Stockton Rhetoric & Composition Class #6: February 13, 2019: FAMILY DAY!



  1. Meet Your Family! Family Names & Grammar Games (synthesize the quizzes)
  2. Family Read Around & Discussion (Have you been guilty of these, if so, which one and describe how you fall into the “trap” of this style of introduction)
  3. FE #2: Assignment specs & resources review
  4. Process with your Family: Purpose to persuade, free-writing



Choose Your Claim: Modern technology is making our generation lonelier or sadder.

Despite the immense changes brought on by technology, it is not responsible for making my generation lonelier or sadder.

Narrowing Questions: 

  1. Without looking at the research/can I sum up my feelings on the claim?
  2. What information have I discovered that surprised me the most? (anecdotal introduction)
  3.  What information will my reader most need to know in order to be persuaded by my claim? (your evidence)

An analysis paper is basically the union of Question #1 to Question #3


Formal Essay #2: Issue Analysis #1: Does technology make us more alone?

Prompt questions here. 

Other resources explored in class. 

Paper should be at least two and a half typed pages. Have access in class on Monday (hard or digital). Cite any sources used in APA format. Use sources. Be conscious of writing a thesis that presents an arguable answer to the prompts. Be aware of introduction. This is a rough draft for an paper style we will explore IN DEPTH this semester.


  1. Header: Your name, time of class, Formal Essay #
  2. SHOW ME! Tell a single story. SOME of you are JUST DESCRIBING CRAP…mostly your feelings. Or you are telling me ALL about something?
  3. Be concrete…the vagueness game
  4. Watch tense shifts in verbs. Be aware and read it aloud. If you want to stay in past tense (and for the most part you do, CNTRL + F present tense verbs like “is” and “am” to root out problems.
  5. Avoid the “and then” … “and then” syndrome
  6. Passive/active voice
  7. Don’t miss a chance for direct dialog.
  8. ww = wrong word / sp = spelling

student work examples.

Stockton Rhetoric & Composition Class #5: February 6, 2019

“You don’t start out writing good stuff. You start out writing crap and thinking it’s good stuff, and then gradually you get better at it.

That’s why I say one of the most valuable traits is persistence.”

― Octavia E. Butler



  1. TONIGHT’S CLASS WILL BE HELD in D27 computer lab
  2. FE #1.1 is hand-in READY!
  3. Make sure you have at least read “How to Mark a Book”The Atlantic  article which Blog Post #2 will be based. It’s ok if you have not written the blog post, yet.


  1. Review “How to Mark a Book” (The Thanksgiving Story)
  2. The Atlantic article & review associated media
    1. Take this personality test. Have the results e-mailed to yourself, then forward that e-mail to me
    2. Create your blog on Google’s Blogger. Use the very explicit directions provided here.    Name the blog “”
    3. Upload (you can just cut and paste them from Google) your blog post #1 & blog post #2)
    4. Pick ANYBODY in class EXCEPT the person you worked with on the Questionnaire Project. Simply read your narrative aloud, slowly and carefully to your partner (you may leave the lab and find a quiet corner in which to accomplish this task). Make edits to your narrative using a hard copy and a pen/pencil (you may print a copy in this lab). Come back to the lab when done and make the appropriate edits to your narrative. Narrative edits will close at 8pm tonight. No more editing as of that time, please.


  1. I have some media to show you about phones and current personal technology. Watch them, but more importantly, PRACTICE ANNOTATING THEM! Annotations will be reviewed, discussed & graded.

NY Times video on the iPhone. 

Does this disturb you as much as it disturbs me?

2. Blog Post Assignment #3: AMAZING HOUR: Try amazing hour for this week. See what it stimulates in your brain (I am going to try it as well). Then, write an entry about it in your blog and tell me all about what it did (or didn’t do) for you. This blog will not be graded Monday, but I’d love to have a conversation about AMAZING HOUR NEXT Monday.

