Constructing Your Writing Notes

Assignment 1, Milestone 1: Writing Notes (GRADED)

writing notes

Now it’s time to discuss the topic you’ve chosen to focus on for the remainder of this project! In this assignment, you’ll use a guided prompt to write notes that will help you better understand ways to approach the persuasive essay. When following the guide, remember to use instructor feedback from Week 1 when discussing your topic. If you’re still unsure if the topic is fulfilling the minimum requirements of the project, here’s a quick reminder: 1) it has two logical sides to the issue, 2) it is researchable, and 3) it is related to your career or degree. If you have questions or concerns, please be sure to contact your instructor as soon as possible. You can email or use the General Questions board found in Blackboard.

Constructing Your Writing Notes

The questions below will ask you to consider how the following critical elements relate to your topic:

  • argument*
  • key points*
  • audience*
  • goal*
  • potential resources*
  • evidence*

This process will allow you to develop a potential structure for effectively persuading readers to agree with your argument. This plan will be helpful in keeping your thought process on track when you begin writing and revising your essay. Each response should be one fully developed paragraph in length (5-8 sentences).

As you work on the Writing Notes, remember to refer to the assignment guidelines and rubric (click here) to make sure you’re fulfilling each aspect of the assignment. You can also download/print the rubric.

Your responses will be saved to the Notebook, which can be found under the “Tools” menu signaled by the wrench icon on the upper right side of the screen. In this view, all the responses will be saved separately. You can also download all of your responses to a single Word document by following the directions at the bottom of this page. Note that you must click “Submit” to add your responses to the Notebook and be able to download them later.

(1) Your argument is the main point that you are trying to make in your essay. It should clearly state your opinion on your topic. Describe the argument to be addressed in your persuasive essay and include how the argument is derived from your major, the major you are considering pursuing, or your field of work.


(2) Key points are pieces of evidence that support an author’s main argument. What are three possible key points for your selected topic? How do they support your main argument?


(3) Your audience is the people you are addressing in your essay. Who is the audience that will be reading your essay? What potential challenges will you have supporting your argument with this demographic?


(4) Your goal is the end result that you wish to achieve in writing this essay. What goal do you hope to accomplish with this essay? What will this essay need to be successful?


(5)  Potential resources are pieces of evidence that could be used to support your argument. List potential resources that could be used as supporting evidence for your argument, and provide a brief description of each and how they will reinforce your argument.


(6) Using the resources you identified above, align specific key points of your argument with your supporting resources to begin to establish an effective essay structure.


(7)  Based on your argument, determine strategic places where integrating evidence would be most effective and provide rationale for each.



Activity: Creating Keywords (GRADED)

NOTE: This activity will be graded based on completion.

Remember your writing notes? Let’s use them to think of some keywords that can help you when it comes time to do your research! Using the guided activity below, come up with a list of potential keywords to use while conducting research for the persuasive essay. Review the examples provided to make sure you’re on the best route, and if you’d like to talk to a librarian about your choices, click the “Ask a Librarian” link on the Shapiro Library’s home page.

You will use your work in this section to help you with the Opposing Viewpoints activity coming up in 2-6.

Mind Mapping

Mind mapping* is a useful visual technique for brainstorming keywords. The brain is constantly making connections between different aspects of a problem. By capturing these connections and exploring them systematically, we are less likely to miss possible solutions. Mind mapping is also a highly visual and efficient way of organizing ideas.

To begin mind mapping, the main subject/research topic is written in the center of a sheet in a circle. New ideas are drawn in the form of spokes branching from this central idea. These ideas are likely to lead to further ideas which form new spokes and so on. It can be helpful to use different colors for different branches of the map. By the end of the mind mapping process, you will have an entire page full of keywords related to your research topic.

The first step in creating your own mind map is to grab a blank piece of paper and a pen or pencil (several different colored pens would be ideal). In the middle of the page, write down the main subject that you plan to research for the persuasive essay project. Then draw a circle around it:

From the main circle, draw lines outward to represent the main ideas:

As you dig into each of the main ideas, add sub-topics and supporting evidence:

We can take the mind map as far as it needs to go to cover all our main ideas, our sub-topics, and our relevant evidence.

After your mind map is complete, look over the results and pick out the most interesting terms that you have generated on the page—these terms are your keywords*.

Sample Mind Map

The image below depicts a sample mind map drawn out based on the research topic “the impact of technology on urban education.”

The next activity uses a rich text area. You can tab to the editor body. Press ALT-F10 to get to the toolbar. Press ESC to return to the editor body. A save button is available in the top toolbar all the way to the right and will become visible when it receives focus.
You have not yet completed the activity below.

After you have drawn out your mind map, make a list of your main topic, sub-topics, and supporting evidence in the textbox below and then click “Submit.” Your response will be saved to your Notebook, accessible through the “Course Tools” menu.

(1) Main topic:


(2) Sub-topics:


(3) Supporting Evidence:



Activity: Opposing Viewpoints (GRADED)

black and white chess pieces

Let’s use the keywords you brainstormed earlier in the module to conduct three separate searches in the Opposing Viewpoints or Academic Search Complete database. When conducting these searches, keep a close eye on what types of sources pop up. Are they written by professionals or academics in the field? Are they articles from one of the 24-hour news networks? What formats appear (article, journal, essay, news story, video, podcast, etc.)? How old are the sources?

The next activity uses a rich text area. You can tab to the editor body. Press ALT-F10 to get to the toolbar. Press ESC to return to the editor body. A save button is available in the top toolbar all the way to the right and will become visible when it receives focus.
You have not yet completed the activity below.

Using the textbox below, take brief notes on what you see, and experiment with your keywords to broaden or narrow your search when appropriate. Jot down the titles and authors of a couple of sources from your search, as you will be asked to reevaluate them in the next activity. Click “Submit” when you are finished with your response.


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