English Composition - Mr. Schaefer


English Composition

Mr. Schaefer

Portsmouth Abbey Summer Program 2012

e-mail: mschaefer@northcross.org


Welcome to the Summer Program at Portsmouth Abbey! This class is English Composition. We will analyze the writing process, examine the elements of the essay, study the language of the essay, and compose different types of essays.  In short, this course will be all about writing! Peer editing and revision will be essential exercises for success in this class. Reading comprehension is also an important component of any English curriculum, so it is essential that you complete all assigned readings and be prepared for comprehension quizzes. 

While this is a summer class, it is important to realize you will still earn a grade for this class. I want you to learn as many skills as possible to prepare you for the fall when you return to regular classes. I hope you will come to enjoy the process of writing and compose many interesting essay and journals during your month at Portsmouth Abbey School.

Grades -

Essays and Journals: 90%

Quizzes: 10%

Writing Tools: http://www.poynter.org/how-tos/newsgathering-storytelling/writing-tools/76067/fifty-writing-tools-quick-list/

http://itunes.apple.com/us/itunes-u/roys-writing-tools/id380130686 Pod Casts (take notes when listening) 

Week 1: Intro Paragraph – Tuesday, July 3

                Description Rough Draft – Thursday, July 5

                Peer Review – Thursday, July 5

                Final Draft – Friday, July 6

                Writing Tools Podcasts 1-10 – (Take Notes) 

                Chose two (2) writing prompts and compose at least a ½ page response – Due Monday, July 9  

 Week 2: Compare and Contrast

                Thursday, July 13 Intro (Writing Tools Quizzes)

                Friday July 14 - Quiz on Writing Tools (per 2) and readings for compare and contrast, topic due

                Satudrday July 15 - Work on Compare and Contrast


Chose two (2) writing prompts and compose at least a ½ page response – Due Monday, July 16  

Week 3: Illustration

                Rough Draft – Tuesday, July 17

                Peer-Review— Tuesday, July 17

                Final Draft – Friday, July 20

                Writing Tools Podcasts 

Chose two (2) writing prompts and compose at least a ½ page response – Due Monday, July 23


Week 4: Argument  

                Rough Draft – Tuesday, July 24

                Peer-Review – Tuesday, July 24

                Final Draft – Thursday, July 27

                Writing Tools Podcasts

Final Reflection Due – Friday, July 27  



English Composition 

Monday - July 2 

Introduction Paragraph - Describe yourself in a well developed paragraph. What is your full name? Briefly decribe your family who live with you (sisters, brothers, parents, etc). How many summers have you spent at Portmouth Abbey? Explain where you go to school, the city, state/province and country you live in, and the langauges you speak. Write about any cultural or religious traditions that are important to you. Describe your favorite sports and games to play and/or watch. Write about any other interests you may have such as art, drama, reading and writing. Read out loud. 

Tuesday - July 3 Hand in Introduction Paragraph

               Decription Essay - read examples in class, followed by quiz 

               Chose Topic for Description Essay 

               Writing Tools Podcasts 1-10 

               Homework: Freewrite on chosen topic for homework 

               Begin composing Decription Essay 



After reading Chapter 15 in Models for Writers, now it is your turn to choose your own topic to describe. “To Describe is to create a verbal picture. A person, a place, a thing—even an idea or a state of mind—can be made vividly concrete through description” (Rosa, Eschholz 387).

You want to make sure you create a dominant impression for the reader – “the single quality, mood, or atmosphere that the writer wishes to emphasize” (Rosa, Eschholz 387).

Read the examples in Chapter 15.

This essay should be 250-500 words (1 to 2 pages). More is usually better, but if you feel you expressed everything you need to say in a page, that is fine. 

Description Essay Examples 


July 4 - Special Assignment 

July 5 - Work on Decription Essay 

July 6 - Decription Essay ROUGH DRAFT Due - Peer-Edit in class 

July 9 - Description Essay questions 

           Podcasts 11-23

July 10 - Description Essay Final Draft due with reflection letter (one writing tool) 


Please read over each of these prompts. Select any two (2) each week. You should have a total of eight (8) entries completed at the end of the five week period. I would like you to first complete a free-write for each prompt, and then revise with proper grammar, spelling, and punctuation. Each entry should be at least ½ page long, double spaced, 12 point font. More writing is often better. Have fun with this. If there are prompts that do not strike your interest, move on to another one. You do not have to go in order. Just make sure you do not repeat any prompts. Date each of your entries.

Taken from 1,000 Creative Writing Prompts: Ideas for Blogs, Scripts, Stories and More by Brian Cohen

4th of July   

1.       What is the most amazing fireworks display you’ve ever seen in your life on a 4th of July celebration? What shapes did you see and music did you hear in accompaniment? Who were you with and why else might it have been memorable?

2.       What is a particular 4th of July celebration that really sticks out in your mind? Was there some big disaster or incredible event that occurred during one of them? If not, create a story about a wacky and wild 4th of July celebration?

