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How to write a rationale? Essay

In 200-300 words, answer the following questions in paragraph form:

•How is the context of the task linked to the particular course? •How is the task intended to explore particular aspects of the course? Consider the changing historical, cultural and social context in which particular texts are written and revised. Students are asked to understands the context of the production of a given text, and compare that context to the way the text is understood today, or at another time.

I believe I fulfilled one/various learning outcomes for part 3: literature in context. For example I considered the changing historical, cultural, and social context in which dahls short stories were written and received by exploring ideas of postmodernism, such as dark humor

•The nature of the task chosen – what is it about? How is it written? What is the text type? What is about; how did you write it? Style? Formality? Images? • Information about audience, purpose and the social, cultural or historical context in which the task is set.

This sample written task is written by Michael Michell, who teaches at the International School of Amsterdam. The task is the product of a greater unit on the portrayal of women and sex in advertising. It takes its inspiration from Jean Kilbourne’s ‘Killing Us Softly’. Students watched this polemic presentation and discussed many of the ads that it features. Students explored the defining characteristics of opinion columns and more specifically the columns of Maureen Dowd. You can see that he imitates her writing style or ‘voice’ very well.

After you view Kilbourne’s presentation and read the written task, assess his work according to the assessment criteria. Then compare your marks to the examiner’s marks offered below. How do your marks differ from the examiner’s?

Sample Rationale:

For Part 2 of my English course we studied how women are portrayed by the media. We began by viewing Jean Kilbourne’s Killing Us Softly 3 and reading Kilbourne’s book The More You Subtract, The More You Add. I refer to statistics and facts from this sources in the written task.

The Calvin Klein ad pictured here, the one that I refer to in my written task, is one I also used for an “ad critique presentation” (IB further oral activity). We spent time in class asking ourselves who was responsible for several problems, including the social construction of gender, beauty and sexuality to the often dangerous behaviors advertisements seem to promote (eating disorders, objectification of women, violence against women, hyper-masculinity, and others). We also discussed ways in which individuals and groups can resist these problems and promote social change.

An opinion column seemed to be the ideal forum for me to write. I wanted to move from the specific problems I saw in this ad and speak to the larger issues it points to. I read many writers of Op-Eds and decided to model mine after New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd because her voice combines comic elements with biting commentary. Her columns, like many other Op-Ed writers, are grounded in the writer’s personal life. It contains not only her opinion, but many newsworthy statistics and a call to action.

I believe that have met several of the learning outcomes for Part 2. I have examined different forms of communication within the media, by looking at a range of texts, from ads and opinion columns to documentaries and counter ads. I have also shown an awareness of the potential for ideological influence of the media, by looking at both sexist ads and counter-propaganda, such as Kilbourne’s speech.

Written Task 1:

My child walked into the study last night while I was hammering away on a column about W.’s inability to use the English language in a speech he delivered to the National Education Association conference this past weekend.

“Mommy, look at me. I’m beautiful.”

I turned around, reading glasses perched on the end of my nose, peering over the top to see my eight-year-old posing, nearly naked, hips jutting provocatively forward and gently sucking a thumb, in one of her father’s dress shirts from the laundry basket and CK written in my red lipstick on the pocket, only one lower button closing the shirt so my baby’s privates were just covered like the proverbial fig leaf. I was horrified. Horrified at what she was communicating – already – without awareness.

I shook my head, dismayed, “Daniela, let’s get you into your jammies and off to bed.” As I walked into her room, I told her how I feel about the advertisement she was mimicking. I told her about women’s strength and real “girl power.” And then I helped her change, and read her several pages of Stargirl until she drifted off to sleep.

It is no surprise that Daniela and so many others, especially children and young people, are influenced by the images they see – everywhere and all the time – telling the same stories of beauty: expose yourself, be thin, be childlike and vulnerable, be sexually available, be like the image you see. As Daniela gets older she will be socialized to know that girls and women are to be available, to be sexy, to be vulnerable and that boys and men are different: they are to be hard, powerful, in control, and forceful.

