Embedding Quotations

Today, you will work on seamlessly embedding your quoted material (research) into your body paragraphs. Please see the links below to aid in your writing today:

Introducing Quotations, from Columbia College

Tips on Using Quotations, from Essay Reply — this source has a great list of strong verbs to introduce your writing, but pay attention to the differences in American and British formatting styles.


  1. Make sure ALL of your sources include a parenthetical citation. No citation = plagiarism, and no credit. Three different sources minimum throughout your speech.
  2. You may paraphrase your information, but any information taken from a source MUST be cited (even if it’s in your own words).
  3. Since this is a speech and not an essay, you may use first and second person pronouns, depending on context and topic.
  4. If your quoted material takes up 4 or more lines on your paper, it is too long. Refer to the embedding quotes handout to use “snippets” of quotes.
  5. All verbs introducing quoted material (“argues,” “asserts,” “claims,” etc.) must always be in the PRESENT tense.
  6. Use your class time wisely 🙂

Tomorrow, we will complete self- and peer-editing, so your final draft must be done before class starts. We will review MLA formatting and Works Cited as well, so make sure you have all of the URLs of your sourced materials in a safe place.

Draft Persuasive Speech

This week, you will be completing an outline and a rough draft for your persuasive speech. As you are writing, make sure to refer back to this post and all of its resources as well as the rubric here.

Thing to Do This Week #0.5: Consider Audience and Purpose

Before writing any persuasive piece, we must consider our intended audience and purpose. Think back to the SOAPSTone from a couple of weeks ago and consider what you want your audience and purpose to be. Who are you trying to convince? Why? What assumptions do you have about your audience? Which rhetorical appeals and strategies will be most effective for your topic and your intended audience?

Thing to Do This Week #1: Outline your speech

320px-joy_oil_gas_station_blueprintsPlease use the links below to aid in your writing of your outline. Think of this document as a “blueprint” for your essay – you are planning the organization, structure, and flow of your speech. This is the rough draft to your rough draft! Please write out and organize your ideas in bullet points, rather than full sentences. 

*Note: Please choose the ONE format that works for you, whether it’s a traditional or web outline.

Ms. Antonacci’s Sample Outline (Note: if you would like to use this as a template, you may. Just use File > Make a copy to copy it to your drive and edit on top.)

How to Write an Outline – Perdue OWL

How to Write an Outline – University of Richmond

A web outline is a graphic organizer that may look something like this:


You should already have a three-point thesis statement (make sure that’s submitted to me before starting on the outline!); the main details 1, 2, and 3 will be your three reasons referenced in your thesis statement. These will make up your three main body paragraphs.

reminder-fingerReminder! Remember that you must have a MINIMUM of three credible sources throughout your speech — one per body paragraph. Refer to my post from last week for resources on credible sources.

Resources: Introductions and Conclusions


The introduction to a research paper can be the most challenging part of the paper to write. The length of the introduction will vary depending on the type of research paper you are writing. An introduction should announce your topic, provide context and a rationale for your work, before stating your research questions and hypothesis. Well-written introductions set the tone for the paper, catch the reader’s interest, and communicate the thesis statement.

  1. Announce your research topic. You can start your introduction with a few sentences which announce the topic of your paper and give an indication of the kind of research questions you will be asking. This is a good way to introduce your readers to your topic and pique their interest. The first few sentences should act as an indication of a broader problem which you will then focus in on more closely in the rest of your introduction, leading to your specific research questions.
  2. Define any key terms or concepts. It may be necessary for you to clarify any key terms or concepts early on in your introduction. You need to express yourself clearly throughout your paper so if you leave an unfamiliar term or concept unexplained, you risk your readers not having a clear understanding of your argument.

(From WikiHow)

Some suggestions on how to start your speech…

  • Pose a rhetorical question
  • Use imagery to pull your reader in (set the scene; opportunity for pathos!)
  • Start with a surprising or unusual fact/statistic
  • Provide a relevant anecdote
  • Reveal a common misconception
  • More examples here!

Be sure to consider your audience and purpose when writing the introduction!


