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Culture-Focused Synthesis Essay

DUE: 12-1-14
FORMAT: 12 point font-double spaced
INSTRUCTIONS: Choose EITHER Veils or Multiculturalism in the US and compose a 3-5 page essay in which you develop a thesis and support your thesis by
synthesizing you OWN commentary with the support of AT LEAST 3 other sources. Document your sources using BOTH in-text citations and an MLA Works
Cited page.
REVIEW the RUBRIC BEFORE DRAFTING!

POSSIBLE
POINTS

CONTENT AREA

PERFORMANCE LEVEL
16 LOW

18 Medium

20 HIGH

20

Selecting and Using


Evidence

The argument incorporates minimal or no


evidence from the sources.

The argument uses some combination


of evidence, but from a narrow range of
sources; or, a wide range of evidence is
present but might not be carefully
interpreted or synthesized.

The argument interprets and


synthesizes evidence from a wide
range of sources.

20

Building and
Communicating an
Argument

The argument is disorganized and poorly


reasoned or overly general. The argument
presents few or no specific resolutions,
conclusions, and/or solutions.

20

Building and
Communicating an
Argument

The essay omits commentary about


connections between claims and evidence or
offers only very general commentary.

The argument is logically organized, but


the reasoning may be faulty, or it may
be misaligned with the research
question. The argument presents
specific resolutions, conclusions, and/or
solutions that are impractical or do not
derive from the line of reasoning.
The essay minimally links claims and
evidence.

20

Selecting and Using


Evidence

The argument makes many accuracy errors in


attribution and citation. The bibliography, if
included, is inconsistent and/or incomplete
in citation elements.

The argument is logically organized,


well reasoned, and complex. The
argument presents specific
resolutions, conclusions, and/or
solutions that are unambiguously
linked to evidence and fully address
the research question.
The essay clearly and convincingly
links claims and evidence and
includes insights drawn from
connections between them.
The argument attributes and cites
the sources used. The bibliography
includes all referenced sources, and
is consistent and complete in
citation elements.

10

Grammar and Style

The report contains many flaws in grammar


and style that interfere with communication
to the reader.

The argument attributes and cites the


sources used with a reasonable amount
of thoroughness and accuracy. The
bibliography includes nearly all
referenced sources, most of which are
consistent and complete in citation
elements.
The report contains some flaws in
grammar and style that minimally
interfere with communication to the
reader.

SCORE

The report contains few flaws in


grammar or style and clearly
communicates to the reader.

TOTAL SCORE

Helpful Hints
Constructing your argument
1. Before you begin to write, make a list of all the arguments you can to support your view. Remember: Fools rush in. The weaker
essays usually suffer from a problem with thinking, not writing.
2. Do not merely adopt the arguments you see in the sources. Consider yourself as a writer who participates in a conversation with the
sources. Your case should indicate critical thinking on your part--going beyond what the sources have said. Your own observations are
important to you.
3. Do not mindlessly or carelessly blend a quotation from one of the sources into your argument. Select carefully, remain faithful to the
intent of the speaker, and follow up with your own commentary. In other words, dont parrot the material you cite or quote. Rather,
intelligently respond to it. You might comment on its relevance or merit.
Incorporating and citing materials from your sources
Identify the speakers name and credentials in your sentence. After all, who said something and what his or her motives may be is
important information. Do not rip off a point and drop it into your argument without additional comment.
Rules for incorporating numbers
a. Write out numbers one through nine, use numerals for 10 and above.
b. Write out a number if it is the first word in a sentence.
c. Do not use the % sign. Use the word percent.

Examples
Faulty
Taken in moderation and with proper exercise, soft drinks have little to no effect on youth. A body with a normal metabolism burns the
equivalent of 140 calories from a serving of soda while sleeping. Therefore, it is unfair to single out soda in explaining the rise in obesity *that+
result *s from+ many complex affecting eating and activity behaviors, which include video-game obsessed lifestyles (Source C).
Better
Therefore, it is unfair to blame the increase in childhood obesity on soft drink consumption. As Kristen Powers of the Grocery Manufactures of
America points out, The rise in obesity is the result of many complex factors affecting eating and activity behaviors, and there are no simple
solutions (Source C). Those who target soft drink consumption may divert attention from the myriad of causes to a convenient scapegoat. The
truth is, American culture has changed dramatically in the past two decades. Children spend more time commuting, they eat restaurant food
several times a week, and they rarely get together for unstructured neighborhood play. Clearly, the time children spend playing video games is
part of the problem.

Distortion of the Source Material


Even the Ohio Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics concedes that obesity is hardly the result of soft drink consumption: only one in
one hundred children eat a balanced diet*and+ all children take in fats and sugars far in excess of recommendations (Source B). Soft drinks
only make up a very small part of this excess sugar and fat. Everything from sugary cereals to ice cream with dinner contributes to obesity.

Better
Though sugar is a contributor to childhood obesity, so is fat. The Ohio Chapter of the American Association of Pediatrics reports that children
consume both sugar and fat far in excess of recommendations (Source C). Perhaps those concerned about what children eat should turn their
attention to what school cafeterias pile on the students plates rather than what schools make available in vending machines. Two slices of pizza
with French fries on the side comprise the typical school lunch.