If we believe the statistics, and I do, the consequences for the health, happiness, and welfare for our society are dire: the average American sees 3,000 advertisements a day, computer retouching of images is so pervasive that no images of human models escape “reworking,” only 5% of American women have body types seen in most advertising, 4 of 5 American women are dissatisfied with their bodies, 5-10 million women struggle with a serious eating disorder, and on and on and on. The list of consequences is legion.

Who is responsible? The ad agencies? They own a share, but we are all responsible. We buy the magazines. We watch the television. We purchase
the products. But we have choices. We don’t have to buy products that exploit and manipulate.

More importantly, we can and should communicate to companies directly about what we think and feel in response to their advertisements, and how they will affect our choices as consumers. For many readers this may seem daunting. It does take commitment and effort, but there are resources that can help. For guidance on writing such letters, as well as a rich body of information about media issues, visit the Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting website (http://www.fair.org). For a superb archive of actual letters praising and condemning specific advertisements and ad campaigns, visit the About-Face website (http://www.about-face.org). In many cases, response letters are included, and in a few of these we see how the consumer has affected change.

In his 1950 Nobel acceptance speech, American writer William Faulkner said, “Never be afraid to raise your voice for honesty, and truth, and compassion against injustice, and lying, and greed. If people all over the world…would do this it would change the Earth.”

Faulkner’s right. We can change the world. But we must “Be the change we seek in the world,” as Gandhi said.

We must act. We must educate ourselves and each other. We must educate our children about the images they see. We must never let a teachable moment pass. We must never let those images rule our children and us. We must act – with our voices, with our wallets, with our pens and computers.

Criteria| Possible| Awarded| Comments|
A: Rationale| 2| | |
B: Task and Content| 8| | |
C: Organization | 5| | |
D: Language and Style| 5| | |


Criterion A – Rationale – 2 marks
* 1 out of 2 – The rationale explains how the task is connected to the coursework. However,

Criterion B – Task and content – 8 marks
The content of a task should lend itself well to the type of text that one chooses. The task should demonstrate an understanding of the course work and topics studied. Finally, there should be evidence that the student has understood the conventions of writing a particular text type.

* 7 out of 8 – This task is very appropriate for the content. The voice of Maureen Dowd has been carefully studied and replicated. You can see the student demonstrating his understanding of the coursework and Jean Killbourne’s film. Having said this, the Calvin Klein text is only analyzed in passing. This could have received a little more attention.

Criterion C – Organization – 5 marks
The task is organized effectively and appropriately with a regard for the text type. There must be a sense of coherence.

* 4 out of 5 – The task moves nicely from an anecdote to a social commentary. It is illustrated effectively with statistics and interesting quotes. It has the structural conventions of an opinion column. Unfortunately, the task falls short of the minimum word count requirement of 800.

Criterion D – Language – 5 marks
The language of the task must be appropriate to the nature of the task. This means that students use an appropriate and effective register and style. Whatever the nature of the task, ideas must be communicated effectively.

* 5 out of 5 – The choice of vocabulary and the use of syntax are superb! The narrative voice is characteristic of Maureen Dowd.

Here is a draft of a Written Task 1 that a student wrote. It has multiple problems and requires help. Answer the following questions before reading the feedback.

1. Which pitfalls has the student fallen into?
2. How could the ‘three right ingredients’ be used to steer this student in the right direction? 3. Look at the page on opinion columns in the reference section of this Subject Site. According to this definition, there are six defining characteristics of opinion columns: voice, newsworthiness, call to action, humor, hard facts and logos. Where do you see evidence of these in the column below? How could these characteristics be added to the task to make it more successful?

Column on the advantages of being fat

‘Don’t you want to lose weight some day’? Is the question I was asked about weekly. And then I replied with my happiest voice; No! The they gave me this kind of look like, okay, you must be crazy. And yes I am. There are so many advantages of being fat. Lets start by shopping. Sale. The thing I like best, and so handy when you’re fat, because almost 70% of all the woman are skinny, at least skinny to fit in the most common sizes. So all the big sizes are left over. How nice. So there I was, standing at the H&M, at the sale-corner. Nothing but big sizes. So as a child in a toy shop I started grabbing the things I liked and made my way to the fitting room. It was rather crowdie over there so I accepted the fact that I had to wait for some minutes. I heard the sound of an opening door and saw a skinny girl coming outside, at a glance she saw me and then continued looking in the mirror. Her friend, waiting for her, said she looked pretty and the girl asked her friend ‘don’t I look fat in this dress?’