Conclusions wrap up what you have been discussing in your paper. After moving from general to specific information in the introduction and body paragraphs, your conclusion should begin pulling back into more general information that restates the main points of your argument. Conclusions may also call for action or overview future possible research. The following outline may help you conclude your paper:

In a general way,

  • Restate your topic and why it is important,
  • Restate your thesis/claim,
  • Address opposing viewpoints and explain why readers should align with your position,
  • Call for action or overview future research possibilities.

Remember that once you accomplish these tasks, unless otherwise directed by your instructor, you are finished. Done. Complete. Don’t try to bring in new points or end with a whiz bang (!) conclusion or try to solve world hunger in the final sentence of your conclusion. Simplicity is best for a clear, convincing message.

The preacher’s maxim is one of the most effective formulas to follow for argument papers:

  1. Tell what you’re going to tell them (introduction).
  2. Tell them (body).
  3. Tell them what you told them (conclusion).

(From Purdue OWL)

Thing to Do This Week #2: Write Your Rough Draft

Once you’re done with your outline, move on to your rough draft. Since you outlined and organized your ideas in the outlining stage of the writing process, all you have to do is put it all together! Basically, you are taking your organized bullet points and turning them into complete sentences and paragraphs. Make sure you are always considering audience and purpose, as this will dictate your choices in rhetorical appeals and strategies used.

Please use this template to type your speech (File > Make a Copy).


  • Please click here to submit your persuasive speech outline and rough draft! For your rough draft, please make sure to change the document title from “Persuasive Speech Template” to your first and last name.
    • Over the weekend, I will compile these into shared Google Drive folders separated by class period. We will peer edit from there!
  • Don’t forget about USA Test Prep – your assignment for next week is up
  • As always, reach out if you need anything! I am available 24/7 via Remind and email

Researching your Topic and Crafting Your Thesis

We will use Google Docs to organize our research and write our persuasive speeches. If you do not have a Google/GMail account, please create one now.

Please click the link below to access the research graphic organizer.

Sources Graphic Organizer

  1. Go to File (top toolbar)
  2. Save a copy
  3. Save it to your drive, then edit on top.


What is a thesis statement?
A thesis statement is a guide to your paper. It tells the reader the subject matter, your argument, and what to expect from the rest of the paper. Usually, the thesis statement will come towards the end of the first paragraph.

Think of your first thesis as a “working thesis,” or a statement that is likely to change. Often, once you get into the body of the paper, you may discover that your thesis needs to be changed a bit as you discover more information.

Writing a good thesis statement:
When you are working on your thesis statement, keep these three tips in mind:

1. Make sure your thesis fits the scope of the paper. The scope means how long and how in-depth the research should be. If you only have two pages, you need to keep the thesis narrow enough to cover the argument adequately.
2. Don’t simply give a fact or make a statement that is obvious. For example, “An eating disorder is a serious disease” is a statement most would readily agree with. This is sometimes called a “so what?” thesis.
3. You don’t need to start your thesis with “I believe…” or “In my opinion…” You are the author of the paper, so this is obvious to the reader. Using these types of phrases weakens the power of your statement.

Click here for Ms. Antonacci’s example!

Choosing a Topic and Crafting a Thesis

Please get out a sheet of notebook paper for today’s Writing Wednesday! 

Before delving into research, you will write an argument to support your claim. For today’s Writing Wednesday, please argue your point to someone who totally disagrees with you. Consider using ethos, pathos, and logos to prove your point, and make your reasons clear. If you have already chosen your topic or have one in mind, please use that topic. If you do not have a topic yet, please choose one of the three options below and choose a side: 

  1. Does social media negatively impact high school students’ mental health?
  2. Should high school start times be pushed to 10:30 am?
  3. Should college be free for all students?

Please make sure you provide multiple reasons to support your stance!  

Today, you will choose a topic for your persuasive speech. Make sure you choose a topic that you know a little about, as well as on a topic you are passionate about. If you’re bored writing your essay, I’ll be bored reading it! 

