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Homework for Friday

To begin your body paragraphs I would like you to draft 6 topic sentences for your analysis portion of your paper and 3 topic sentences for your synthesis. This should be emailed to me by class time Friday.

A topic sentence is a general introduction that gives a reader the main idea or subject of the paragraph that follows. In terms of the organizational pyramid, your topic sentence is the most general part of your paragraph. From the topic sentence you move toward specificity with your claim, evidence, and tie-in to the thesis.

Even if you are unsure of where your essay is going right now, try to form your topic sentences based on the subtopics of your paper so that each paragraph is exploring a different part or facet of your overall idea/thesis.


Stereotype threats are discussed in depth by Claude M. Steele in his two articles that make up “The Many Experiences of the Stereotype Threat.” Through several social experiments, Steele has determined that the mere threat of a stereotype is all it takes for an immediate negative turn in someone’s performance. “No special self-doubting susceptibility  seemed necessary”  for a stereotype to have an effect (Claude 253). These effects also involve the way a person views others and identifies them.

From reading the topic sentence of this paragraph (as seen in italics) we come away with a general idea of what is to be talked about (stereotype) and in what way (via Steele’s articles). As simple as it is, this writer’s topic sentence has successfully prepared the reader for all of the information that is to come in the rest of the paragraph.


Writing Body paragraphs: Moving from general to specific information

Body paragraphs: Moving from general to specific information

Your paper should be organized in a manner that moves from general to specific information. Every time you begin a new subject, think of an inverted pyramid – The broadest range of information sits at the top, and as the paragraph or paper progresses, the author becomes more and more focused on the argument ending with specific, detailed evidence supporting a claim. Lastly, the author explains how and why the information she has just provided connects to and supports her thesis (a brief wrap up or warrant).


Moving from General to Specific Information

The four elements of a good paragraph (TTEB)

A good paragraph should contain at least the following four elements: Transition, Topic sentence, specific Evidence and analysis, and a Brief wrap-up sentence.

  1. Transition sentence leading in from a previous paragraph to assure smooth reading. This acts as a hand off from one idea to the next.
  2. Topic sentence that tells the reader what you will be discussing in the paragraph.
  3. Specific Evidence and analysis that supports one of your claims and that provides a deeper level of detail than your topic sentence.
  4. Brief wrap-up sentence that tells the reader how and why this information supports the paper’s thesis. The brief wrap-up is also known as the warrant. The warrant is important to your argument because it connects your reasoning and support to your thesis, and it shows that the information in the paragraph is related to your thesis and helps defend it.

Supporting evidence (induction and deduction)


Induction is the type of reasoning that moves from specific facts to a general conclusion. When you use induction in your paper, you will state your thesis (which is actually the conclusion you have come to after looking at all the facts) and then support your thesis with the facts. The following is an example of induction taken from Dorothy U. Seyler’s Understanding Argument:


There is the dead body of Smith. Smith was shot in his bedroom between the hours of 11:00 p.m. and 2:00 a.m., according to the coroner. Smith was shot with a .32 caliber pistol. The pistol left in the bedroom contains Jones’s fingerprints. Jones was seen, by a neighbor, entering the Smith home at around 11:00 p.m. the night of Smith’s death. A coworker heard Smith and Jones arguing in Smith’s office the morning of the day Smith died.

Conclusion: Jones killed Smith.

Here, then, is the example in bullet form:

  • Conclusion: Jones killed Smith
  • Support: Smith was shot by Jones’ gun, Jones was seen entering the scene of the crime, Jones and Smith argued earlier in the day Smith died.
  • Assumption: The facts are representative, not isolated incidents, and thus reveal a trend, justifying the conclusion drawn.


