I’m putting this assignment in writing for my class; I’ve essentially cut-and-pasted the assignment as I wrote it in the previous entry. To be fair, though, I added a bit about how, regardless of what we may think of his politics, Obama is considered by many to be an outstanding and charismatic public speaker. Dudley made a good point in his comment to the assignment post – about how students might tailor their essays to align with what they perceive my politics to be – and I will make a big deal out of letting my students know that I do not expect them to parrot to me the things they think I want to hear. I’ll get into a post about how much I really DO welcome contrary voices, but now is not the time. Watch this space.
ANYWAY, here’s what I’ve come up with as a basic rubric for this assignment. I’ve gotten away from the rubistar.com-type rubrics; I’m not sure that I want to get into all the picky details. These kids are in college; they should have a pretty good understanding of what makes a good essay, and this was the type of rubric I used at Local U. with quite satisfactory results. Here, then, are my criteria for an A paper for this assignment:
The essay is clear and concise. The writer is able to discern the main points of the speeches and has a clear understanding of the subtleties of tone and inflection (where applicable). The writer is able to support his or her assertions with text from the speeches and is able to make both general and specific statements about the messages of the speaker. Relevant details give the reader important information that goes beyond the obvious or predictable, and those details are placed in a logical order.
Grammar and style 30%:
The language of the essay is appropriate for a work of scholarly inquiry. There are no punctuation or spelling errors, and all words are used correctly. Sentences sound natural and flow well when read aloud, and each has an obvious emphasis. Transitions are varied, smooth and logical, and the introduction and conclusion are both adequate and effective.
The essay is typed in 12-point font on plain paper. All pages are stapled. All references are properly cited in MLA format. Texts of both speeches are included with the essay, as well as any notes or drafts the author produced in the writing process.