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8th GRADE ENGLISH HOMEWORK ASSIGNMENTS

Homework is an important part of education.  The conscientious completion of homework has a positive impact on a student's success in school.  Teachers, students, and parents have the responsibility to work as a team in order to realize the maximum benefit of homework.



These 10 simple essay writing steps will guide you through the essay writing process:

1. Research: Begin the essay writing process by researching your topic, making yourself an expert. Utilize the internet, the academic databases, and the library. Take notes and immerse yourself in the words of great thinkers.

2. Analysis: Start analyzing the arguments of the information you're reading. Look for weaknesses of logic, and also strengths. Learning how to write an essay begins by learning how to analyze information written by others.

3. Brainstorming: Your essay will require insight of your own, genuine essay-writing brilliance. Ask yourself a dozen questions and answer them. Meditate with a pen in your hand. Think and think until you come up with original insights to write about. Once you have determined the purpose of your essay, write down some subjects that interest you.

4. Thesis: Pick your best idea and pin it down in a clear assertion that you can write your entire essay around. Your thesis is your main point, summed up in a concise sentence that lets the reader know where you're going, and why. It's practically impossible to write a good essay without a clear thesis.

The thesis statement tells the reader what the essay will be about, and what point you, the author, will be making. You know what the essay will be about. That was your topic. Now you must look at your outline or diagram and decide what point you will be making. What do the main ideas and supporting ideas that you listed say about your topic?



Your thesis statement will have two parts.

  • The first part states the topic.

    • Kenya's Culture

    • Building a Model Train Set

    • Public Transportation

  • The second part states the point of the essay.

    • has a rich and varied history

    • takes time and patience

    • can solve some of our city's most persistent and pressing problems

Or in the second part you could simply list the three main ideas you will discuss.

    • has a long history, blends traditions from several other cultures, and provides a rich heritage.

    • requires an investment in time, patience, and materials.

    • helps with traffic congestion, resource management, and the city budget.

5. Outline: Sketch out your essay before writing it out. Use one-line sentences to describe paragraphs, and bullet points to describe what each paragraph will contain. Play with the essay's order. Map out the structure of your argument, and make sure each paragraph is unified. The purpose of an outline or diagram is to put your ideas about the topic on paper, in a moderately organized format. The structure you create here may still change before the essay is complete, so don't agonize over this. When you have finished, you have the basic structure for your essay and are ready to continue.

6. Introduction: Now sit down and write the essay. The introduction should grab the reader's attention, set up the issue, and lead in to your thesis. Your intro is merely a buildup of the issue, a stage of bringing your reader into the essay's argument.

Introduction

The introduction should be designed to attract the reader's attention and give an idea of the essay's focus.

a)      Begin with an attention grabber.

The attention grabber you use is up to you, but here are some ideas:



    • Startling information
      This information must be true and verifiable, and it doesn't need to be totally new to your readers. It could simply be a pertinent fact that explicitly illustrates the point you wish to make.
      If you use a piece of startling information, follow it with a sentence or two of elaboration.

    • Anecdote
      An anecdote is a story that illustrates a point.
      Be sure your anecdote is short, to the point, and relevant to your topic. This can be a very effective opener for your essay, but use it carefully.

    • Dialogue
      An appropriate dialogue does not have to identify the speakers, but the reader must understand the point you are trying to convey. Use only two or three exchanges between speakers to make your point.
      Follow dialogue with a sentence or two of elaboration.

    • Summary Information
      A few sentences explaining your topic in general terms can lead the reader gently to your thesis. Each sentence should become gradually more specific, until you reach your thesis.

b)      If the attention grabber was only a sentence or two, add one or two more sentences that will lead the reader from your opening to your thesis statement.

c)      Finish the paragraph with your thesis statement.

7. Paragraphs: Each individual paragraph should be focused on a single idea that supports your thesis. Begin paragraphs with topic sentences, support assertions with evidence, and expound your ideas in the clearest, most sensible way you can. Speak to your reader as if he or she were sitting in front of you. In other words, instead of writing the essay, try talking the essay.

In the body of the essay, the topic you have chosen must now be explained, described, or argued. Each main idea that you wrote down in your diagram or outline will become one of the body paragraphs. If you had three or four main ideas, you will have three or four body paragraphs.



Each body paragraph will have the same basic structure.

a)      Start by writing down one of your main ideas, in sentence form.