When you use deduction in an argument, you begin with general premises and move to a specific conclusion. There is a precise pattern you must use when you reason deductively. This pattern is called syllogistic reasoning (the syllogism). Syllogistic reasoning (deduction) is organized in three steps:

  1. Major premise
  2. Minor premise
  3. Conclusion

In order for the syllogism (deduction) to work, you must accept that the relationship of the two premises lead, logically, to the conclusion. Here are two examples of deduction or syllogistic reasoning:


  1. Major premise: All men are mortal.
  2. Minor premise: Socrates is a man.
  3. Conclusion: Socrates is mortal.


  1. Major premise: People who perform with courage and clear purpose in a crisis are great leaders.
  2. Minor premise: Lincoln was a person who performed with courage and a clear purpose in a crisis.
  3. Conclusion: Lincoln was a great leader.

So in order for deduction to work in the example involving Socrates, you must agree that (1) all men are mortal (they all die); and (2) Socrates is a man. If you disagree with either of these premises, the conclusion is invalid. The example using Socrates isn’t so difficult to validate. But when you move into more murky water (when you use terms such as courageclear purpose, and great), the connections get tenuous.

Rebuttal Sections

In order to present a fair and convincing message, you may need to anticipate, research, and outline some of the common positions (arguments) that dispute your thesis. If the situation (purpose) calls for you to do this, you will present and then refute these other positions in the rebuttal section of your essay.

It is important to consider other positions because in most cases, your primary audience will be fence-sitters. Fence-sitters are people who have not decided which side of the argument to support.

People who are on your side of the argument will not need a lot of information to align with your position. People who are completely against your argument—perhaps for ethical or religious reasons—will probably never align with your position no matter how much information you provide. Therefore, the audience you should consider most important are those people who haven’t decided which side of the argument they will support—the fence-sitters.

In many cases, these fence-sitters have not decided which side to align with because they see value in both positions. Therefore, to not consider opposing positions to your own in a fair manner may alienate fence-sitters when they see that you are not addressing their concerns or discussion opposing positions at all.

Organizing your rebuttal section

Following the TTEB method outlined in the Body Paragraph section, forecast all the information that will follow in the rebuttal section and then move point by point through the other positions addressing each one as you go. The outline below, adapted from Seyler’s Understanding Argument, is an example of a rebuttal section from a thesis essay.

When you rebut or refute an opposing position, use the following three-part organization:

The opponent’s argument: Usually, you should not assume that your reader has read or remembered the argument you are refuting. Thus at the beginning of your paragraph, you need to state, accurately and fairly, the main points of the argument you will refute.

Your position: Next, make clear the nature of your disagreement with the argument or position you are refuting. Your position might assert, for example, that a writer has not proved his assertion because he has provided evidence that is outdated, or that the argument is filled with fallacies.

Your refutation: The specifics of your counterargument will depend upon the nature of your disagreement. If you challenge the writer’s evidence, then you must present the more recent evidence. If you challenge assumptions, then you must explain why they do not hold up. If your position is that the piece is filled with fallacies, then you must present and explain each fallacy.

Notes on structure

Overall Structure of the Essay:

Intro: attention getting, introduces the issue/problem, ends with thesis
Summaries: 2-4 sentences for each article. The first sentence should always contain the source’s author and title. Summaries should be concise and only cover material relevant to your thesis/argument.
Analysis: comparing and contrasting your sources in the context of your thesis. Break your sources down and discuss how the pieces work alongside each other.
Synthesis: Mentioning favored viewpoints from your sources, formulate your evolved understand of the overall subject.
Conclusion: restate the thesis, discuss the big picture in light of reviewing your sources and synthesizing, leave the reader thinking.

Structuring Your Introduction:
(1) Open the essay with a creative imagining or statement that address the reader.
(2) Move into context of the subject being discussed. This is where you give the reader the status quo.
(3) From the context give your reader a reason to invest in this subject.
(4) Present your thesis.

Class Q&A Unit Four

What is the format of the essay? How many pages?
The format is MLA, double spaced, with an additional works cited. Your essay should be a full 5-6 pgs.

