From Guided Journals to the Formal Essay
English 16 (LIU’s First-Year Composition Course)
The following is a sample sequence of assignments excerpted from the first
cycle in my English 16 course this semester (Fall 2005). There were
three other readings in this cycle and an essay question pertaining to those
as well. Students could choose one of the two topics to explore in
their first formal essay.
Informal Writing Assignments:
(HW) Journal: Read “Mother Tongue.” How
did Amy Tan’s mother affect her development, first as a student, and
later, as a writer? Refer specifically to the text for support.
(In-Class) Journal: What does Tan say about the disproportionate
number of Asian American engineers to Asian American writers? How does
she relate this reality to her own experiences in school? Refer specifically
to the text for support.
What kinds of assumptions have you witnessed teachers make about you and/or
your classmates? What were the implications of these assumptions?
(HW) Journal: Read “Silence.” How does
Maxine Hong Kingston’s mother describe Americans? What impact
do you think this had on Kingston’s adaptation to her American school? Refer
specifically to the text for support.
(In-Class) Journal: Describe the relationship Maxine Hong
Kingston has with her teacher. How does this relationship affect her
experience and performance in school? Refer specifically to the text for
(HW) Journal: Read “School and Home: Public and Private
Identity” by Richard Rodriguez. Should immigrant students hold
on to private identities that may make it harder for them to succeed in public
America? Refer specifically to the text for support.
(In-Class) Journal: Do you agree or disagree with Rodriguez
that bilingual education is not helpful to immigrant students?
Formal Essay #1:
Amy Tan, Maxine Hong Kingston, and Richard Rodriguez all discuss how their
native cultures affect their experiences in the American educational system. Use
these authors’ experiences to write an essay in which you discuss the
difficulties and challenges that students who are from cultures outside of
mainstream America face as students here in America.
Your essay should be thesis-driven, and you must use quotes from the writers’ texts
to support your position.