Your next assignment: Research Paper Prep (plus more info)

Dear Class,

Here is your next assignment. It is more preparation for your research paper. Keep reading if you want to know what the next few weeks will look like for us.

All my very best,

-Prof. S.

Next Assignment, Due Nov. 22: “The First Three Questions”

Write a few paragraphs (no more than four, no less than two) that sketch out each the following:

  1. Your Research Paper Topic and Issue.

Example: “global warming/the problem of increased drought in India.”

  1. Your Personal Position Statement.

This is where you get to vent about right and wrong (if you so choose). What do you think about the issue right now? Why? What connects you to the issue personally, or how can you make it connect to yourself and your life personally? What do you think about other perspectives?

  1.     Create Questions: Now, brainstorm a whole series of questions to ask about the topic and issue. For our example, you might ask things like: What’s happening in India? Why is it happening? Is anybody doing anything about it? What? What kinds of politics are in play here? Who are the people who are most affected? What possible solutions are people proposing? Why or why aren’t those solutions being implemented? Again, these are just examples.


Turn this in to me, typed, double spaced, on Tuesday, Nov. 22 at the adjunct office at Namm 529. Yes, Tuesday. We can discuss any issues you are having in class on Monday before you hand it in.


What happens after this? Once you complete this exercise (remember you also have a list and an outline) you will have a very good sense of how to read up on your topic. Okay, maybe you don’t have a thesis statement yet, but you are on your way to working independently. Research and Read All You Can on your Topic and Issues! Start Now, and don’t stop.


Notes: Don’t hand in your only copy!! You will need one for yourself. I will not grade this for punctuation, etc. I want to see where you are and what you are thinking. And again, it is On You to begin researching and reading up all you can. Go!!



Q: Okay, Professor, what comes next, after we do this?

A: Before and over Thanksgiving, you will start a very rough draft of your research paper. It will be due Nov. 29. It will take the 3-pronged structure outlined below. (Please don’t start this until you have completed the above assignment and done some good research.)


ASSIGNMENT 2: “The Next Three Questions: A Rough Draft”:

  1. Write a paragraph or so of background information on the issue/topic and why you chose to dig into it.
  2. Write as many paragraphs as you need to show us what you found from your sources. These will look a lot like brief versions of the summary, evaluation, analysis work we’ll be doing together in class. You won’t agree or disagree at this point – save that for question 3, below – just a “this is what the author says, this is what’s good/bad about it in terms of my evaluation and analysis.”
  3. Write a final section where you give us a “so what?” Tell us where you agreed or disagreed with any of the authors, what you learned, what surprised you, what new insights you gained, what you now know about the “conversation” that you didn’t before, etc. Also tell us why you think this kind of analysis is important to you as a part of today’s society.


Once this above rough draft is done, you will arrive at a good thesis statement. Section 3, above, will help you find it. 

Eventually, that thesis statement will appear in the introductory paragraph of your final paper.  🙂


I will give you a worksheet to take home over break that will help you with your rough draft. It is called “Claim, Reason, Evidence.”


Remember Class: Writing is a Process.

And writing can change minds and change the world around you. You are on your way.



A mini-rubric of due dates and grading for the rest of the semester

Here are all the due dates for assignments for the rest of the semester:

Nov. 22: “The First Three Questions” (research paper assignment prep).

Nov. 29: “The Next Three Questions: A Research Paper Rough Draft”

Dec. 5: Final Journal Check

Dec. 14: Final Research Paper


The Nov 22 assignment will not be graded for punctuation, etc. It will, however, receive a letter grade, and will contribute to your overall class participation status, and it must be completed.

The Nov. 29 rough draft assignment will be letter graded (10% of your final grade).

The Dec. 14 Final Research Paper is graded (20% of your final grade).

Next UP: Topics We Care About

Sorry I was so rushed and at odds after the election today. Please remember to make your Topics List: List Your Top Five Topics of Interest

Think the game show “Jeopardy” if that helps you pick categories.

Say briefly what your experience is with these topics.

Also make a “What I Want to Know More About” List. The concepts on this list can relate to the topics you already mentioned, or not.

