Prewriting And Planning For The This I Believe Essay


  • Prewriting and Planning for the This I Believe EssayAttached Files:
    • File This I Believe Assignment Sheet.doc Click for more options (29.5 KB)
    • Instructions: The attached document assignment sheet provides a quick walk-through of the assignment. Also you will find a link to a couple of example models from the website listed within the document.
  • AssignmentPrewriting and Planning for This I Believe (Unit 1 Assignment)Assignment Purpose: For this assignment, you prepare to write a This I Believe essay by generating ideas and planning how to organize your essay.

    Assignment Description: There are two parts to this assignment:
    1) Practice a technique called freewriting for five minutes.  When you freewrite, you write without stopping for a set period of time.  Do not stop.  Do not worry about spelling or grammar.  Do not censor your ideas.  Just keep writing.  If you get stuck, repeat a prompting question or the topic until something comes to you.  Freewriting is about quantity rather than quality.  We’ll reverse that philosophy when we start writing your essay, but for now focus on generating as many ideas as you can.  When freewriting, you are not evaluated on how good your ideas are – just that you have a lot of writing and thoughts to work with. To start your prewrite, consider this question: “What are your most cherished beliefs?”.

    2) Practice planning your essay.  To plan what you want to write and in what order, try either an outline or a skeleton draft.  An outline follows a specific format for organizing your ideas into paragraphs with some details mapped out.  A skeleton draft is writing what you imagine the first sentence of each paragraph will be to get a picture of your essay sub-topics from start to finish.  You do not need to write the full essay, just map out a few of the ideas you plan to include.
    See a sample of what this assignment looks like here: Preparing for Your This I Believe Essay.docx

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    EN 104 This I Believe Essay

    Essay 1: This I Believe


    The purpose of this essay is to use personal writing to understand complex ideas and beliefs more clearly. In this essay, you will also focus on how to concisely communicate those ideas and beliefs with others.


    Below are the instructions from the This I Believe website ( ):

    We invite you to contribute to this project by writing and submitting your own statement of personal belief. We understand how challenging this is—it requires intense self-examination, and many find it difficult to begin. To guide you through this process, we offer these suggestions:

    Tell a story: Be specific. Take your belief out of the ether and ground it in the events of your life. Consider moments when belief was formed or tested or changed. Think of your own experience, work, and family, and tell of the things you know that no one else does. Your story need not be heart-warming or gut-wrenching—it can even be funny—but it should be real. Make sure your story ties to the essence of your daily life philosophy and the shaping of your beliefs.

    Be brief: Your statement should be between 350 and 500 words. That’s about three minutes when read aloud at your natural pace. The shorter length forces you to focus on the belief that is central to your life.

    Name your belief: If you can’t name it in a sentence or two, your essay might not be about belief. Also, rather than writing a list, focus on one core belief.

    Be positive: Say what you do believe, not what you don’t believe. Avoid statements of religious dogma, preaching, or editorializing.

    Be personal: Make your essay about you; speak in the first person. Avoid speaking in the editorial “we.” Write in words and phrases that are comfortable for you to speak. We recommend you read your essay aloud to yourself several times, and each time edit it and simplify it until you find the words, tone and story that truly echo your belief and the way you speak.

    For this project, we are also guided by the original This I Believe series and the producers’ invitation to those who wrote essays in the 1950s. Their advice holds up well and we are abiding by it. Please consider it carefully in writing your piece.

    In introducing the original series, host Edward R. Murrow said, “Never has the need for personal philosophies of this kind been so urgent.” We would argue that the need is as great now as it was 50 years ago. We are eager for your contribution.


    Your This I Believe Essay must meet the following criteria:

    · The essay is personal, brief, and tells a story

    · The essay is organized logically with strong topic sentences and transitions between ideas

    · The essay has an effective title, introduction, and conclusion

    · There is a clear thesis that expresses the main point and structure of the essay

    · There is adequate support (stories, descriptions, details, examples) for the thesis

    · The essay has been edited for grammar, spelling, and concision

    Due Dates

    Review your syllabus and note the following due dates:

    Prewriting and planning (30 points): Sunday of Week 1

    First draft (10 points, in the discussion forum): Wednesday of Week 2

    Action plan for revision (30 points): Sunday of Week 2

    Final draft (100 points): Sunday of Week 3


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