English 4: Kamber/Schlosser Socratic Seminar Prompts Preview

We will be conducting  a Socratic Seminar on Monday, September 28 and Tuesday, September 29 to dig into central ideas and arguments being made in our new pair of essays, “Toil and Temptation” and “In the Strawberry Fields”.  To prepare, you should read through both essays and annotate them generously. If you want to prep further for the seminar prompts, you can take a look at the them here by clicking here. If, for whatever reason, you misplaced your essay packet, you can download them here.

Also, here’s a link to the Bronx Documentary Center, which was founded by “Toil and Temptation” author and photojournalist Michael Kamber. There’s always something cool going on there. I encourage everyone to check it out!


English 4: Rose/Postrel (Shopping Essays) Resources and Notes

Below you’ll find the essays, prompts and important schedule notes about our first official reading of the year. Click on the links to access the materials on your computer or to print them out to bring home with you.

The reading Quiz will be on Monday, Sept. 21. It’s an open-note quiz, which means you can use your seminar notes, annotated texts and the book “Overdressed”.

Final Note: If you haven’t done so already, please turn in your Rose/Postrel annotations and your signed (by you and your parent/guardian) Commitment to Excellence pledge.

Any questions, please contact Mr. Kratz!

English 4: Counter Claim Paragraph Tips and Examples

The final draft of your essay must include a counter claim paragraph. This paragraph serves to acknowledge the other side of your argument and then should be repudiated in order to reinforce your own thesis. (Note: If you can’t figure out what the other side of your argument is, then that probably means your thesis needs to be more debatable.)

Your counter claim paragraph:

1) Explains the other side of the argument with at least one piece of evidence.

2) Repudiates (denies the validity of) that counter argument with at least one piece of evidence that also helps prove your POV/Thesis.

3) Should be placed either at the beginning of your essay (think about Gladwell’s Small Change argument structure) or at the end.

4) Either way, you need to follow up the counter claim with repudiation of that claim in a way that proves your thesis.  

Examples for each essay prompt:

Media: If you’re arguing that media helps create positive change, then you’re counter claim should include how it also creates negative change (think about the reality shows in “Voting Democracy Off the Island”). You can acknowledge the validity of this claim, but then make sure to point out that, ultimately, media is creating positive change.

Medical Technology: If you’re arguing that medical technology should be trusted and relied upon, then you need to point that we can’t rely on these technologies for all of our health problems (think about the robots in “Alone Together”). The point being: there are problems medical technology should not be relied upon to cure, but, for the most part, it can be used to fix human beings.

English 4: Expository Essay Introduction Tips

The introduction of your expository essay should include three main components: an opening hook, a set-up of the problem or controversy you’re exploring and your thesis. Below are some tips and questions you should be asking yourself as you write your introduction and to evaluate it after you’ve finished your first draft.

Hook: Should be compelling and provocative to grab the readers attention and get them interested in the topic you’re writing about.This is your opportunity to be creative and add your own voice into the essay. Use vivid description and active verbs to make your language colorful and interesting.

Context/Problem/Controversy: Here you’re getting more specifically into the subject and controversy you’re going to be exploring in your essay. This is also the place to introduce the primary texts you’re going to use in your essay. Some questions you should be answering here: What are you talking about, specifically? What are the opposing view points that are creating the controversy? What is the problem you’re trying to solve?

Thesis: Here’s where you take your stand on one side of the controversy. Which side are you on and, based on evidence in the text, why are you right? It should be specific, arguable and preview your the argument you’ll lay out in the body of your essay.

English 4: Sample Outline for Q4 Essay

Below is a sample outline of an essay using either of the prompt options we’ve discussed in class. Please only use this as a guide for organizing the structure of your essay. Your thesis and claims for each body paragraph should be more detailed and nuanced than what you see here.


Thesis Summary 1: Technology should be used to treat people, but there needs to be limits to protect it from being abused.

Thesis Summary 2: Media is a powerful way to affect positive change in society.

BP1: Detailing the problem or controversy you’re exploring in your essay.

Example 1: Explaining benefits and ethical problems with using advanced technology to cure health problems.

Example 2: Explaining how effective media — reality TV and social media — is at effecting change, whether it’s positive or negative.


BP2: Making the first major point that helps prove your thesis.

