Writing Editorials: OpEds And Letters
This final assignment is your opportunity to apply all your content knowledge & practice from class to writing for the real world. The OpEd absolutely helps indicate where your grade lands on the W2 grade rubric. Do not “wing it”. Revise thoroughly.
Assignment Requirements and Deadlines:
• Real-life submission information (instructions, addresses, etc.) must be printed at the end of the paper.
• Draft OpEd, about two pages double-spaced, due Monday 3/4. Bring three paper copies for in-class group.
• Revised OpEd for a sticker due on Wednesday 3/13.
Instructions and Outcomes:
Genre: This assignment can take one of three forms.
A. Opinion piece: An opinion editorial is either like a column or like a news item with opinion. Refer to op-eds in recent newspapers for format. Many newspapers post their format requirements. A couple of models are posted on Canvas. See also http://www.berkeley.edu/news/media/cc/tips-oped.shtml.
B. Letter to the editor: This is usually a response to something recently published or reported. As a response, it takes to task certain statements or facts (deconstructing a fallacious argument) or provides a meaningful counter-argument. If you use this format, please provide the original news item prompting the response when you turn in your assignment. You will make this longer than most “letters” and instead it will be around one page, double-spaced.
C. Letter to whomever: There may be a direct letter-writing action that you want to take and you are welcome (encouraged!) to use this assignment to write an excellent letter.
Your Assignment: The purpose of this assignment is twofold: 1) work on concise writing along with direct, active style, and 2) improve your argument development. Work to show off your mastery of everything you practiced and learned (otherwise known as this course’s content!).
Choose a topic. What topic, you say? Any topic!
a. What are you involved with at this point in the quarter?
b. Where do you have a strong enough opinion to really want to get your voice heard on an issue?
c. What letter would you love to write (and write well!) then really put in the mail?
d. If you need a default topic, use your argument paper, but narrow the point of your argument.
Find a specific audience.
a. Locate submission information for your piece.
b. Include contact info! Without complete contact or submission info, the assignment is incomplete.
c. While there is no class requirement to submit your editorial to its intended audience, you are encouraged to do so.
Write and develop a concise and persuasive argument.
Revise, revise, revise. We do minimal in-class peer review and there is very limited instructor involvement. This paper is all you (but we will serve as an audience while you revise).
Review of your argument, rhetoric, and style practice:
Argument: In our five-week unit on argument and argument structure, you worked on—
a. Standard argument format mapping and analysis of claims/support/thesis confirmation with the Ratio firmamentum task, followed by revision for improved logical reasoning and argument structure.
b. Toulmin argument (warrants, backing, reasons, & etc.) and syllogism, along with inductive & deductive reasoning.
c. Coherence and cohesion, including logical relationships (in peer response) and reading backwards through the paper to find jumps, hidden assumptions or premises, and opportunities for better micro-cohesion.
d. Indicating all logical relationships within our sentences through logical joining words (chart in Lab 10 notebook task).
e. Counter-argument, rebuttal, and refutation (possibly, if time for final debates).
Rhetoric: You worked on—
a. Identifying euphemisms and positions in Lab 8 notebook task.
b. Identifying fallacies in Lab 9 notebook task.
c. Identifying logos, ethos, and pathos; using these consciously in your own writing.
Concision and Active, Direct Style: Through revision and tasks, both in-class and in homework, you have worked on—
a. Naming clear, definite actors and avoiding vague pronouns. See Actors and Actions resources.
b. Reducing passive sentences and “to be” verbs, along with other weak verbs. See Actors and Actions resources.
c. Signaling and Integrating sources. See Integrating Sources resources.
d. Cohesion. See Logical coherence and cohesion resource.
e. And finally, concision. See Concision resource (Williams).
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