of their own unique expressions as well as the need to use more formal, Standard English when appropriate. Talk with students in conferences about flexibility in writing, so that they can communicate to wider audiences, not just to their peers or classmates. As students adopt more widely-accepted English in their writing, encourage them to retain the flavor of language that they have acquired from their families or neighborhoods.

Activity 3

Inspired Writers: Writing Letters to the Editor

Follow an examination of letters to the editor by asking students to write their own letters in response to an article they feel strongly about. The key in this activity is convincing students to select an article that has inspired a genuine reaction.

After students have drafted their letters, ask them the following questions to spur their revision process:

  • Who is the audience for this letter and what is the stated purpose? Why are you writing this letter to the editor? Is your purpose clear?
  • What technical terms or specific vocabulary did you use in the letter? Do you need to add more detail?
  • Which facts and details support your point? Are they sufficient?
  • Are there any extraneous or unnecessary details you can remove?
  • How did you provide a sense of closure to the letter?

Send the letters to the appropriate publications. Share both the published and unpublished letters with the class and school community to generate discussion about the social issues that students see as important to their lives.

Activity 4

Text Support: Teach the Paragraph

Focus on the paragraph as a way to tighten writing and address the key concepts of structure and purpose. Ask students to answer the following questions about each paragraph:

  • Did you begin with a clear topic sentence?
  • Did you integrate some examples, details and direct quotations from a primary or secondary source?
  • Did you adequately explain this example, detail or quotation in your own words to illustrate how it supports your thesis?
  • Did you close your paragraph with a transition to the next idea?
Activity 5

Supporting the Persuasive Argument: Gathering Testimony

Once writers have clearly stated the argument, they must gather supporting facts. Ask students to brainstorm a list of sources for relevant facts and details. Have writers gather and check these sources in order to collect compelling evidence to support their positions. The following questions will help lead students toward a convincing argument.

  • Who are the authorities on this subject? What words or testimony can you provide to support your argument? (For example, can you quote doctors when writing about a medical matter, judges when exploring a legal issue or coaches when discussing a sports-related question?)
  • Who are the people affected by the issue? In addition to quoting the research or the "experts," did you seek the words and opinions of the everyday people involved?
  • What are the arguments against this issue?
  • What quotations or testimony make a logical appeal to your readers?
  • What quotations or testimony make an emotional appeal to your readers?
  • Can you find some testimony that will get your readers involved with this issue?

Have students gather a quotation or two on notecards for each of the above questions. Have them first categorize the cards according to the corresponding points they plan to raise in their writing. Then, ask students to write two-column notes with the key points of their argument in one column, and the quotations that support their key points in the second column. As they write the paragraphs of their persuasive responses, they use these quotations to support the main points of their argument.



Advanced Work

These activities can help your students reach the next level in their understanding of Writing Applications.

Activity 1

Advancing the Journal

Extend students' journal writing by emphasizing that writing is not just an academic activity that happens within the classroom. It is likely that your students already use writing in the form of instant messages, e-mails, notes and lists. Encourage young writers to develop their writing lives outside of school by asking them to use their journals (either individually or in groups) to record the steps they take to complete a creative writing project, such as setting up a blog or writing a newsletter. In addition to chronicling the project's progress, students can use the journal to reflect on the process of project creation. Ask them to log an entry each time they work on the project, considering the following questions and tasks:

  • How did you decide which writing project to select?
  • What inspired your ideas? How did you decide what to write about?
  • Describe your revision process. What was it like to make changes to your work?
  • If you worked on your project with a team, describe a typical day on this team.
    • Did you all get along? What conflicts did the members of the team have with one another? How did you resolve these conflicts?
    • Did you all share the same vision for the project?
    • Where and when did the team work or practice? How did working in this place affect the team?
  • What aspects were challenging? What was rewarding?
  • Describe both the details of the writing experience and the lessons learned.
Activity 2

Advancing the Writer's Conference: Peer Conferences

After writers create drafts, it is helpful to get feedback from others. Provide Peer Conference guidelines to help students offer constructive feedback for one another. The following questions will keep students on track during the conference:

  • Narrative Writing
    • What are the strengths and weaknesses of the writer's beginning?
    • Do the events of the narrative unfold clearly? What do you notice about the writer's narrative structure?
    • Are there any characters you identified with or felt strongly about?
    • Does the writer use any interesting figurative language?
    • Does the writer bring the piece to a cohesive conclusion?
    • Did you enjoy the story? Why or why not?
  • Informational Writing
    • Does the introduction establish the topic and argument? What is the writer's essential question?
    • What supporting details or examples does the writer offer? Are these sufficient to make the point?
    • How does this writer end the informational piece? What suggestions or thoughts do you have about the conclusion? Are your questions answered?
    • What have you learned from reading this piece?
  • Persuasive Writing
    • Does the writer begin with a clearly stated position?
    • Does the writer support the thesis with convincing evidence?
    • Does the writer advance the argument by using a variety of methods: considering the other side, using testimony, appealing to logic and emotion, and leaving the reader with a call to action?
    • Were you persuaded? Why or why not?
Activity 3

Inspired Writers: Writing Personal Letters

Writers must learn to write effectively with and to one another because a good deal of workplace and personal writing takes place in collaborative situations. In this spirit, set up a letter-writing exchange.

Begin by exploring texts that include letters, such as the Griffin and Sabine series by Nick Bantock or a collection of the letters between John and Abigail Adams. As they explore such texts, ask students to talk about the art of letter writing. Is there something about the experience of opening a card or letter from your mailbox that is different than opening an e-mail in your inbox? How do letters, written by hand on paper, or typed and printed in ink, differ from an instant message that flashes on the screen?

Organize a letter writing exchange by pairing students with one another or with teachers, coaches or other members of the school community who are willing to participate. Ask them to engage in weekly correspondence, delivering the letters to mailboxes (shoe boxes or folders will do) in a location that students and staff visit frequently. Encourage them to share daily events, thoughts on current events or discussion on happenings around the school.

At the end of a month-long exchange, ask students to reflect on the process of communicating with another person through letters. In our technologically savvy times, letter writing is somewhat of a lost art. It's rare for students to engage in this kind of communication. Ask them to share their observations--and maybe some of their letters.

Activity 4

Text Support: The Works Cited

Once writers have gathered information to include as references in their writing, provide ample opportunity to put together and use accurate Works Cited.

Some useful rules to consider when crafting works-cited are:

  • Label and center the title Works Cited at the top of the page;
  • Use a hanging indent; begin the first line of each entry against the left margin, but indent each subsequent line;
  • Double-space all entries;
  • Italicize or underline titles;
  • Alphabetize the list of texts by the first word in the entry (usually the author's last name).
Activity 5

Exploring Strategies and Forms for Argument

Ask students to consider and use the following forms in their persuasive writing:

  • Compare and contrast: A comparison shows the similarities--how two or more things are alike. A contrast shows the differences-- what makes them distinct.
    Two-part essay One paragraph on A, then one paragraph on B. For example, an essay persuading readers that apples are better than oranges would include a paragraph on the merits of apples, and then a paragraph on the lesser features of oranges.
    Alternating essay The writer introduces A, followed by a sentence on B, and so on. For example, the student might say that apples are a perfect snack food while oranges are hard to peel.


  • Consider cause-and-effect: As writers argue a thesis, it is helpful to explain why something is the way it is or how it came to be.
  • Create a definition: Create an impression on the reader by using specific details, vivid language and sensory description.