Monthly Archives: September 2008

The Starfish Story

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A man was walking along the beach one evening and saw a little boy throwing starfish that had been washed ashore by the tide into the sea. He thought the boy was silly in trying to save the starfish, as he knew it was impossible to throw every single one of the starfish back into the sea, with the tides washing them up. The man walked right up to the boy and asked him why he was trying to save the starfish. ‘You see sir; the starfish would die if they are left on the shore. They need to be in the sea in order to live,’ answered the boy with all the innocence of a child. ‘But son, how are you going to save all of them? Every time you put one back, another would be washed up. It doesn’t matter to them, son’ The boy picked up a starfish, looked at the man and said, ‘But sir, it matters to this one.’ After saying that, he threw the starfish back into the sea.

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Tips on writing persuasively

Persuasive writing attempts to convince the reader that the point of view or course of action recommended by the writer is valid. To accomplish this, the writer must develop a limited topic which is well defined and debatable, that is has more than one side. It is important that the author understand other sides of the position so that the strongest information to counter the others can be presented. In the essay, only one side of the issue is presented.

Like all kinds of five paragraph essays, there is a specific format to be followed.

  • The topic sentence cannot be a fact as facts cannot be debated. It should be a statement of position. That position must be clear and direct. This statement directs the readers to follow along with your logic towards the specific stated conclusion that you want them to support. Do not make it personal so do not use personal pronouns. Make it definitive.
  • Then, in the same introductory paragraph, state the three best reasons that you have to support your position as the remainder of the opening paragraph. These reasons become the topics of each of the three supporting paragraphs. Again, be sure they are able to be supported with additional separate facts.
  • In the body of the essay, the writer uses specific evidence, examples, and statistics and not broad generalizations or personal opinions to persuade the reader that the stated position is a valid one. Each topic sentence for the support paragraphs have been introduced in the beginning paragraph. Each additional sentence must closely relate to the topic and the sentence that came before it. This way, the logic of the argument is easy to follow.
  • Be sure to use adequate transitions between paragraphs as they make it easy for the reader to follow the logic of the presentation.
  • As one closes the essay, it is most important to to clearly redefine the topic and restate the most compelling evidence cited in original form. Remember, this is the last chance to remind the reader and convince him/her to accept the writer’s position.
  • Do not introduce new material in the conclusion.

A great reference website: Time for Kids

The art of Persuasion

The first thing that you will be doing after you choose a potential project is to write a Prospectus or Persuasive Essay. In a one page, 5 paragraph essay, explain your choice for your year-long independent study exercise, the Make a Difference Humanities Project. The purpose of this essay is for you to convince us of the importance of your choice of topic to understanding how the person or organization made a positive contribution to society.

In order to do this, you must spend some time doing preliminary background research so that you are able to write convincingly of your topic’s positive contribution.

Try to avoid statements such as:
“Please give me this topic because I want it.”
“Please give me this topic because I like it.”
~refer to the next blog post about tips for persuasive writing for more help.

Suggested format:
(remember that a paragraph is usually 6-8 sentences)

1st paragraph: Introduction to your topic.

2nd paragraph: Why your topic is an important topic to study (introduce your evidence to support your argument)

3rd paragraph: Introduce what you know about the positive contribution of your topic to the service of humanity.

4th paragraph: Why this topic is meaningful to you. Why did you select this topic?

5th paragrpah: Conclusion to your topic and of your argument.

How do I choose a topic?

You will be choosing a topic based on a person or organization that has made a positive impact on humanity…essentially, someone or something that has made a difference.

Some things to consider:

  • Your topic must have enough information to span a year-long project.
  • Since you are spending so much time on it, choose something that you are really interested in.
  • Will you be able to create a variety of writing pieces, including a research paper with the amount of information you have?
  • Are there a variety of sources on the topic? (ie. books, magazine articles, reference materials, primary source documents, multi-media information, as well as the internet)
  • Do you have any personal connections to the topic?

Some questions to ask yourself about your topic:

  • What issues do I care about and why?
  • What types of things inspire me to make a difference in the world?
  • What people or organizations do I admire because they have changed the world in a positive way?
  • Have I ever done any volunteer work? How does that make me feel?
  • What motivates me to make a difference?

Some websites to visit:

If you are looking for a person to use for your topic, these websites are a great resource:

If you are looking for an organization, these websites are a great place to start:

Some other topics in general:

  • Women’s rights
  • Conflict resolution
  • Healthcare
  • Justice and discrimination
  • Youth
  • Music and the arts
  • Environmental issues
  • Genocide
  • Hunger/poverty
  • Migrant/immigrant rights
  • Slavery/trafficking of persons
  • Right to education
  • Right to housing
  • Freedom of expression
  • Animal rights

Think about this on a personal level and please feel free to discuss this with Mrs. Schelhorn or Mrs. Pal. We’re happy to help, advise, and answer any questions. :o)