Let’s cull the data on Monday when I give you some parameters for narrowing your ideas. After that, you will write me a more formal, typed Outline. For now, typing is not necessary.

Thanks. See you.

Dialogue Paper, Format Guidelines

Formatting for Inner/Outer Dialogue. A bit of explanation. See next post, below, for a specific student’s example.


Name of Student: You

Name of Professor: Prof. Schmerler

Title and Section of Class: English 1101 Section Number Here

Date: October whatever

[PARAGRAPH OF INTRO blah blah blah, for example…]This dialogue was observed by me on the A Train between West 4th Street in the Village and 59th Street in Midtown on Feb. 12. Two people got on the train and they sat next to me. One was dressed like a clown (Michael); the other was a lady of about 50 who seemed to know the man previously, but I wasn’t sure…..etc etc etc etc…blah blah.

Sarah: “Why are you on the subway?”

Michael: “Hey, stop being hostile — anyone can ride the subway.”

Sarah: “Michael, you should really get out of the way; that dancer is about to hit you in the face.”

Michael: “Thank you, wrist.”

Etc., etc., etc.

[Paragraph of further reflection and observation and subjective takeaway] This exchange was punctuated with sounds from the train. It felt absurd, at times. It reminded me of……blah blah blah.

Or, It might look like this:

Scene: The Subway; 17 minutes pass; people get on and off the train. Lots of them start speaking at once, but a group of about 5 people standing near the door are audible. The date is Feb 16, and the subway is the A Train.

“Why are you on the subway?”

“Hey, stop being hostile — anyone can ride the subway.”

“Michael, you should really get out of the way; that dancer is about to hit you in the face.”

“Thank you, wrist.”

There is a woman, around 52 years old, with grey hair and blue glasses, smiling; she eventually gets mad. There is a man, about 40 who seems to know her, though they don’t get on the train together…..

Length of Paper: 500 Words

Due Date: Oct. 24

Format: Double-spaced, typed, printed

You don’t necessarily have to use the person’s name, but do try to identify them in some way. When the dialogue overlaps, just keep going. You can also identify that another person is speaking by starting a new line, without identification.

Resources: Your textbook, Rules of Thumb, gives proper typing format for quotations. Please refer to it for guidance on punctuation. Pp 44 – 47.

Here is a link to how plays look, printed. You can use this format, too (also copied, below):

An Example of Dialogue Format, Created in Class

the following is an example of some overheard dialogue, related by an 1101 student. It’s in progress. We put it in a clear format, below.


Don’Asia White

Prof. Schmerler

English 1101, Section LC20

Oct. 26, 2016

Inner-Outer Dialogue (An Urban Journey)

Setting: No. 2 Train, evening.

Time: On Oct 6, 2016, 2:34 PM.

I witnessed two people, boys, on the train engaged in a fight. One of the boys said, “Is it this stop, bro?” (obviously directing his comments towards the train). The only thoughts going through my mind were, “Why is my stop 18 stops away? And why are people filled with so much negative energy?”

[Their altercation was physical. It was getting heated. One boy (the one being spoken to) punched the other in the face. People in the train were gasping, surprised. I just wanted to get off the train as soon as possible.]

BOY #1: “Oh my god, stop!”

BYSTANDER: “Get off of him!!”

BOY #2: “I need to go home.”

I don’t really know what to say. I am speechless.

YouTube Paper-Writing Support

The Online Writing Lab at Purdue (known as the “OWL”) has a YouTube Channel:

And, for future reference, there is even a sub-channel for how to use MLA style. You will need this a bit later in the semester for your Research Papers. Best to look now:


As long as we are exploring the OWL, here are some exercises on comma usage that we will be doing in class:

And, by the way, we ought to tell you the Rules of Comma Use! Here you go:

Office Hours as Per Usual

Just a reminder that I’m at school this Friday for Office Hour in the Rec Room, as usual. Please bring any of your dialogue (inner and outer!) writing that’s in progress and I will help.

This is what the Rec Room looks like, by the way. It’s near the Library, 4th Floor Atrium.


(And yes, I do play ping-pong when you guys don’t show up.)