“American” Essay Do-Over

A few weeks ago you were asked to write an essay defining what it means to be American.  Many of you struggled with this, producing circular arguments about how it means “freedom” and “freedom” means America.  Many of you sounded exactly like a commentator from CNN or FOX news, sort of listing out political talking points, but again, without specific details as they relate to you on a daily basis.  Defining what it means to be “American” is a large, abstract concept, so I want to attack it from another angle this time.

You should all start new today.

Pretend Sparta High School is getting another group of international exchange students (many of you might remember Lo from two years ago).  Write a letter to these incoming students telling them about American culture and, specifically, about the culture of folk who live in the Sparta, IL. area.  What do high school students from another country need to know about the culture of folk in this area?

Follow block letter format (start with your address, give the date, then use the school’s address for the sender’s address – go to the Sparta High School website or look in your agenda books.  Make up a fake name for the person you are writing to).  It should be 3-5 paragraphs in length.

These letters are a new grade in the gradebook and are worth 50 points.  Due to the sub at the end of the hour.  Make sure you sign your letters in ink before you turn them in.

Folk who want to revise their first essay for a higher grade may do so – those revisions will be due by Parent-Teacher conference time in October.  You must submit your original with the revision.