Quick and Easy Essays for Teachers of Non-Literary Subjects
Out-of-Order Construction = Easy to Write, Easy to Grade Short Essays.
Perfect for short, in-class assignments
that are easily
graded. (see #11)
1. Find interesting ideas or concepts in the text that you're studying
can be discussed in a way in a way which requires the students
to explain, to have an opinion, and to relate to research
the text you are using for this assignment
2. Find a good narrow quote which illustrates ONE
idea before writing
anything else on your paper! - ONLY ONE NARROW IDEA!
Put the quote in the middle of a separate
page (9-15 lines down),
leaving room for the later stuff which will go above and below your
quote. Quotes are the exact words of the source.
- Do not put any part of a quote or discussion on the back
of a page!
Treat the back as if it doesn't exist!
- For rough drafts, write in dark ink, in readable
with no frizzy paper.
3. Quoted passages must always be completely indented on the
Handwritten (for rough draft): left margin only and
B. Typed double-spaced is correct for whole paper [though Andrews
likes single-spaced quotes better!].
4. Quotes should not be too long, too short, too vague, or
A. Excessively long including much material not relevant to point.
Too short to have enough meaningful detail.
Summaries of general information which lack vivid detail which
will enable the reader to understand the issue being discussed.
5. Quotes should be vivid and should clearly illustrate the idea
- Make quotes interesting, so readers can have an emotional as well
as an intellectual reaction to them.
- Make sure that the quotes have "bullability": good stuff that you
can discuss thoroughly.
6. Shorten long quotes to include only parts of the text that are
relevant to the NARROW IDEA being
discussed. Put sections
together using the ellipsis […] where
you leave stuff out,
but don't overuse it. You don't want to have a whole bunch of ellipses.
7. Each POINT should be introduced with a clear and precise
definition of the idea
to be discussed in the following related blocks.
- Make sure that the idea is not too broad or too vague.
8. Introductory material of the BLOCK should include:
Appropriate transitional phrases (next, secondly, however, etc.).
A clear but short pithy statement telling the reader exactly what you
will prove in the following quote(s).
C. The author and title of the work the quote came from, if it would not be
redundant to give this information.
9. Background and context (very important!):
Give the who-what-when-where of the quote, so that the reader isn't
dropped into the middle of an unknown situation and expected to
understand an isolated quote. Where or when is the idea an issue?
summarize the information that will be in your quote before you
have given the reader the quote!
Give only a
general idea of the nature of the quote.
B. Lead into
quote with a transitional phrase
(often beginning with "when")
- For a smooth transition, make sure that the last words of the transition
match grammatically and stylistically with the first words of the quote.
10. Analysis following the quote may include clarification,
judgment, and connections.
discussion of significant features of quote (not just
repeating what was just said in the quote).- One can look at
individual words and phrases which are unusual, obscure, or which
graphically prove your point, and therefore need explanation.
Do not begin your analysis with the words
"This is a good example because..."
- Do not use the word "quote" anywhere in your paper.
B. Possible types of judgment:
use the word "I" or "you" when stating your opinion!]
1. Judgment: your opinion
about the idea or concept
Is the concept being handled properly by the text, by other authors,
or by society in general? Is the treatment good or bad?
-or better or worse than average? Why?
- What would be a
better way to handle this?
- What would be a worse
way of handling this?
- What would an average
way of handling it be?
Judgment: your opinion as to whether the author did a good job
of presenting the idea.
Technically, are the examples absurd or unrealistic or
b. Ideawise, is the author's presentation unrealistic or
Tell how and
3. Remedy: what could or should characters or the author have
done to present the idea in a better way? Explain!
C. Connection: Go to another authority or text to explain how
present author's treatment of the issue is the same or differs from
the approach of another author or by society in general.
a contemporary or historical application which illustrates how
the quote reflects human nature or situations that exist today -
how things were handled at a different time or place than the
- Give enough concrete, specific details to prove to the reader that
you really understand your connection.
11. One of these "blocks" is just right for a class writing exercise,
as it will give each student a chance
to exercise different types
of analysis in a class period or less.
-Why In-Class? Short, In-Class writing assignments are
ways of developing students' writing abilities, as they are done
little pressure, and the teacher can be sure that the
students are actually doing the assignments themselves, which
is not always the case when they write things outside of class.
-Rough Drafts: -The in-class portion can be
a rough draft,
drafts- the rough and the final - being turned in
to make it easier for the teacher to read and grade them.
A. The teacher can either choose quotes in advance and then
give the students a choice of ideas to write about - or can
assign specific passages to specific students.
B. As the students get
more comfortable with finding significant
ideas for themselves about which they can have opinions,
they can be required to find quotes or ideas for
which they will have located before they come into class for
the actual writing assignment.
C. Easy Grading: Use 1/4-page grading sheets
(Click to see sample grading sheets).
(1) Check to see if the quote is good - relevant and narrow;
(2) Check to see if background is enough;
(3) Check to see if the Introductory Phrase is correct;
(4) Check to see if the quote has been clarified;
or explained adequately. Does the student understand?;
(5) Check to see if the student has a clearly-stated opinion about
the concept in the quote
- or about the quality of the author's
presentation of the idea;
(6) Check to see if the student has related the idea or concept
to an outside authority.
If graded in that order, it's easy to just check off items on the grading
sheets and make short comments if necessary.
12. Combine blocks for longer essays: The Multi-Block Essay
More blocks may be
used either to present more examples of
the same idea or to have contrasting ideas in the same essay.
-If a multi-block essay
A. A clear Introduction must be given stating the purpose of the
whole essay, whether it is to discuss one idea with multiple
examples, or to present contrasting viewpoints.
B. Don't be
repetitious in analysis
of each block, saying the
same thing over and over in succeeding examples.
Avoid repetitious analysis by using narrow analysis
after each quote. Use specific analysis which refers
only to that
specific quote - ie.
clarification and judgment relating
to that quote.
C. "Big Analysis": put general concluding statements, which
refer to all examples in a point, into a "big analysis" at the
of the whole point.
- A connection
might also go in this "big analysis,"
instead of putting a connection after each block, which might be
13. Do not use the following words or phrases in your paper
they are part of a quote: I, you, me, my, we, our, us, quote,
"This is a good example..."
- State your opinion
as an authority.
1st and 2nd-person personal pronouns weaken your argument.
Say "It is!" not "I think it is!" or "You might do this."