This essay assignment serves as a sort of “warm up” for the research paper because it allows you to practice two essential skills:
1) working with sources and 2) making an argument.
Our work with these two skills is somewhat simplified with this assignment. First of all, you don’t need to go out and find multiple sources they’ve already been provided for you. Second, your argument is essentially provided for you, too. You just have to state it clearly and support it well. See below.
We’ll dig deeper into argumentation in a few weeks, but for now, we’ll focus on three main characteristics of a good argument:
1) a good argument states a clear and specific claim (which is also your thesis statement for the paper); 2) a good argument uses evidence and logic to support its claim; 3) a good argument addresses
Important counterarguments. A claim is a statement presented as fact but requiring evidence in order to be accepted as true. In other words, it must be argued.
You have two claims to choose from for this assignment. You can play with the wording a little, but your essay must use one of these claims as its thesis statement
Claim #1: Screen time is negatively impacting the mental health of today’s teens.
Claim #2: Screen time is positively impacting the health and safety today’s teens.
Both of these claims can be supported with well – chosen information from the articles. You simply need to decide which claim you’d like to support as the main point of your paper. As we practiced with Exercise #1 (Integrating Sources), you will provide direct quotations and paraphrases and statistics from the articles—with proper in-text citations—to present the issue, support your claim, and address counterarguments. Once you’ve decided which claim you want to argue, it is strongly suggested that you read through the articles again to select material that will allow you to present the issue, support your claim, and address counterarguments in your essay.
You must cite at least two of the articles in your paper, but you may use all three if you wish. Here are the three articles we’ve read on the subject:
Has the Smartphone Destroyed a Generation?” by Jean M. Twenge
“No, Smartphones Are Not Destroying a Generation,” by Sarah Rose Cavanagh
“Yes, Smartphones Are Destroying a Generation, But Not of Kids” by Alexandra Samuel
For this essay, we’ll use a very specific five-paragraph structure:
Paragraph 1: Introduction.
Use your title and the opening lines of the essay to engage the reader, introduce the issue, and present your claim (thesis).
Paragraph 2: Presenting the Issue.
Don’t start supporting your claim right away. Instead, use the first body
Paragraph to inform your readers about the issue –the issue of screen time and the controversy surrounding it.
Use your sources and your own observations to present the issue to your readers.
Paragraph 3: Supporting Your Claim. The second body paragraph is where you will provide evidence to support your claim.
Your evidence will be direct quotations, paraphrases, and statistics from the articles. You can also supplement your points with general observations about how we see screen time being used in the world around us, but be sure to rely mostly on the experts for your support.
Paragraph 4: Addressing Counterarguments.
The third body paragraph is where you acknowledge important counterarguments (again, using the sources).
Paragraph 5: Conclusion.
My advice to students is always to keep the conclusion brief. You’ve made all your important points in the paper, so the conclusion is just to remind readers of your main point (your claim) and wrap up the paper.
Works Cited List:
An MLA-style paper requires a “Works Cited” list that gives full bibliographic information for each source used in the paper, alphabetized by the authors’ last names. We’ll dig into how to create a works cited list later this semester. For this essay, you may simply copy the works cited list from the sample paper at the end of this document. HOWEVER, your works cited list should only include the
Works you have cited in your paper. In other words, if you don’t use all three article in your paper, you should not have all three articles on your works cited list
Argumentation: A clear and specific claim (one of the two options provided above) is stated at the end of the introduction paragraph. Essay effectively describes the issue, supports the claim, and addresses counterargument using quotes, statistics, and paraphrases from the sources as well as logic and personal observations. Claim is restated in the conclusion.
Source Integration and Documentation: Uses effective signal phrases with present tense verbs that attribute quotes, paraphrases, summaries, and statistics accurately. (Occasional parenthetical citations are okay but signal phrases are preferred.) Makes good choices for direct quotations and rewords paraphrases and summaries. Includes MLA work cited page.
Writing & Organization: The entire paper is double-spaced and falls within the 400-600-word range. Displays an original title, suggesting the specific focus of the paper, and creative opening lines to engage the reader. Provides an effective introductory paragraph, cohesive body paragraphs with effective topic sentences, and a conclusion. Uses clear and concise writing, college-level vocabulary, proper grammar, spelling, and punctuation.