assignment 5-2: an interpretive essay revision

Due: Friday, December 2
Format: Print one copy, staple it, and bring it to class.

For this final assignment of the semester (!!!), revise one interpretive essay that you plan to include in your final portfolio due December 12. Begin by reviewing the portfolio goals printed on page 6 in the purple Student’s Guide. Keeping these goals in mind, use the DK Handbook‘s revision checklist on page 221, my comments, and your classmates’ feedback to revise your interpretive essay.

Think about how you can better maintain a controlling purpose that reflects on both what matters to you and to your readers. How can you improve the clarity of your essay using the organization of your paragraphs, your introduction, thesis statement, and other writing choices? How can you better support your argument by using quotations, paraphrases, and a work cited page?

Feel free to turn in two revisions, but note that I won’t be able to devote as much time to both. So, if one essay really needs a lot of work, just turn in that revision. If you have two fairly polished essays, you might turn in both since they will individually require less time from me.

Here are some strategies for revising your own essays:

Strategy 1:
You will need a hard copy of your essay and a set of colored highlighters for this, but colored pencils/pens/markers could also work. First, read through your essay draft and highlight portions of it using the following color-code system:

  • Blue: Thesis statement, which should imply a sense of your purpose in writing the essay
  • Yellow: Interpretive points or claims you are making about the author’s essay (other than the thesis statement)
  • Pink: Support (in the form of direct quotes or paraphrases) for these interpretive claims
  • Green (or whatever other color you have): Sentences that are summarizing the author’s essay

Next, write one or two paragraphs in which you reflect on what you learned from color-coding your essay. What was easy or difficult about the color-coding? Do you have more yellow than pink? This might mean you are making a lot of claims without adding enough evidence from the text. Do you have too much green? Remember your essay should have much more interpretation than summary. Do you struggle to find a controlling purpose or thesis statement? This means your readers will struggle to find direction in your essay and struggle to figure out what you are trying to tell them/where you are leading them.

Strategy 2:
Create a reverse outline of your essay. You will need a hard copy of your essay for this. Follow the two-step instructions on the Purdue OWL web site: http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/689/01/
After completing the reverse outline, write one or two paragraphs in which you describe what you noticed and what was easy or difficult about doing the outline. Did you have trouble describing how a paragraph was helping to move your essay along? If so, you may need to move things around or cut things. Did you find it necessary to use more than 5 – 10 words to accurately summarize the topic of each paragraph? If so, that might mean that you are dealing with multiple issues or ideas in a single unfocused paragraph.

Strategy 3:
On a separate sheet of paper, write a response to each of the ten revision questions on page 221 in the DK Handbook. If you are confused about what any of the questions mean or how they relate to your essay, write your questions down so we can discuss them in class.

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