Magazine Articles/Cartoons/ Pictures
The purpose of the Assertion Journal is to strengthen both your textual analysis skills and your argument writing skills. Your job is to read a magazine article/essay, choose a quote that you feel is important to the writer’s argument and perform several tasks:
· First you will identify the writer’s claim. This means you will explain to your reader what the writer is really saying. This will be an exercise in analyzing the words and their arrangement so as to understand the overall meaning.
· Next, you will comment on the meaning and significance of the quote. You can relate similar experiences, refute the author’s claim, or otherwise explain how and why the quote pertains to your life or the world in general. Use specific examples and reasoning to support your explanation of the quote, as this is not what students love to think of “opinion based” writing that cannot be wrong. The way to go wrong is to be vague and not support your claims with specific evidence.
If you feel no connection to the quote, you still need to find some way to explain its meaning and significance, as this is what you will be asked to do on the AP exam.
Your responses will need to be at least one (1) page and no more than two (2) pages of polished, grammatically sound prose.
THIS IS NOT AN INFORMAL ASSIGNMENT JUST BECAUSE IT IS CALLED A “JOURNAL.”
You will need to keep your journal entries together in the folder provided.
Example on the backJ
EXAMPLE ASSERTION JOURNAL
Directions: In a polished response of 1-2 typed pages, identify the author’s claim and comment on its meaning for you or comment on its overall significance.
Quote: “I believe more in the scissors than I do in the pencil.”
Truman Capote seems to be talking about school supplies, but he is really talking about his writing process. He places the emphasis not on a pencil, which one might expect when talking about writing, but rather focuses on scissors. By saying he believes more in the scissors, Capote proclaims that for him, writing is as much an act of revision as it is an act of creation. Scissors are used for cutting, so he means that he writes a great deal and then slices out the bad parts. This leaves only the good writing, and apparently, according to Capote’s metaphor, the most important way to get there is to cut, or revise a great deal.
Capote is right. The writing process is not some mystical experience where a writer sits on a mountaintop and divines inspired writing directly from the muses. Most writers, myself included, have to get a draft on paper, however bad it may be, and then go about changing and honing it. I once rewrote a poem fifteen times in the course of one summer. The rewrites were all aimed at shortening the poem and compressing its ideas into as few words as possible. It was hard, but by the end it had gone from a page and a half to just under a half page. I had effectively cut it down and thus improved it, heeding Hemingway’s advice to “eliminate every superfluous word.” Capote obviously agreed with Hemingway; what better way to eliminate superfluous writing than with scissors.
As with many other endeavors, writing can be about starting with a great deal of material and shaping and cutting it into something much more worthwhile. Ice sculptures, the rotors on your brakes, even paper dolls. They all start with a large amount of something and cut it down to create something better. Writing is the same; often the most important tool is not the pencil, but the scissors.