Essential Question for Unit 5: Essential Questions

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Activity #2: Express thoughts or Feelings

This essay also focuses on spiders, but the writer includes minimal facts. How do the details, the language, and the writer’s tone help the reader comprehend her feelings about spiders?

From “Weaving the World” a Personal Essay by author, Dr. Janisse Ray Janisse Ray on her Montana Farm

Every night the spiders weave the world back together. This morning I see webs whole again, shining freshly gossamer in the new sun, webs we tore down last night accidentally, setting up the tent on the platform. All day paddling, we have been watching for them – zippers and bananas and crabs, colorful and intriguing. They are everywhere, stitching leaves to trees, and trees to shrubs, and shrubs to ground…

The spiders have adapted to their fragility, their vulnerability; when we humans bungle into their webs, they scurry off, up a single thread into a sweet bay. They have no new technologies, no new economics. Across the prairies they a spin and spin, as they have done for thousands of years, holding this outrageously glorious world together.

Close Read Questions
Study the underlined details that the author uses to describe spiders and their webs. How do these details differ from those in “Web Masters”?
Is the writer’s attitude toward spiders admiring or simply factual? Support your answer.

Recognizing Author’s Perspective

No two authors will approach a topic in the same way, even if they have comparable purposes. Their perspectives will influence what they write and how they write it. An author’s perspective is the lens through which a writer looks at a topic, and this lens is colored by the writer’s personal experiences, values, and feelings.

Think about the two excerpts you just read. Articles based on facts alone, such as “Everyday Mysteries,” usually don’t reveal a writer’s viewpoint. However, literary essays, such as “Weaving the World,” include clues that share the author’s perspective. Even though the writer of “Weaving the World” includes some factual information, personal examples and opinions play a great role in her description. Notice how the hints show a writer who values nature:

Word Choice / Diction: Words such as “colorful and intriguing” and “vulnerablity” expose the writers captivation with the marvels of nature, and spiders in particular.

Tone: A writer’s tone is their attitude toward their subject. The writer does not focus on spiders’ scary qualities. Her tone is respectful and apprciative, not frightened.

Section 2: Organization and Format

To achieve their purpose, writers of both literary and expository nonfiction choose particular patterns of organization, such as cause-effect and classification. Being familiar with these patterns can help readers determine an author’s purpose, find information, and comprehend the relationships between ideas. Here are examples of two universal patterns.


Comparison – Contrast

What is does

-Describes events in time order

What it does

-highlights similarities and differences between two or more subjects

Why Writers Use it

-To explain a sequence of events in an easy-to-follow way

-To tell a suspenseful or exciting story

Why Writers Use it

-To show the benefits of one subject over another

-To compare an unfamiliar subject with a familiar one

How to Identify it

-Look for signal words such as before, finally, first, next, and then

How to Identify it

-Look for signal words such as also, and, but, in contrast, unlike, and while

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