Writing With Focus and Clarity Practice Exercises (page 2)
Read the following study guide for a concept review:
Read the following essay topics and choose the best thesis statement for each one.
- What I did over summer vacation
- Summer vacation is really fun.
- This summer I went on trips, joined the swim team, and hung out with friends.
- Summer vacation is okay, but my favorite vacation is spring break.
- This summer my grandma gave me a pony.
- Is the space program important?
- Space travel is dangerous and expensive.
- I want to be an astronaut because I think it would be fun, challenging, and exciting.
- The space program is not important.
- Scientists in the space program conduct essential research about earth and the universe.
- Should we protect the environment?
- Global warming is a major problem.
- We should try to save the rain forests.
- There is no such thing as global warming.
- We should take care of the Earth because it is our only natural habitat.
Write one paragraph about a trip you took recently (or a place or person you visited). Focus on only one location so you can describe it in depth. Use descriptive details to show the reader your experience.
Read the two writing excerpts, and then answer the questions.
- I've been trying to think of something fun to do this summer. Dad wants me to go to soccer camp, and Mom wants me to stay home and watch my little brother. But I secretly want to go to art camp. There's a program up in Minnesota where you camp in the forest and then study art all day. It sounds awesome! Do you think it's a good idea?
- I would like to participate in the Summer Art Days program. I have always been interested in art, in school and at home. I have taught myself several projects and experimented with watercolors, oil paints, and pencil drawings. My favorite thing to draw is rockets, but I would like to learn how to draw other things as well. I am excited to learn new skills at your art camp.
- The audience for Paragraph A is probably
- the writer's parents.
- the writer's friend.
- the writer's school principal.
- The style of Paragraph A is
- relaxed, funny.
- formal, serious.
- informal, honest.
- The audience for Paragraph B is probably
- the art program director.
- the writer's friend.
- the writer's teacher.
- Compared to Paragraph A, the style of Paragraph B is
- more formal.
- more detailed.
- more personal.
- b. This is the strongest thesis because it is focused on the topic, takes a position, and outlines how the essay will answer the question. Choices a and c do not directly address the prompt, which suggests that the essay will lack focus. Choice d hints that the author will talk about playing with the new pony over the summer, which would address the prompt, but it is less clear and direct than choice b. Choice d would be a good essay opener, but a poor thesis statement.
- d. This thesis directly addresses the prompt, clearly states the author's position (notice the clue word essential), and focuses the structure of the essay. Choice a takes a position and suggests an outline for the following argument, but does not quite address the question of the space program's importance. choice b does not address the prompt. Choice c directly addresses the prompt and takes a position, but does not provide any detail about how the author will proceed. It is an acceptable thesis, but not the best one, because it doesn't help the reader know why the space program is unimportant.
- d. This thesis clearly answers the prompt and takes a position that can be supported through the rest of the essay. choice a makes a strong statement, but does not quite address the question. The author's view on whether we should do anything about global warming is vague. Choice b is too specific and does not offer a reason for saving the rain forest. Choice c does not directly address the prompt.
Answers will vary, but here is one possible paragraph:
Two weeks ago, my family drove to Mattawa to visit my cousins. My Aunt Shirley and Uncle Joe have three kids—Joel, Maggie, and Simon— and their house is the most fun to visit. They live in a big blue house on a hill and have a large backyard. Joel, the oldest, has a real motorbike, and he let me ride it all over their giant yard. They also have two Newfoundland dogs, the biggest dogs I have ever seen! Inside the house, there are stacks of board games and walls of books. And Aunt Shirley is always cooking something delicious.
- b. The audience can't be the writer's parents (choice a) because they are mentioned in the text. The style is too informal to be written for a school principal (choice c), so it must be written for a friend.
- c. The style is definitely informal, so choice b can't be correct, and the writer is presenting a secret interest and a genuine question, so choice a can't be correct.
- a. The formal style and tone tells you that it must be intended for an adult, and the paragraph concludes "I am excited to learn new skills at your art camp," so the audience must be the art program director.
- a. The paragraphs have about the same amount of detail (choice b), and Paragraph A is more personal (choice c) than Paragraph B, so the answer must be choice a, more formal.
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