Category Archives: Essay Writing

Avoiding Plagiarism

1. A direct quote from a source
2. An idea taken from a source
3. Paraphrase from a source
4. A summary of information in a source
5. Pictures, charts, and graphics from a source
6. Statistics and data from a source

Don’t Cite:
1. Common knowledge
2. Your own ideas and analysis
3. Your own experience or observation

Do Not:
1. Recycle a paper from a previous class
2. Download a paper from the internet
3. Use a paper from a friend
4. Pay someone to write a paper for you

Plagiarism, based on the Greek word for “kidnapping,” is stealing someone else’s ideas or writing. Someone’s ideas and writing is actually their personal property! You wouldn’t want anyone to steal from you, and you don’t want to get caught stealing someone’s property.

As you progress through school, the consequences for plagiarizing become more severe. In middle school, you may be forced to redo the assignment, given a bad grade, and/or put in in-school detention to redo the work.

In high school, you may be given a bad grade. In college, you could be kicked out. There are several tricks you can use to avoid plagiarizing.

1. Paraphrase the information! Put it into your own words. That doesn’t mean changing one or two words; that means changing almost all of the words AND the sentence structure.

2. Give the author credit. Quote their words directly, using quotation marks, or reword what they said, but ALWAYS give them credit! This is called “citing your source.”

**Wikipedia is NOT a good source of reliable information. Anyone can add information to Wikipedia, and sometimes, the information is wrong! Some of the information on Wikipedia may in fact already be plagiarized from somewhere else! It’s a good place to look for links, but never use it as a source in your own work.

Persuasive Writing: Ethos, pathos, logos handouts

Ethos is the Greek word for “character.” In order to convince people to agree with you, you need to establish that you are worth listening to. If your audience thinks you are trustworthy, knowledgeable, likeable, andrespectable, they will tend to believe what you are saying. The impression you make on the reader is just as important as the information you present.


“Let tyrants fear. I have always so behaved myself that, under God, I have placed my chiefest strength and safeguard in the loyal hearts and good-will of my subjects. And therefore I am come amongst you, as you see, at this time, not for my recreation or disport, but being resolved, in the midst and heat of the battle, to live and die amongst you all. “

– Queen Elizabeth I (1588) from a speech meant to encourage her troops to fight against an invasion by the Spanish Armada

Pathos means appealing to the audience’s emotions. If you can inspire an emotional connection with your audience, get them to feel what you feel, such as anger or pity, or get them to feel sympathetic to your cause, they are more likely to agree with your position.


“Gentlemen may cry, Peace, Peace– but there is no peace. The war is
actually begun! The next gale that sweeps from the north will bring to our ears the clash of resounding arms! Our brethren are already in the field!

Why stand we here idle? What is it that gentlemen wish? What would they have? Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!”

– Patrick Henry (1775) from speech delivered to Second Virginia Convention

Logos means to persuade an audience by logic. This is where you present facts, evidence and reason to convince your audience. Citing
authorities and showing that your argument is well-researched can lend your argument credibility.


“Yesterday, December 7th, 1941 — a date which will live in infamy — the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan. The United States was at peace with that nation and, at the solicitation of Japan, was still in conversation with its government and its emperor looking toward the maintenance of peace in the Pacific…Japan has, therefore, undertaken a surprise offensive extending throughout the Pacific area. The facts of yesterday and today speak for

– Franklin Delano Roosevelt (1941) from “Pearl Harbor Address to the Nation”

Custom Essay Prewriting Techniques

Teacher Notes
Custom Essay prewriting techniques are meant to help students get warmed up and start a free flow of ideas. This should be a low-stakes exercise, with just participation points awarded, if any, to cut down on anxiety or worrying about getting it “wrong.”

Copy the handouts for the students, or have them use their own paper. You may want to pass out the clustering example as a handout or use it as an overhead.

The reason short time limits are given on each exercise is because students should work quickly and spontaneously, and not over think each topic of their custom essay. Reassure students that no idea is too silly to write down. The point is to keep the ideas flowing.

Personal Brainstorming List:
Before beginning, have students make a list from 1 – 10 on their paper. Remind them that they should choose a topic that is meaningful to them and related to something in their lives. Then give them two minutes to think of as many possible topics for custom essay as they can.

Group Brainstorming:
After Personal Brainstorming, have students form groups of 3 – 5 people. Give them about 10 minutes to share their lists and ask each other questions. The students should get feedback on what the most interesting topics are, or what they liked to talk about the most. Ask them to write this down on their papers also.

Ask the students to choose two topics for their custom essay from their brainstorming session. For the first topic, have them draw a circle in the middle of their papers. Then give them two minutes to make clusters of related ideas. In the example, you can see that the student started with “Images in the media” and branched off to different ideas.

Do a second cluster the same way with another topic. Ask the students to circle a section of one of the clusters that interests them the most.

Free write:
Give the students three minutes to write a custom essay as much as they can on the ideas they circled on one of their clusters. Then have them re-read the free write, circle the most interesting  thing, and start with that idea on another three-minute free write. If time allows, do the same thing for another round.

When free writing, students should never stop writing, even if they run out of things to say about their topic. If this happens, tell students to write “I can’t think of what to write next…” or something similar. Spelling, punctuation, and grammar don’t count.

Most custom essays, whether they are research papers, compare and contrast, or persuasive, will depend on an argument. To make sure students do not simply write an informational custom essay, have them do the last pre-writing activity when they have narrowed down their choices to two or three topics.

Ask the students to write down a topic, and an argument, that they will make. Using the example in the cluster, a student could write as the topic “media and eating disorders.” An argument could be “media images can be a cause for eating disorders in girls.” The opposition might be “eating disorders are caused by a mental illness and not the media.”

