CRASH COURSE: ACT Writing
Read the prompt: • The Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA) requires all school libraries receiving certain federal funds to install and use blocking software to prevent students from viewing material considered “harmful to minors.” However, some studies conclude that blocking software in schools damages educational opportunities for students, both by blocking access to web pages that are directly related to the state-mandated curriculums and by restricting broader inquiries of both students and teachers. In your view, should the schools block access to certain Internet websites?
YOU MUST PICK A SIDE! • It doesn’t matter what you believe—pick the side that is easiest to defend. Do not try to qualify. • Annotate the prompt. • Assignment: What are some of the key words in the prompt?
KEY WORDS: • School libraries • Blocking software • Prevent students • Harmful to minors • Damages educational opportunities • Internet websites
Brainstorm Pros and Cons • For the sake of cohesion, we will argue the pro side of this argument. • Yes, schools should block access to certain Internet websites. • Assignment: Brainstorm two or three reasons to support this argument. • Pros • Internet contains many offensive/objectionable sites • Dangerous spyware and adware can harm computers • School computers should be used only for school work
Consider the Cons: • To get a top score, you must consider both sides of the issue. • Assignment: Brainstorm an example or two for the opposing side. • Cons • Restricting access is a form of censorship • Students are deprived of opportunities to learn about certain topics
Introduction • 1. Frame the discussion—paraphrase the prompt. • 2. State the thesis—Establish which side of the issue you are on and why. • Assignment: Write an introduction to this prompt.
Sample Introduction: • The Internet has brought many changes to our world. Computers are used in businesses, homes, and of course, schools. However, with increased use of computers comes increased dangers. A new law, the Children’s Internet Protection Act, requires schools to use blocking programs to restrict students’ Internet access. Although some parents, students and teachers believe that this law is an egregious one, the dangers from the Internet make it clear that schools should block students access to certain Internet sites.
Structure of Body Paragraph 1 • 1. Topic Sentence • 2. A relevant example • 3. An explanation of how the example supports your position. • Mention thesis. • Assignment: Using one of the examples chosen from our brainstorm (Pro/Con list), write a body paragraph.
Sample Body Paragraph 1 • One convincing reason that schools should block access to certain Internet sites is that the Internet contains many offensive or objectionable sites. For example, there are sites on the Internet that contain racist and sexist jokes and content. Other sides might display material that is inappropriate for children. Because there is no censorship, there is uncertainty in what sites a student can visit. This distasteful material has no place in a school. If students see violent or offensive sites, they could be negatively influenced in their most formative years. They could insult or hurt other students. For this reason, it is an acceptable idea for schools to block access to certain sites.
Boost your score: Attack the other position! • Same structure as the other body paragraphs, but you will attack the example and state why it is not an important consideration. • 1. State the opposing position. • 2. Provide reason that some might consider the opposing side valid. • 3. Indicate you do not agree with this side. • 4. Attack the opposing side by showing that the reason stated is inadequate, insufficient, or wrong. • Assignment: Write your own body paragraph using one of the examples from the other side of the argument (Pro/Con list).
Sample Attack! paragraph: • Some people believe that it is wrong for schools to restrict access to certain Internet sites. These people think that restricting access is the same as censorship. However, this argument is incorrect. The school is not attempting to control what students think or write. It is only trying to control what students can or cannot do at a school computer. This is well within the rights of the school. After all, schools can impose dress codes and dictate what classes students can take. It doesn’t make sense to say that a school can determine what books a student reads or what clothes he or she wears, but cannot restrict access to certain Internet sites. Thus, this argument is not sufficient.
Conclusions • Restate the thesis and review main points. • Last sentence should be strong—it’s the lasting impression on the reader. • Sample: As clearly proven, it is important and necessary for schools to block student access to certain Internet sites. The Internet has numerous potential dangers for a student, from objectionable sites to harmful computer viruses and bugs. A school that doesn’t restrict access to the Internet puts itself at risk for far more serious issues.
Outline • I. Introduction Paragraph • A. Paraphrase the prompt • B. State thesis • II. Con Body Paragraph • A. Topic Sentence • B. Con example • C. Explanation • III. Pro Body Paragraph • A. Topic Sentence • B. Pro example • C. Explanation • IV. Pro Body Paragraph • A. Topic Sentence • B. Pro example • C. Explanation • V. Conclusion • A. Restate thesis • B. Review main points