Appendix 1: Personal Essay - Examining Everyday Functions of Language

This first essay you will write in CO150 will be more like a well-planned journal entry than like a formal writing assignment. You will write and post your essay on the class Web Forum (more on that in a minute), responding to the following prompt (which also can be found on the Web Forum):

Because we so constantly and automatically use language day to day, we very rarely pause to examine the ways that it can affect and shape our lives. The authors we have read so far have illustrated some very important ways that language has functioned in their everyday lives. Now it's your turn. For homework, you have been asked to respond informally to a series of questions dealing with the ways language (whether it be reading, writing, or speaking) has functioned in your own life. Now take one of these informal writings, focus it so that it describes a PARTICULAR event and its importance, and develop it with detail so that it accurately and engagingly tells a story about a time in your life when language has affected you in some significant way.

After reading this prompt, here is the process you should follow:

  1. Look at the informal writings you have done, and select the one which interests you the most.

  2. Focus on one particular event or situation in your life which seems to best illustrate the statement you are making about language in your life. (The in-class looping exercise should help you to do this.)

  3. Use one of the collecting techniques that we will discuss in class as a way of recalling and gathering descriptive details to be included in your essay.

  4. Follow the instructions on the Web Forum handout in order to get to (and post to) the Forum.

  5. After re-reading my welcome message and prompt on the Web Forum, post your own message. (Again, see the directions.) Write continuously for about an hour (or until you feel that your story is complete), and don't worry too much about spelling things correctly. HOWEVER, REMEMBER THAT YOUR CLASSMATES WILL BE READING THIS, SO AVOID SAYING ANYTHING YOU DON'T WANT TO BE "PUBLIC DOMAIN."

Grading Criteria:

I will ask myself the following questions as I comment on and grade your essay:

  1. Does this writer focus on one particular event or situation?
  2. Does he or she fully develop important ideas and happenings in the essay, or is there simply surface mention made of these things?
  3. Does he or she tell a good, creative story? In other words, does this writer make enough use of vivid, descriptive detail and appropriate examples that the reader is able to really understand and enjoy the story that is being told?