3. Read and annotate this story, “All Summer in a Day” by Ray Bradbury.

Stockton Rhetoric & Composition Class #4: February 4th, 2019

I love deadlines. I love the whooshing sound they make as they rush by. – Doug Adams



Have hard copy of FE #1. 


  1. Five minutes on the Grammar Quiz
  2. Costal’s Keys to Writing: 
    1. SHOW don’t tell
    2. Good writing equals strong verbs/modifiers 
    3. Writing IS Re-writing
  3. We Fall…/Narrative Edit: To Be Trap & Simple Read-through



  1. Narrative final REVISION in by class on Monday. 

2. Read “How to Mark a Book” from The Saturday Review by Mortimer Adler.

3. Blog Post #2: Read this article from the Atlantic Monthly that asks the question: “Have Cellphones Destroyed a Generation?” 

In a post of your own, discuss your own battles with “connection distress.” Using the Atlantic Monthly article to back your point. Remember that you can make any point about your generation and cell phones. You can use anecdotal evidence. Just be sure your post speaks to at least one the broader issues explored in the article. Create a citation for the article in your response. Due Monday. approx. 300 words. 

Twenge, J. (2017, September) Have Smartphones Destroyed a Generation? Atlantic          Monthly. Retrieved from:

REMEMBER, because your blog has not yet been created, just write this and hold on to it for now. 


Stockton Writing Class #3B: January 30, 2019

I HATE to write, but I LOVE to have written – Oscar WildeB


Be sure you have read, listened to and understood “You Can’t Kill the Rooster.”


  1. Qualifying Quiz
  2. Reading Quiz #2
  3. NPR piece left-over from previous class
  4. Narrative Assignment Overview & Discussion & Draft


Reading Quiz #2: (You will have 15 minutes to complete this assignment)

#1. Is the Rooster a “redeemable” character? In a maximum of three sentences, tell me how the Rooster redeems himself by the end of the essay.

#2. Explain the difference between “denotation” and “connotation” in exactly two sentences.

#3. Write one sentence that proves you understand the usage difference between “affect” and “effect.”

#4. In three sentences or less, explain “SHOW, don’t tell!” Costal’s number one rule of writing.


Formal Essay #1: Descriptive Narrative

A narrative is a story. In writing a narrative essay, you share with the reader some personal experience of your own in order to make a point or convey a larger message. A great narrative, for example might be how your grandfather influenced your desire to become an orthodontist, or perhaps you’ll relate the story of the time you didn’t make the cut for the basketball team. Whatever the story, a good narrative relays a higher purpose or meaning.

Narrative effect is the main point of your story—the moral, the message, the insight you offer. Without a specific narrative effect, your essay is merely a series of unconnected events. If you are unsure what your main point is, you might ask yourself, “Why am I telling this story? Why should someone else be interested in reading about my experience?” In addition, you must decide whether to reveal your point explicitly (stated directly) or implicitly (suggested but not stated).


Formal Essay #1: The Descriptive Narrative: Your narrative will be a story that describes your FIRST LOVE! This LOVE need not necessarily BE the LOVE of a human being (IN FACT< NO ESSAYS ON FAMILY MEMBERS OR ENTIRE FAMILIES! NO ESSAYS ON BOYFRIENDS, GIRLFRIENDS OR BEST FRIENDS! NO ESSAYS ON SPORTS.

I want to challenge you to think BEYOND your traditional interpretations of LOVE. Consider…

…the love of an item (your favorite chair)

…the love of a hobby or past-time (knitting, spelunking, 40 man squash, full-contact origami).

…the love of an idea (like freedom or solitude or creativity)

The catch is that the narrative must provide its description through the telling of a specific story. So you can’t simply DESCRIBE your chair, you must tell me the story of how you got it the chair or a time the chair really benefited. You cannot simply explain WHY freedom is good, you must tell me a story in which the theme is a love of freedom (i.e. your parents escaping a cruel government to get to this country OR your first night at college).

The narrative MUST tell a story, and the story must illustrate the love you feel for the thing.

Two pages, double spaced, default or 1″ margins. DRAFT ONE, DUE MONDAY. February 4th. BRING A HARD COPY TO CLASS.

