Writing

Graded Assignment

Responding to a Persuasive Prompt

(50 points)

Read the prompt below. Consider your position on the issue. Then respond to the prompt with a well-developed multiparagraph essay.You have 30 minutes to complete this assignment. Your assignment will be graded based on the Persuasive Prompt Grading Rubric. The rubric can be found in your Unit Resources.

Prompt

For many Americans, going to a summer sleep-away camp as a child is an experience to be treasured well into adulthood. Present and former campers often speak of the experiences and the friendships that resulted from their time at sleep-away camp as some of the most important and meaningful ones of their lives. Critics, however, often view summer sleep-away camps in a very different way, insisting that they are elitist and that the children who are sent there miss out on valuable bonding time with their parents and the friends who live in their hometowns. 

Assignment: On the whole, is going to a summer sleep-away camp as a child a positive experience or a negative one? Why? Plan and write a response in which you state your position and persuade readers to agree with you. Support your opinions with reasons and examples drawn from your personal experiences, if you have attended such camps, or your knowledge of the experience of friends and siblings.

Type your draft here.

Essay Writing

Instructions: Below you will find two writing prompts and two essays that were written in response to them. After reading and considering these responses, answer the questions that follow.

Prompt 1

Getting accepted to college is a top priority for many young people in the United States; but acceptance, of course, is not automatic. Nearly all colleges look closely at an applicant’s scores on certain standardized tests and his or her academic record during the admissions process. Such has been the case for many decades. More recently, however, some colleges have begun to consider certain factors unrelated to academic ability, and some schools now have requirements that prospective students must meet outside of the classroom. One such requirement is that prospective students have a record of community service or volunteer activities.

Assignment

Should colleges require prospective students to have a record of community service or volunteer work in order to be offered admission? Why or why not? Plan and write a response in which you state your position and persuade readers to agree with you. Support your opinions with reasons and examples drawn from your personal experiences.

Sample Response

  In twenty-first century America, a college education is not guaranteed to anyone. Young people who wish to continue their schooling after high school must endure a rigorous, and sometimes expensive, application process, during which their past academic achievements are reviewed and evaluated by the admission boards at different colleges. Not only are schools interested in an applicant’s academic record, but they also consider how an applicant scored on certain standardized tests and the way in which the applicant expresses himself or herself in a required essay. In addition, some schools have started requiring prospective students to have a record of community service or volunteer work before being granted admission. Such requirements are entirely legitimate and appropriate because they can help to ensure that a college’s student body will be composed of compassionate individuals and because they will draw students whose range of experiences and interests are quite diverse.

  Perhaps the most obvious reason that colleges should require prospective students to have a record of community service or volunteer work is that such requirements can help to ensure that the student body will be composed of compassionate individuals. Selfish people with one-track minds do not spend their time doing things for others. I know this from first-hand experience, as I’ve spent the last two years volunteering at a local hospital twice a week. My responsibilities at the hospital include offering assistance to those in need at the information booth near the entrance (giving directions to different departments, for example) and helping to keep the halls of the hospital clean and uncluttered. These are not glamorous jobs, but they are important, and my fellow volunteers and I take them seriously. But we still have fun! We care about doing what is asked of us because we care about people who are being treated at the hospital and the people whose friends and relatives are receiving treatment there. An entire student body made up of similarly compassionate and caring people would be one which any college would be proud to call their own.

  Another excellent reason colleges should require prospective students to have a record of community service or volunteer work is that such students are bound to have a very diverse range of experiences and interests. Young people who have served their community and volunteered are not likely to be as sheltered or naive as young people who have never volunteered. Again, I can speak from personal experience here. The hospital where I volunteered was located in the middle of our city, and people from all different economic, religious, and racial backgrounds worked there, volunteered there, and were treated there. Consequently, I got to know and to learn from many people I never would have even met had I not volunteered there. For instance, one woman I came to know fairly well was a 90-year old immigrant from Poland, who had come to this country to escape persecution several decades ago. Her husband was being treated at the hospital. By talking with her and listening to the stories she told me, I developed a much deeper appreciation for the freedom that we enjoy in America and the opportunities that exist for all people here. Meeting this woman also sparked in me an interest in learning more about the political and social history of eastern Europe in the twentieth century.

  Now, of course, there are people who will argue that colleges are institutes of higher learning, and so they should only focus on the intelligence and intellectual abilities of prospective students. They will say that colleges should not require anything of students beyond acceptable performance in the classroom. These objections are shortsighted and foolish. First of all, colleges should be places where young people can grow and learn, not just academically, but in all areas of life. By trying to populate the student body with compassionate people with a broad range of experiences, schools increase their students’ chances of developing into well-rounded adults. Second, the social aspect of college—the element of learning how to fit into a community—is crucial and central. A student’s college experience is not just about receiving and learning information or data. If that were the case, one could simply read an encyclopedia or a textbook. So colleges have a responsibility to try to make their campus communities places that encourage growth and understanding.

  In conclusion, requiring potential college students to have a record of community service or volunteering is entirely valid. Such requirements not only help ensure that student bodies will be made up of caring and compassionate people, but also people whose experiences and interests are diverse enough to promote discourse and encourage growth. To disregard the value of such things in a school is to essentially admit that information—cold data and facts—is ultimately more important than true understanding and community in the real world.