This exercise helps students think through whether their topics have an argument and what direction their papers might take. Of course the ideas will change as they start researching and delving into their topics, but they will have a possible direction in mind.

Learn Rules of Summarizing an Article

After you have annotated your article, it’s time to write a summary. Writing an article summary is to give your reader an objective, condensed version of the article.

Keep the following guidelines in mind as you write your summary:

Tips for Writing a Summary
1. Give the reader context – name the article and author in the first sentence.
2. Keep it objective. Give the author’s opinion only (no “I” statements, opinions, or analysis).
3. Give the thesis and main points only. Do not use examples and illustrations.
4. Attribute all ideas to the author. Use tags such as: According to the author…; The author states…; The author also believes….
5. Use your own words (paraphrase). Avoid direct quotes. For emphasis, you may want to include a word or two from the original passage. In this case, be sure to use quotation marks.

Most articles can be summarized in a few sentences or one short paragraph. If your summary goes longer than this, make sure you are not using details and examples from the article and are summarizing the main points only. You can address statistics, examples, and illustrations in the response section of the essay.

Writing a Response

Once you have an objective summary, it’s time for your own opinion. Think about whether you agree or disagree with the author. It’s common to agree with some points and disagree with others, so you will want to decide which points you want to address. You do not have to take on the entire article.

The first step is forming a working thesis, where you agree or disagree with the article, or points in the article. It’s best to then list a few reasons why to set up the organization of the rest of your response.

Here is the thesis statement from the sample summary and response essay:

While I agree that the Monsanto company has too much power over the industry and consumer choices, McGuire’s proposal to ban all GM foods is too extreme. What McGuire leaves out of her article are the benefits that come from GM foods, consumer choice, and the ack of evidence showing the GM foods are truly dangerous.

The first sentence clearly gives the author’s response to the article.

The second sentence then gives three reasons why the author disagrees with the article’s main proposal. The three reasons will become topic sentences for three body paragraphs.

The paper now has an outline:

Paragraph 1: Summary
Paragraph 2: Response Thesis
Paragraph 3: Benefits of GM foods
Paragraph 4: Consumer choice
Paragraph 5: Lack of evidence that GM foods are dangerous
Paragraph 6: Conclusion

Writing a Response

The response section is a lot like writing a regular essay in terms of organization, but there are some important tips to remember to write an effective response.

Tips for Writing a Response

1. You can respond with your own experience and knowledge, but your response will be even more effective if you bring in evidence from outside sources to support your points.
2. Be sure to give evidence and a logical argument whether you agree or disagree or disagree with a point.
3. Stay close to the points in the article. It’s easy to veer off on your own tangent about the topic, but remember that you are responding to what is in the article. Use quotes and paraphrase from the article throughout the response.
4. Write a conclusion that is consistent with your thesis and comes back to the main point of the article.

Writing a Summary and Response Essay

The first step in writing a summary and response essay is to thoroughly and critically read the article you will be addressing.

When you read an article critically, you are not just seeking to understand what the author is saying, but questioning the author’s points and analyzing why and how the ideas were presented. It is also important to consider how effectively the author presents the arguments.

Annotating the article will help you with this process. Annotating is basically a notetaking system directly on the article. Read through the article once, then get a highlighter and pencil and follow the steps as you re-read the article:

1. Read the article’s title and first paragraph. Make a note in the margin about what expectations you might have for the article based on the introductory information. What is the author’s
topic? What is the tone? What might be the author’s main point?

2. Locate and highlight the thesis of the article. If there is no one sentence that contains the thesis statement (an implied thesis), mark the sections where the author’s main point is most evident. In the margin, write a “T” or an asterisk so you can quickly come back to the thesis.

3. Highlight any words that you don’t know, or sections that you don’t understand. Write a “?” in the margin so you can look up definitions later.

4. Highlight the main points in the article. These are often topic sentences. Write “MP” in the margin.

5. Make notes in the margin of any questions you might have. Why did the author use a certain example? What has the author left out?

6. Note any sections where the author has made an effective or ineffective point.

The Thesis statement in Compare/Contrast Essay

A compare and contrast essay shouldn’t have a surprise ending. In other words, be sure to state your opinion clearly in the thesis statement.

If you don’t state your opinion, you risk a ho-hum thesis. Notice the difference between these two thesis statements:

“There are many differences between organic produce and conventional produce.”
“Organic produce is superior to conventional produce.”

The second thesis is better, but it is still a bit of a “so what?” thesis.

Why might your opinion be important to your audience?

Consider how this thesis statement might resonate better with a wider audience:

“Organic produce is better for you than conventional produce.”

To keep your essay organized and focused, it’s best to list from two to four points of argument in your thesis.

“Organic produce is superior to conventional produce because of its nutrition and safety.”

Finally, if it makes sense, you can work in a reference to the similarities if it’s a contrast essay, or a difference if it’s a compare essay:

“Although similar in taste, organic produce is superior to conventional produce because of its nutrition and safety.”


“Organic produce is superior to conventional produce because of its nutrition and safety; although it can be more expensive, the benefits are worth the extra cost.”

Point-by-Point Example Outline

Thesis statement: Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Raven” and “The Black Cat” have themes of superstition, sorrow, and judgment.

Point A: Superstition
Subject 1. “The Raven”
Subject 2. “The Black Cat”

Point B: Sorrow
Subject 1. “The Raven”
Subject 2. “The Black Cat”

Point C: Judgment
Subject 1. “The Raven”
Subject 2. “The Black Cat”