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Writing the Position Paper

Author: Catharine Niuzzo Honaman
Editor: Stephanie Nardei



Time: 7 classes
Preparation
Time:
1 hour
30 minutes to read lesson
30 minutes to make copies of mission statements and paper requirements to post in classroom
Materials: Access to computer lab to do writing
Time in library to recheck research


Abstract
In this culminating lesson students will write practice writing position papers on a form of alternative energy production for final project preparation in government class at third quarter’s end. Students will use skills learned in the first learning cycle on reliable information sources. This time will be used to write a rough draft, have it peer reviewed, double-check facts, collect extra information if holes are uncovered in the arguments and write the final draft. This paper will serve as the basis of lessons in this unit’s third learning cycle.

Purpose – This is the Apply Lesson. Students will write a position paper for the quarter ‘s final project.

Objectives
Students will be able to:
1. Write a persuasive paper using the conventions of proper English
2. Construct at least three convincing arguments
3. Write using the format of an expository paper
4. Create a mission statement

English Education Standards
READING
Strand 1: Concept 6: Comprehension Strategies
PO 4. Connect information and events in text to life experiences and other
sources.

Strand 2: Concept 2: Functional Text
PO 2. Blend information from multiple sources to draw conclusions.

WRITING
W-P1. Use transitional devices; varied sentence structures; the active voice; parallel structures; supporting details, phrases and clauses; and correct spelling, punctuation, capitalization, grammar and usage to sharpen the focus and clarify the meaning of their writing
PO 1. Use transitions (e.g., conjunctive adverbs, coordinating conjunctions, subordinating conjunctions) where appropriate
PO 2. Vary sentence structure (e.g., compound, complex, compound-complex)
PO 3. Use active voice as appropriate to purpose (e.g., creative writing)
PO 4. Use parallel structure appropriately
PO 5. Sharpen the focus and clarify the meaning of their writing through the
appropriate use of
- capitalization
- standard grammar and usage (e.g., subject-verb agreement, pronoun agreement and consistency of verb tense)
- spelling, with the use of a dictionary/thesaurus (as needed)
- punctuation (e.g., comma, ellipsis, apostrophe, semicolon, colon)

W-P2. Write a persuasive essay that contains effective introductory and summary statements; arranges the arguments effectively; and fully develops the ideas with convincing proof, details, facts, examples, and descriptions.
PO 1. Write a thesis statement to convey a point of view about a subject
PO 2. Develop the point of view with ample and convincing support (e.g., details, facts,
reasons, examples, and descriptions) appropriate to audience and purpose
PO 3. Create an organizational structure that includes an effective beginning, middle,
and ending
PO 4. Use persuasive word choices and sentence structure (e.g., connotation, strong
verbs, repetition, and parallelism)

W-P5. Write formal communications for a definite audience and with a clear purpose.
PO 1. Establish a clear purpose for a specific audience.
PO 2. Use a clear and appropriate organizational pattern.
PO 3. Include only relevant information.
PO 4. Use language with an appropriate degree of formality.

Teacher Background
Become familiar with the lessons which will be taught in the government class this quarter and confer with the government teacher on the final project/activity.

Resource Websites

 

 

Activity
1. This lesson entails seven class periods. The first three are for writing students’ position papers. The next two are peer-review sessions. The last two are for students to include corrections recommended by peers, visit library for information a peer may have suggested is missing or to strengthen an argument with further or stronger evidence.

2. On the first day of the lesson remind students their position papers are a review of arguments presented before a Congressional committee making a decision about U.S.A energy needs. The persuasive paper uses the expository theme of introduction, first body paragraph, second body paragraph, third body paragraph, and conclusion. However, for this paper two other paragraphs will be added prior to the introduction--a mission statement and their point of view regarding energy issues.

3. First class period is also for establishing evaluation criteria for the position paper. It is suggested the paper be assessed in areas of:
- Correct interpretation of the prompt

The students have written a paper about implementation of an alternative form of energy incorporating at least three strong arguments.
- Proper organization

W-P2. Write a persuasive essay that contains effective introductory and summary statements; arranges the argument s effectively; and fully develops the ideas with convincing proof, details, facts, examples, and descriptions.
PO 1. Write a thesis statement to convey a point of view about a subject
PO 2. Develop the point of view with ample and convincing support (e.g., details,
facts, reasons, examples, and descriptions) appropriate to audience and purpose
PO 3. Create an organizational structure that includes an effective beginning,
middle, and ending
PO 4. Use persuasive word choices and sentence structure (e.g., connotation, strong verbs, repetition, and parallelism)
- Correct grammar, spelling, punctuation, etc.