Example 1: Medical technology should be used to save a loved one’s life.

Example 2: Reality TV can be used to promote positive values.

BP3: Second point that proves your thesis.

Example 1: Medical technology should be used to alleviate severe symptoms that can’t be helped in any other way.

Example 2: Social media can produce positive change.


BP4: Counter argument.

Example 1: We should use medical technology, but there needs to be limits to how we use it so it doesn’t get abused.

Example 2: Media can also produce negative change, but ultimately it is doing more good than bad.

Conclusion: Re-stating Thesis, summarizing argument points and showing broader relevance (why is this important to the world/society?)

Comparing Two Intros

Read these two Intros and then, on your Google Doc, answer these questions: Which hook did you like best and why? Which introduction do you think was strongest overall and why?

Intro #1

30 mph train speeding through the dark hallways, electric light’s flashing from the tracks and soda cans, tissue and candy wrappers move on the train carts floor. Having a Corrupt and unstable government results in a downfall and an unsecure community to live in. In “The Power Of Contexts” by Malcolm Gladwell his essay gives a psychological viewpoint explaining how little changes make a difference in society. During the 1980’s in NYC seeing graffiti on trains and unkempt neighborhoods are predicted as an unsecure community. This influences Gladwells possession to find different tactics to help make the NYC community better, a small change at a time. On the other hand in “What killed Aiyana Jones” Charlie LeDuff’s analysis of Detroit believes there should be a big change in such a critically perilous society, he disagrees that a small change at a time would not save the poor Detroit community. In fact in many instances Gladwell’s theory are actually really effective, as shown in NYC today, it shows how making the community well-kempt by changing the little things does matter.


Intro #2

Faith Baldwin once stated “Time is a dressmaker specializing in alterations.” Throughout life, a person comes across many changes, some directly affecting an individual and others passively attack a community. When witnessing, over time, the occurrences of change within one’s community, the issue becomes the negative impact this change has created. Now people start questioning whether a small change, like Gladwell addresses in “The Power of Context”, would have a more significant beneficial impact than LeDuff concept addressed in “What Killed Aiyana Stanley-Jones”. LeDuff’s essay argues that if people fix the big social issues that result to people being in poverty than there would be a reduction in crime rates. On the other hand, Gladwell’s essay argues that by increasing the strictness on little crimes, communities would see a reduction in the major crimes. Through the successes of Gladwell’s “The Power of Context” and the broken window theory in providing life back to New York, the importance of starting with the small changes in an environment will have a much more high rate of improvement in Detroit than LeDuff’s idea on blaming the institutions for the damage amongst their environment.

English 4: Gathering Evidence for Q4 Essays

After choosing which prompt to pursue and drafting a working thesis, these are the texts you’ll need to access to find evidence to support your argument.

Prompt #1: Using Technology to Cure Health Problems

Made to Order Savior

“Who Holds the Clicker?”

“Alone Together” 

Prompt #2: Using Media to Promote Change

“Small Changes: Why the Revolution Will Not Be Tweeted”

“Win in China”

Voting Democracy Off the Island

Mysterious Eyesores in Melrose are the last vestiges of the Bronx past

By Natasha Thomas

In the Melrose area, a mystery is unfolding amongst the residents and neighbors.

“They are gonna [be] condominiums and small houses for rent and sale,” said an unnamed resident.

“I’ve been hearing stories for years. It’s ridiculous!” said Judy Soto, 54

What these residents are discussing is the construction that has been happening on and off in several of the vacant lots in the area. For years, neighbors have been talking about what lies behind the number of construction fences. People of the neighborhood have taken to gossip in hopes of some sort of insight. As years have gone on, it is clear that no one is 100% certain about what will fill these empty lots.   Continue reading

English 4: Q3 Make-up Materials

The last day to turn in major writing assignments and have a chance to revise them is Monday, April 6 at 9 a.m. (if I receive them by April 6 at 9 a.m. then I’ll have them graded and back to you by Monday, April 13. Anything received after that will not be able to be revised. All revisions and make-up work must be completed by Monday, April 20, at 9 a.m. for it to count on your final Q3 grade.

