Watching the beans grow

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  • 1. Watching the Beans Grow … Or how to write a great argument essay using Thoreau’s quote
  • 2. The Prompt• Henry David Thoreau wrote, “Many men go fishing all of their lives without knowing that it is not fish they are after.”• Directions: In a well thought out essay, examine the accuracy of this aphorism in modern society. Concentrate on examples from your observations, reading, and experiences to develop your ideas.(Prompt from Cliff’s AP English Language and Composition, 3rd Edition. Barbara F. Swovelin, 2006)
  • 3. Step 1- Analyze the Prompt• What exactly is the prompt asking me to do in general: – Focus on content, organization, style, and conventions – Recognize the type of writing- persuasive/argument – Assume a position on an issue and use language to influence the reader. – The purpose is to express a writer’s opinion on a subject either explicitly or implicitly. – Through the support provided, the writer presents a convincing point of view (Georgia High School Writing Test )
  • 4. Step 1- Analyze the Prompt• What exactly is the prompt asking me to do specifically? – In a well thought out essay – Examine the accuracy of this aphorism – in modern society. – Concentrate on examples – From your observations, readings and experiences.
  • 5. Step 1- Analyze the Prompt• What exactly is the prompt asking me to do specifically? – In a well thought out essay – Examine the accuracy of this aphorism – in modern society. – Concentrate on examples – From your observations, readings and experiences.
  • 6. Step One- Define/Review literary terms• Aphorism: “a terse saying embodying a general truth, or astute observation” (Dictionary.com) – Terse: short, to the point – Embodying: representing – Astute: wiseA short saying that represents a general truth or wise observation.
  • 7. Step 2- Analyze the Quote• What exactly does the quote say?"Many men go fishing all of their lives without knowing that it is not fish they are after." Henry David Thoreau• Immediate questions???Is this really about fish? Could it be about fish? If it is not about fish, what is it about? Could fish symbolize something? What?
  • 8. Step Two- Analyze the Quote• "Many men go fishing all of their lives without knowing that it is not fish they are after.“• Write it or think it in your own words.• It is human nature to lose sight of the big picture and get distracted by unimportant things.
  • 9. Step Three- Understand the context• Is there more to it? – Fish as a symbol in literature and cultural reference- abundance, wealth, prosperity, Christianity, Pilgrim fertilizer, verb/noun – Thoreau’s emphasis on the natural world – Thoreau’s belief in Transcendentalism• Would this work with anything else? Many men bike their whole life … drink … etc. No, it works best with fish.• Fishing represent something larger so symbolism is important, here.
  • 10. Step Four-Crafting the Argument• Do I agree or disagree? – I agree.• How am I going to set up my argument. – Go back to the prompt … it told me.
  • 11. Step Four- Crafting the ArgumentI. IntroductionII. ObservationsIII. ReadingIV. ExperiencesV. Conclusion
  • 12. Step Five- Writing the DraftI. Introduction A. Rewrite the prompt in my own words B. Identify Thoreau’s technique- symbolism and aphorism- to compare or contrast viewpoints. ***A two-three sentence introduction in this kind of writing is just fine. Get to the task at hand.
  • 13. Step Five- Writing the DraftI. Introduction A. Henry David Thoreau’s famous fishing quote describes how it is human nature to lose sight of the important things in life. B. Thoreau’s use of symbolism in his aphorism reminds me of my grandfather, a fisherman whose keen sense of observation of the natural and literary world enabled him to successfully land that elusive fish.
  • 14. Step Five- Writing the DraftII. Body paragraph #1- observations A. Topic sentence B. Concrete detail- specific example or quote C. Commentary- Analysis of quote D. Commentary- connect to the topic sentence E. Concrete detail- specific example or quote F. Commentary- Analysis of quote G. Commentary- connect to the topic sentence H. Concluding sentence or clincher (You can additional rounds and make it an 11 sentence paragraph or a 14 sentence paragraph.
  • 15. Step Five- Writing the DraftII. Body paragraph #1- observations A. Thoreau spent more than two years observing nature and probably caught many fish while on Walden Pond. B. I relate to Thoreau’s use of the fish as a symbol to stand for the ultimate prize because I used to fish with my grandfather. C. He was with me when I landed a snook- a smart, striped wide mouth sports fish that is hard to hook. D. With patience and luck, we brought in the snook together. E. My grandfather fished the whole eastern coast of the US- from the cold mountain streams of Maine to the balmy and salty winter nights in the Florida Keys. F. Each fishing experience was different; there was always another fish to catch and the dream of an unexplored stream where the fish were biting. G. While waiting, reeling and filleting, he communed with nature and reinforced relationships with fellow fishermen. H. It wasn’t the fish he was after- although they were tasty- it was the chase, the catch, and ultimately, the experience itself that attracted him to fishing.
  • 16. Step Five- Writing the DraftII. Body paragraph #1- reading A. My grandfather was also a devout reader, especially of Shakespeare. B. His favorite play, Hamlet, includes a man searching for meaning. C. Because of Hamlet’s indecisiveness, he can never make a decision or act when needed. D. Hamlet would be Thoreau’s man who continually fished without knowing what he was fishing for. E. At one point, Hamlet even accuses Polonious, the king’s advisor, of being a fish monger. F. Hamlet is slyly accusing Polonious of pimping his daughter in exchange for information. G. Hamlet was quick to judge others but at least Polonious understood his role in society. H. Maybe when my grandfather was quoting Hamlet to us he was encouraging us to understand our place in this world and how this knowledge would lead to personal happiness.
  • 17. Step Five- Writing the DraftII. Body paragraph #1- experience A. Today, I am left with only memories of my grandfather. B. He was an extremely smart fisherman who intuitively knew the right lure, rig, jig, bait, line, weight, and sinker to catch a fish. C. He would say to us if we weren’t paying attention, “Either fish or cut bait.” D. He encouraged us to observe the tug of the line, the swirl of the eddy, and the dip of the bobber. E. Fishing was more than just a pastime for him; fishing was a metaphor for a life fully lived. F. He would have been disappointed with today’s technological wizardry in fishing as it takes away from the relationship between man and fish. G. For him, happiness was fresh bait, an old pole, and a good spot.
  • 18. Step Five- Writing the DraftV. ConclusionA. Restate the thesisB. Leave the reader with something to do or some way to think or feel.ConclusionA. Thoreau and my grandfather would have been fishing buddies as they both valued simplicity and understood how to cast straight and not tangle the line.B. Its not the graphite pole or the latest lure that will bring you happiness; it is the authetic communal ritual of reeling in the catch of the day.