Synthesis: An Example to Work With

October 27th, 2010

Here is an example of a synthesis prompt developed in 2007 by the AP people about the effects of TV on elections. Notice you don’t simply need to take a “This is good” or This is bad” position to make things work.

Look at all three documents to get an idea of what we mean by synthesis. The sources are much shorter than you’ve seen, which will make it easier to get the idea in a little less time.

Synthesis Prompt: Sources
Student Responses
Grades and Comments

Your First Synthesis Prompt

October 26th, 2010

We’ve read and discussed both essays and images about boxing. You have notes and resources. Now write a synthesis paper.

Find the specifics in the attached handout.

Synthesis: Boxing

Gatsby runs for Class President

October 15th, 2010

Who Wins?

Four people are running for President of the class of 2012: Daisy Buchanan, Tom Buchanan, Nick Carraway, and Jay Gatsby.

Who gets your vote? Why?

Who wins? Why? What does this tell you about your class and our society?

Write an analysis of 2-3 pages, 700-1000 words. Explain why you would vote for one, and why you wouldn’t vote for the others. Be as specific as you can, and use real quotes from the text (at least 4) to back up your conclusions. For instance, if you say Tom is selfish, find some text in the story that shows him being selfish. Add a page number reference to help the reader.

Honestly, I can imagine a well supported answer for every one of these candidates. No are universally likeable, but all have some strengths, somewhere.

And if you’re honest about yourself, you might not always vote for the best candidate, isn’t that possible?

Gulliver: The Final Exam

September 28th, 2010

What does Gulliver’s Travels tell us about ourselves?

Well, what does Gulliver’s Travels suggest about ourselves?

Write 3-5 solid paragraphs, using direct quotes from the text, with page numbers, to work toward an answer to this question. Obviously, there is more than good answer, and there is no single “correct” answer.

A good essay should be spellchecked, typed, 2-3 pages in length, with some original point and solid support with direct quotes.

Voyage to the Houyhnhnms

September 21st, 2010

You may be reading the gentlest yet most disturbing of the four voyages.
Read through Chapter 4 for Tuesday, Sept. 21. Be finished with the whole book by Friday, September 24.

Just as before, write down a prediction, then write one thoughtful, interpretive question for each chapter.

How is Gulliver’s character evolving through these four voyages? Is he the same man he was when he landed on Lilliput?

Houyhnhnms and Yahoos

Voyage to Laputa

September 15th, 2010

Be finished with Book 3, voyage to Laputa, etc. by Friday, September 17.

Notice the changes you see in Gulliver here.

Many critics have noted, disparagingly, that Book 3 doesn’t follow the tight and elegant pattern of the other three books. That being said, can you defend Swift’s strategy here? In what way do the themes we have seen developed in the first two books get a greater and more extended elaboration here?  Think about Gulliver views himself, his world, and the world(s) he visits.

A Letter to Saddam Hussein

September 15th, 2010

Mary Ewald’s Letter to Saddam Hussein

It’s hard to imagine a more difficult challenge than trying to talk and absolute dictator into freeing a prisoner.

But Mary Ewald was up to the challenge.

Read her letter, and note and explain the strategies Mary uses to make her case.

Pass in a finished essay on Monday, September 20 and a second careful revision on Wednesday, September 22. Post both versions on Buzzword, and look for editorial grades and comments there.

NB. This one is all about the triangle. Know it, and use it.

Gulliver, Book 2

September 13th, 2010

Be finished with the Voyage to Brobdingnag by Tuesday, September 14. You should have an interpretive question on each chapter, and a prediction about the story that you made just as you started reading Book 2.

Three More Posts on Kingsolver? And about confidentiality…

August 1st, 2010

Yep, by August 1 you should have a total of 6 posts on Small Wonder. Maybe I wasn’t clear on this, but three of your six can be responses to other people’s posts. Again, I want this assignment to be interactive and dynamic, not just an essay to the teacher.Also, in reading the essays I’m starting to see that some of Kingsolver’s writing may evoke a very personal response from you. If you would like to write something just for the teacher, not for all your classmates, you certainly can. Send it by email to, and I’ll write back to you directly.

First Three Posts on the Kingsolver Book

July 15th, 2010

Three posts are due for the Small Wonder book by July 15.
Have you made any progress on this work?

I find many of Barbara Kingsolver’s essays useful and graceful, but there are times when the voice sounds like a mother arguing with her daughter. Since is something you would know more about than I do, so I would like your opinion on that.

I’m preparing my own post on her “The One-Eyed Monster” and a second on “The Forest’s Last Stand.” I’ll share these with you later, but I want to hear from you guys first.