The Lesson by Toni Cade Bambara

Step 1: Choose a short story from our textbook that you would like to research and write about for this assignment. For this assignment, you may choose a story we have read or will read together or one that I have not included in our lessons.

Step 2: You need to decide on an angle or hook for your essay. What about the story is interesting to you? Why did you choose this story to further investigate? Choose one of the following topics. Please note that I do not want you to focus on the author, but on the short story itself.

        Write about a significant theme (main idea) in the story
        Write about symbolism and/or imagery in the story
        Write about the significance of the setting of a story
        Write about a character or characters
how a character changes and/or develops during the course of the story OR
how contrasting characters further our understanding of a story OR
how a particular character relates to the theme or main idea of a story

Step 3: Write down your own ideas either on note cards, on notebook paper, or typed on a page. I recommend that you write a very rough draft now, using only your own thoughts/ideas and supporting your points with appropriate quotations from the story.

Step 4: Research what critics have written about the story. Do your best to locate a few very good sources. A few good sources are better than many lousy ones that dont really have anything to do with what you really want to investigate about the story. Make sure your sources are full text and that you truly understand what each critic is saying about the story. Do not ever try to use a source that you do not understand!

Step 5: Reread your rough draft. Now rewrite it and improve it by using the material that you have found while doing your research. After researching, you may have changed your mind in some respects; this is ok. Just make any necessary changes to your argument. You may directly quote, paraphrase, or summarize the critics, but be sure to document correctly.

Step 6: Revise as many times as you see fit. Be sure you have correctly used MLA documentation to avoid plagiarism. This is VERY important. Proofread several times to correct any mistakes in grammar, punctuation, or spelling.

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