Do we have to write about the modes of persuasion/rhetoric?
Yes, while comparing and contrasting your sources you will want to grant some attention to speaking about how (the rhetorical choices) each essay argues its content alongside the perspective in which each writer addresses the issue.

Do we need to cite in-text?
Yes, you need to cite in-text while paraphrasing and quoting from a source.  You should also be using attributive tags to precursor an author’s ideas. If you do not do these things you are plagiarizing.

What is the structure of this essay?
This essay will contain an:

How do I fit my sources together?
Your sources, especially from the reader, will not always have obvious points on which they agree. In order to conduct a synthesis of what all of your sources have to offer you need to find a common subject between all of them. Once you find the “umbrella” idea that covers all of your sources you can begin asking critical thinking questions to gain a more specific connection between them. Some sources will match up more than others and that is ok. If you have a source that does not offer strong claims for you to work into your synthesis it can be used more to give context to an issue in general or to reinforce claims from another source.

What is synthesis?
Synthesis is when you review information from multiple sources and make a claim or statement brought about by all of that information. For example, if I were to synthesize two articles about fracking I would read each writer’s argument and consider where they agree and disagree. After I compare and contrast their claims I will decide what can most logically be taken from each to create a new, more developed claim or understanding of my own. In synthesis you are cherry picking the best ideas from your sources and creating a new claim based on your sources’ information.

What if my sources are not very strong?
If you are discovering that you just cannot get much out of the sources that you chose for this essay now is the time to switch some out for ones that speak to you and your concerns more. If that doesn’t seem like an option for you, then it would be worth it to meet with someone at the Writing Center or arrange to see me during office hours. Outlining each source on paper or by grid is also a good way to gain more perspective of what each can offer you.

How do I create a strong thesis? What is my thesis expected to do in this kind of essay?
The key to a strong thesis is that your claim be specific, concise, and debatable. For this essay your thesis must be rooted in the synthesis that you have conducted from looking at all of your sources. Your thesis is in place to guide the reader through the work that you are doing throughout summary and analysis, so that once the reader reaches your synthesis they are prepared to piece the information together as you did and can follow along. If your thesis does not seem to be doing the work of guiding the reader or reinforcing your synthesis you may want to:
a) Tighten up your thesis so that there are no generalizations
b) Make sure that the language you use in your thesis is clear. Be as direct as possible—a thesis is not about being convoluted or complex, it is about getting the main idea of the essay to the reader in the most direct way possible.
c) Be certain that your thesis is taking a stand. Are you making a claim in your thesis that is debatable, or simply known? A thesis that states information that does not need to be argued is weak and will not support any of the research that you have done. Make sure that your thesis is taking a stand on the subject your chose.

Notes on Annotated bibliography

A printed copy of your annotated bibliography is due in class on Wednesday, October 30th. This must include all five sources that you plan to use during Unit Four.

Annotated BIB

bibliography is a list of sources (books, journals, websites, periodicals, etc.) one has used for researching a topic. Bibliographies are sometimes called “references” or “works cited” depending on the style format you are using. A bibliography usually just includes the bibliographic information (i.e., the author, title, publisher, etc.).

An annotation is a summary and/or evaluation.

Therefore, an annotated bibliography includes a summary and/or evaluation of each of the sources. Depending on your project or the assignment, your annotations may do one or more of the following:

  • Summarize: Some annotations merely summarize the source. What are the main arguments? What is the point of this book or article? What topics are covered? If someone asked what this article/book is about, what would you say? The length of your annotations will determine how detailed your summary is.
  • Assess: After summarizing a source, it may be helpful to evaluate it. Is it a useful source? How does it compare with other sources in your bibliography? Is the information reliable? Is this source biased or objective? What is the goal of this source?
  • Reflect: Once you’ve summarized and assessed a source, you need to ask how it fits into your research. Was this source helpful to you? How does it help you shape your argument? How can you use this source in your research project? Has it changed how you think about your topic?

Your annotated bibliography should be 120-200 words and include all three of these elements.


The bibliographic information: an MLA citation of each source, listed by alphabetical order.

