This I Believe
30 percent total
Because this course is so focused on helping students develop their personal writing voices,
one of the main projects of the term will be to write your own This I Believe essay. The
essay will be 500 - 600 words on a core value that guides your daily life.
The assignment will unfold with three separate deadlines worth a total of 100 points.
Critique (5 points, Due Oct. 18) Choose one essay from the This I Believe archive and
submit a 250-word reaction identifying two things you like about the writing and one thing
you feel could be improved. You will also discuss your piece in small groups during class on
April 12. This is an opportunity for your GE to make sure you understand the format of
The archive is here. Click on the explore tab and you can search essays by age, name or
theme. For more information on what makes a good essay, click here and read the original
Idea (5 points, Due Oct. 21) Submit your idea for your own This I Believe essay. This will
be a brief statement of what you believe, what makes you believe it and how you plan
to write about it. This will be an opportunity for your GE to make sure your essay topic is
appropriate and on the right track.
Writing + Grammar (90 points, Due Nov. 11) Submit a 500 - 600-word This I Believe
essay. The piece will be graded on your use of writing techniques learned in this class and
particularly on your use of proper grammar. That includes spelling, sentence structure,
punctuation and usage.
Extra credit (Optional, Due Nov. 25) Submit an audio file of you reading your This I
Believe essay. The best written and delivered ones will be eligible for extra credit and will be
played in front of the whole class on the final class period. To record your piece, you’re free
to use your phone. But for better sound quality, reserve a time in the podcast studio at Allen
Hall. For examples, listen to episodes from the This I Believe podcast.
Background: In 1951, the famous journalist Edward R. Murrow launched a storytelling
project to get Americans talking about their values and the events that shaped their outlooks
on life. The result was the hugely popular This I Believe series. This I Believe ran on radio
stations in the 1950s and hundreds of Americans participated, including Helen Keller, Jackie
Robinson and Albert Einstein. NPR revived the tradition in 2004, and today there’s a public
archive of more than 125,000 This I Believe essays.
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