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American Dream

11 American Literature

The American Dream Writing Activity

Learning Goals:

Students will demonstrate their persuasive writing skills.

Overview:

This assignment affords you an opportunity to showcase your persuasive writing skills, practice for the essay writing section of the SAT, and increase your awareness of the feedback process.

Task:

1. Address the questions below in a well-articulated, brief response.

a.What is the American Dream?

b.Is it attainable for all people? Why?

c.Is the American Dream dependent upon the individual? Why or why not?

2. After completing your written response, please discuss your answers with your classmates and listen to their perspectives.

3. Read the information from the following link to the Library of Congress:

http://www.wendangku.net/doc/7ba1250b79563c1ec5da7119.html/learn/lessons/97/dream/thedream.html

4. Considering this new insight, answer the following question:

Is the American Dream attainable?

While answering this question, consider the definitions and probing questions raised in the article. Do any of the quotes fit your definition of the American Dream? With which idea(s) do you agree most? Which ideas challenge your definition of the American Dream? Why?

Your essay should include a brief introduction and conclusion. Answer the assignment’s main question in your thesis and define the American Dream in your introduction. In the body paragraphs, provide evidence, not quotes, from literature, history, or personal experience that supports your arguments. You may incorporate specific parts of the quotes from the Library of Congress webpage, but this is not a requirement. Try to provide at least two body paragraphs.

5. Grade your classmate’s essay using the rubric provided. Also, provide one brief paragraph on the back of the rubric justifying the scores that you chose. Do not use subjective, inappropriate, or hurtful terms. Apply the Golden Rule. Your observations must include both “hot” and “cold” feedback, strengths of the work and constructive feedback about perceived weaknesses. Focus on arguments, evidence, analysis, and persuasiveness. Do not worry about spelling or grammar unless the errors affect the meaning.

6. Review your classmate’s comments and rubric feedback. After rereading your essay, provide your assessment of your own work using a rubric and a feedback paragraph on the back. Your feedback paragraph should justify the scores that you gave yourself and discrepancies between your assessment and your classmate’s assessment of your work. Staple both assessments to your essay and submit them.

http://www.wendangku.net/doc/7ba1250b79563c1ec5da7119.html/learn/lessons/97/dream/thedream.html

What is the American Dream?

The term was first used by James Truslow Adams in his book The Epic of America which was written in 1931. He states: "The American Dream is "that dream of a land in which life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone, with opportunity for each according to ability or achievement. It is a difficult dream for the European upper classes to interpret adequately, and too many of us ourselves have grown weary and mistrustful of it. It is not a dream of motor cars and high wages merely, but a dream of social order in which each man and each woman shall be able to attain to the fullest stature of which they are innately capable, and be recognized by others for what they are, regardless of the fortuitous circumstances of birth or position."

In the United States’ Declaration of Independence, our founding fathers: "…held certain truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness." Might this sentiment be considered the foundation of the American Dream? Were homesteaders who left the big cities of the east to find happiness and their piece of land in the unknown wilderness pursuing these inalienable Rights? Were the immigrants who came to the United States looking for their bit of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, their Dream? And what did the desire of the veteran of World War II - to settle down, to have a home, a car and a family - tell us about this evolving Dream? Is the American Dream attainable by all Americans? Would Martin Luther King feel his Dream was attained? Did Malcolm X realize his Dream?

Some say, that the American Dream has become the pursuit of material prosperity - that people work more hours to get bigger cars, fancier homes, the fruits of prosperity for their families - but have less time to enjoy their prosperity. Others say that the American Dream is beyond the grasp of the working poor who must work two jobs to insure their family’s survival. Yet others look toward a new American Dream with less focus on financial gain and more emphasis on living a simple, fulfilling life.

Thomas Wolfe said, "…to every man, regardless of his birth, his shining, golden opportunity ….the right to live, to work, to be himself, and to become whatever thing his manhood and his vision can combine to make him."

Is this your American Dream?

The American Dream Writing Assignment Rubric

A work that receives an “A” demonstrates advanced skills:

Writing

_ essay introduction contains an insightful, debatable, thesis and previews the essay’s argument

_ conclusion restates thesis and provides a convincing, powerful “so what” statement

_ writing exhibits skillful use of vivid, appropriate diction, varied syntax, and a distinct writing voice

_ writing has a distinct beginning, middle, and end with expertly and logically ordered paragraphs

_ body paragraphs skillfully use transitions

_ topic sentences expertly provide clear, insightful, provable arguments that guide body paragraphs

_ writing is free of any errors in grammar, spelling, or punctuation and always adheres to MLA format

A work that receives a “B” demonstrates proficiency:

Writing

_ essay introduction previews the argument and contains a debatable thesis that may lack insight

_ conclusion restates thesis and provides a “so what” statement

_ writing at times exhibits use of vivid, appropriate diction, varied syntax, and a distinct writing voice

_ writing has a distinct beginning, middle, and end marked by logically arranged paragraphs

_ body paragraphs use transitions

_ topic sentences lack insight but expertly guide body paragraphs and provide clear, provable arguments

_ writing contains few, minor errors in grammar, spelling, or punctuation; adheres to MLA format

A work that receives a “C”/“D” demonstrates that a student needs improvement:

Writing

_ essay introduction previews the argument and contains a thesis that may lack insight or opinion

_ conclusion attempts to provide a “so what” statementy but merely provides a perfunctory wrap up

_ writing exhibits use of colloquial diction, lacks varied syntax, and fails to project a distinct writing voice _ writing has a basic beginning, middle, and end but may not include logically arranged paragraphs

_ body paragraphs inconsistently use transitions

_ topic sentences fail to guide body paragraphs or provide arguments that lack clarity and insight

_ writing contains several errors in grammar, spelling, or punctuation; sometimes adheres to MLA format A work that receives a “F” does not demonstrate skills:

Writing

_ essay lacks a clear introduction, begins with evidence, or provides a thesis that lacks insight or argument _ conclusion lacks a “so what” statement and fails to wrap up the argument

_ writing exhibits inappropriate/colloquial diction, redundant/flawed syntax, and no writing voice

_ writing lacks a beginning, middle, and end, lacks a meaningful or logical paragraph or argument structure _ body paragraphs rarely use transitions

_ topic sentences fail to guide body paragraphs and provide arguments that lack clarity and insight

_ writing contains grammar, spelling, or punctuation errors that obscure meaning; avoids MLA format Professionalism

_ displays insufficient professionalism (timeliness and adherence to instructions)