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Writing for an Audience provides an intensive writing experience for students in grades 6 and 7, which continues their introduction to the process of writing. However, in Writing for an Audience, the emphasis is on revising for an audience. These 10 assignments focus on drafting to shape a writer's ideas and on revising to communicate those ideas to an audience. Students write five projects, which may include:
For each project, students complete an assignment for two stages of the writing process:
In critiques that are typically one page long, instructors comment on what students did well and on what they could do to improve their writing. Exchanging letters about the process of writing is an important part of the course. With each assignment, students send a letter discussing the experience of composing the assignment. The instructors then respond to those meta-cognitive reflections.
Students are not required to purchase any additional materials or texts for this course.
Skilled, careful writers follow the conventions of Standard Written English, but writing is much more than mere adherence to convention. Instructors discuss grammar only when it affects meaning. Writing courses are not remedial. Students must already be proficient in Standard Written English.
Successful completion of one course below:
CTY Online Programs
CTY Summer Programs
Note: This describes Writing for an Audience - Independent. Review the individually paced course description here.
The independent experience uses a web-based course management system that delivers assignments, receives finished essays, and returns instructor critiques. Students and instructors use the course management system's messaging module and email to communicate. The independent experience does not include peer review workshops. It is not necessary for students and instructors to be online at the same time, as most communication is done via writing.
Finding your Voice: Drafting a personal essay
strategies for choosing a subject
Employing all Five Senses in Description: Drafting a poem
five sensory description
Persuading an Audience: Drafting a persuasive letter
Revising for a Reader: Revising your personal essay
revision with a reader focus
Refining your Language: Revising your poem
eliminating general descriptions and clichés
Making Inferences: Reading and writing critically
Building a Stronger Argument: Revising your persuasive letter
consistency of tone
Comparing and Contrasting: Drafting a critical essay
options for organizing compare/contrast essays
Constructing a Thesis: Drafting an essay about a literary character
Supporting your Case: Revision of compare/contrast essay
Notes: Please read this assignment from start to finish before you begin writing. In general, you should read each assignment all the way through before you begin working. Feel free to share it with a parent or guardian.
The word "essay" comes from the French word essai, which literally means "to try" or "to attempt." In essays, we try out ideas to discover what we think about them. In a personal essay, you share something about yourself with your readers; this sharing is both entertaining and informative. A personal essay is written less formally than many other types of essays; you might like to think of it as a kind of conversation between reader and writer. A personal essay is about your relationship with a particular subject. The range of subjects that can be addressed in a personal essay is almost unlimited—so long as you remember to keep the focus on yourself and your thoughts, feelings, and actions related to the subject.
It is very important to understand the distinction between a personal essay and the kind of essay or report you write for school. The typical school essay is generally a five-paragraph analysis. The first paragraph sets out your thesis, the next three paragraphs explain your sub-theses, and the final paragraph states your conclusion. It is useful to learn how to write that kind of essay (more about that later in the course) but that's not what I'm asking you to do here. Professionals rarely write five-paragraph essays.
The first step in writing a personal essay is, of course, deciding on a subject. Here are a few questions to get you started, together with the answers provided by an imaginary writer. Any one of these topics could form the basis for an entertaining and informative personal essay.
As you can see, the range of subjects that can be addressed in a personal essay is very broad indeed. Generally, it helps to feel strongly about something (either positively or negatively) to write about it. And remember, you are focusing on your own particular take on the subject. For this course, you wouldn't write a "report" on spiders. Instead, you'd probably begin a personal essay with your most scary spider story, and then write about how your fear of spiders developed, what you find so disturbing about spiders, and how you deal with your fear. You would weave together your thoughts and feelings about spiders with anecdotes (stories) about your experiences with spiders. Inside this essay, you might include facts about spiders, but only as they serve the personal essay, not just to import a bunch of facts. In this way you would both inform and entertain your readers.
If my questions above haven't helped you decide on a subject for your personal essay, try a cluster or web exercise. Draw an oval with your name in the center and then draw lines out from that oval to other ovals in which you've scribbled the people, places, and things that surround you. Each oval should lead to at least a couple of other ovals. In this way, you construct a visual representation of your life and the people, places, and things that are important to you. One of those things may strike you as a suitable subject for your personal essay. Check out the sample web below and then draw your own.
Once you've got a subject in mind, write a few paragraphs about it. Don't worry too much about spelling or punctuation at this point; just get some thoughts down on the page. Remember, the point is to write to find out what you think about the subject. You'll probably need a couple of writing sessions, spaced a day or two apart, to produce a couple of pages on the subject.
When you've written all that you can think of on the subject, read your draft out loud to someone. Read slowly and enunciate clearly. When you finish reading the whole draft, ask your listener what part he/she remembers best. Then ask your listener what part he/she likes best. Probably, both parts will be in the same place; it is very unlikely that they will be in the first paragraph, and here's why.
