Category Archives: Assignments

This category is for me to use when I post instructions for assignments. Please do NOT use this category when you post assignments on the website.


Analysis of an Ad Assignment

Original Post Due: Wednesday 3/11 by class time
Comments To Your Classmates Due: Monday 3/16 by class time

For this assignment, you will take a picture of an ad or other poster that you see out in the world. We’re in NYC– there are ads everywhere. You may not use an ad we have already analyzed together in class, and you may not knowingly use the same ad as a classmate.

While it is possible to use WordPress on your phone, I strongly suggest you use a computer to write your post, especially if you have never used WordPress before.

Part 1 Instructions

After you find your chosen ad, do the following:

  1. Write a blog post on our course site following the Posting Directions. Embed the picture of your ad using the “Add Media” button.
  2. Under your picture of the ad, write a rhetorical analysis of your chosen ad. It should be the equivalent of about 2 pages of size 12/double spaced writing in a word processor.
  3. Before you post, find the “Categories” section in the right-hand sidebar of the post editor. Choose the “analysis of an ad” category.
  4. Hit the blue “Publish” button.

If you have questions about WordPress/how to post, you can email me or leave them in a comment.

Some guiding questions for your analysis:

  1. Who is the speaker in the ad? How is the speaker trying to present themselves? How does the speaker want you to view them? How do you know?
  2. What are the messages/arguments that the ad is trying to convey?
  3. What assumptions does the ad rely on?
  4. Who is the intended audience(s) of the ad? How do you know?
  5. What strategies does the ad use to try to persuade the audience?
  6. How does the ad appeal to ethos, logos, and pathos to persuade the audience?
  7. Do you think the ad is effective? Why or why not?

Part 2 Instructions

Choose (at least) two classmates’ posts to respond to with comments.

In your comments, you must add to their analysis of the ad. It is not enough to simply agree with their take and compliment them on it (although you can do that too!). Adding can mean disagreeing with their interpretation and explaining why, or it can mean offering additional interpretations even if you think their take is valid:  “Another interpretation could be that the argument is _________, because if you look at _________, maybe that means _________.” Or, you can analyze some aspect of the ad that your classmate didn’t talk about in their post!

Always support your analysis with evidence.

Each comment should be the equivalent of at least half a page of (size 12 double spaced) writing.

Testimonial Examples

Please post your rhetorical devices homework for The Testimonial Appeal as comments on this post. Make sure your comments include all parts of the assignment. 

For the readings on these devices, please refer to the Course Schedule for links.

This is due by Wednesday, March 4th at 4:30 pm, but you are welcome to post late for partial credit.

Fear and Humor Examples

Please post your rhetorical devices homework for Fear and Humor Appeals as comments on this post. Make sure your comments include all parts of the assignment. 

For the readings on these devices, please refer to the Course Schedule for links.

This is due by Wednesday, February 26th at 4:30 pm, but you are welcome to post late for partial credit.

Weapons of Math Destruction Blog Assignment

This assignment is due on Monday, February 17 by the end of the day. 

You Can Earn: Up to 2 points of participation credit for posting, and up to 2 more for thoughtfully responding to your classmates in the comments.

First, for those having trouble accessing the Wall Street Journal article on the SAT, you can sign up for a FREE Wall Street Journal account by following the directions here:

Just make sure you use your John Jay email address!

If you have trouble accessing the New York Times article about data collection, you can sign up for an account on the site also for FREE using your John Jay email.

Overall Instructions:

After reading all of the chapters/articles for Monday 2/10 and Wednesday 2/12, write and publish a blog post responding to 1.5 of the following prompts (your choice). When you are done writing, make sure to choose the “Student Posts” category in the righthand sidebar.

What does “respond to 1.5 of the prompts mean?”

It means I want you to do an in-depth response to one prompt, where you really do some research and think critically about the issues, and then also write a quicker/shorter answer to another prompt.