3.       You have been invited to an Independence Day barbecue! You get there, and realize that the people there are extremely “American” Americans. There are flags everywhere, with memorabilia, army medals, etc. The Americanism is overwhelming as people keep asking you how you feel about living in the best country ever. How do you deal with such an event?

4.       You have been transported back in time to July 4, 1776. How do you insert yourself into being a part of the history of the holiday and the United States?

5.       You are with a child who is just old enough to start asking questions about everything. How do you explain July 4th to him to ensure that he understands and doesn’t ask any more questions?

6.       What does the 4th of July mean to you as a holiday? Do you feel a strong American pull or are you just happy to get some potato salad and hang out with friends? 

7.       July 4th weekend has been synonymous with “biggest movie of the summer” weekend. What is your favorite July 4th (or summer) blockbuster that has packed the seats with people and the screen with explosions?

8.       What are your experiences with other independence days in other nations? What are the equivalent holidays in some other nationalities that you are familiar with and which ones do you feel is the most appropriate celebration of a nation. Do some research if necessary.


1.       What was your favorite birthday and why? Who was there? Did you have a party? What presents did you get? Be very specific about what made it so special.

2.       What was your worst birthday and why? Be extremely detailed about what made it such an awful memory. As always, you can make it into a character’s story and exaggerate all the details to an extreme degree.

3.       Have you ever been to a birthday party that was so extravagant it actually made you somewhat jealous? If not, create a story in which a character goes to a birthday party that is completely out of his league. This especially includes the present that you got this person.

4.       Create your ideal birthday story for any age that you wish. You can re-make a birthday party or get together you’ve already had or plan out a new amazing celebration for the future. The important thing is to make it absolutely perfect in every possible way.

5.       Create a story in which the main character hates birthdays, and tries extremely hard to avoid telling people that today is his special day. And it happens to be the best day of his life. Elaborate to the extreme.

6.       Talk about your best birthday cake experience, yours or someone else’s. Did you put your face in one? Did you eat five to ten pieces of one? Have fun with this one and really flesh everything out.

7.       Write a story about throwing a birthday party for someone. Whether it is for a family member or a significant other. How did it go? Did the person enjoy him or herself?

8.       What is the best present that you’ve ever received for your birthday? This does not necessarily mean it was the most experience, but the one that was the most important to you. Write about it and try to remember where that present is today.


1.       It’s hot. Sticky hot. You are sitting in your house with broken air conditioning and an outside temperature of 100 degrees F. Describe your day.

2.       Ring a ling! It’s the ice cream man! Write about your ice cream man experiences.

3.       There are amazing family summer vacations and there are family summer vacation disasters. Pick one and have a ball with it.

4.       Whether it’s beach volleyball, soccer, or Frisbee, the summer can be filled with sports. What are some of your summer sport experiences?

5.       The end of summer is on and the shopping for school supplies begins! How do you get the last bit of juice out of the season?

6.       What is your favorite summer dessert and why? Portray a very descriptive scene in which you devour your dessert.


1.       Take a time from your life (or imagine a time) that you were bullied at school. Who was the bully and how did he or she affect you? Imagine a sit down chat with the bully in which the person could not bully you and had to share his or her feelings. What do you think you would learn?

2.       What was your shining school achievement? The moment that you felt the most intelligent of the most gifted? Talk about that day, what led up to it, and how it changed your life.

3.       Talk about the teacher you most liked in school. What made you enjoy the class that he or she taught and why was this person so memorable to the present day?

4.       Talk about the teacher that you disliked the most in school. What was wrong with this person? If you have a chance to sit down with this teacher, what would you tell this person about how to change his or her teaching style (and perhaps attitude)?

5.       Talk about a time (or make up a time) in which you were called in to the principal or dean’s office. What happened? Why were you there and what was the end result?

6.       Who were you best friends in Elementary school? Middle school? Talk about what you used to do together and why you are no longer close or why you are still close. What was your most memorable school friend moment?

7.       What was your most awkward school experience ever? Write about it or make something up.



1.       What is the best vacation you’ve ever been on? Who were you with, where did you travel to, what were some of the sights that you saw? Write down every details and pose a hypothetical trip with the same people if you went back today.

2.       What is the worst vacation you’ve ever been on? What fights occurred, how lost did you get, how much money did you lose, etc.? Pose a hypothetical of the trip going perfectly and see what major things would have changed.

3.       What is your most memorable airport/airplane experience? Use lots of details and try to remember all of the emotions that you had at the time.

4.       Create a story in which you are in a foreign country in which you do not speak the language. You have lost all of your belongings (cash included). How do you deal with this situation?

5.       Why is travel so stressful? What would you have to do to tale all of the stress out of traveling for yourself? A closer airport? Calmer family members? Your own jet? Talk about it as if it was happening and detail your first stress-free traveling experience.

