Unit 2: Combining Ideas
In the previous unit you mastered different prewriting strategies. These strategies will help you discover information, but a paragraph isn't merely a list of facts. A paragraph presents your ideas about a topic and then uses specific examples from other sources to structure your information, develop your ideas, and support your conclusions. In order to do this, the sentences in a paragraph must work together. When sentences work together, the writing flows effortlessly and makes it easier for your audience to read your work and understand the development of your ideas. This unit will teach you how to compose effective paragraphs. It will also discuss the power of an effective thesis statement and will give you the information you need to create powerful thesis statements in your own writing.
Completing this unit should take you approximately 13 hours.
Upon successful completion of this unit, you will be able to:
- outline relationships between main ideas and subordinate ideas within the writing of others and within your own writing;
- write well-organized analytical paragraphs in response to writing prompts;
- use commas effectively in writing, avoiding fragments and run-on sentences;
- write a clear and focused thesis statement supported by appropriate evidence and examples;
- apply prewriting strategies to narrow a topic and develop a piece of writing; and
- demonstrate principles of active reading.
2.1: Developing Relationships Between Ideas
In Unit 1, you mastered the basics of writing effective sentences. In this unit, you will learn how to combine ideas across sentences to build well-organized paragraphs. Read this article about connecting sentences within a paragraph in a meaningful way. Complete the practice activities, in which you will identify the relationships between ideas in a paragraph and practice developing a paragraph that connects ideas. You will continue to develop these skills throughout the course, and we will revisit expressions for linking sentences when we learn about transitions in Unit 4.
- Receive a grade
Complete this ungraded quiz to check your understanding of these materials. In this quiz, you will write a paragraph using what you learned about developing relationships between sentences. When you are done, check your work against the Guide to Responding for Paragraph Writing Assignments.
2.2: Grammar Practice
In Unit 1, you learned about the components of a complete sentence. Can you recall what they are? If not, this would be a good opportunity to review your notes. In the next two activities, you will learn more about constructing grammatical sentences. Read this article on sentence fragments and complete the practice activities, in which you identify both subjects and verbs that make a sentence a complete thought. Once you complete the practice activities, check your answers against the Answer Key.
2.2.2: Comma Splices and Run-on Sentences
Next, read this lecture on how to fix comma splices and run-on sentences, and then complete the practice activities in which you correctly punctuate sentences to avoid the errors of comma splices and run-ons. Once you complete the practice activities, check your answers against the Answer Key. You will learn more about using commas and other punctuation to craft complete sentences in Unit 3.
2.3: Thesis Statements
2.3.1: Thesis Statement Basics
Many types of academic essays require a thesis statement: a statement that clearly outlines the topic and argument of your essay. In this learning module, you will learn what a thesis statement is and how to develop a strong thesis statement to anchor your argument.
2.3.2: Developing Strong Thesis Statements
Now that you are familiar with thesis statements, take a few minutes to review by taking notes on what you know about thesis statements.
- How would you define the term "thesis statement" in your own words?
- What is the purpose of a thesis statement?
- Have you used thesis statements in your writing before? When?
- What do you think makes a thesis statement effective?
- What is something you don't know about writing thesis statements?
Once you complete this brainstorming activity, read this article to continue learning about developing strong thesis statements.
2.4.1: Outline Basics
You already learned about prewriting techniques to help you craft an argumentative paragraph or an essay. Now you will learn about the important prewriting step of creating an outline. This article will teach the basics of what an outline is, why it is useful, and how to get started outlining an essay.
Before you begin practicing making outlines to support your own writing, review this sample outline. This is just one model of a successful outline; as you will see in the following activities, the basic principles for creating effective outlines can be applied differently in any number of writing contexts.
2.4.2: How to Outline
Earlier, you practiced prewriting techniques to develop a paragraph about one of three topics: Why do dogs make great pets? Should children be given chores? or Which holiday is your favorite? In preparation for learning about outlines, review your notes.
In the following activity, you will create a sample outline based on the prewriting you did for one of these topics. You may build on the prewriting work you already completed, or you may want to spend a few minutes prewriting on one of the topics you did not explore in the previous unit.
After you select a topic and complete a prewriting activity, read this chapter about developing an outline. After you read, choose one of the outline types described in the article and create an outline for an essay on the topic you chose.
2.4.3: Types of Outlines
The previous activity asked you to develop a sample outline for an argumentative essay. Outlines can be used to develop many different kinds of writing. While the basic principles of outlines apply to many writing contexts, the way you apply those principles will be different depending on the type of writing you are producing. Read this section about creating outlines for a speech. After you read, spend a few minutes reflecting on what you learned.
- In your own words, how would you describe the purpose of an outline?
- What are some similarities and differences between an outline for an argumentative essay and an outline for a speech?
- Have you used outlines to develop your writing in the past? Do you plan to use them in the future?
2.5: Active Reading Practice
Have you been applying the active reading strategies you learned in Unit 1? This would be a good time to review your notes about active reading. Once you've refreshed your memory about how to use active reading to improve your understanding of a text, read this short story by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle called "The Red-Headed League". When you finish, take the quiz.
- Take this ungraded quiz to check your understanding of the materials presented in this unit.
Now that you have assessed your understanding of the short story, use what you learned to write a well-organized response to this prompt about the differences between the world of Sherlock Holmes and the world today. When you finish, check your work against the guide to responding.
Unit 2 Assessment
- Receive a grade
Take this assessment to check your understanding of the materials presented in this unit.
- This assessment does not count towards your grade. It is just for practice!
- You will see the correct answers when you submit your answers. Use this to help you study for the final exam!
- You can take this assessment as many times as you want, whenever you want.