  1. What data do you already track about yourself, or have you tracked in the past but no longer pay attention to? Why have you made these choices? What do you get out of it? What are the advantages/disadvantages of self-tracking? Of using digital devices to help us do it? What patterns do you think are present in your life, but don’t have the data to back it up? (For example, the person who found that coffee actually hurts his concentration, or the person who found that watching a bad movie made him feel negative about his own film career).
  2. Look up John Jay on the U.S. News and World Report, as well as any other colleges you may have applied to (and/or attended in the past, if you are a transfer student). What kind of picture does it paint of John Jay? Is that image accurate to your own experience so far? What information were you able to access, and what were you not able to access? Do the rankings/methodology seem fair? Why or why not? What would you change if you were in charge of the ranking algorithm, and why? What additional questions do you have about
  3. If you took the SAT or ACT, did you opt to let the company share your scores with schools? What did you gain from that decision, and how do you feel about it in light of the article? How does the College Board (the company behind the SAT)’s business model intersect with what you learned about college rankings? How should standardized tests be used in college admissions (or, should they be used at all)? What do SAT scores and the methods by which they are measured reveal about students, and what do they hide?

Instructions for Responding

A good response does more than simply agree/disagree with or compliment your classmate. You should ADD to their analysis in some way, or POSE ADDITIONAL QUESTIONS for them to think about based on their answer. You can also CONTRIBUTE YOUR OWN THOUGHTS as long as you’re not simply repeating what you wrote about in your own post.

If your response could be one of these discussion board memes, please spend some more time thinking about it and try again.


Paper 1: “This I No Longer Believe” Creative Nonfiction

These are the same as the instructions/rubric I passed out in class on Monday, posting here for anyone who was absent or has lost their copy. To download as a Word Doc, click here.

Paper 1: This I No Longer Believe

Partial Draft Due: 2/19 (Wednesday)
Full Draft Due: 2/26 (Wednesday)
inal Draft Due: 3/4 (Wednesday)

General Instructions:

For your first paper, you will write a piece of persuasive creative nonfiction (at least 4 pages) about one of your own beliefs. The “This I Believe” essay is a common genre for ENG 101 students to read and write. However, I am asking you to write about a belief that you no longer have, or a belief that has changed significantly over time. Your paper should tell the story of how you came to hold your original belief and then what made you change your belief and why.

In your paper, you should:

  • Choose any English dialect you wish to write in (Standard American Academic English [SAAE], informal General American, AAVE, Spanglish, or any other dialect)
  • Use a consistent authorial voice throughout your paper (tone, style, etc.)
  • Provide rough translations of any non-English or slang words your monolingual professor might not understand (remember your audience!) (This can be done using footnotes, parentheses or another method)
  • Provide vivid sensory description of your experiences that enables the reader to picture the events in their mind’s eye (and mind’s ear, tongue, skin, nose, etc.)
  • Leave the reader with a clear sense of what you no longer believe and why
  • Articulate your logical reasons for changing your belief AND the personal events that led to your change in belief
  • Make your first attempt at APA formatting (title page, headers)
  • Use correct punctuation, capitalization, and spelling for your chosen dialect. When in doubt, use SAAE rules.


Students in the past have written about changes in political beliefs (marijuana legalization, the death penalty, capitalism), changes in beliefs about personal relationships (when to trust, the nature of love, at what age it’s appropriate to date and/or be sexually active), changes in beliefs about themselves and their place in society (learning to love themselves in spite of internalized racism), beliefs about the universe (becoming religious, becoming not-religious, changing religious beliefs even though staying religious) and many more.

What does “personal and logical reasons” mean? For example, I didn’t know a lot about immigration-related issues until I had to research them for my high school debate team. For “logical reasons,” I would describe the information I found through my research. For personal reasons, I would tell the story of how I found that information, how I reacted to it emotionally, and the specific impacts it had on my worldview.

Creative Nonfiction Rubric (100 points)

1. Turned in (3) drafts on time and participated in (2) peer review days (25 points)

2. Takes the reader on a narrative journey that enables them to understand the previous belief, the current belief, the reasons the belief changed, and how that change in belief came about. (10 points) 

3. Maintains a consistent authorial voice throughout the paper with regard to chosen dialect, tone, and style. The essay has an internal logic and deviations from the chosen dialect, tone, style, etc. have a clear literary or rhetorical purpose. (10 points) 

4. Fits the genre of persuasive creative nonfiction/meets guidelines (25 points)

  • Paper develops a story over time (the story may or may not be told in a linear fashion)
  • Paper uses relevant and vivid sensory description and/or literary devices to convey feelings, events, thoughts, and/or experiences so that the reader not only understands the feelings/events/thoughts intellectually but also experiences them along with the author in their mind’s eye
  • Paper leaves the reader with a clear sense of the belief’s significance in the writer’s life or some other intended meaning
  • Paper is at least 4 full pages long