Faulty
A more fundamental point which I feel cannot be expressed enough is that schools exist to educate our children, and a partnership with a large
corporations seems destined only to detract from that goal of learning. Just as it makes perfect sense for companies to influence elementary
school students because of that crucial time when children are still establishing their tastes and habits, it makes perfect sense for those
concerned about education to keep them out because the aforementioned crucial habits include studying, reading, and paying attention to the
teacher over the soda machine (Source F).
Better
Schools exist to educate out children, and partnerships with large corporations seem destined to detract from learning. The fact that elementary
school students are easily molded is not lost on the soft drink companies. As a writer for Beverage Industry noted, Influencing elementary
school students is very important to the soft drink marketers because children are still establishing their tastes and habits (Source F). Just as it
makes perfect sense for companies to influence elementary school students because they are at a crucial time in their development, it makes
perfect sense for those concerned about education to keep soft drink advertising and consumption out. Elementary school should shape
behaviors that contribute to a healthy, happy life. Students should be studying, reading and paying attention to the teacher--not the soda
machine.
Synthesis Research
o Use sources as springboards or buttresses for your argument. Do not let the sources drive your essay.
o The College Board wants to determine how well a student can read critically, understand texts, analyze texts, develop a position
on a given topic, support a position on a given topic, support a position with appropriate evidence from outside sources,
incorporate outside sources into the texts of the essay, cite sources used in the essay

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Use the sources and your observations, readings, and experiences to support your thesis.
This essay is a chance to demonstrate your ability to develop a researched idea using not only your personal viewpoint, but
also the viewpoints of others.
You must be able to analyze the argument each source is making. What claim is the source making about the issue? What data
or evidence does the source offer in support of the claim? What are the assumptions or beliefs (explicit or unspoken) that
warrant using this evidence or data to support the claim?
Ask the questions:
What are two or three possible positions that I could take on this issue?
Which of these positions do I want to take? Why? Keep an open mind, and choose the position that will allow you to
have the best essay and supporting details.
Many of the best essays dont have a simple and easy thesis but instead take a more critical approach that recognize
the complexities of the issue.
Imagine arguing the topic with an individual. Argue your position and feel free to say things like, Source A takes a
position similar to mine, or Source C would oppose this position, but here is why I still maintain its validity, etc.
This essay has two main approaches
First: Expository essay in which you develop your thesis and support it with specific examples from appropriate sources.
You may use compare/contrast, cause and effect, or analysis
Second: Argumentative essay in which you take a position on a particular topic and support the viewpoint with
appropriate outside sources, while indicating the weaknesses of other viewpoints.
Common Errors
Not taking a clear position or wavering between positions
Substituting a thesis-oriented expository essay (informing the reader of the different topics/positions) for an
argumentative essay
Being reluctant to engage in verbal combat because everybodys entitled to his or her opinion so theres nothing to
argue about
Lacking clear connections between claims and the data, and the warrants needed to support them
Pre-writing: Make marginal notes beside the text; highlight, underline, and circle key elements. Clearly mark and decide which
position you will take and which sources will support your viewpoint.
Opening Paragraph: Provide a context for your research. You may use anecdotes, personal experiences, observations, startling
facts/statistics, etc. to catch your readers attention.
Body Paragraphs: Use transitions to connect ideas. Build up to your strongest point with each paragraph.
Use a mixture of direct quotations and paraphrased quotations when incorporating your sources. Remember that you MUST
establish a position and each source you choose MUST support and develop your position.
Paraphrase: transpose the original material into your own words. It will be close to number of words in the original text.
Inference: drawing a conclusion based on specific material
Quotations:

Direct Quotation/Full citation provided at beginning of sentence: John Broder in his February 21, 2006, New York
Times article titled States Curbing Right to Seize Private Homes, quotes Scott G. Bullock, .
Direct Quotation/Citation placed outside the text: In a 60 Minutes interview presented on July 4, 2004, Jim
Saleet, a homeowner, stated, .. (Source E).
Paraphrase of and direct quotation third paragraph citation placed outside of the text: John Echeverria sees a
danger arising from doing away with the powers of eminent domain. There is real danger the areas will
experience economic decline (Source E).
Combination of Direct Quotation and Paraphrase citation provided outside of the text (note the use of ellipsis):
In 2005, a supreme court decision ruled that the government taking of property from private owner
(Source C).
Direct Quotation Citation after Sentence: 68% of survey respondents said that they favored legislative limits on
the governments ability to take private property away from owners (Source G)
Direct Quotation with Citation with Sentence: According to a survey conducted by CNN on July 23, 2005, 66% of
those responding said never to the question, Should local governments be able to seize homes?
Paraphrase Citation Outside Sentence: In recent polls conducted by both the Washington Times and CNN, over
60% said no when asked if local governments should be able to take over private homes and businesses (Source
G).
Conclusion: Restate main idea but do not simply summarize. Try to powerfully connect ideas or find another source that
somehow unites all items discussed.