Frequently Committed Narrative Issues:

1. Inciting Incident: To begin…as weird as it seems…don’t just start at the beginning…MAKE the beginning at the point of incitement.

2. Write a story, not an expository essay. No traditional thesis or opening paragraph. Resist the urge to NOT tell me WHAT you’re describing. This device is rarely worth the confusion.

3. Dominant Impression: Too many of you will not focus your story on ONE, SPECIFIC, CONCRETE INCIDENT, instead you wrapped it up in a complete day’s worth of description. For example, if your “FIRST LOVE” was Walt Disney World, and you know that because you went last summer, don’t tell me the whole story, from packing the car to leaving Orlando on Interstate 4. Instead, why not focus on riding your favorite ride with a loved one. Or one magical evening at Cinderella’s Castle. Or eating your way around World Showcase.

Stockton Rhetoric & Composition Class #3A, January 28, 2019

The road to hell is paved with ‘works in progress.’ – Phillip Roth



Have written Informal Essay #1


  1. Review Informal Essay #1
  2. Review Quizzes
  3. Questions on Narrative – Discussion on Shoeless Joe 
  4. Costal’s Keys to Writing #2 & #3
  5. Assignment Review


Costal’s 5 Keys to Writing: 

  1. SHOW don’t TELL
  2. Writing IS Rewriting
  3. Good writing = Strong Verbs
  4. XXX
  5. XXX
  6. XXX

Shooting An Elephant by George Orwell:  When I pulled the trigger I did not hear the bang or feel the kick–one never does when a shot goes home–but I heard the devilish roar of glee that went up from the crowd. In that instant, in too short a time, one would have thought, even for the bullet to get there, a mysterious, terrible change had come over the elephant. He neither stirred nor fell, but every line of his body had altered. He looked suddenly stricken, shrunken, immensely old, as though the frightful impact of the bullet had paralyzed him without knocking him down. At last, after what seemed a long time–it might have been five seconds, I dare say–he sagged flabbily to his knees. His mouth slobbered. An enormous senility seemed to have settled upon him. One could have imagined him thousands of years old. I fired again into the same spot. At the second shot he did not collapse but climbed with desperate slowness to his feet and stood weakly upright, with legs sagging and head drooping. I fired a third time. That was the shot that did for him. You could see the agony of it jolt his whole body and knock the last remnant of strength from his legs. But in falling he seemed for a moment to rise, for as his hind legs collapsed beneath him he seemed to tower upward like a huge rock toppling, his trunk reaching skyward like a tree. He trumpeted, for the first and only time. And then down he came, his belly towards me, with a crash that seemed to shake the ground even


where I lay.

NPR piece.


Read this narrative (and as you read, consider listening to the author read the piece here) by David Sedaris (listen to the author read the narrative below). As you read, consider what you learned about narratives from the Purdue OWL (and any questions posed in class today). Be prepared for Wednesday, to further discuss the quality of this piece and “how” it evinces the tenets of good narrative.

Stockton Rhetoric & Composition Class #3: January 23, 2019

Read and listen to everything due from class #2.

Have questions from your readings Shoeless Joe, Purdue OWL Guide to Narratives


  1. Grammar Inventory
  2. Reading Quiz #1
  3. 5 Minute Personality Test & Discussion
  4. Usage Quiz
  5. Discussion of Invisibilia podcast and assignment review


  1. What is “Rhetoric?” Give an example of it from real life.
  2. Identify three things Ray loves (from Shoeless Joe Chapter One). For each thing, provide at least one sentence describing how you know Ray loves this thing.


Informal Writing #1 (This assignment need not be shared with me. Save it to transcribe on to your blog when we create them)

Consider the themes and over-arching ideas presented in the Invisibilia podcast. Then listen to the podcast here, conducted by NPR’s Fresh Air program. It is an interview with Kevin Hart. Hart was recently embroiled in a controversy involving sexuality. He said some things ten years ago on social media, was condemned for it, stepped down from hosting the Oscars, apologized, and seems to be moving on from it all (his movie has been #1 at the box office for a few weeks now). If you are unfamiliar with this course of events, there’s a pretty good primer for it all on Salon.