Today, you will complete the “K” and “W” columns of your KWL chart, write a three-point thesis, and submit your claim statement for approval (if you haven’t already).

Please click here to access directions on how to craft a three-point thesis statement. 

Click here to access the Google Form to submit your claim statement for approval.

Remember that we have an assessment tomorrow! From now until the break, please bring your laptops to school daily. 

Persuasive Speech Claim Approval

I hope you had a great weekend! Since it’s Early Release today, class will go by very quickly, so we need to get to work!

Today, you will choose a topic for your persuasive speech. Make sure you choose a topic that you know a little about, as well as on a topic you are passionate about. If you’re bored writing your essay, I’ll be bored reading it! 

Today, you will submit your claim statement for approval.

Use the Google Form here: Persuasive Speech Claim Approval

I hope you had a great weekend! Since it’s Monday, we will start with M.U.G. Monday; please make sure to get the corrections if you were out today.

Today, you will choose a topic for your persuasive speech. Make sure you choose a topic that you know a little about, as well as on a topic you are passionate about. If you’re bored writing your essay, I’ll be bored reading it! 

Today, you will complete the “K” and “W” columns of your KWL chart, write a three-point thesis, and submit your claim statement for approval.

Due dates will be given out in class tomorrow!

Writing Thematic Statements

Writing Thematic Statements

Theme is the central message of a literary work. It is not the same as a subject, which can be expressed in a word or two: courage, survival, war, pride, etc. The theme is the idea the author wishes to convey about that subject. It is expressed as a sentence or general statement about life or human nature. A literary work can have more than one theme, and most themes are not directly stated but are implied. The reader must think about all the elements of the work and use them to make inferences, or reasonable guesses, as to which themes seem to be implied.” (from Laying the Foundation series of books published by AP Strategies in Dallas)

For example, if love is a topic/subject of two novels, a major theme in one of the novels could be “Love, if taken to extremes, can be negative rather than positive,” while in the other novel, the theme might be “Love can conquer even the greatest evil.” Notice that the topic/subject is the same, but the messages about that topic/subject are different in different works.

Consider this:

A theme is a meaning of a work. (Yes, there can be more than one “meaning.”) Can the meaning of a work be love? hate? greed? No—that makes no sense! Those are just topics, not themes. The theme is the statement an author is making about a topic.

Stating the theme of a work of literature

  • Begin by using several abstract words to state the principal ideas of the work (topics that the piece is really about). Abstract words describe concepts or ideas that exist only in our minds like alienation, prejudice, ambition, freedom, love, loyalty, passion, etc.
    For this assignment, you will
  • Combine those abstract ideas with comments that reflect the author’s observations about human nature, the human condition, or human motivation. In other words, what is the author saying about the abstract idea? Is he/she, for example, saying something about the qualities of people and/or commenting on society?

  • A theme is NOT a moral, a directive, or an order. A moral/directive/order tells us how to behave or what to do. A theme observes, weighs, and considers actions and ideas, but it avoids judging what people should or should not do; therefore, words like “should” and “ought” are not appropriate in a thematic statement. Also not appropriate is an order/directive such as “Be nice to elderly people” or “Love like there’s no tomorrow.”
  • Themes are NOT trite sayings (clichés, maxims, or aphorisms) such as “Actions speak louder than words,” “Love hurts,” or “Absence makes the heart grow fonder.”
  • Themes do NOT refer to the specific names or events of a particular literary piece. A theme does not summarize a work, but it does reflect what happens in the work. A theme drops character names and uses more general terms like “parents,” “leaders,” “society,” or “young people” in a general observation about the human experience.
  • Themes avoid absolute terms such as “all,” “none,” “everything,” or “always” because they indicate sloppy thinking; they are categorical, no exceptions. Terms like “we,” “sometimes,” or “often” suggest a more realistic view of the variety of human experiences.

Writing Thematic Statements

What is Theme? Theme is what a text implies about life or human nature.

A text can have more than one theme.

Theme is the “main” idea of a work; in other words, everything in the text should work together to help communicate that idea. Nothing in the work should logically contradict the theme.