No it’s lovely’ she replied. I laughed. I never had those kind of problems. For I already accepted the fact that I was fat, and it would never disappoint me when shopping. When the girls left I went in to the fitting room and started to change. This dress was lovely, I took another look in the mirror, turned around and smiled. Shopping is great, after like half an hour I was ready, with about 9 dresses hanging over my arm I made my way to the pay desk. Only50 pounds for 9 dresses. Good job, I thought. As happy as I was I walked to the bus stop I realized I was just in time because the bus was about to leave. I hastened myself to get inside the bus, and lucky as I was, there was one seat left over, a seat for 2, just for me. The whole trip no one came to sit next to me, for they probably thought they wouldn’t have enough space, sitting next to 1.5 person. Life is great, and so you see, being fat is too! (:

Criteria| Possible| Awarded| Comments|
A: Rationale| 2| | |
B: Task and Content| 8| | |
C: Organization | 5| | |
D: Language and Style| 5| | |



First of all, this written task falls into is the pitfall of not reflecting course content. It is not clear what was studied in class from this piece. If the student studied obesity, its causes and effects, then this needs to be made clear. Where does the statistic on the percentage of skinny women (70%) come from? Are overweight people really happy for the reasons suggested in this column? If so, explain where this is supported.

Secondly, this opinion column sounds very informal, using words such as ‘like’ and the emoticon ‘(:’. Columns often contain something that is newsworthy and relevant to the target audience. The context of this text is not self evident.

Finally, this text must refer to another text or texts. If the student read an article about obesity, then she could explain its significance. It is suggested that this student start all over again with a completely new idea
and set of texts. She may want to see the lesson on anorexia and the sample written task on the portrayal of women in the media.

Sample Rationale:

My diary entry, written in Ekwefi’s point of view, contains 2 different entries that intend to show her thoughts and emotions regarding her romantic life. Set it Nigeria in the late 1880s, she compares the days in which she fell in love with Okonkwo and ran away from her husband to the present situation she finds herself in. Being a diary, the audience is the writer herself, and for each entry I used a different tone: lightheartedness can be seen in the sentence “Okonkwo and I should elope, as he is the man I have always longed for” while melancholy is present in the following one: “And it all seems so different from back then.” The language I employed is intended to be similar to the one on “Things Fall Apart” and the Ibo language, including the months “Onwa Agwu” meaning June and “Onwa Okike” meaning November, as well how they popularly use the word “shall.” I wrote this this because I wish we had seen more of the personal sides of the characters in the novel, especially of a woman, since they allow us to connect to them and feel with them more deeply. The nature of the chosen task comes from the fact that the concept of love is a very delicate, complex, and even cliché idea, yet it is the one common factor that has been present in th world despite the different cultures that exist. Therefore its purpose is to prove that even in a novel of postcolonial origin and focus, the role romance pays in a character’s life is a subject that can be regarded.

1. What’s good about this rationale?
2. What’s missing?
3. What could be done better?

Sample Written Task 1

‘Language issues’

The discussion about Ebonics or African American English (AAE) has recently started again, due to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) seeking Ebonics translators. The commotion around our language is about the DEA putting Ebonics on their list of languages they translate, among official languages like Spanish or Vietnamese. Many white Americans have put a somewhat radical opinion out there; in general they think that Ebonics should not be seen as a distinct language and thus should not be on a list among official and distinct languages. Personally I was shocked to see so many aggressive comments towards the language we speak in our daily lives – and expressing yourself so hostile against Ebonics is not the right thing to do in my opinion.

The characterizations of Ebonics as ‘slang’, ‘lazy’ or ‘broken English’ are incorrect, demeaning and could offend a great amount of people. Ebonics is a form of communication that deserves recognition and study. In this months’ special edition we are taking a closer look at the events that are going on right now. There will be different views on this issue; the topics that are named here are all coming back and will be assessed throughout an in-depth article written by Aleecia Dewiz, Marcus Reganus, Tanya Leeso and Sean Comsin.

