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ouchstone 3: Informative Essay

ASSIGNMENT: Select ONE of the following writing prompts and complete a a 3-5 page (approximately 800-1300 words) informative essay. As a part of your completed draft, complete the color coding activity described below. In addition, answer the “Think About Your Writing” questions on a separate sheet of paper and include it with your draft submission.

In order to foster learning and growth, all essays you submit must be newly written specifically for this course. Any recycled work will be sent back with a 0, and you will be given one attempt to redo the touchstone.

Note: Touchstone 4 will be a revision of the draft that you submit for Touchstone 3.

Sample Image Analysis Essay: Prompt A
Sample Extended Definition Essay: Prompt B

A. Instructions

Choose ONE of the following prompts for your informative essay.

PROMPT A: IMAGE ANALYSIS: Although we look at print advertisements every day, we often do not consider the ways in which they affect us. Visual images in ads can influence and persuade us, so it is important to evaluate them critically to understand their meanings. Good image analysis involves examination of the components of an image to gain an understanding of the whole.

Select an advertisement to analyze. The advertisement you choose should be directed towards a specific audience. To identify the intended audience, think about the members of the potential audience for the advertisement that you have chosen. Who are they? Ads for a beauty product, for example, may be aimed at young girls; ads for a deodorant might target men; a diaper commercial is likely intended for new parents; ads for cruise trips might be aimed at retirees. You can use any academically-appropriate advertisement to complete this assignment, as long as its intended audience is clearly identified.

Your thesis must inform the reader of your topic and purpose. Because you are writing in the informative mode, use objective language and a neutral point of view.

Draft an analytical essay that examines the audience, context, and purpose of the advertising image you’ve chosen. Read the article by Jenna Pack titled “Breaking Down an Image” for ideas about how to write an image analysis. Your analysis should lead to a conclusion about the ad’s effectiveness, based on examination of its components. Include the image with your draft.

PROMPT B: EXTENDED DEFINITION: Define or redefine one of the following words:

  • Family
  • Success
  • Courage
  • Art
  • Beauty

In your draft, briefly explain how society, or the dictionary, defines the word you’ve selected, and then explain your unique or extended definition of the word. Provide examples and explanations to support your definition. Your thesis must inform your readers of your new definition and, because you are writing in the informative mode, you must use objective language.

Draft an extended definition essay that defines or redefines a word or concept. Read the article by Dan Richards titled “Digital Ethics” for ideas about how to write an extended definition essay.

B. Think About Your Writing

As a part of your completed draft, complete the color coding activity and include answers to all of the questions below your draft.

PART 1: Color Coding Activity:
Using the color codes provided, evaluate your draft as follows:

  • Use red text to indicate your thesis statement.
  • Use green text to indicate the topic sentence of each body paragraph.

Part 2: Questions
1. What is the significance of your essay? Why should readers care about what you have written? (2-3 sentences) Sophia says: Think about why you decided to analyze this particular image, or why you picked the word you chose to define. Your interest in in your subject matter should be clear to readers.
2. Which areas of your draft do you think will benefit most from revision? (2-3 sentences)Sophia says: Consider the organization, style, focus, development, and conventions of your draft. Which areas did you struggle to complete?
3. Consider the strengths and weaknesses of your writing. How can you capitalize on your strengths and improve on your weaknesses in future essays? (3-4 sentences) Sophia says: Think about what was easy about writing the draft, and what was more difficult. For example, if you write paragraphs with strong topic sentences, but repeatedly use the same type of sentence to provide supporting details, you can improve your paragraphs by varying sentence structure.

C. Informative Draft Guidelines

DIRECTIONS: Refer to the checklist below throughout the writing process. Do not submit your Touchstone until your draft meets all of the guidelines. Print this checklist!

Essay Prompt: Image Analysis

❒ If you chose the image analysis prompt, have you analyzed and interpreted — and not just described — the ad’s design?
❒ Have you made conclusions about the audience and effectiveness of the ad?
❒ Did you include the image in your draft?
❒ Did you complete the color-coding activity?
❒ Is your draft 800-1300 words long?

Essay Prompt: Extended Definition

❒ If you chose the extended definition prompt, did you indicate how society defines the word you selected, and then explain your definition (or an extended definition) of it?
❒ Have you included examples and explanations to support your definition?
❒ Did you complete the color-coding activity?
❒ Is your draft 800-1300 words long?

Working Thesis

❒ Have you included a clear, focused, and detailed thesis statement?
❒ Does your thesis state the topic and purpose of your essay?
❒ Is your thesis a single sentence, and is it located in the introductory paragraph?

Focus and Organization

❒ Is there an adequate number of body paragraphs, each with a clear topic sentence?
❒ Is there a conclusion paragraph that makes a concluding statement?
❒ Are your draft paragraphs sequenced properly?
❒ Have you used transitions to connect ideas between sentences and paragraphs?
❒ Can your draft be described as having a good flow?
❒ Does your draft have a clear focus?
❒ Are all supporting details relevant?

Style and Tone

❒ Is the tone of your draft unbiased and informative?
❒ Is it clear that the purpose of your essay is to inform readers about your topic?
❒ Have you carefully considered your word choices?


❒ Have you checked your draft for grammatical errors?
❒ Have you used Spell-Check or another method to check spelling?
❒ Have you punctuated your draft correctly?

Before You Submit

❒ Have you included your name, date, and course at the top left of the page?
❒ Have you completed the “Think About Your Writing” questions and color coding activity?
❒ Is your draft between three and five pages long (approximately 800-1300 words)