How do I write a thematic statement?

Start by listing some of the topics of the text; for example, alienation, prejudice, ambition, freedom, love, loyalty, passion, etc.). The topic can also be a longer phrase, however, such as the relationship between love and hate.

Combine those topics with comments that reflect the author’s observations about human nature. What is the author saying about those topics? What does the author believe to be true about those topics?

DO…Well-written Statements:
…draw a general insight from a character’s behaviorFriends are not always trustworthy.
…use qualifying words in a thematic statement, such as sometimes, can, may, and oftenPoverty may transform honest people into criminals.
…express the theme as an insight into lifeGossip can cause serious damage to a person’s reputation.
…express the theme in your own wordsEvil deeds are punished in ways you might not expect.
…express the theme as a general comment on a subjectPeople with realistic goals tend to be more successful than those who put little thought into their futures.
DO NOT…Poorly written Statements:
…express the theme as a subject or topicCrime doesn’t pay.
…express the theme as a moralIt’s wrong to gossip about people.
…make a thematic statement too general.
…Avoid broad generalizations with words such as everyone, always, never, and all
Poverty causes crime.
…refer to specific characters in a thematic statementHolden learned not to trust others around him.

Example Thematic Statements:

The Hunger Games: Love can make you care more about others than you do about your own life when put to the test.

Trust: Trust in yourself is just as important as trust in others.

Family: A family supports you even when the rest of the world doubts you.


  • Love taken to extremes can become dangerous.
  • Loving yourself, despite your flaws, can lead to a happier life.

Identity: Your identity isn’t static but grows with you as you discover more about yourself.

A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry


Over the last few weeks, you all have been doing a great job analyzing poetry from different perspectives across America. This week, we will start with one more analysis of a Langston Hughes poem before diving in to Lorraine Hansberry’s play, A Raisin in the Sun. Moving forward and especially between now and the September break, please do your best to be on time and present each day. It is particularly difficult to read a play and get caught up by yourself. We will also be discussing a great deal, and you won’t want to miss out!

Click here for a copy of the play.


“Harlem” by Langston Hughes: SIFT Analysis

Happy Wednesday! Today, we will read and analyze Langston Hughes’s poem, “Harlem.” The play we are about to start, A Raisin in the Sun, includes this poem on the title page. We will use the SIFT method to analyze our poem for symbolism, imagery, figurative language, tone, and theme.

Please see the presentation below if you were not in class:

Please be sure to watch the class recording on CTLS if you are out! All recordings can be found under “resources” and are dated.

American Perspectives OPTIC Analysis

Today, we will complete an OPTIC analysis on two pieces of visual text. Analyzing a visual text means that whatever you’re analyzing is a visual medium – think photographs, political cartoons, book covers, paintings, sculptures, posters, and even TV, movies, and documentaries.

For the purposes of your assignment, please choose one of the visual texts below. Use the guiding questions within your graphic organizer to answer each question in the corresponding boxes of the OPTIC.

Overview: When you look at the cartoon, what is the first impression you receive? What do you think is happening in this cartoon?

Parts: ​What are the different parts or pieces of this cartoon? Break the cartoon into small pieces using artistic terms to explain what you see.

Theme: What is the theme of this cartoon? What is the message that is being conveyed through the visual?  What is the artist trying to “tell” you about their piece?  Be very specific with your explanation.

Interrelationships: How do all of the pieces in the cartoon relate to each other? What is the relationship between the central figures and the foreground/ background? What symbolism is present? What is the overall mood of the cartoon?

Conclusions: When searching for the conclusion of this cartoon, look for the artist’s purpose.  Why was this cartoon designed in this way?  Be specific.

Click here for the assignment sheet: OPTIC Graphic Organizer

Political Cartoon Options (please number on your paper):


1. by Mike Luckovich


2. by Steve Greenberg


3. by Monte Wolverton


4. by David Horsey


5. by Ed Stein (hint: consider what year this cartoon was drawn)


6. by Andy Singer


7. by Mike Luckovich


8. by David Horsey