High School Writing-Essay, Research Paper, and Rhetoric Mondays 1pm EST

High School Writing-Essay, Research Paper, and Rhetoric Mondays 1pm EST

Instructor: Dahlen

Grades: 9-12


18 Week Course

High School Writing:  Essays, Research Papers, Rhetoric


Brandy Dahlen, MPhil University of Cambridge 2001

I have a master's degree in history from the University of Cambridge in the UK, and I love teaching history, literature, research, and writing!  I have been teaching history, writing, research, and literature courses, as well as ACT prep, for elementary, middle, high school, and university students for 17 years, with the last 7 years online.

Course Overview:

This course is a foundational course in high school level writing.  We will be learning techniques of argumentation and presentation throughout this course from the basics of essay writing to how to conduct research.  

To begin, we will cover the fundamental skills to creating a strong essay.  We will look at examples and practice with each other to learn the art of writing and argument.  Class will be based on discussion, as well as practical activities to apply the skills we are discussing.  Outside of class, students will have the opportunity to complete and submit essays applying the skills for additional feedback.  No previous writing experience is required for this course.  We will cover all the basics needed.

After this foundational work, we will dive into the art of rhetoric and work on more advanced essay writing skills, as well as a variety of new types of essay writing.  Everything is an argument.  In both our visual and print world, we are constantly bombarded with persuasive ideas.  To understand and interpret the arguments in the world around us, we should study the art of rhetoric.  Rhetoric is defined as, "the art of effective or persuasive speaking or writing, especially the use of figures of speech and other compositional techniques."

Students will study the art of argument in select non-fiction pieces to understand how arguments are constructed, what are argument techniques, and also what fallacies that might weaken arguments.  Along with deconstructing arguments, students will also explore how to build their own arguments through rhetorical analysis essay writing--both analyzing non-fiction texts, as well as writing argumentative essays of their own.  

Finally, we will introduce proper methods for research and build a research paper.  We will cover the fundamentals of researching and writing a complete research paper.  Students will choose their own topic to research and explore through the class.  We will discuss how to conduct research, what makes a source reliable, and how to present their ideas and research in a clear and logical manner.  Class will include hands on activities we complete together, as well as individualized feedback for the student for each step of the research process.   


1.       Papers-you will be expected to write short and longer papers, working towards complete essays and a full research paper.  


2.       In class, we will spend much time workshop style discussing aspects of writing and argumentation.  I expect you to come to class prepared to participate in this discussion. 


3.       If at any point in this course you have questions or concerns, please feel free to contact me.  I am ready and available if you need my assistance at any point.

Course topics:

Week 1-How to Write a Thesis

Week 2-Structuring an effective effort

Week 3-Supporting your argument

Week 4-How can I make my essay more sophisticated

Week 5-What is rhetorical analysis?  SOAPSTone method

Week 6-Types of Arguments

Week 7-How to choose and narrow down a topic to match the scope of the assignment.  We will discuss the foundational aspects of a research paper and the main purposes and functions of writing.  

Week 8-Class discussion will involve bias and point of view, how to choose reliable sources, how to account for sources that are less reliable, and common research techniques.  This class will involve the practical aspects of working with sources to find information from both primary and secondary documents.

Week 9-This week we will discuss the elements of effective note taking during an extended research project.  We will discuss what information is important to include for each source, as well as what is not important.  We will also discuss how to creatively find information that might be useful when sources are limited.

Week 10-Rhetorical style

Week 11-Argumentative essays

Week 12-The elements of a strong thesis, as well as its role in the process of constructing a cohesive research paper.  Next, we will cover how to create an effective outline, and how to organize your notecards to create a smooth writing process.

Week 13-Rhetorical Appeals

Week 14-Rhetorical Analysis Essays

Week 15-This week we will discuss how to use the evidence found in the sources, how to use quotes effectively, and how to avoid common pitfalls of plagiarism.

Week 16-Visual Sources and Syntax

Week 17-Fallacies

Week 18-As students finalize their rough drafts, we will discuss proper citing techniques, as well as how to present their sources correctly in a bibliography. We will discuss editing and polishing a final draft.  Students will present their major research findings in this class. 

reward points