Wednesday, October 26, 2011

In-Class Workshop: Drafting Essay Two (Conclusions)

Various students are at different stages with their second essay drafts. In today's class, we will spend one hour incorporating comments from peer review, drafting conclusion paragraphs, and refining the use of critical thinking. All students working on the essay should be attentive to one of those three goals.


Generally, first-year students tend to approach conclusions as a space to rehearse their arguments and evidence. Practically speaking, however, this can lead to stale reformulations of information that the student has already articulated.

Students should use the space of the conclusion to do other things than summarize what they've already said. They should use the conclusion as a time to introduce a new connection to the discussion, or to introduce a new text. They can use the conclusion to express a personal story that connects to the issue. They could also use the conclusion to draw attention to a connection between their subject matter and current event.

As with other paragraphs that support the thesis, the conclusion will have to be specific if it's any good. Any claims or arguments that the student makes should be supported with concrete examples. If a new text is introduced, the main ideas and context should appear as usual. If a personal story appears, the story should also contain context. They might also retell a critical story from a text in their own words, as if in that one story the entire argument could shine.

Finally, conclusions should end with sentences that hit the reader hard, even emotionally. As always, students should avoid cliches and vague language at all costs. The ideas and language in the conclusion should be polished, but should leave the reader with a burning last impression. Students should take this opportunity to experiment with the possibilities of thought, idea, and words. They should get radical, dream big, and write sentences that cut directly to the heart of the matter at hand. Readers should leave conclusions unable to forget how simply and emotionally the student made them remember why their essay and its subject mattered.  

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