Writing an essay requires you to find your way to what you really want to say. This process of discovery usually takes at least a few paragraphs. The first couple of paragraphs (those that will probably come before your listener's "best") are what we call warm-up writing. You wrote them so that you could get to the place where the essay really starts. I want you to "throw away" those paragraphs -- not literally, but cut and paste them into a blank document (save that document in a folder where you can find it later and maybe use those paragraphs in another essay). I know how hard it is to cut out anything you've written, but remember that all writers warm up and that all writers throw away their warm ups. Like an athlete, you warm up to stretch your (writing) muscles and prepare for the actual performance.
(If, however, you have a paragraph or two that you feel is just too good to throw away, keep it. And, either change the font color to something not black or write "TOO GOOD" at the start and end of the paragraph, so I'll know you think it is special. I'll take a careful look at it.)
After you've cut and pasted the "throw away" paragraphs into another document, take a look at what's left. Look at the shape of the piece. Find spots that need more detail, description, or explanation. Write more detail, description, or explanation. I'd like your essay to be at least two pages long (double-spaced lines, 12 inch font, 1 inch margins all around).
After you've written all that you can about the subject, make a rough (informal) outline or list of what you've covered in each paragraph. Each item in the list should identify the main idea of the paragraph. If you find that you have more than one main idea per paragraph, that's a sign that you need to break it up into two paragraphs.
When you are satisfied with your draft essay, submit a written reflection describing your experience with this assignment.
Was it hard for you to come up with a topic for the essay?
Did you find it easy to write about the subject once you had chosen it?
Where did you run into difficulties?
How much text did you have to delete before you came to your "listener's best" paragraphs?
Who was your listener? (this tells me your immediate audience)
Turn It In
Get in this habit: ALWAYS make two backups of your primary file. One backup will be electronic. One will be paper.
Computers sometimes die. Hard drives sometimes die. CDs and USB sticks break or get lost. Paper sometimes gets thrown out or burned or spilled upon. In 99% of situations, one backup or the other will survive. In 100% of situations, when there's no backup, nothing survives.
____Draft of essay
Check your schedule for the due date.
Whether you compose on paper or keyboard, you need to submit all of your exercises as one file. At the beginning of the file, please key in your name, the assignment number, and the date. Example:
February 4, 2019
For each part of the assignment (except the first), please insert a page break.
Now key in a title from the Due list. Example from Assignment 1 Due list (pretend you've inserted a page break here):
Save the file as yourfirstnameyourlastnameassignmentnumber.doc Example:
Your file must have a three-letter extension (.doc) in order for your instructor to read it. Most files will be automatically saved as .doc. Right-click renaming the file extension if Windows does not save it in the appropriate format. Use Save As... to change the file type.
If you cannot save your file as a .doc, save it as Rich Text Format (the document extension is .rtf). You will see a drop down box that allows you to choose the appropriate format.
Warning: Revision assignments require you to copy the document several times within the same file. Do not let multiple copies confuse you. Be very careful to stay in the correct section and on the correct page, or you'll find yourself revising an earlier copy. See Assignment #5's "Due" list for an example.
This course requires a properly maintained computer with high-speed internet access and an up-to-date web browser (such as Chrome or Firefox). The student must be able to communicate with the instructor via email. Visit the Technical Requirements and Support page for more details.
"I really liked using the email format. It was simple and easy to use."
"Ms. M helped me develop my ideas through this writing course and it is helping me a lot in school."
"This was my favorite CTY Writing course I have ever taken. The assignments kept my interest, and I feel I know more about the subject than I did before."
"I am so glad that I took this course. It really developed my writing skills."
"M's critiques were very detailed, thoughtful and encouraging. His weekly phone calls were always friendly. He spent a lot of time reading and critiquing and it shows! My daughter feels like she learned a lot from this course. Thank you, M!"
"Mrs. R gave our son very good advice and helped him greatly to understand the writing he has to do for school. Well worth the money and we are looking forward to him having an excellent year in school again."
"We appreciate Ms. G's wonderful efforts in helping D with his writing. My husband and I consider her an outstanding teacher."
"Excellent writing course. This class, along with other CTY writing classes, has really been effective in teaching my son the skill of writing both fiction and expository prose. Thank you!"
"The course content was excellent, and the instructor was outstanding. She provided constructive positive feedback regularly for my daughter, answered all her queries, and motivated her to work harder and better her assignment each fortnight."
"Our daughter was challenged. She learned a lot! The instructor is extremely good! My daughter talks to the teacher over the phone every lesson, sometimes multiple times during a lesson. The phone calls helped her get through the course and grow as a writer. The teacher's evaluation for each assignment was thorough and showed the enthusiasm of the teacher, which inspired my daughter to work hard. At times the assignments were difficult and challenging. The teacher was encouraging and helped her a great deal."
"My daughter took this course just after finishing 6th grade. She found some of it hard but liked that the course gave her something that she didn't get at school in her regular language arts class."
"As usual I was very impressed with the feedback given to our daughter by the instructor. I felt it was very in depth and provided her with the information, encouragement and constructive criticism to write to the best of her ability."