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This is a model for a college persuasive essay based on a press conference question asked of President Obama


Language Arts, Social Studies  


11, 12  

Title – Final Persuasive Essay: “Reflections”
( based on President Obama’s response to reporter Zeleny’s question
at the “1st 100 Days” press conference
By – JD Meyer
Primary Subject – Language Arts
Secondary Subjects – Social Studies
Grade Level – 11th grade and above

Persuasive Essay Writing Prompt:

“What has surprised, humbled, profoundly impressed, and sobered you about your first semester in junior college.”
  • You may use another time frame such as junior or senior year in high school.
  • Instead of reflecting on school, you may discuss a career or project to-date.
  • Use this persuasive essay written by textbook author JD Meyer as a model for his junior college class, as your model.

Model Persuasive Essay:

based on the President’s Response to Reporter Zeleny’s question
in the First 100 Days Press Conference
by JD Meyer

          Like many Americans, I tuned into The First 100 Days Press Conference , in which President Barack Obama addressed the press. One question and answer stood out. Jeff Zeleny asked President Obama, “What has surprised, humbled, enchanted, and troubled you about the first hundred days? I held my breath, realizing what a tough, but fair question Zeleny had asked. The President calmly and with good humor made sure he got the descriptive categories straight. Then the President adjusted two of the four terms; “enchanted” became “profoundly impressed and grateful” while “troubled” became “sobered.” Personally, I am really glad that our president isn’t troubled, and his response was wonderful. Yes, I’m an “Obamanaut,” but I believed that I could adapt this prompt and answer into something devotees of both major political parties can enjoy, for it is no longer political. My unique contention was to develop this format created by reporter and president into a composition prompt for students near the end of a semester, year, diploma, or degree. I adjusted the prompt to include not just students looking back, but also for adults to reflect on a project or career-to-date. That’s when I decided that my model essay would be about my Developmental English/Writing Textbook project. I am going to describe how I am humbled, profoundly impressed, and sobered by the quest to become a professional writer, especially of textbooks. Within the first category “humbled,” I utilize “surprised” as a detail, and within the second category “profoundly impressed,” I include “grateful” as a detail.”

          I am surprised and humbled by all the revision necessary in good writing. Revision can happen when you least expect it. I’ve had statements relevant to my last essay pop up while I’m driving somewhere, just like Wordsmith textbook author, Pam Arlov noted. Ms. Arlov mentioned such occurrences in the prewriting process. I’d like to add that writers can get such ideas at the very end also–after they felt (and hoped) the essay was over. I shared with my class an example of such a sentence. This particular essay is entitled, “On Applying Psychological Type to Writing,” an account of an innovative sequence of lessons designed to improve student writing through self-knowledge of one’s psychological type and temperament. My first supporting detail concerned justifying the assignment itself; it’s an unconventional idea. But I also needed to acknowledge in writing that I told the students when the little unit had ended. My students needed to know that I wouldn’t keep talking about psychology all semester, thereby creating a bizarre composition-psychology fusion class. Sometimes the textbook revisions are surprising, such as finding more transition words. In the case of the argumentative essay at Weber State’s website , there were two categories that cut across familiar boundaries, such as subordinators and adverbial conjunctions. Instead, the Weber State article offered premise and conclusion indicators. I’ll have to work that into my textbook soon–275 pages and counting.

          I’m profoundly impressed with some of my sources. One grammar website receives praise as being tops in the country: the Guide to Grammar and Writing Capital Community College of Hartford, Connecticut. It has 172 interactive quizzes among other things. These quizzes can be quite creative in themselves, such as finding prepositions in a passage by Ernest Hemingway. John Langan is the recognized leader in developmental English and reading. He’s been a community college professor and a prolific author of textbooks. English Brush-Up , a workbook, and a study guide for one of his textbooks are my two favorites. Now Mr. Langan even has founded a book publishing company, Townsend Press . One of their missions is to get the classics into affordable paperback, such as Up From Slavery by Booker T. Washington. My mentor, Lew Sayers of Mountain View Community College in the Oak Cliff part of Dallas, has an on-line textbook composed largely of highly detailed prompts, definitions of qualities and skills, and worksheets. Lew has been my mentor for the past fifteen years, and I am very grateful.

          Last and most difficult, I am sobered by the long road to extra income by writing, whether it’s an article based on my textbook, a different article topic, or textbook. My interest in developmental English style essays has led me to an interest in journalism. There is a virtually infinite number of websites where the aspiring author can write thousands of articles for little or no pay. Logically, such a hobby should impress an employer in education and related fields. Yet today, having a large number of publications in our digitized, bottom-up world is inflated by standards of only a few years ago. However, traditional academic journals not only require a review board, but a fee for publishing as well. Self-publishing is no longer viewed as a “vanity press,” but a legitimate option. Too often, it takes money to make money in each case. I may have found a free-lance journalism site that pays for something with which I’m familiar. So I may have to get back with you; that’s going to be the subject of one of my next essays. Furthermore, the flexibility of online material grants the author the possibility of printing segments of his textbook instead of the whole text–sounds like “chopping” in the Dirty South Rap tradition, doesn’t it?

          To conclude, writing will remain something I do everyday–often soon after waking with coffee and cats and right before I sleep. Writing clarifies my thoughts and expresses my feelings. The Internet has opened a lot of chances, and it takes a lot of time to sift through them all. If nothing else, I hope that I can inspire my students to develop a passion for writing and research.

E-Mail JD Meyer !

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