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Working with Boothe Essays

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The Boothe prize recognizes outstanding argumentative writing by first-year students in PWR and Thinking Matters.  Winning essays provide an amazing resource of exemplary writing from PWR 1. Individually, Boothe essays provide great examples for the RBA.  As a teaching resource, we can use parts or sections of Boothe essays to address particular writing issues.

General Strategies for Using Boothe Essays in PWR1

  • Don’t expect students to know what to look for in a sample on their own. You will need to interact with students around the samples and engage them with the qualities you want them to see.
  • Compose questions to guide them to interact with the features you wish to highlight.
  • Find samples with topics that are similar to those in the class. Note that these may be indirect relationships; for instance, the Boothe winner about college admissions – which turns on a film documentary about admissions policies -- may connect with a class that looks at childhood, developmental psychology, socio-economic gaps, how policy is made and followed, law, discrimination, and the educational power of YouTube clips and documentaries.
  • Develop a specific plan for what you would like to achieve by presenting the model: for instance, using introductions to craft a framework for understanding the central focus, crafting pace and structure of essay to move purposefully toward toward conclusions (alternatives to the sudden, one paragraph wrap up), and paying close attention to sentence style in order to build stronger coherence.
  • Address directly why a Boothe essay may go over the page limit; in most cases, the instructor has allowed or encouraged writers to keep going if their arguments benefit from extra layer(s) of discussion and still maintain clear coherence. Boothe judges are generally very resistant to essays that dump in more research and discussion that doesn’t have clear purpose.
  • Don’t forget rhetoric! Don’t miss the opportunity to focus on how the sample employs rhetorical analysis of its sources and deploys its own rhetorical strategies