Summer 2022

Author: Mark Noonan (Page 1 of 3)

Week 4 The Opinion Essay: Writing About a Current Event

[This Week’s Assignment: Summary of NYTimes article due Mon., Aug. 1st]

Thank you for uploading your Literacy Narrative drafts (Unit #1), which I will be reviewing this week. 

For this week, I ask that you prepare for your next (and final) assignment (UNIT#2), by following a current issue in the news.  Begin by finding an article from the New York Times on a topic that interests you.  By next Monday, Aug. 1st, I ask that you summarize the main points of this article in one paragraph (post under “comments”). Please also tell me why this topic interests you.

Once you have done this, you can begin working on Unit #2 (Due. Tues. Aug. 9).

Here are the steps to help you on your way.

  1. Set up a FREE New York Times account with your City Tech account here: Academic Pass Account
  2. Read this sample OpEd assignment (“Let’s End Anti-Asian Hate Now”) by City Tech student Enson Zhou
  3. View “Gentrification in Brooklyn” to get a taste of what an Opinion Documentary (OpDoc) looks like:
  • 4. Find a recent article from the New York Times on a topic that interests you.

Possible topics including: the overturning of Roe v. Wade, confronting Climate Change, the war in Ukraine, racial injustice, the rise in crime, the incarceration of WNBA star Brittney Griner in Russia, inflation, etc. Free free to run your topic by me (

  • 5. Summarize this article, following these directions:

How To Write a Summary

6. Post your summary (use “comments” above) by Monday, Aug. 1st

Literacy Narrative Assignment (Unit #1)

Thank you, students, for sharing your insights on Orwell, Didion, and Olivarez, who have so much to teach us about bringing our writing to the next level. This week, I ask that you try your hand at writing a dazzling essay that explores something you do really well. In your essay, I ask that you try incorporating some of the techniques these writers use. I also ask that you bring in a quote or two from one of these writers that relates to your narrative in some way.

Here is the assignment: Unit#1 Assignment

To begin, I ask that you read the chapter in William Zinsser’s On Writing Well called “The Lead and the Ending” (pages 55-67). Zinsser offers some great advice on how to get your reader hooked from the start as well as how to surprise them in your conclusion.

I also ask you to review The Writing Process. Pay particular attention about how to introduce and comment on quotations from you readings (“the quote sandwich”).

If it’s helpful, here is an outline you can fill in before you write your essay:

Literacy Narrative Outline

By next Monday, July 25, please upload a draft of this assignment to our GoogleDocs Dropbox. (On upper left go to “NEW,” then “File Upload” which will upload your document from your computer). Once you upload this essay, I will be able to write comments directly on the document.

Unit #1: Why We Write

Week 2 (July 11-15)

Excellent work students on your wonderful self-introductions and reflections on William Zinsser’s “On Writing Well.” I see we have very good writers already in this class.  Under Course Gradebook (to the right), you can check your grades on all your assignments.

As Zinsser reminds us, achieving clarity of focus while retaining our individual voices is no easy task but it’s something we can all work on over the semester.  Let’s also keep an eye on other key points in our writing, including “unity of focus,”  “eliminating clutter,” “building our vocabulary,” “keeping our particular audiences in mind,” as well as reviewing the basic rules of writing.

Please note that at the top of the site, I include a helpful college vocabulary list and links to a writing handbook I wrote some years ago (“Good Writing Made Simple”). I will be referring to these links as needed,

For this week, I am asking you to read three famous writers:  the political writer George Orwell (author of Animal Farm, 1984, and coiner of the term “Big Brother”), the recently deceased Joan Didion (I’ve included a marvelous documentary on her life and career), and the Mexican American poet Jose Olivarez.

Here are the readings:

George Orwell’s essay  “Why I Write”

Joan Didion’s essay “Why I Write”  (I also recommend watching  “The Center Will Not Hold” on Netflix to really get a sense of this important writer’s life and career.)

José Olivarez’s essay “Maybe I Could Save Myself by Writing” and his poem “Mexican American Disambiguation”  Also watch him perform this poem: HERE

POST: By Monday, July 18, I want you to comment on what you learned about writing from ONE of these authors and how their pieces reflect their own personal voice and style.

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