Stockton Rhetoric & Composition #9: March 4, 2019



  1. FE #1 & #2 are closed. They are what they are.
  2. Class tonight will meet in computer lab MCCM103
  3. Have the work you did on Blog #4 available for use tonight


  1. Questions from blogs
  2. Quick Review: WHAT WE RESEARCH: Context vs. Evidence
  3. Family Activity w/ Blog #4
  4. Library Presentation & Demonstration
  5. Family Challenge — Credibility
  6. Essential Questions for Source Credibility

Image result for trump memes


Family Activity: Each family will convene about the work each student did on Blog #4.
1. What topic from the President’s speech did you use? Why? (If there is overlap within the family, figure that out first).
2. What fact/evidence/annotation did you choose? How did you feel about it?
3. What needs to be further investigated? What concepts need further explanation or inquiry?
***becomes foundation for research questions
College Research Basics:
1. AND understood (OR, NOT)
2. Quotations bring together
3. Cave Men
4. Peer Reviewed
Family Credibility Challenge: 


You are responsible for watching this video on plagiarism created by the university:

In preparation for this weekend’s paper, let’s do some research question writing. Develop at least three questions that can arise from your Blog Post #5 assignment. For each question, use the database to find research that addresses (notice I did not say “answers”) your question.

Share this on your Blog as Post #6. But please be sure it is done before class on Wednesday. 

Also, please consider reading my story, published this weekend in Glassworks magazine.You can read it heree. Listen to it here. And read my reflection about it here. I am doing a Q&A on it at a book launch event on Thursday night. Bring questions for me to practice. Anyone who does…extra credit. If the question is good and evinces a thorough read of the story, I will give extra credit to your WHOLE FAMILY.

Stockton Rhetoric & Composition Class #7: February 18, 2019



  1. Class will meet in F222 tonight
  2. Be sure you have access to your FE #2 electronically.


  1. Lecture: Functions of Rhetorical Analysis
  2. Application: Identify Rhetorical Elements in each other’s papers
  3. Class Reading period & paper application (Effective Openers)



1. Here are tonight’s notes on rhetorical functions.

2. “Writing An Effective Opener”

What follows is an explanation of each of these patterns with examples from real magazine articles to illustrate the explanations.

1 Historical review: Some topics are better understood if a brief historical review of the topic is presented to lead into the discussion of the moment. Such topics might include “a biographical sketch of a war hero,” “an upcoming execution of a convicted criminal,” or “drugs and the younger generation.” Obviously there are many, many more topics that could be introduced by reviewing the history of the topic before the writer gets down to the nitty gritty of his paper. It is important that the historical review be brief so that it does not take over the paper.

from “Integration Turns 40” by Juan Williams in Modern Maturity, April/May, 1994.

The victory brought pure elation and joy. It was May 1954, just days after the Supreme Court’s landmark ruling in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas. At NAACP headquarters in New York the mood was euphoric. Telegrams of congratulations poured in from around the world; reporters and well-wishers crowded the halls.

[After reaching back forty years ago to bring up the landmark Supreme Court decision that started school desegregation, this article discusses school segregation in the present time.]

2 Anecdotal: An anecdote is a little story. Everyone loves to listen to stories. Begin a paper by relating a small story that leads into the topic of your paper. Your story should be a small episode, not a full blown story with characters and plot and setting. Read some of the anecdotes in the Reader’s Digest special sections such as “Life in These United States” to learn how to tell small but potent stories. If you do it right, your story will capture the reader’s interest so that he or she will continue to read your paper. One caution: be sure that your story does not take over the paper. Remember, it is an introduction, not the paper.

from “Going, Going, GONE to the Auction!” by Laurie Goering in Chicago Tribune Magazine, July 4, 1994.

Mike Cantlon remembers coming across his first auction ten years ago while cruising the back roads of Wisconsin. He parked his car and wandered into the crowd, toward the auctioneer’s singsong chant and wafting smell of barbecued sandwiches. Hours later, Cantlon emerged lugging a $22 beam drill-for constructing post-and-beam barns—and a passion for auctions that has clung like a cocklebur on an old saddle blanket. “It’s an addiction,” says Cantlon, a financial planner and one of the growing number of auction fanatics for whom Saturdays will never be the same.

[This is an anecdote, a little story about one man and his first auction, that is the lead to an article about auctions. In this article the author explains what auctions are, how to spot bargains in auctions, what to protect yourself from at auctions, and other facts about auctions and the people who go to them.]

Another example of this is an article I wrote years ago about a fire at Great Adventure. It has been re-posted to the blog recently.  

3 Surprising statement: A surprising statement is a favorite introductory technique of professional writers. There are many ways a statement can surprise a reader. Sometimes the statement is surprising because it is disgusting. Sometimes it is joyful. Sometimes it is shocking. Sometimes it is surprising because of who said it. Sometimes it is surprising because it includes profanity. Professional writers have honed this technique to a fine edge. It is not used as much as the first two patterns, but it is used.

from “60 Seconds That Could Save Your Child” by Cathy Perlmutter with Maureen Sangiorgio in Prevention, September, 1993.