6.       Describe your travels back to your “mother country” (Ireland). What have you learned about differences between Ireland and the United States? What are some of the similarities?

7.       You have been granted the ability to fly! I mean, like Superman! Where do you travel with this newfound ability now that you don’t need to save up frequent flyer miles?

8.       You have put together your dream traveling team of living and deceased people. Who are they and where do you go?


1.       What is your earliest childhood memory? What do you think was going on around your memory that you don’t quite remember? Would you have changed this memory if you could?

2.       You have suddenly been given enhanced brain power and you can remember everything that’s ever happened to you nearly at the same time. What do you remember that causes you to change how you behave currently? What are some lessons you learned that you promptly forgot?

3.       If you could change one memory for the better, what would it be and why? Go into extreme detail including the context and subtext of everything going on during this unfortunate memory.

4.       You have just gotten in a car accident and have complete and total amnesia. How do you cope with this and how do the people around you attempt to jog your memory back to working condition?

5.       Create a story of how you enhanced your brain power over 100% using nutritional supplements, exercises, and a whole lot of hard work. Perhaps creating this story actually will improve your brain.

6.       Remember back to an extremely happy time in your life. Write down as many details as you can remember about the time, including what you were wearing, how the room was decorated, what it smelled like, etc.

7.       If you could switch brains with any one person who would it be? Keep in mind that you may lose your memories and they would be replicated by this person’s.

8.       You run into a friend who was involved in one of your most vivid memories. You bring up the story and your friend remembers it completely differently. Chat about your stories until you determine the real events that occurred.


1.       You have been given a time machine and can travel to any point in the history of the Earth. Where will you travel and why? What is your first week like in this new time period?

2.       Theories of time and space go that if you travel at the speed of light you will not age while the rest of the world goes on at normal time. Imagine that you have gone on a journey and come back to Earth to find that ten years have passes. All of your friends, family, and favorite restaurants have aged ten years. How does this change the way you live your life?

3.       If you could fast forward ahead or rewind backwards to any point in your life, what would it be and why? Be very detailed about how you deal with this second change or sneak peak.

4.       What you would you do if you had control over space and time? Would you use it to help people or just to get everything that you want? Talk about your first full day with this power and how it changes things.

5.       Spend a week making a list of how much time you spend on given activities. Using this, create a story of you crafting your ideal week in which you spend every waking moment doing something productive. Be specific.

6.       Create a story with a character that is obsessed with time. His house is full of clocks and his arms are covered in watches. Describe his daily routines to make sure that he is hyper aware of every second that passes.


1.       Put yourself in the place of one of the greatly oppressed people of all history. You are on the cusp of an uprising and you must sacrifice everything for the cause. What do you do to make the world a better place for your people?

2.       Re-write a boring event from history (like the signing of some random law) and turn it into a wild event with magic, intrigue and mystery.

3.       What is the period of history that you identify with the most? Chose one and write a day in the life for yourself during that time. Do some research about that time!

4.       You have stumbled upon a history book from an alien realm with thousands of years of history behind them. How does their history compare with ours?

5.       What do you think a history book 200 years from now will say about the current generation and its innovations?

6.       How do you want to be remembered in history? What would they say about you in a history textbook and what chapter would it be in?

7.       Imagine that you were present for several great moments of history. For example: the discovery of fire, the creation of the polio vaccine, and the destruction of the Berlin Wall. How did those events go down? Try writing these scenes in several different styles: comedic, tragic, farcical, etc.

8.       Who is the strangest historical figure you can think of? Write a day in his life.


1.       What does the concept of home mean to you? Would you call just one place or multiple places home at this time? Describe how you came to this feeling about your “home.”

2.       What are the things you always look forward to when you’re at home? Are there certain places you like to eat at? Certain people that you like to see? What activities do you do? Be very specific.

3.       There is a Twilight Zone episode where a boy gets magical powers that allow him to hear everybody’s thoughts and change people into toys if he doesn’t like where their thoughts are going? You have been given such powers in and around your home. Do you use them for evil or good? Describe how this all happens.


1.       Talk about a time in which you felt really accomplished. This could be any number of things. Go into extreme detail, especially about your emotions surrounding the event. How did other people feel about your achievement?

2.       Have you ever felt jealous from someone else’s success? Who was this person and why did it affect you so much? Would you change your reaction to this situation if you could?

3.       Who is the most successful person you know? What can you learn from this person that is applicable to your own life? Write about a meeting with this big achiever in which you learn all of his or her secrets.

4.       Talk about a time in your life where you felt like a failure. What did you learn from this experience that may have helped you to become a stronger person?




1.       Describe your most memorable family holiday/vacation.

2.       In a “Freaky-Friday”-esque situation, you have switched bodies with your mother or father. Describe your next 24 hours.

3.       Write a story of one of your ancestors in connection to a famous event in history.

4.       Think back to an event with your family from your childhood. Write a scene between you and a parent or sibling and try to piece together the whole event.