W-P1. Use transitional devices; varied sentence structures; the active voice; parallel structures; supporting details, phrases and clauses; and correct spelling, punctuation, capitalization, grammar and usage to sharpen the focus and clarify the meaning of their writing
PO 1. Use transitions (e.g., conjunctive adverbs, coordinating conjunctions, subordinating conjunctions) where appropriate
PO 2. Vary sentence structure (e.g., compound, complex, compound-complex)
PO 3. Use active voice as appropriate to purpose (e.g., creative writing)
PO 4. Use parallel structure appropriately
PO 5. Sharpen the focus and clarify the meaning of their writing through the
appropriate use of

  • capitalization
  • standard grammar and usage (e.g., subject-verb agreement, pronoun agreement and consistency of verb tense)
  • spelling, with the use of a dictionary/thesaurus (as needed)
  • punctuation (e.g., comma, ellipsis, apostrophe, semicolon, colon)- Strength of the arguments

W-P2.
PO 2. Develop the point of view with ample and convincing support (e.g.,. details,
facts, reasons, examples, and descriptions) appropriate to audience and
purpose

4. Make sure that you visibly post examples of mission statements students found in the previous lesson to use as a model. If students did not complete their paper’s first draft within the three class days they must finish the paper for homework to participate in the peer review sessions.

5. Two days have been set-aside for the peer review to enable multiple reviews of each paper. It is suggested that one student read for mechanical errors. You should list on the board the areas that will be assessed in this category: W-P1 criteria. Students should make notes on the first drafts. It is not the job of the proofreader to correct errors, but to point them out. It is the writer ‘s responsibility to make grammatical and spelling corrections. A proofreader may not know something is wrong, but can tell the writer to double check something, or rewrite an awkward section. Tell them they are not doing any favors by “rubberstamping” another student’s work stating it is fine, because then you, the teacher, will be the one to find the errors and take points off.

The second proofreader makes their comments on a separate sheet of paper on the organizational aspects. List the criteria for this on the board. W-P2 criteria. Remind students it may take two readings of the paper to do a high quality proofereading job.
The third proofreader will evaluate the arguments, also on a separate sheet of paper:

  • Are there three arguments?
  • Is there one for economic factors, one for environmental factors, and one for environmental health factors?
  • Are the arguments convincing?
  • Has the prompt been followed accurately?

Give the students five-ten minutes at the end of each proofreading session to meet, read each other’s comments, and to ask clarification questions. During proofreading, it is best for the proofreader not to sit near the student of whose paper is being evaluated. It is too easy for the proofreader to ask a quick question if something does not make sense. However, when you are evaluating the papers you will not have that luxury and will take off points when something is unclear.

6. The last two days are for students to fix problems the proofreaders found. Make arrangements with the librarian so students may visit the library for additional research if serious holes have been uncovered in their arguments or if facts need rechecking.

Closure
The position papers are handed in and the students fill out an evaluation of the researching/writing process. This is found at the end of the lesson.

Homework
If students are not able to finish writing the position paper during class time, it will be necessary for them to finish their work outside of class.

Embedded Assessment
The position paper is this lesson’s product (and this entire learning cycle) and evidence of student learning and assessment according to the criteria presented to them on the first day of the lesson.
- Correct interpretation of the prompt

The students have written a paper about implementation of an alternative form of energy incorporating at least three strong arguments.
- Proper organization

W-P2. Write a persuasive essay contains effective introductory and summary statements; arranges the arguments effectively; and fully develops the ideas with convincing proof, details, facts, specific examples, and descriptions.
PO 1. Write a thesis statement to convey a point of view about a subject
PO 2. Develop the point of view with ample and convincing support (e.g., details,
facts, reasons, examples, and descriptions) appropriate to audience and
purpose
PO 3. Create an organizational structure that includes an effective beginning,
middle, and ending
PO 4. Use persuasive word choices and sentence structure (e.g., connotation,
strong verbs, repetition, and parallelism)
- Correct grammar, capitalization, punctuation, etc.

W-P1. Use transitional devices; varied sentence structures; the active voice; parallel structures; supporting details, phrases and clauses; and correct spelling, punctuation, capitalization, grammar and usage to sharpen the focus and clarify the meaning of their writing
PO 1. Use transitions (e.g., conjunctive adverbs, coordinating conjunctions, subordinating conjunctions) where appropriate
PO 2. Vary sentence structure (e.g., compound, complex, compound-complex)
PO 3. Use active voice as appropriate to purpose (e.g., creative writing)
PO 4. Use parallel structure appropriately
PO 5. Sharpen the focus and clarify the meaning of their writing through the
appropriate use of
- capitalization
- standard grammar and usage (e.g., subject-verb agreement, pronoun agreement and consistency of verb tense)
- spelling, with the use of a dictionary/thesaurus (as needed)
- punctuation (e.g., comma, ellipsis, apostrophe, semicolon, colon)
- Strength of the arguments

W-P2.
PO 2. Develop point of view with ample and convincing support (e.g., facts, reasons, examples, and descriptions) appropriate to audience and purpose


PULSE is a project of the Community Outreach and Education Program of the Southwest Environmental Health Sciences Center and is funded by:


an
NIH/NCRR award #16260-01A1
The Community Outreach and Education Program is part of the Southwest Environmental Health Sciences Center: an NIEHS Award

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Supported by NIEHS grant # ES06694


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Last update: November 10, 2009
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