SCORE: 5

Prompt 2

All major cities and most large towns in the United States offer citizens some form of public transportation. In larger metropolitan areas, public transportation might take the form of trains, light rail cars or trolleys, and city buses. Places with fewer people might only have buses. Almost nowhere in the United States, however, is public transportation free. In general, riding a train, trolley, or bus requires citizens to pay a relatively small fare

Assignment

Should public transportation be free in the United States? Why or why not? Plan and write a response in which you state your position and persuade readers to agree with you. Support your opinions with reasons and examples drawn from your personal experiences.

Sample Response

  Every day, millions and millions of Americans use public transportation to go to their jobs, to school, and for running errands. Their reasons for using public transportation vary. In some cases, they might not have access to a car. In others, the distance they have to cover might be too great for them to traverse it on a bicycle or on foot. In still other cases, they may choose to use public transportation because the overall cost of it is cheaper than another means of travel. In fact, however, public transportation should be entirely free in the United States because making it free would greatly reduce pollution and improve the traffic woes that beset many of our cities.

  The biggest reason that public transportation should be free is that it would significantly reduce pollution and the harm we do to our environment. This is the case because people would not drive their own cars if they could take a train or a trolley or a bus for free. Fewer cars on the road would mean less pollution. Less pollution is good for the planet. Which is great for everyone! I experienced this positive consequence of providing free public transportation last summer, when I traveled with my family to Copenhagen, Denmark. In Copenhagen, we stayed at a hotel that was about 15 miles outside of the city center. Yet we never had to rent a car and we never spent so much as a Danish Krone (their unit of currency) on transportation because there was a bus that ran from our hotel into the city for free. The bus was packed every day with Danes on their way to work or school or appointments or shopping destinations, all of whom had obviously decided to take the free bus rather than drive to the city in their cars. When we got downtown, my family and I were amazed at how clean the air was. There were no exhaust fumes choking us from all the traffic—it was like being out in the country! Imagine how much pollution could be eliminated if all American cities adopted the Danish plan and made public transportation free.

  Another important benefit of providing free public transportation is the tremendous reduction of traffic that would result. With fewer cars on the road, those of us who did have to drive for whatever reason would be able to get to our destinations far quicker. And with much less stress. Again, I can provide proof of this benefit from personal experience. Two years ago, the professional baseball team in my area won the world championship and the city held a parade to celebrate. That day, all trains and buses into the city were free in order to discourage people from driving into what was sure to be a very crowded and hectic downtown. As a result, there were very, very few cars on the road that afternoon and those residents who did have to drive reported no delays as a result of traffic. When one considers that this was just one day, it is staggering to think of how much more efficiently goods and people could move on our roads if they were less crowded all year long.

  Of course, some naysayers might argue that providing free public transportation is not economically viable. They insist that letting people ride the bus and the trolley and the train for free would bankrupt the local government. This is untrue. Again, take the example of my experience in Copenhagen. That city has managed to provide free public transportation and its local government is not bankrupt. Why? Because it uses tax dollars collected from businesses in the city—businesses that benefit from people coming into town via free public transportation to spend there money there—to subsidize the cost of running the trains. The vast majority of our streets and roads are free to the public and maintained by tax dollars; why can’t we apply the same principle to public transportation?

  In summary, public transportation should not be something that charges riders a fare in the United States. By implementing the system as it already exists in major European cities, such as Copenhagen, we could greatly reduce the amount of pollution in this country, improve our air quality, decrease traffic, and generally improve the quality of life for our citizens. Plus we could use the money we save cleaning up traffic accidents to pay for other important services and for paying civil servants, such as teachers. Further, we could afford to do these things because the economic principles guiding such a change have already been shown to be viable, both overseas and at home. Let’s not miss this opportunity to do something truly progressive and good for all members of our communities.

Questions

1.  Refer to the Essay Scoring Rubric. Based on the rubric, the sample response to Prompt 1 received an overall score of 5. Look at the rubric and explain why you think the grader gave the essay that score. Do you agree with the score? Why?

Type your answer here.

2.  Now consider the response to Prompt 2. Using the rubric, what score would you give this essay? Justify the score you give it.

Type your answer here.

3.  Below is a sample writing prompt. Read the prompt twice and consider your position on the issue. Then, create a rough outline for your persuasive response. Be sure to include in your outline a thesis statement, at least two reasons that support your view, an opposing view and a counterargument, and a conclusion. Use your own paper, if necessary.

Prompt

With heart disease on the rise in this country, there has been an increasingly concerted effort in the United States to encourage people to live healthier lifestyles. This, of course, means exercising more and eating better. As a way of promoting healthy behavior and healthy choices, and in order to keep Americans informed of what they are eating, some cities have enacted legislation that requires restaurants to divulge the caloric content of their menu offerings to their customers. In New York City, for instance, a person who chooses to dine at a chain restaurant can learn exactly how many calories are contained in a meal made up of a cheeseburger, French fries, and a medium fountain soda at that restaurant.

Assignment

Should all restaurants be required to provide their customers with information about the caloric content of their menu offerings? Why or why not? Plan and write a response in which you state your position and persuade readers to agree with you. Support your opinions with reasons and examples drawn from your personal experiences.

Type your draft here.

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