Flood Prevention and Lessons Learned (Cedar Rapids Iowa Flood of 2008)

Our general topic—Flood Recovery: The city of Cedar Rapids continues to recover from the flood of 2008. Many controversial decisions have been made; more challenges remain. This issue will be the topic of our reading, discussion, research, and writing in this course. All tasks will be building toward the major essay of the course, which will take a focus on this general topic. Narrowing the topic: For your essay, you will focus on only one facet of flood recovery. Some suggestions follow: The LOST vote—Local Option Sales Tax previously voted down, proposed for this year Proposed casino New fire station Mott building Amphitheatre New CR Schools Administration building Problems with FEMA—Federal Emergency Management Agency Demolition of historic buildings and structures Mount Trashmore City buy-outs Sinclair property Time-Check recreation center Science Station New Library City Hall Focus another way if you like—perhaps on a flood issue in Iowa City or a different part of Eastern Iowa. A civic issue that is not directly related to the flood may work. If your focus is not on the above list, run it by me before writing the draft. Your task: You will write an argument essay on this narrowed-down topic. However you focus, the key is to make sure you are arguing an opinion and not just informing your audience of the situation. For example, don’t just tell what buildings have been demolished; instead, argue that historic sites should have been better preserved. If you focus on the library, don’t just tell us about damage and where it was built; instead, you might argue that the location was (or was not) the right choice. If you focus on LOST, don’t just give us the facts; instead, argue whether the voters should pass it this time—or argue why the supporters failed to get it passed earlier. Audience: Your audience is Eastern Iowans who may or may not agree with you. Consider that they do have a general knowledge of the issue, but don’t assume that they know any specific information or that they have thought much about it. A concise bit of history will likely be appropriate in the intro, but the bulk of the essay will be facts, statistics, expert opinions, and other information that directly supports your argument. Tie all info to your thesis—the opinion you are arguing. Organization: This is not an explanation of the situation with your opinion tacked on at the end. You must state the thesis (your position) in the intro and support it throughout the body of the essay. Concessions and counterarguments: Most of your essay will be explaining the merits of your position, but you will need to address at least one opposing view as well as supporting your own. See the textbook’s discussion of counterarguments and concessions on pp. 123-124. For example, if you are arguing for a certain course of action, you should acknowledge and refute at least the most obvious downfall of that option. Sources: • Articles from our source list in Lesson 1—You are required to use at least one of these. However, resist the temptation to overuse one source or follow that author’s organization. • Articles at the Cedar Rapids Gazette website–http://www.gazetteonline.com • Books may also address facets of this issue, but be sure that they are up to date. For help with search terms, visit or call a reference librarian at the library. • Valid websites that discuss any of the issues above—Be careful to evaluate the source before using it. • Interviews with qualified experts. By this we mean someone who has an informed view of the topic, a city official or historian, for example. You might include a quick quotation from your grandpa whose house was flooded, but that would not count toward the minimum source requirements. Minimum source requirements: Minimum number of secondary sources is 7. You must use at least one article from our source list. You must go outside our source list for at least 6 sources. “A” essays go well beyond these minimums. Citing sources: Use MLA style. You must use in-text references (parenthetical references) in the text of the essay and a Works Cited list at the end. Your book has a sample essay on pp. 103-104 which will show you what the documentation should look like, but there is no complete MLA guide in the text. An excellent resource for citing sources is The Owl at Purdue: http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/557/06/ Any college English handbook or online handbook will provide those formats too, but make sure the handbook is up to date. In 2009 the Modern Language Association came out with new guidelines for writing the Works Cited bibliographic entries, and you ARE required to use the new formats. Webaddresses: The new guidelines don’t require URL’s (web addresses), but for the purposes of this class you ARE required to put the URL after the entry for any article found on a regular website that you found via a search engine like Google. You do not need a URL for articles found through a database like Ebscohost at the KCC library website. Important: The essay must have in-text citation for each bit of info–at minimum one citation for each source on your Works Cited list. For our purposes, you need to do at least one parenthetical reference for each of your sources—to demonstrate your ability to do so—even if simple in-text mention would be correct. The Owl at Purdue has a link for this information. Another online source that demonstrates in-text citation using parenthetical reference is http://www.library.cornell.edu/newhelp/res_strategy/citing/mla.html There is a citation function in Microsoft Word as well as in other programs. Feel free to make use of these, but don’t count on them to do it perfectly. It is your responsibility to perfect each entry, including punctuation. Ebscohost will provide MLA entries for articles you find there; ask the reference librarians if you can’t find that feature. Sample essay: A student essay is available. See the link on the Lesson 6 main page. This essay is not on your topic, but it should help you to see the kind of essay and documentation that we are going for. Reminders: • Write economically. • Use 3rd person instead of1st person. “That means no use of “I” or “YOU,” especially in the thesis statement. The reasons for this rule include the expectations of formal writing and also the concepts of economical and emphatic writing. Having said that, a well- placed personal example may be appropriate; however, limit the personal information—and the use of “I” to one paragraph or to the intro/conclusion only, and check with me first. (Did I mention not to use “I” in the thesis statement?) • Resist the temptation to merely summarize the topic or an article you agree with. • Place the thesis—your opinion, but not using “I”—early in the essay. The last sentence of the introduction is generally the safest place. • Use techniques of argument, including refutation of cons (opposing viewpoints). Your text uses the terms counterarguments and concessions. • Use single spacing but leave one blank space between paragraphs. Scope: minimum 800 words; maximum 2000 words (not counting works cited list) Checklist: These are criteria for evaluating the argument synthesis. 1. Is the layout simple, the font size and type easily readable? 2. Does it single-space with a blank line between paragraphs? 3. Is the title appropriate and original–not repeated from one of your articles? 4. Does the introduction use an effective motivator–a brief fact or idea to make us interested? 5. Does the intro succinctly explain the focus of the essay? 6. Does the thesis state a clear and focused opinion? 7. Does the essay argue an opinion (as opposed to just explaining)? 8. Are sufficient sources incorporated, clearly and accurately? 9. Does the essay use a variety of source types? 10. Does the essay identify the major relevant cons (opposing points)? 11 Please note that this order was placed by one of our valued Loyal Customers. Your work will be checked with the highest quali

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