Medusa and the Snail Weeds and Roses
Weed #1—Use the prompt • Halo analogy • Why are you given the whole prompt instead of just a quote? • What does the prompt ask? • “Defend, challenge or qualify Thomas’s claims.” • Okay, so what MUST you discuss?
Ways to use the prompt: • Reference author • Reference title of work (be sure to UNDERLINE or quote it!) • Pluck and plop • Consider big ideas
Look at three ways this was skillfully accomplished: • “Mistakes are everywhere. A person could not go a day without seeing a mistake, whether it is an error message on their computer or a car accident. Biologist Lewis Thomas once said in his book Medusa and the Snail, ‘We are built to make mistakes, coded for error.’ Although many people view mistakes as bad, hateful and nasty, errors help form the basis of human learning. Thomas is correct in saying that humans are meant to create mistakes.”
“Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, the light bulb, a touchdown pass, a good score on a math test. All of these have one mutual similarity. They each are the product of mistakes followed by refinement, which then produces a masterpiece. ‘If we were not provided with the knack of being wrong, we could never get anything useful.’ This quote from The Medusa and the Snail by biologist Lewis Thomas summarizes the basic truth that in a world void of any errors or mistakes, and the consequences thereof, progress could not be made, and opportunities would be ultimately lost.”
“Life is full of mistakes. Lewis Thomas’s Medusa and the Snail is based upon the importance of trial and error. Thomas’s claims are correct. Errors and mistakes are essential to everyday life; we, as people, must learn to accept this widely-known fact.”
Weed #2—Slow down to comment • Most of us=good examples! • But…what do the examples need?
Analysis! Compare these two samples: • “Edison attempted 1000 times to make the light bulb; on the 1001st try, he succeeded. The development of penicillin was also brought about by mistake when Alexander Flemming left his sample a bit too long and it grew mold.” • “Edison attempted 1000 times to make the light bulb; on the 1001st try, he succeeded. With each stab, Edison understood a bit more about electricity and how it functioned. Each attempt led him further down the road to success, even if it was because he crossed another potential option off his list. Edison’s dogmatic nature ensured that his “mistakes” would evolve into something much greater, indeed, a light bulb over his head.
Weed #3—Use quotes! • If you use the passage (and you all need to) you MUST _ _ _ _ _! • What if you don’t? • Pluck and plop
Examples of Pluck and Plop • Edison attempted 1000 times to make the light bulb; on the 1001st try, he succeeded. With each stab, Edison understood a bit more about electricity and how it functioned. Each attempt led him further down the road to success, even if it was because he crossed another potential option off his list. Edison, who had the “knack of being wrong,” ensured that his “mistakes” would evolve into something much greater, indeed, a light bulb over his head. Like Thomas suggests, Edison made “move[s] based on error” and in the end, culled a successful invention.
Weed #4—Use specific, concrete details • What is a specific, concrete detail? • Which are the strongest kinds?
Specific, CD or not? • Me learning from horseback riding • Me falling off at a fence because I forgot to balance. • Toys being invented • Silly Putty as a result of a misconstructed polymer • Shaq missing free-throws • Not performing well on the tennis court
Roses! • Hey! Nice work using your vocab (correctly) in your essays—I’m impressed! • Organizing around subclaims. • Finding a range of examples.
RER: due Thursday • Enlist help from your history, science teacher, parent, librarian—do some work!—and come up with three additional SPECIFIC, CONCRETE examples. (None of them may be personal.) • Rewrite your intro to include at least a reference to Thomas and M&S • Find two places in your essay where you can pluck and plop from the text of M&S • Find your two weakest sentences. Rewrite them. • Circle three weak words. Find synonyms.
Sentence Revision • Lewis Thomas is the author of The Medusa and the Snail, a section of which is based upon the importance of trial and error. • Lewis Thomas’s Medusa and the Snail is based upon the importance of trial and error. What has the revision accomplished? How?
Let’s Try Another: • That means if you are not good with a sport, a subject or whatever else then if you just practice then you will eventually succeed and be better than before.” • The quote suggests that with practice, one can improve their volleyball serve, their chemistry equations or their cake recipe; everyone can succeed. What has the revision accomplished? How?
Now you try: • Sometimes people just need more practice at things and take more time to get better we all make mistakes anyhow. • Evaluate • Treat • Reflect