If your main idea is "reduces freeway congestion," you might say this:
Public transportation reduces freeway congestion.

b)      Next, write down each of your supporting points for that main idea, but leave four or five lines in between each point.

c)      In the space under each point, write down some elaboration for that point.
Elaboration can be further description or explanation or discussion.

Supporting Point

Commuters appreciate the cost savings of taking public transportation rather than driving.



Elaboration

Less driving time means less maintenance expense, such as oil changes.

Of course, less driving time means savings on gasoline as well.

In many cases, these savings amount to more than the cost of riding public transportation.

d)     If you wish, include a summary sentence for each paragraph.
This is not generally needed, however, and such sentences have a tendency to sound stilted, so be cautious about using them.

8. Conclusion: Gracefully exit your essay by making a quick wrap-up sentence, and then end on some memorable thought, perhaps a quotation, or an interesting twist of logic, or some call to action. The conclusion brings closure to the reader, summing up your points or providing a final perspective on your topic.

9. MLA Style: Format your essay according to the correct guidelines for citation. All borrowed ideas and quotations should be correctly cited in the body of your text, followed up with a Works Cited (references) page listing the details of your sources.

a) Make sure all authors cited in the body of your essay also appear on the Works Cited page.



b) Only quote catchy or memorable phrases or sentences.

c) Don't rely too much on the same source.

d) Follow up your quotations with commentary, interpretation, or analysis.

10. Language: You're not done writing your essay until you've polished your language by correcting the grammar, making sentences flow, incorporating rhythm, emphasis, adjusting the formality, giving it a level-headed tone, and making other intuitive edits. Proofread until it reads just how you want it to sound. Check your writing! Nothing can substitute for revision of your work. By reviewing what you have done, you can improve weak points that otherwise would be missed. Read and reread your paper.


  • Does it make logical sense?
    Leave it for a few hours and then read it again. Does it still make logical sense?

  • Do the sentences flow smoothly from one another?
    If not, try to add some words and phrases to help connect them. Transition words, such as "therefore" or "however," sometimes help. Also, you might refer in one sentence to a thought in the previous sentence. This is especially useful when you move from one paragraph to another.

  • Have you run a spell checker or a grammar checker?
    These aids cannot catch every error, but they might catch errors that you have missed.

Format: The essay should be 3 pages in length, type-written, with 1-inch margins on both sides, top, and bottom. The text should be double spaced and in 12-point type. The cover page and the bibliography do not count toward the required number of pages.

Students are required to turn in:

1)      Cover page

2)      Rough draft

3)      Final copy

4)      Bibliography



Plagiarism: As you write this paper for this class, be careful not to plagiarize any of your sources. Remember that plagiarism, whether intentional or unintentional, whether blatant or merely inappropriate paraphrasing, will not be tolerated in this class. If you have any questions as you prepare your assignments, feel free to ask for my advice.

Essays will be graded according to the following six traits of writing:

Ideas/Content: This trait addresses the writer’s theme along with the supporting details that develop and enrich that theme. Regardless of the type or purpose of writing, ideas should be clear, complete, and well-developed. One clear focus should be apparent, but development and details should be thorough, balanced, and well suited to audience and purpose.

Organization: This trait addresses the structure of a piece of writing including the thread of central meaning and the patterns that hold the piece together. Regardless of the type or purpose of writing, a well-thought out order of ideas should be apparent. The structure should suit the topic, with a consciously planned opening and closing, each paragraph specific to one central idea, and transitions that tie the details together.

Voice: The type of voice will vary according to the purpose and type of piece, but it should be appropriately formal or casual, distant or intimate, depending on the audience and purpose.

Word Choice: This trait reflects the writer’s use of specific words and phrases to convey the intended message in an interesting, precise, and natural way appropriate to audience and purpose.

Sentence Fluency: This trait addresses the rhythm and flow of language. Sentence structure should be strong and varied.

Conventions: This trait addresses the mechanics of writing, spelling, capitalization, punctuation, and paragraph breaks. It can also include proper format.

Students will write 3-4 pages.

Prompt #1 (August 23, 2013)

Directions: Think carefully about the issue presented in the following paragraph and respond to the assignment below.

Separate Schools for Boys and Girls

Based on new research suggesting that male and female students learn differently, some school boards are considering creating separate schools for boys and girls. Do you think establishing separate schools is a good idea?