5. Supports and explains the change in belief using both the logical train of thought that leads them to hold the new belief AND the personal events/reasons that led them to that change in belief. When logical evidence is included, the author also describes how that evidence impacted them personally. (20 points)

6. Uses correct capitalization, punctuation, and spelling for the chosen dialect and cites evidence as needed. The writer made their best attempt at APA formatting (title page, header, citations if appropriate). (10 points)

Sign Up for Peer Review Options

In class yesterday, we discussed how we would like to conduct peer review, and I said I would make a survey for people to sign up for which option they prefer. We decided on 3 options:

  1. Writers bring paper copies of their drafts and exchange them for feedback during the peer review session
  2. Olivia posts anonymized copies of drafts to the course site, labeled (Paper 1, Paper 2, etc.). Writers are assigned random numbers and leave comments on the papers corresponding with that number.
  3. If a writer would like to keep their paper private, they can choose to do so, Olivia will send them feedback, and they will leave feedback for their peers using the online method.

One thing we did not discuss (or I don’t remember what we decided): whether the in-person peer review should also be anonymized. In the past, I have put people in groups of 3 and each person reads/comments on the writing of the other people in their group. So, I put two options on the survey regarding this.

Please select whichever option you prefer by Monday night so I can spend Tuesday getting everything organized.

Welcome to your survey for Peer Review Paper 1

How would you like your paper to be peer reviewed? (If you choose paper copy or online, you will give feedback to others who chose the same. If you choose to keep your paper private, you will give feedback to others online.)

First Assignment: Yourself as Reader, Writer, and Researcher

1-2 double-spaced pages on “Yourself as Reader, Writer, and Researcher” (Submit via the link on Blackboard OR post to our class blog if you want to share your response with your classmates too.) Due Wednesday, January 29th by class time (4:30pm).

Please submit as a .doc or .docx file, using size 12 font


We all have histories as readers, writers, and researchers, even if you hate these activities. For this assignment, help me get to know you by telling me about your history. Below are several questions for you to consider as you compose your answer. You do not need to address all of them, and feel free to talk about other things related to reading, writing, research, and English classes.

  • What kinds of things do you read? (Not just books!)
  • What kinds of things do you love to read or hate to read? Why?
  • What’s a really good memory you have about reading, or a really bad one?
  • What about writing?
  • How much writing did you do in high school, and what kinds of things did you write?
  • What kinds of research have you done in the past?
  • What do you find difficult or confusing about the research process?
  • What were your past English classes like?
  • How do you feel about starting this class? What would you like to learn? 

Rhetorical Devices Assignment

Each weekend, you will read short passages online about two rhetorical devices/strategies. (Usually two, sometimes more, sometimes less.)  During the following week, you should either find examples of people using these devices in the world OR make up your own examples and post them as comments to the Course Site blog post corresponding with those devices.

Along with each example, you should provide one or two sentences explaining the context and how the rhetorical device affects the rhetor’s message. If you made up the example, make up a context in which it could be used. Write about at least two examples per device per week. You may miss one week without penalty.

Additional Guidance on Analysis:
Good analysis doesn’t just answer the question, “How is your example representative of the rhetorical device?”. To develop your analysis, consider the following questions: “What does this device add to the meaning? ” “What effect does it have on the reader/listener?” or “What does the speaker/writer gain from using this device”? “What makes it different than saying the same information without using the rhetorical device?”

For example, saying “This is an example of Bandwagon because the commercial says that “America runs on Dunkin, so they are saying that everyone drinks Dunkin Donuts coffee” does not count as analysis. What does Dunkin hope to achieve by using this technique? How do they hope the use of the Bandwagon technique will affect the audience? 

Although the rhetorical device readings are listed as being due on Monday, I strongly recommend you read them as early (e.g. the preceding Thursday or Friday) as your schedule allows. This will give you more time to find examples.

Grading for the rhetorical device examples will be as follows:

0 points if you did not post.

1 point if you only posted one example per device, or if you did not provide context/analysis.

2 points if you completed the assignment.

Although each individual post is worth a very small portion of your grade, habitually not completing this assignment will significantly impact both your overall grade and your ability to do well on other assignments. The purpose of this assignment is to get you into the habit of noticing rhetoric at work around you while also learning about a wide variety of rhetorical strategies beyond the rhetorical appeals.