First Essay Assignment – Narration

First-year composition courses often address modes of discourse. Many educational sites, such as Owl  lists four: Narrative, Descriptive, Expository, and Argumentative.  Quite a few textbooks, however, subdivide them further: Process, Cause and Effect, Comparison and Contrast, Definition, Illustration, and Division and Classification.  Even though I prefer challenging students with provocative ideas and contemporary, controversial subjects early in their undergraduate education,  educating students on these modes helps them find the language of composition that is so essential to success.  Besides, most textbooks, such as Paul Eschholtz and Alfred Rosa’s Subject & Strategy, encourage students to combine strategies.

This assignment concerns narration.

In 750 to 1250 words, narrate an interesting and significant event (the event does not have to be long in duration) in which you learned something about one or both of your parents’ strengths, weaknesses, and/or limitations. You can substitute a person or person who raised you instead of your parent or parents; in other words, a grandparent or grandparents, adoptive mother and/or father, an aunt and/or uncle. You must narrate the event in such a way that the reader comes to understand what you have learned about your parent or parents.

Additional requirements:

  1. Part or the entire event must have happened in nature, and at least one other person other than you and the person or persons who raised you must be described in your essay.
  2. Your narration does not need to begin at the beginning: You can begin the narration anywhere; however, the narration has to be written in such a manner that readers can keep track of the sequence of what happened when and where.
  3. The paper must be formatted according to MLA.
  4. You must interview someone either face-to-face or e-mail. We will discuss the logistics and the formalities of interviewing, open-ended questions, and analysis of those questions.  All questions must be pre-approved by me.
  5. You must use the techniques of summary and scene as they are explained by our text and by my lecture.
  6. In your essay, you must describe in detail at least two things (persons or objects) using figurative language (metaphor, simile, etc.).
  7. You must submit your rough draft and two other copies of your draft by __________ so that you can actively participate in the peer-review process of your paper. I will not accept any paper that has not gone through that peer-review held in class.
  8. By ___________ you must submit your final draft online as well as submit in class  a folder that contains your final draft, peer review copies, revisions, and rough draft.

Sometimes I increase the minimum number of words as well as the maximum.  Often I have the peer-review process online in a forum. I do remember once that I had the students in the second half of the semester revise the essays they submitted for this assignment, using all the skills that they have learned up to that point; however, most students “revised” by changing a few words around and/or attempting to address the issues that I noted.