39 Sample Writing Assignments
- Be the expert and teach your reader how to do something. You will focus on writing the main steps to completing this process and organizing based on chronology or priority of steps. This essay could be demonstrative in nature (ex. How to bathe and groom a dog at home or how to make banana nut muffins) or philosophically-based (ex. How to not fail your freshman classes or how to survive being a camp counselor).
- Interview a person who has a compelling story to share or with whom you can focus on a particular angle. Interweave direct quotes, observations, and narrative elements to help readers understand this person or his/her perspective better. This should not be a full biography of this person or a career profile although biographical elements and details on jobs held may be woven in as appropriate. Perspective/angles can include but are not limited to this person’s relationship with: technology, ecology/the environment, politics, religion/spirituality, gender roles, family/what family means to them, love, betrayal, etc.
The purpose is to define a term, concept, or idea. You will typically lay the foundation with a dictionary definition (denotative) of the word but will move out to an extended definition (connotative). You are using a combination of the literal and implied meanings of a word or idea in addition to historical information to help readers understand the topic more effectively. You usually define a term or concept that is complex in nature or that can be misconstrued. Legal, business, and scientific terms or concepts typically work well for essays such as these. For example, take the term manslaughter; the literal and implied meanings can help to understand this sometimes misinterpreted crime. The definition paper can stand on its own or an abbreviated version can serve as part of a larger argumentative, analytical, or research paper.
- Take an abstract, complex, controversial word or a term that is personal to you. Using a dictionary definition as well as your own and others’ interpretations, craft an extended definition essay with the purpose of giving a more insightful, comprehensive, and layered understanding of this particular term.
- Walk readers through a day, event, activity, or state of mind, making sure to focus on facts and authentic descriptions. Take a topic that you know something about, like video games. This expository essay on this topic could focus one’s addiction to video games. In one example, the writer might walk us through his day playing a video game while in another essay on the same topic, a writer could concentrate mostly on the reasons he or she became addicted to games and may touch briefly on how to prevent this addiction.
This prompt comes from: https://resources.instructure.com/courses/5/pages/summary-essay-prompt . This prompt could be easily modified by changing out the topic of digital literacy to another one of your choice. Whether working with popular articles or scholarly ones, summary writing is a key component of reading comprehension, setting up a foundation for a larger issue, and research.
“Digital literacy” may be a new term for you, but it’s probably not a new concept. Our personal and academic lives are being transformed by online content, and not everyone has the same innate level of skill at determining what and how to use this content.
Our first essay asks to you to summarize one of 3 short articles from the library library on the topic of digital literacy. (These articles can be found in the weekly modules.) The objectives of this assignment are to:
- Identify and restate the thesis of an author’s work
- Accurately portray the contents of an article
- Practice paraphrasing and quotation skills in formal writing
- Practice “neutral reporting”–being able to present the findings of others without making them appear as your own (most students find this to be the most challenging component of this assignment)
- Practice end citation methods (APA or MLA)
Guidelines for the Summary Essay
- This summary should be written for an audience that HAS NOT read the original article, and so you will report the major and minor ideas contained in the piece.
- Your summary should indicate the article’s thesis idea, if there is one. This thesis should be contained within your introduction. Be sure to also give the title of the article, the author(s), and where & when it was originally published.
- This summary should contain at least one direct quote from the article. Quotation marks should be used. Introduce the direct quote with a “signal” phrase, such as McMillan-Clifton writes… or the article states… or this website argues that… etc.
- This summary should contain at least one paraphrase from the article. Put the author’s ideas in your own words, but stay true to the original intent. Introduce the paraphrase with a tag phrase, as mentioned above. Remember that, as a general rule, phrases of 4 or more words that are exactly the same as the original text should be treated like a quote, not a paraphrase.
- Your summary will be NEUTRAL regarding the material contained within the article. While you should report any bias the author has, you yourself should not reveal your own opinions on the matter. Using “I” or “you” in this essay is not advised, unless it appears inside a quote.
- Normally I don’t mind if essay submissions exceed the maximum word limit, but this essay is an exception. Because one of the hallmarks of an effective summary is brevity, please do not exceed the maximum word count of 600 words.
- In-text citations will not be required in this assignment, though you are welcome to include them for practice.
- Your summary should have an end citation, APA or MLA