***If you are short on time, consider beginning this interview at 11 minutes in order to get to the part of the interview that matters to our discussion.  

Considering both Hart’s story and apology and the “call out” culture described in the previous podcast, write a full page reaction to what you have read/heard. Consider one or all of the following questions:

  1. Does the current “call out” culture provide more of a benefit or a deterrent for us as a society?
  2. If “calling out” stops heinous crimes and curbs unfair behavior, does that make it warranted?
  3. How do you feel about “shaming” as a deterrent in general? Think “Megan’s Law” and public sex offender registries.
  4. How does “forgiveness” factor into “call out culture?” How important is growth and forgiveness? Do you believe Kevin Hart?
  5. Is it different for comedy? In other words, is it “ok to joke” about sensitive issues? Can comedians expect different treatment in these politically correct times?
  6. Do you believe we live in more politically correct times? Is that generally a good or bad thing for us culturally?
  7. I am interested in this idea of funny vs. offensive. Are the rules different? Should they be?

Stockton Rhetoric & Composition #2: January 16, 2019

Great teachers are not necessarily systematic thinkers. The very act of teaching is against us – Theodore Roethke


  1. a print out out of the answers to your questionnaire. 
  2. questions about the syllabus. 


  1. Icebreaker
  2. Review the syllabus
  3. Introduction activity 
  4. Assignment Review


  1. Course Syllabus
  2.  Course Questionnaire
  3. Intro to the Purdue OWL web site
  4. Purdue OWL guide to Writing Narratives
  5. Chapter One of Shoeless Joe
  6. Glossary of Grammatical Usage from Hunter College
  7. “The Callout” Episode of Invisibilia from National Public Radio


  1. Many of you are probably familiar with the Purdue OWL. We will use this site this year to get resources without a text and keep costs down. Whether or not you have ever used the site, there is a new intro to read (#3) to become familiar with the form and function of the site.
  2. Then, read the OWL’s guide to writing narratives (#4). Since the narrative is our first formal paper this semester, be sure to pay attention. I will take questions on this Monday.
  3. Read Chapter One of Shoeless Joe by WP Kinsella (#5), (approximately 19 pages). Be prepared to discuss this on Monday. Pay special attention to the characters and setting. You do not need to remember fine details of the piece. Just understand the basic ideas.
  4. Peruse the glossary of grammatical usage (#6). You do not need to study it, but get an idea of the rules. Question yourself. Are there any of these you did not know? How many?
  5. Since we do not have class on Monday, January 21st, please listen to the NPR Invisibilia podcast about the “Call Out” culture (#7). You will be asked a general question about the show in Wednesday’s quiz. So consider the overall thesis of the show as you listen.

***Please NOTE: This work should be completed for class. The assignments posted on the blog will always be due AFTER the class meeting. In other words, the blog is meant as a companion of the course lecture/discussion/activities. All assignments, unless otherwise noted, are due at  the subsequent class.  

Stockton Rhetoric & Composition #1: January 14th


  1. Introductions/Attendance
  2. Syllabus/Website/Assignment Review


  1. Course Syllabus
  2. Course Questionnaire


1. Post my website in your favorites. Subscribe to follow, so you get e-mail notifications when I post. Follow me on Twitter (@JoeCostal ). We will have a Twitter project on-going through the school year, so if you are not signed up, please do so. See me with concerns,

2. Download and thoroughly read your syllabus. This is an extremely important document. Read it, but like, for real. 

3. Complete this questionnaire. Follow the directions at the top, please. This is your first real assignment of the semester, so let’s review how I would like all assignments turned in.

  • Open Google Docs (all of you have access to Google Drive through your Stockton e-mail address).
  • Name the title using the following format LastName Assignment (i.e. Costal Questionnaire) 
  • Go to “SHARE” (the blue button in the upper right hand corner. Share with me (
  • You have now submitted the assignment.