The last debate about the Ebonics language was almost fourteen years ago. On December 18th, 1996, the Oakland, California, Unified School District proposed using Ebonics for teaching English. This caused a national discussion and drew an awful lot of media attention. Due to this unwanted attention, the school board to alter their plans and teach it as a second language. My dear friend Jesse Jackson expressed his opinion on this matter saying that it was unacceptable for it may damage the children’s Standard English skills. Later he reversed his position towards the case by saying that he misunderstood the schools’ wish to teach Ebonics as a standard language – which was eventually not the case. Although I personally deeply care for the Ebonics language, English is a global lingua franca, so it is obvious that Standard English is the most important language that has to be spoken and taught in school. It has an instrumental motivation, while Ebonics is somehow regarded as more of a language that people use or learn
with a intergrative motivation. However, there are so many other versions of English spoken over the world: almost each country that has English as their official or second official language, speaks a slightly different dialect.

Just to name a few: Hong Kong English, Singapore English, Cameroon English, New Zealand English and Jamaican English. These are languages that can be learned because of the integrative and instrumental motivation. Ebonics could be one of these languages and this will be discussed in the article “Ebonics: language or idiolect?”

The question that came up to me was why there is such a fuss about this specific variety of English. In the Anglophone world – which is an immense part of the world we live in – there are many different varieties of English. The one that is quite comparable to Ebonics is Chicano English, since it is also a cultural variety of English in the United States. There is less (media) commotion about this language, though. Is this because it is not considered a distinct language, as it is not on the DEA list or has not been tried to teach in schools? Or does it have something to do with people being intimidated by the Black American society? The thing that worries me is that this renewed issue might trigger polarization between the radical-thinking white Americans and us Black Americans. There is a large group of Black Americans that speaks Ebonics and is not against it being a distinct or even an official language, while the large group of non-African Americans thinks the other way around. If this is going to be a national debate again, a divide of ethnic groups might occur. Like mentioned above, in this issue there will be different views on this topic, including the negative point of view, explained by both a Black American and white American.

This is why I am kindly stressing to stand up for the Ebonics language, but to not forget about Standard English. I have written a feature on this as well, together with great help provided by Stephanie Reed and Tyrese Lutchin. Some might not like our language because they don’t understand it – hence the searching for translators, which definitely points out that not everyone can simply understand us. So speak the Ebonics language with pride,
but think about the people around you and about your best interests – because Standard English is the most important language to know and to master. At least, for now.

Criteria| Possible| Awarded| Comments|
A: Rationale| 2| | |
B: Task and Content| 8| | |
C: Organization | 5| | |
D: Language and Style| 5| | |

Examiner’s Feedback:

The written task is a missed opportunity. The student has an excellent topic with no examples of language in use. The task reminds us that, besides exploring various attitudes towards varieties of English language, we must look at concrete examples of English in use.

Criteria| Possible| Awarded| Comments|
A: Rationale| 2| 0| The student fails to include a rationale.| B: Task and Content| 8| 4| The task is generally appropriate, though it lacks examples. It shows some understanding of letters from the editor, as a type of text, though it slips into essay form sometimes.| C: Organization | 5| 4| The task is well organized and generally well structured.| D: Language and Style| 5| 4| The student’s use of English is inaccurate and inappropriate.|

Sample Written Task 1


In class we explored several texts by African Americans, analyzing their use of English as an expression of a social identity. In particular we look looked at several song lyrics by rappers. I was intrigued by 2Pac Shakur’s lyrics. I wanted to create a context in which I could explore the effects of his lyrics on the African American community.
Therefore, I decided to invent a column in Rolling Stone magazine called ‘Lyrics Up Close’, in which I interview several young African Americans on their response to 2Pac’s lyrics. The year is 1998 and 2Pac is still climbing the pop charts even though he has been killed in a shooting. I ask how 2Pac has earned respect among his target audience, and how they identify with him. I give several reasons, including his personal history and his use of English to account for his success. What’s more I define the main message of the song as one that encourages troubled youth to get off the streets, stop selling drugs and cease violent activity. I look at this within the context of 2Pac’s own violent life, which exposes his hypocrisy. All in all, the task made me think critically about language and culture.


