Reading and Writing Skills

We are working on the rough draft of Essay 1 this week, making sure that you thoroughly read through the essay prompt below before you answer my question at the end.

Step One: Review the Prompt.

Essay 1: Educational Borders


Going to college is a dream come true for thousands of students a year. But getting there and staying there is not always an easy task. Coming into a college is often perceived as crossing a border of a kind, coming into an institution of higher education where not all students always feel welcomed or comfortable. There are many reasons for that, but teachers and administrators are not always aware of what has happened in a students’ past experiences or what is happening in their current lives outside of school. Yet, one can argue that to be effective teachers and successful students, we have to bridge that gap and work to understand and support each other.

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In the past few days, we have completed readings and watched videos that deal with the issue of educational borders or barriers, whether those include childhood trauma, economic hardships, unsupportive families, or a “banking” system in which students’ views are not valued. Martin Luther King Jr. gave us insight into the purpose of education and then author Neil Gaiman outlined the importance of imagination and access to knowledge (libraries), but then Malcolm X, bell hooks, Brandon Taylor, Rita Pierson, and the four California students from First Generation showed us that the path to learning is not necessarily a smooth one. Turner, Sissay, and London also discussed the barriers that can effect a child’s educational journey. Dweck and Duckworth introduced us to the concepts of grit as well as fixed and growth mindset. While with Freire, we delved into the concepts of developing new, more beneficial relationships between a student and teacher. This is not to mention our extra credit sources of Girl Rising and Teach Us All.

Barriers to education are things that prevent students from attending school or completing their schoolwork. Some barriers are physical, such as a shortage of schools or transportation to them while others may be related to the circumstances in which a student lives, such as financial struggle, unhealthy family environments, learning disabilities or simply lack of encouragement or support. These barriers can result in students dropping out of school early or never attending at all, and we have to find a way to fight that.

In order to address the issue, we will both look at our own experiences and barriers, and the ways we and the individuals we have studied are able to overcome them.

Reading and Writing Skills

Over the course of this assignment, we will continue to work on developing key academic reading and writing skills, which you will use throughout your career as a student and which constitute the basis of most scholarly writing. You will be focusing on developing a strong thesis, organizing your ideas in a clear way and analyzing and incorporating academic texts.

Focusing Questions

Now that you briefly understand what we are doing with this assignment and why we are doing it, I will now introduce our guiding questions. Through our reading and writing over the next few weeks, we will be considering and discussing the following: What educational barriers have you faced? Can you find any connections between your experiences on those of the individuals we have read and watched? How have you and they overcome these barriers, and why is it important to do so?

Your essay (in your thesis) should clearly answer one of the following prompts that we wrote a thesis for last week:

  • Describe how you have worked to face and overcome an educational barrier in your life and why it is important to stick with your educational goals. (This is piggybacking on the paragraph you just wrote last week.)
  • Describe one educational barrier that effects student success and how one might overcome that barrier (either from a student or instructor perspective).

I will be providing feedback for your thesis and how to make it strong before Friday.

Assignment Overview

The section below outlines the specific requirement of this assignment.


The purpose of this assignment is to:

  1. Read and respond to a college-level text
  2. Compose college-level writing
  3. Produce academic summaries of college-level texts
  4. Respond to a topic with an original argument


This assignment will help students meet the following Student Learning Objectives, as stated on the course syllabus:

  1. Use personal experiences to provide evidence in support of an original argument
  2. Synthesize researched material from multiple texts to create and support an argument in response to a prompt. Draw direct evidence from texts in support of claims and analyze how that evidence supports your argument.
  3. Utilize the various phases in the writing process—prewriting, writing revision, and proofreading—to produce clear, articulate, well-supported, well-organized
  4. Avoid plagiarism by properly citing quoted, summarized, and paraphrased material using MLA


Compose an essay, 3-5 pages in length (not including your Works Cited page), which presents an argument about a significant educational barrier you have faced and ways to overcome barriers or a significant educational barrier than needs to be overcome and how to approach it.

Your essay needs to include two of the following resources we covered for this unit:

  • Duckworth, Angela Lee. “Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance.” TED, 9 May 2013.
  • Dweck, Carol S. “Brainology.” NAIS, 2008.
  • First Generation. Directed by Adam Fenderson and Jaye Fenderson, Lumina Foundation for Education and GOAL 2025, 2015. YouTube, uploaded 9 Sept 2015.
  • Freire, Paulo. “Chapter Two.” Pedagogy of the Oppressed, Continuum Books, 1993.
  • Gaiman, Neil. “Why Our Future Depends on Libraries.” The View from the Cheap Seats, 2013.
  • Girl Rising. Directed by Richard E. Robbins, The Documentary Group and Vulcan Productions, 2013.
  • hooks, bell. “Learning in the Shadow of Race and Class.”
  • King Jr., Martin Luther. “The Purpose of Education.” The Maroon Tiger, 1947.
  • London, Malcolm. “High School Training Ground.” TED, 8 May 2013.
  • Love, Bettina. “Hip Hop, Grit, and Academic Success.” TED, 8 April 2014
  • Mailhot, Terese Marie. “I. Indian Condition,” “10. Indian Condition.” Heart Berries: A Memoir. Counterpoint, 2018..
  • Pierson, Rita. “Every Kid Needs a Champion.” TED, 3 May 2013.
  • Sissay, Lemn. “A Child of the State.” TED, 10 Mar 2014.
  • Taylor, Brandon. “Fear Is a Prolonged Argument with the World.” LitHub, 13 Sept 2019.
  • Teach Us All. Directed by Sonia Lowman, Lowell Milken Center for Unsung Heroes, 2017. Netflix.
  • Turner, Derek. “Trauma: A Cancer in the Education System.” Stanford Graduate School of Business, YouTube, 1 Jun 2016.
  • X, Malcolm. “Learning to Read.” The Autobiography of Malcolm X. Grove Press, 1965.

More Specifically:

  • Your essay should begin with an introductory paragraph in which you discuss the idea of educational barriers/how entering college can be seen as crossing a border. This paragraph should end with a thesis that makes a claim about a barrier you have faced and an argument about how that barrier can be
  • Your essay should end with a concluding paragraph that restates your ideas and has a final thought
  • Your essay should include a minimum of four body paragraphs:
    • one focusing on describing the barrier
      • when describing this barrier mark sure to use details and specifics that are clear and concrete.
    • one arguing about ways to overcome it
    • one on the overall benefits of education
    • one analyzing one problem you see with the educational system you have had experience with or the current education system, and a proposed solution to that problem
    • PIE paragraph structure.
    • Within your second, third and/or fourth paragraphs, you should use a minimum of two of the sources we have worked with in class (the articles or the videos). Remember to use quotes or paraphrase from your chosen sources as the Information part of PIE.
    • Each source should be introduced to your audience through the use of academic summary either in the introduction of your essay or in the first body paragraph you plan to use the source.

NOTE: Since you are citing the articles and videos in the last two body paragraphs, don’t forget your Works Cited page.


  1. Rough Draft for Peer Review (30 points)
  2. Final Draft (100 points)

Step Two: Answer the following questions.

  1. Do you have any questions for me about the prompt?
  2. Do you have any anxiety or confusion over completing this writing task to the best of your ability?

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