Write an essay in which you persuade the Board of Education to agree with your position on this issue. Be sure to include specific details and examples to support your argument.

Prompt #2 (August 30, 2013)

Directions: Think carefully about the issue presented in the following paragraph and respond to the assignment below.  

Your community is concerned about the lack of structured activities for youth after school and on weekends. The community leaders are planning the construction of a new youth center.

Write an essay to be read by community leaders convincing them what activities will have a positive influence on the youth.

Prompt #3 (September 6, 2013)

Directions: Think carefully about the issue presented in the following paragraph and respond to the assignment below. 

Adults have influence on young people's lives. Think about the qualities demonstrated by adults that you admire.

Write an essay explaining the most important qualities demonstrated by adults that you admire.

Prompt #4 (September 13, 2013)

Directions: Think carefully about the issue presented in the following paragraph and respond to the assignment below. 

State Tests and Retention Policy

Statewide tests are administered towards the end of the school year in order to evaluate whether the students in the state have learned all that was expected in multiple core subjects during that school year. In some states, students are held back another year based on whether or not the students performed up to a certain level.

Imagine that your State Department of Education has decided that students who score less than 50 percent correct on the state test will be retained (held back) next year. What is your opinion on this policy? Write a persuasive essay to your state representative persuading him or her that students should or should not be retained based on performance on the state test.

 Prompt #5 (September 20, 2013)



Directions: Think carefully about the issue presented in the following paragraph and respond to the assignment below.  

Surveillance Cameras in Public Places

There is an ongoing debate over the use of surveillance cameras in public places. Some people feel that these cameras prevent crime, protect property, and ensure public safety. Others feel that the cameras violate an individual's right to privacy. Write an essay stating whether you agree or disagree with the use of surveillance cameras in public places. Be sure to use specific reasons and examples to support your position.



Prompt #6 (September 27, 2013)

Directions: Think carefully about the issue presented in the following paragraph and respond to the assignment below.  

Homelessness in America

Last year, there were 3 million homeless people in this country. Considering the severity of the homeless problem in the United States, we are in dire need of a solution. There are many opinions regarding what is the best program or plan to help bring an end to homelessness in the United States.

What do you think can be done to help solve the problem of homelessness? In a well-organized essay, explain your solution to the homelessness problem.

Prompt #7 (October 4, 2013)

Directions: Think carefully about the issue presented in the following paragraph and respond to the assignment below.  

 Teenage Responsibility

When a child becomes a teenager, some adults believe that he or she should be held responsible for his or her actions. However, other adults believe that teenagers still lack the ability and wisdom to be responsible for their actions. What do you think? At what age should teenagers be held responsible for their actions?

Write a persuasive essay in which you defend your position on this issue. Be sure to support your position with reasons or arguments from your personal experience.


Prompt #8 (October 25, 2013)

Directions: Think carefully about the issue presented in the following paragraph and respond to the assignment below.  

Is Lying Always Bad?

Many people believe that lying is one of the worst things a person can do. They view it as something that hurts everyone and eventually destroys or consumes the person that lies. Others believe that lying can sometimes be the best way to handle a situation. They view it as protecting someone's feelings or calming a difficult situation. Many people in our lives share the belief that sometimes the truth is not in everyone's best interest. Have you ever been in a situation in which the truth was harmful? Is it sometimes in everyone's best interest to tell a lie?

Decide whether or not you believe that sometimes it is in everyone’s best interest to lie. Then, in a detailed essay, defend your position. Include facts and examples for support.

Prompt #9 (November 1, 2013)

Directions: Think carefully about the issue presented in the following paragraph and respond to the assignment below.  

Individuals Affecting Government Actions

People often feel powerless when it comes to having an effect on government decisions. However, history contains many examples of individuals or community groups that have affected changes in government policies and laws.

In a well-developed essay, persuade your classmates that they can influence government decisions and actions. Include facts and details to support your argument.
Prompt #10 (November 8, 2013)
Directions: Think carefully about the issue presented in the following paragraph and respond to the assignment below.  
Recycling

Americans generate 4.5 pounds of waste per person every day. Certain plastics, paper products, glass, and aluminum can be recycled instead of being dumped in a landfill.

Write an essay to your local newspaper persuading readers to participate in their community's recycling program. Include facts to support your position on recycling
Prompt #11 (November 15, 2013)
Directions: Think carefully about the issue presented in the following paragraph and respond to the assignment below.  
Violence on Television

Some people believe that seeing violence on television can cause someone to commit a violent act. Do you feel that violent television programming contributes to violence in society?

Write an essay persuading these people to accept your opinion on whether or not violence on television leads to violence in our society.
Prompt #12 (November 22, 2013)
Directions: Think carefully about the issue presented in the following paragraph and respond to the assignment below.  
Getting Americans to Vote

In the United States, around 60% of U.S. citizens who are eligible to vote actually did vote in the 2004 Presidential Election. The candidates try to attract and excite voters by making promises, highlighting their own accomplishments, and attacking their opponent. But how can we actually make sure that all of the people who are eligible to vote actually do VOTE? Who should lead this effort and how will it be accomplished?

In a persuasive essay, discuss the best methods that will encourage all Americans to vote if they have the right to.

Prompt #13 (December 6, 2013)

Directions: Think carefully about the issue presented in the following paragraph and respond to the assignment below.  

Preparing for Natural Disasters

Think about a natural disaster that affected a specific country and the lives of its people. Imagine you live in this country. What can be done to better prepare for another disaster? Is there anything that the government and citizens can do to be ready?

Analyze a country’s previous experiences in dealing with a natural disaster and possible future actions that could be taken to prepare for another. Then, in an essay, persuade readers of the measures you think the government and the people of this country should take to prepare for another natural disaster. Be sure to include reasons, details, and examples to support your argument.
Prompt #14 (December 13, 2013)
Directions: Think carefully about the issue presented in the following paragraph and respond to the assignment below.  
Public vs. Private Schools

Although most students in the United States attend public schools, there are a number of students who attend private schools for smaller classes and an enriched educational experience. Which type of school are you in favor of? Which do you think provides a better experience for students and why?

In a detailed essay, persuade the reader that either public or private schools provide a better educational experience for students. Give examples to support your response.

Prompt #15 (December 20, 2013)

Directions: Think carefully about the issue presented in the following paragraph and respond to the assignment below.  

A Four-Day School Week

Recently, a school district in Pennsylvania became the first in the state to change the traditional school schedule from a five-day week to a four-day week. This change is intended to save the school district money, but it may cost parents and students money and opportunities in the long run. All of the students in your class have heard this news. Some are thrilled; however, some believe that this change will have a negative impact on learning and extracurricular activities.

In a well-developed, essay, state your position on this issue and then persuade your fellow classmates to join you in a call to action to either shorten your school week to four days, or to keep the five-day school week. You must provide compelling reasons for your argument, and address and rebut the counterarguments. Be sure to include facts, statistics, or any other relevant information to strengthen your view on this issue.

Prompt #16 (January 10, 2014)

Directions: Think carefully about the issue presented in the following paragraph and respond to the assignment below.  

The First Amendment

There have been many important amendments to the United States Constitution. Some people argue that the First Amendment is the most important of all because it protects some of our most fundamental freedoms.

Do you believe the First Amendment is the most important amendment to the United States Constitution? Why or why not? Write a well-developed essay in which you convince the reader to accept your position.
Amendment I

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.



Prompt #17 (January 17, 2014)

Directions: Think carefully about the issue presented in the following paragraph and respond to the assignment below.  

Write a personal narrative about a significant journey. It may be a simple trip to the store or a cross-country odyssey. Include the elements of a story: focus on one incident; describe the characters, setting, and the sequence of events. Be sure to use specific, sensory details as well as figurative language to allow the reader to see, hear, and feel the actions and emotions of the characters in your narrative.



Prompt #18 (January 24, 2014)

Directions: Think carefully about the issue presented in the following paragraph and respond to the assignment below.  

Write a persuasive essay stating whether children under the age of 16 should be required to wear helmets while biking, scooting, skateboarding, rollerblading, and skiing. Give at least two reasons to support your position. Remember, you must argue in such a convincing manner that others will agree with you. The outcome of the state legislature's vote on helmets could be decided by your essay.

------------------Please detach and return to school------------------------------------------

Mrs. LoCicero 8th Grade English Syllabus 2013 -14

We have read the information and we understand the homework requirements and policies for this class. Students will be writing one essay a week. Furthermore, in order to receive a grade, students are required to complete 50% of their writing homework per quarter.

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(Parent/guardian signature (Date)

_______________________________________ ___________________________

(Parent’s email address)



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(Student Signature) (Date)


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