A ‘Brotha’ Who Understands ‘Brotha’s’
From ‘Lyrics Up Close’ a column in Rolling Stone magazine

2Pac Shakur landed in the top ten again this week with ‘Changes’, and so it appears that he is enjoying more success posthumously than when he lived. Has his iconic status increased because of his death, or could it be that this song has struck a chord with African-Americans across the nation. Rolling Stone hit the streets of 2Pac’s old neighborhood in Marin City, asking young African-Americans how the lyrics of ‘Changes’ made them feel. “Here’s a brotha’ who understands brotha’s,” answered one high school student, who seemed to capture the sentiments of many in the area. Where, though, in the lyrics do young African Americans identify with 2Pac’s message?

At first glance, ‘Changes’ sounds quite pessimistic. It opens with the lines, “I’m tired of bein’ poor & even worse I’m black.” This defeatist attitude seems strange when compared to 2Pac’s tough image, an image that many young gang members have imitated. One young man we spoke to, who wore a gangster-style bandana, explained that the opening lines are not so much pessimistic as realistic. The lyrics explain why young African Americans deal drugs and commit crime: “First ship ’em dope & let ’em
deal the brothers / give ’em guns step back watch ’em kill each other.” While this may sound like the tone of a victim, 2Pac is not encouraging young African Americans to give up or lose hope.

It is important that we keep the target audience of the song in mind. It does not intend to create sympathy among white Americans for poor African Americans. Rather, the song targets African Americans. In fact many young black men of Marin City feel spoken to by 2Pac’s song. He seems to call on them to change:

“But now I’m back with the facts givin’ it back to you
Don’t let ’em jack you up, back you up, crack you up and pimp smack you up
You gotta learn to hold ya own.”

In these lines, “you” is directed to troubled black youth. When asked what “hold ya own” means, many young African Americans explained: they must refuse to become victims of the hardships that 2Pac so poignantly describes in his lyrics. This call to social responsibility might just be the main theme of the song, which he suggest in the lines, “I got love for my brother but we can never go nowhere unless we share with each other.” He calls on African Americans to stop dealing drugs to each other and stealing from each other.

How, though, does 2Pac deliver this message without sounding patronizing? First of all, as the saying goes, ‘it takes one to know one.’ 2Pac’s criminal past and time in prison have earned him respect among troubled, black youth. But what’s more, he speaks to them in their language, a lyrical, almost sophisticated form of Ebonics or African American Vernacular English (AAVE). The rhythm and rhyme of the lyrics is engaging and compelling, which we see in the afore mentioned lines, “jack you up, back you up / crack you up and pimp smack you up.” The verb, ‘to pimp smack one up’ exemplifies the poetic style of street speech. Finally he addresses his audience as his “brothers”, he uses the word “nigga” in a permissible context and alludes casually to “Huey”, a.k.a. Huey P. Lewis, co-founder ofthe Black Panthers. These are all ‘in-group’ markers, which help establish his credit and rapport among African Americans in general and black gangsters specifically. It is for these reasons that he has earned the right to speak to them about these complex issues.

In the midst of the many depressing scenarios that 2Pac sketches from children dying of drug abuse to the constant fear of being killed by an old enemy (“I never get to lay back / ‘Cause I always got to worry ’bout the pay backs”), his spoken words cast a ray of light and call for reasoning.

“We gotta make a change… It’s time for us as a people to start makin’ some changes. Let’s change the way we eat, let’s change the way we live and let’s change the way we treat each other. You see the old way wasn’t working so it’s on us to do what we gotta do, to survive.”

The final question that remains is: ‘How are troubled, young African Americans supposed to change the way they live?’ Unfortunately 2Pac left us with few answers and, even worse, a poor example. He lived his life like the lyrics of ‘Changes’: a series of violent, depressing acts interspersed with a few moments of clarity. At least his song helps create understanding the complex issues that poor, young African Americans face every day. From this kind of understanding and the realization that ‘it’s on us to do what we gotta do’, change can arise.

Criteria| Possible| Awarded| Comments|
A: Rationale| 2| | |
B: Task and Content| 8| | |
C: Organization | 5| | |
D: Language and Style| 5| | |

Essay Topics:

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