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Writing Across the Curriculum



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 support.

(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.


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