Have a minute? Good. Because that may be all it takes to save the life of a child—your child. Accidents kill nearly 8000 children under age 15 each year. And for every fatality, 42 more children are admitted to hospitals for treatment. Yet such deaths and injuries can be avoided through these easy steps parents can take right now. You don’t have a minute to lose.

[This article begins with a surprising, even shocking, statistic, 8000 children die each year from accidents. The article then lists seven easy actions a person can take to help guard a child against accidents. These range from turning down the water heater to 120 degrees Fahrenheit to putting firearms under lock and key.]

4 Famous person: People like to know what celebrities say and do. Dropping the name of a famous person at the beginning of a paper usually gets the reader’s attention. It may be something that person said or something he or she did that can be presented as an interest grabber. You may just mention the famous person’s name to get the reader’s interest. The famous person may be dead or alive. The famous person may be a good person like the Pope, or he or she may be a bad person like John Wilkes Booth. Of course, bringing up this person’s name must be relevant to the topic. Even though the statement or action may not be readily relevant, a clever writer can convince the reader that it is relevant.

from “Dear Taxpayer” by Will Manley in Booklist, May 1, 1993.

The most widely read writer in America today is not Stephen King, Michael Chrichton or John Grisham. It’s Margaret Milner Richardson, the Commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service, whose name appears on the “1040 Forms and Instructions” booklet. I doubt that Margaret wrote the entire 1040 pamphlet, but the annual introductory letter, “A Note from the Commissioner,” bears her signature.

[This is the first paragraph of an article about the lady named above. The author used the names of three famous, modern American writers to get a reader’s interest. Notice that the first name on his list is a name that is probably more widely known than the other two. Stephen King has been around for some time now, and everyone, from teenagers to grandparents, know his name whether they have read his books or not.]

5 Declarative: This technique is quite commonly used, but it must be carefully used or the writer defeats his whole purpose of using one of these patterns, to get the reader’s interest. In this pattern, the writer simply states straight out what the topic of his paper is going to be about. It is the technique that most student writers use with only modest success most of the time, but good professional writers use it too.

from “The Tuition Tap” by Tim Lindemuth in K-Stater, February, 1994.

In the College of Veterinary Medicine and Engineering, for example, nearly one-third of the teaching faculty may retire by the year 2004. In the College of Education, more than a third of the professors are 55 years old and older. The largest turnover for a single department is projected to be in geology. More than half of its faculty this year are in the age group that will retire at the millennium, says Ron Downey of K-State’s Office of Institutional Research and Analysis. The graying of K-State’s faculty is not unique. A Regents’ report shows approximately 27 percent of the faculty at the six state universities will retire by the end of this decade, creating a shortage of senior faculty.

[This is a straight forward introduction that gets right down to the topic of the aging of the faculty of Kansas State University. There are no historical reviews, no surprising statements, no anecdotes, no quotations from or about famous people. This is a discussion that leads to further discussion about the topic. The biggest difficulty about this type of introduction is that it can get boring. It is not likely to get the interest of anyone except those who are already interested in this subject. Use this pattern with caution.]

These patterns can give a “lift” to your writing. Practice them. Try using two or three different patterns for your introductory paragraph and see which introductory paragraph is best; it’s often a delicate matter of tone and of knowing who your audience is. Do not forget, though, that your introductory paragraph should also include a thesis statement to let your reader know what your topic is and what you are going to say about that topic.

*This information was published by Capital Community College, Hartford CT


  1. FE #1: Narrative FINAL revisions due by Wednesday before class. FINAL COPY! 
  2. FE #2: 2nd draft due by class on Wednesday. Have a hard copy of the paper in class with you on Wednesday. This draft should be in addition to the edited copy we worked on tonight. New opener, clearer evidence and argument. 

2. The first person to Tweet the correct reason for the picture below gets a 100 quiz grade for their entire family.


Stockton Writing Class #6A: October 3, 2018



The directions on this post are specifically for my 330pm COLLEGE WRITING class. These directions should be ignored by my 6pm COLLEGE WRITING students. They will meet with me for class as planned.

330pm Students: I have created a document for you to work in today. Families will come together to complete this assignment. Signing into this document will count as attendance for class. Share the copy with me for credit. Directions are in the document.


Below is a copy of the narrative we read in class. For AT LEAST each paragraph break of the narrative, write an annotation that describes a device, or concept the narrative uses to make it more readable, engaging and understandable for its audience. Here is a list of potential ideas you can work with: action verbs, alliteration, allusions, appositives, hyperbole, metaphor, onomatopoeia, sensory images, sentence variety, series of three, simile, snippet of dialogue, transitional phrases & word choice. Also think about the “narrative effect” and “dominant impression” of the piece.

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?