S Vocabulary (10-13)
S Friedman: Anecdotes; Compare and Contrast
S Holmes: Illustrations and Examples
S Basic Features
S Discussion: Ways to begin your concept essay.
S In-Class Writing:
S Focusing your Concept
S Writing your Thesis
Discuss these words in your groups:
“Born to Be Happy, Through a
Twist of Human Hard Wire”
Richard A. Friedman
SGet into groups of three
or four to discuss this
essay and answer
Take 10 minutes to discuss the
following among yourselves.
• First, briefly summarize the story
• What is the concept about which Friedman writes?
• Which anecdotes does Friedman use to help explain the concept
to his readers?
• What other concepts does Friedman compare and contrast to his
concept? Why does he do this?
• How does he focus his concept?
• Which terms does he define?
“In The Blink of an Eye”
S Get back into your groups to
discuss this essay and answer
Take 10 Minutes to Answer
S First, summarize the story.
S How does Holmes focus his concept?
S Which terms does he define and why?
S How do the pictures and graphs work to
enhance his explanation of his concept?
The Basic Features of the
S A Focused Concept
S An Appeal to Readers’
S A Logical Plan
S Clear Definitions
S Appropriate Writing
S Process Narration
S Comparison and Contrast
S Cause and Effect
S Careful Use of Sources
Get Back Into Your Groups
S Read Aloud “Basic Features: Explaining a
Concept” pages 164-65
S When you finish, discuss each feature, noting
how you will integrate each one into your own
S Take notes about your own writing while you
A Focused Concept
S Concepts can be approached from many
perspectives (for example, history, definition, known
causes or effects), and you cannot realistically
explain every aspect of any concept, so you must
limit your explanation to reflect both your special
interest in the concept and your readers’ likely
knowledge and interest.
S Make a list of two or three aspects of the
concept that could become a focus for
your essay, and evaluate what you know
about each aspect.
S Under each possible focus in your list,
make notes about why it interests you, what
you know about it already, and what
questions you want to answer about it.
Testing Your Choice
Get together with one or two other students to find out what your readers are
likely to know about your subject and what might interest them about it.
Take turns briefly explaining your concept, describing your intended readers, and
identifying the aspect of the concept that you will focus on.
Briefly tell the presenter whether the focus sounds appropriate and interesting for
the intended readers. Share what you think readers are likely to know about the
concept and what information might be especially interesting to them.
Formulating a Working
Refer to our model essays to see
how others handle a thesis for this
kind of essay
In his essay on cannibalism, Ngo offers his thesis
statement in paragraph six:
Cannibalism can be broken down into two main categories:
exocannibalism, the eating of outsiders or foreigners, and
endocannibalism, the eating of members of one’s own social
group (Shipman 70). Within these categories are several
functional types of cannibalism, three of the most common being
survival cannibalism, dietary cannibalism, and religious and
Ngo’s concept is cannibalism; his focus is on functional
He has two categories: Endo and Exocannibalism
He has three types: Survival, dietary, and religious/ritual
In his thesis, he carefully forecasts both how he will divide the
information to create topics and the order in which he will explain
each of the topics
S O.K., let’s cut out all this nonsense about romantic
love. Let’s bring some scientific precision to the party.
Let’s put love under a microscope. When rigorous
people with Ph.D.'s after their names do that, what they
see is not some silly, senseless thing. No, their probe
reveals that love rests firmly on the foundations of
evolution, biology and chemistry.
Toufexis’s concept is love, and her focus is the scientific explanation of
love—specifically the evolution, biology, and chemistry of love. In
announcing her focus, she forecasts the order in which she will present
information from the three most relevant academic disciplines—
anthropology (human evolution), biology, and chemistry. These
discipline names become her topics.
Anastasia Toufexis begins her essay with her thesis statement:
The Challenge: Draft your working thesis in ten
S As you draft your own tentative thesis statement, take care to
make the language clear. Although you may want to revise your
thesis statement as you draft your essay, trying to state it now
will give your planning and drafting more focus and direction.
Keep in mind that the thesis in an explanatory essay, such as a
concept essay, merely announces the subject; it never asserts
a position that requires an argument to defend it.
S Write one or more sentences, stating your focused concept,
that could serve as a thesis statement Forecast the topics you
will use to explain the concept.
S Cannibalism can be broken down
into two main categories:
exocannibalism, the eating of
outsiders or foreigners, and
endocannibalism, the eating of
members of one’s own social
group (Shipman 70). Within
these categories are several
functional types of cannibalism,
three of the most common being
survival cannibalism, dietary
cannibalism, and religious and
S O.K., let’s cut out all this
nonsense about romantic love.
Let’s bring some scientific
precision to the party. Let’s put
love under a microscope.
When rigorous people with
Ph.D.'s after their names do
that, what they see is not some
silly, senseless thing. No, their
probe reveals that love rests
firmly on the foundations of
evolution, biology and
Your Thesis is a Map to Your Essay
Once you have your working thesis written, you
can make a tentative outline.
Repeat if Necessary
S Read: HG through chapter 22
S Post #10: Finish and post your in-class writing: Focused concept, thesis,
S Find three more examples of your concept in HG. Endeavor to find
examples to represent your classifications or categories.
S Post #11 Choose another concept to compare and contrast with yours for the
purpose of demonstrating differences.
S Study: Vocab (1-18)
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