The annotations: The annotations for each source are written in paragraph form. There should be no extra space between the annotation and the citation. The lengths of the annotations should be 150-200 words. You can focus your annotations for your own needs. A few sentences of general summary followed by several sentences of how you can fit the work into your larger paper or project can serve you well when you go to draft.


To cite an Anthology such as our Mercury Reader:

Lastname, First name. “Title of Essay.” Title of Collection. Ed.
Editor’s Name(s). City of Publication: Publisher, Year.
Page range of entry. Medium of Publication.


Walker, Alice. “Am I Blue?” Mercury Reader: Sustainability Fall 2012. Ed.
Janice Neuleib, Kathleen Shine Cain, and Stephen Ruffus.
Boston: Pearson Learning Solutions, 2013.  44-48. Print.

Notes on research and narrowing your overall topic into a thesis

A research paper should not simply be a blind report of information. Instead, it should address an interesting or relevant problem and respond to that problem with a thesis that is specific, debatable, and source driven.

You should begin by developing a research question via critical thinking. When debating an answer or response to your question be sure to consider every point of view that can be taken on the subject, what type of evidence supports those points of view, what aspects of the question are open ended and which facets of the problem have been focused on by scholars.

After considering all of these aspects of your subject or question you should be able to form a thesis, or answer to the problem or subject at hand. Your thesis should be backed up by your sources, though not all sources will function in the same way throughout your essay. Some sources will work to provide context to your argument, some will supply evidence to your claims, and others will work to present alternative points of view so that your argument is well rounded.

The key to all of this is specificity. You will make it much harder on yourself if you do not create a thesis that is as specific as possible because a general thesis leaves too much room for debate and can cause you to meander or lose sight of what you would like to discuss. A concise and exact thesis allows you to be sure of what you are arguing and makes your sources work for you rather than you work to make sense of your sources.

Start with original, broad topic:
The Threat of Erosion

Focus on your topic:
limit by a particular approach to the issue, one part of the subject, a specific time span, a population group, a geographical location. DRAW ON SPECIFICS.

Erosion effects on Louisiana >>
Erosion effects on Louisiana (culture, fisheries, habitats, national navigation, oil & gas industry, storm protection, water quality & agriculture.)

Make a list of useful keywords:
Brainstorm keywords that you associate with your topic

Keywords: trawling, fishing, bayous, crawfish, domestic food sources

Be willing to modify or change
If you find yourself moving in a direction you did not anticipate don’t hit the breaks—see if it leads to a more conductive avenue of thought or research

The negative effects of erosion on domestic food sources via fisheries

Define your topic as a research question:
Ask an important question about your topic that could be answered via research.

What economical effect does erosion in Louisiana have on the United States domestic food supply as fisheries are threatened? 

Read more about topic in light of new view:
Try to answer your own question through research or close investigation into your gathered sources.

“Almost 75% of the fish landed in the Gulf of Mexico come through a Louisiana port (NOAA fisheries 2005). Louisiana in 1997 had more fishing vessels than any other state except for Alaska (Richardson et al. 2004). In addition, in 1999, Louisiana had 122 commercial fish processing plats, as well as 161 wholesalers.”

“Fisheries.” Louisiana’s Coast. State of Louisiana, n.d. Web. 18 Feb. 2013

Form a thesis statement:
In a sense this is an answer to your question. This should be a claim that you can stand behind and argue with the help of your sources and your synthesized understanding of the subject at hand.

As domestic fisheries are threatened by coastal erosion in Louisiana the United States is at risk of losing one of its most profitable coastal industries and therefore will take a substantial hit economically. 

Unit Four MCL Assignments Are Now Accessible


The three assignments on MyCompLab for Unit Four are now accessible to you.  Quite a large percentage of the class did not complete the Unit Three assignments and as a result lost points that would have been easily earned as this is a completion grade. Make sure that you get this round done, and once you finish these assignments say Adios to MCL until English 102!