Major Writing Assignments (60% of your grade):

“Soccer vs. McWorld” (3 body paragraphs, 1 piece of evidence per paragraph, no conclusion required):

Text | Body Paragraphs Prompt #1 | BP Rubric

Soccer Intro 1 | Soccer Intro 2 (copy and paste one into BP assignment)

“Dr. Daedalus” (3 body paragraphs, 2 pieces of evidence per paragraph + conclusion):

Text | Quiz | Body Paragraphs Prompt #2 | BP Rubric

Daedalus Intro 1 | Daedalus Intro 2 (copy and paste one into BP assignment)

Gladwell/LeDuff Essay (submit via the Google Doc shared with you by Mr. Kratz, otherwise it won’t count):

You will come up with your own thesis, based on the prompt and the evidence you gather, write 3-5 body paragraphs to support and prove your thesis, and provide a conclusion that re-states your thesis in new language, summarizes your evidence and shows us the broader relevance (why is this important to us as a society and individuals). Specifically, you’ll be “diagnosing” Detroit’s problems and showing your reader how it would be possible cure this struggling Midwestern city of its ills. Can you do it through the Power of Context and applying the Broken Windows Theory (Gladwell) or will it take the large-scale reform and overhaul of Detroit’s vital civil institutions — its criminal justice system, its education system, its economy or its government, to name a few (LeDuff)?

My recommendation for completing the writing process for this (or any other) essay: 1) Start pulling out evidence (from the ideas and evidence presented by Gladwell or LeDuff) that you think might lead to Detroit’s renaissance; 2) Based on that evidence, come up with a working thesis that takes a strong stance that promotes the ideas of one author and disproves the other’s ideas. 3) Come up with an outline that delineates how you will structure your argument and essay. 4) Start writing! 5) Complete a draft; 6) Seek and receive feedback based on the rubric we’re using; 7) Revise and submit!

Below, you’ll find all of the relevant materials you will need to complete this assignment, including:

— The Texts: “Power of Context” and “What Killed Aiyana Stanley-Jones?”

The Prompt (what you need to do and the questions you need to answer)

The Rubric (how you’ll be scored and what your essay should look, sound and read like)

Quizzes (15% of your grade):

*You can either print out the Quiz and hand it into me in person or just write your Quiz responses on Google Docs and share it with me at akratz@kippnyccp.org. Make sure you read the directions and number your answers.  

“Dr. Daedalus” 

“What Killed Aiyana Stanley-Jones?”

“The Power of Context”

“Who Holds the Clicker?” 

Unit 5 Vocab Quiz: If you haven’t completed the Unit 5 Vocab Quiz, schedule a time to take it with Mr. Kratz.

Homework/Annotations (15%):

You can earn up to 50 annotation points for every reading we do in this class. You must download the text and annotate it. A good annotated reading has summary for every paragraph, underlined passage and phrases that could be used as evidence, and provocative questions. A stellar annotated reading includes all of that as well as opinions and connections to other parts of the text, other readings/books and life experiences. 

“Dr. Daedalus”

“What Killed Aiyana Stanley-Jones?”

“The Power of Context”

“Who Holds the Clicker?”

“Small Changes: Why the Revolution Will Not Be Tweeted”

Extra Credit: “Alone Together” 

Final Note: Classwork makes up the other 10% of your grade. No makeup on this. If you haven’t turned in your Socratic Seminar sheets, you can do so to earn more SS credit. 

English 4: Unit 5 Vocab Review

Our Unit 5 Vocabulary Quiz is this Tuesday, March 24. It’s a multiple choice quiz that will require you to answer 20 questions. For the last few weeks, we’ve been grappling with the meaning and usage of these words, which should put you in a good position to succeed on this quiz. The act of using these words helps you retain them and make them part of your own rapidly-growing vocabulary. You should be able to review by simply going over the words, definitions and sentences you’ve created. If you’re unclear about where Unit 5 began, we started with the word “acuity” and ended with the word “sumptuous.”

Below is a link to the list of words and definitions (which may be slightly different from the ones presented in class):

Unit 5 Vocab List

And here is a link to vocabtest.com where you can work with these words in several different ways. You simply need to scroll down and, underneath “Grade Level”, click on “Senior”. Then check the box next to “Unit 5” and click on “Test Checked Units”. This will allow to work with words using Learning Definitions, Vocabulary Sentences, Reverse Sentences, etc.

Here are the words, once again: