The Classification and Division Essay

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The Classification and Division Essay

  • With thanks to B. Stifler and A. LaDuca
  • Get into groups of 10
  • Find a recent selfie, either on your phone or via Google image search on your iPad. Make sure it is different than everyone else’s in your group.
  • Set the selfie as your screen on either your phone or your iPad and make sure it won’t fall asleep. We’ll need to work with these pictures.

Types of Selfie

  • Love it or hate it, the selfie is an important part of modern pop culture. Please split the selfies your group has pulled up on your iPad into AT LEAST 3 distinct categories that don’t overlap.

First of all….

  • Classification & division are closely related, but not exactly the same thing.
    • DIVISION breaks an idea or object down into components or categories.
    • CLASSIFICATION groups ideas or objects into categories.


  • 3 elements + relationship
  • System: what you are breaking down
  • Principle of analysis: purpose for breaking it down
  • Subsystems: the different parts (not just a list—still a system!)
  • Relationship: how each part relates to the other subsystems and the whole


  • An example
  • System: car
  • Principle of analysis: to understand how it works
  • Subsystems: transmission, exhaust, electrical, engine (etc.)
  • Relationship: how the transmission functions in relation to the other exhaust, and how it functions in relation to the total car, etc..


  • 3 elements + significance
  • Set: what you are classifying
  • Scheme: quality, type, standard or function by which you are going to sort…in other words, the principle of selection
  • Classes: the different groups
  • Significance, importance, relevance or value: the “so what?” factor


  • An example
  • Set: Students
  • Scheme: Intensity of academic interest
  • Classes: Absent, apathetic, bored, interested, avid
  • Significance, importance, relevance or value: The amount of interest students take toward school may reflect the interest they will take in their work and in their lives in general.

Pro tips

  • Decide whether you want to do address the set or system exhaustively (including all the parts) or a representatively (including just the major parts)—and then make that clear in your essay.
  • AT THE MINIMUM, your thesis should cover the set, scheme and significance for classification; for division, it should cover the system and the principle.
  • Everything you’ve learned about every type of parallelism is important here. Be parallel without being redundant or dull, though.

Potential problems

  • Confusing illustration and classification: yes, you need examples to show your classes, but the class must be clearly defined and explained first.
  • Lack of support or support that is not parallel: each class should receive the same treatment in your essay in terms of development. If you don’t have enough info, you probably don’t have a class.
  • Confused scheme, inadequate representation, or overlap within classes: your scheme must stay the same, your classes should not overlap (at least not in function), and you should be exhaustive or at least representative in your assessment of the topic.

Types of student

  • The sophomore
  • The A-student
  • The class clown
  • Doesn’t work: categories can potentially overlap, and the same scheme isn’t being addressed (moving from year in school to grades to personality type)

Types of student

  • The athlete
  • The basket case
  • The criminal
  • The nerd
  • This works: students (set) are classified according to their social group (scheme). This list is fairly inclusive for the 1980s, which makes it representative rather than exhaustive.
  • What categories would you use if you were going to remake The Breakfast Club in 2017? Could it be done?

Two examples…


Some thoughts

  • Set: Twitter users
  • Scheme: How they use Twitter
  • Classes: (insert 10 classes here—potential overlap?)
  • Significance: To snapshot Twitter as it prepares for its IPO
  • Set: Readers
  • Scheme: ??? How they love books, what they read…there are issues here!
  • Classes: (insert a ton of classes here)
  • Significance: To characterize readers and offer recommendations

Your Chance!

Hints for Writing a Successful Classification Paper

  • Select a limited or restricted subject (set).
  • Choose a scheme
  • Determine whether you intend to be exhaustive or representative
  • Classify into three or four distinct groups – (we will stick with three unless you have a group of four)
  • Arrange these groups in some kind of order or hierarchy—simple to complex, least to most, etc.
  • Develop the classes as equally and completely as possible.

A little more about that order. . .

  • Some kind of logical sequence should be followed: from the most to least important, from the least to most important climactic order, or from the smallest to the largest, and so on . . .
  • Use appropriate transitions to emphasize the order of arrangement of details, and to show the relationships among the classes. PARALLEL STRUCTURE IS HUGELY IMPORTANT HERE!

How To Organize Your Body Paragraphs

  • You need to follow the same pattern for each of the body paragraphs!
  • Topic Sentence – creatively name the class
  • Provide a definition for the class.
  • Provide detailed description of this class. You need at least two distinct examples in your paragraph. It is important that you use lots of description. Bring this category to life.
  • Note: Here is your chance to embed description and illustration, among others!

So what are the parameters for this paper?

  • Classification Essay
  • Length of Paper
  • 5-6 Paragraphs
  • (intro and conclusion 6-8 sentences. Body paragraphs 8-12 sentences)
  • Number of Quotes
  • 3
  • Number of Paraphrases
  • 2
  • Work Cited
  • Yes, MLA
  • # of Vocabulary Words
  • 10 (overall)
  • Submit to
  • YES!
  • Points:
  • 100

But wait, this is a GROUP paper!

  • Group size:
  • 3 people = the ideal number. Can be 4, if you have 4 classes.

Group Roles

  • Synthesizer : You will take all the writings and put them into a fluid piece (which means adding transitions and balancing voice). You are the person who cements the cinderblocks. This is key because if voice and idea do not go together, the paper will be choppy and a failure. Oh, and pick the perfect title.

Group Roles

  • Key Writer: You will write the intro and conclusion, plus you will determine the voice. Your responsibility also includes turning in the TTAPP, which we’ll do in class. (Groups of 4 will split this role)

Group Roles

  • Director: You will give direction unto what needs to be researched, which parts of the paper will be written…you are the micro-manager! You will also do the final editing. Lastly, make deadlines.

Individual Roles

  • Each write his or her own sections
  • Each perform his or her roles
  • Submit 200-250 word reflection – this will be submitted with the paper!
  • Each will submit the full RD to turnitin, and one person will submit the final.

As a Group

  • Agree upon a challenging essay topic
  • Discuss the plan of the essay
  • Agree upon the avenue used in the intro and conclusion
  • Help each other…be kind – be firm
  • Maintain the integrity of guidelines
  • Edit

How things play out:

  • Examples and activities and group time and such. (POLYSYNDETON! BAM!)
  • EVERYONE submits a full rough draft (date TBA) – individual points
  • ONE member will submit the highlighted and labeled final to Turnitin (date TBA). Paranoid? Print me a hard copy.
  • Reflection (EVERYONE) to Turnitin by 7:30 AM
  • Your topic – Pop Culture
  • Popular culture (or "pop culture") refers to the cultural meaning systems and cultural practices employed by the majority of classes in a society. The worst imdb movies, the top “earworms” on the Billboard charts, terrible early 2000’s fashion trends, Boy Bands, the most widely read books—regardless of literary talent—and the worst of the misguided superhero sequels are important elements of U.S. popular culture.
  • Think about: music, movies, the internet, politics, fads, trends, icons, fashion, celebrities, what’s hot . . . what’s not.
  • Be sure somehow in your paper that you address how your vein of pop culture reflects historical trends, affects the rest of the world’s understanding of us, affects politics, etc.—in other words, what makes it more than cultural bubblegum?

Need Ideas for topics? (Write what you know!) You could classify . . .

  • Music, movies, the internet, fads, politics, trends, memes, tweets – types of tweets, reasons why people have twitter, tech gadgets, icons, fashion, celebrities, televisions shows, Instagram (users, types of posts, relationships, pics posted), et cetera.
  • TODAY: Check out NPR’s Monkey See blog (linked on my website) and come up with 5 potential set ideas that you could classify. Begin working out possible schemes, classes and significance.

Classification Essay Checklist

  • Choose a partner/group
  • Identify roles: Synthesizer, Key Writer, Director
  • Get set/classes approved
  • Get TTAPP approved (in class)
  • Be sure POV is 3rd person!
  • Create clever names and definitions for each of your three classes.
  • Decide who will be writing each of the body paragraphs.
  • Select 10 vocabulary words – assign to areas of the essay.
  • Assign who will find the source/sources and identify where your two paraphrases and three quotes will be placed. Assign who will write the works cited page.
  • Director will assign deadlines and identify what will be completed during in class work time.
  • Director will identify last day body paragraphs will be given to the synthesizer and when the key writer will submit the intro and conclusion.
  • Director will identify when the synthesizer will provide full copy of the paper for peer editing, and everyone will submimt it.
  • Ensure body paragraph order matches the thesis.
  • Ensure that body paragraphs follow prescribed pattern.
  • Ensure that the voice is consistent and that the purpose is maintained throughout the entire paper!
  • Each group member will submit a rough draft on the due date for editing to We will edit in class.
  • Make arrangements for how to receive final draft & what revisions need to be made. One group member will submit.
  • Each group member will write his/her own 200/250 word reflection. This must be submitted to Turnitin online before the due date.
  • One group member will submit his/her final draft of the paper to Turnitin.

As always, tech bytes:

  • BACK UP YOUR TECH! Google Drive is a good idea.
  • DID NOT SUBMIT unless you get a receipt & a confirmation #. Log out and log back in for Canvas submissions to be sure it submitted!
  • If tech fails you . . . You have options!
    • CALL MY VOICEMAIL before the deadline and explain the situation. We’ll negotiate what needs to happen next.
    • EMAIL ME your paper before the deadline.
    • PRINT A HARD COPY before the deadline.

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