Please Note: Before you continue on to the actual assignment, please sign up for a Gmail account and make sure your handle is your name (i.e. herman.melville@gmail.com). It is important that you have a Gmail account as we will be using Google Docs and other Google services for the remainder of the year.

Also, you are welcome to subscribe to my class twitter (@MrAMunozJr) to get updates or to ask me questions.

Right, all finished? Excellent! Then pray, continue:

Welcome, brave adventurer! As you are already aware, this year you will be reading and writing A LOT. To say that reading and writing is work is a gross misrepresentation of the truth. Instead, the art of reading and writing is a journey that transforms you into a better person through the internalization of new ideas.

Don't believe me? Wait until the end of the year, and then we will revisit my idea on the power of the written word.

Now, as you begin on this path of writing, I want you to think about how you write, as well as what you write. The way you communicate is just as important (if not more so) as what you communicate. The following quests will challenge you to conciously think about how you write and communicate for greater effect. The two tools you will be working with are show, don't tell and voice.

Part 1 - The first thing I want you to research is what we mean by "show, don't tell." While you read up on "show, don't tell," I want you to take notes on how you can use this skill in your own writing. (10 points)

Excellent! Now, let's see how this is put into practice.

I want you to watch the following TED Talk:

Philippe Petit has a unique voice. Voice refers to a person's personality coming through in the writing through the story told, diction, tone, sentence variety, imagery, etc.... As you watch the video, think about how his personality comes through in his presentation.

Part 2- As you watch Philippe Petit's talk, reflect on and answer the following questions:
  1. How does Petit “show, not tell”? Yes, there is body language and performance during his talk, but how do his words “perform” as well? Give examples.
  2. What would you say is Petit's personality? How does his personality shine through? How does his word choice, or diction, contribute to voice?
  3. Pay attention to the words Petit “draws” on the screen. Why does Petit choose those particular words? How do they relate to his performance? What words would you choose if you were the one on stage? Why?
  4. Which of Petit stories enthrall you the most? Why? What devices and literary elements make those stories your favorite? Which of those could you use in your own college essays?
I am looking for one paragraph (minimum) per question (so minimum of four paragraphs). (20 points)

As you can see, Petit's stories (the what he communicates) are amplified and made more entertaining by his voice (how he commuicates).

Okay, so why have I made you do all this work? Simple: You will use this style of communication (creative non-fiction) when writing your college essays. (If you have already written your essays, re-read them with the new information you have about creative non-fiction and make any changes necessary). University advisers have long suggested that high school seniors approach the application essays as a way of performing for the admissions team by showing who they really are. Visit the Apply Texas website and locate the application essay prompts. If you are interested in applying to a college outside of Texas but are unsure where, visit the Common Application website instead. If you know which college/university you are interested in applying to, visit those school websites and print out their prompts. If your chosen college/university does not require essays, please visit the Apply Texas website and use those instead. Then....

Part 3: Extreme Challenge - Write two college application essays as creative non-fiction, focusing on both the stories you want to tell and how you want to tell them.

I do not know what universities you are considering, but I want you to begin brainstorming for the ApplyTexas application essays (please see the link above - "college essays"): the two required essays and the optional essay. You are to complete the following:

  1. A series of brainstorming exercises based on the three essay prompts (please see the brainstorming map on the right). At the center of each of your maps should be the subject of your essay. Each branch will have the "telling" (loving, in my example) and the "showing" ("the time she made me my favorite cake"). You may either draw your maps, use bubbl.us, or use any other mindmapping tool online. When you are finished, you will choose two of the three maps to use. (10 points/map)
  2. A draft for each one of the essays (A, and/or B, and/or C). Remember to practice all the two little tricks you've read and heard: voice and show, don't tell. (35 points/composition)

Once you are finished, post your essays to Google Docs and share them with me.

If you complete all the parts of this challenge, you will receive a total of 130 points.