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Personal Narrative Assignment

This I Believe Essay
Instructions & Guidelines

A belief is trust, faith or confidence in someone or something. Beliefs are elements in our world that drive,
motivate and cultivate the actions of individuals. One can believe in someone or something for many different
reasons; those reasons may be religious, cultural, social or economic. As a college student, you are continually
engaged in conversations about social, political and economic change. To fully be an agent of change, you
must establish a solid foundation of beliefs.

Context: This Personal Narrative assignment will be used in a Freshman Composition course as the first
assigned writing piece. Prior to this assignment, students will have had lessons on characteristics of a personal
narrative, lessons on voice, tone, point of view and how to effectively incorporate imagery in writing.

Student Objectives:
Students will recall specific events, emotions, and impact of life experiences.
Students will demonstrate their ability to maintain a consistent tone and focus throughout their
Students will demonstrate their ability to produce clear and coherent writing that includes specific and
solid details and vivid imagery.

Purpose: To write a personal narrative essay that illustrates a belief that shapes your daily life. What is a
personal narrative? A personal narrative is an essay about a personal experience usually writing in first person.
The essay should be written to have an emotional impact on the reader.

Audience: You will record a podcast of yourself reading your essay. Your podcast will be posted to the NPR
website for national and international ears. Additionally, you will present your essay to your class.

Focus: Beliefs are not necessarily unique to you, but the way you present your belief should be personalized.
Your belief statement should state your belief and the reasons why you believe. Your reasons will serve as
your body paragraphs for the essay. Your goal is to leave the reader with a clear sense of your beliefs.

Style: This is a rather short essay, so you will to be concise and to the point in your writing. You should choose
only the most important and most specific details to describe what you believe. You may begin your paper
with a hook that grabs your readers attention. Your hook can be a sound, a question, a personal story or
dialogue. Think about what style would best reflect your own personality and best reflect the belief you chose.
Remember, this is not a lecture to your audience.

Process: To start, Rush Write about aspects of your daily life.

What are common occurrences in your life?
What are your guiding principles?
What important event or person in your life shaped a strong belief in you?

After you have chosen one belief to focus on, you will need to bring attention to a personal story that
demonstrates this belief and how you live by it.

Examples of Belief Statements:

I believe that challenges are good.
I believe all people are morally good.

Production: This essay must be two pages, formatted in the 8th MLA edition. It must also meet these
requirements: 12-point font, doubled-spaced, Times New Roman, one-inch margins all around. Please include
an original title in the center at the top of the essay.

Your essay must include the following

A belief statement that explains your belief and serves as a guide for your essay. I believe that I
believe in
You tell a story using specific and solid details to show how this belief guides your daily living.
Your essay is personal and exclusive to you and you express this by using your own voice.
You present your belief, story and ideas in a well-organized fashion. Your thoughts are fully developed
and effective.
Your essay is at least two pages long.
You have submitted a draft for peer review, instructor conference and have checked carefully for
grammatical errors.

Characteristics to Use in Your This I Believe (Personal Narrative) Essay:

First Person Point of View
Imagery and Details

These guidelines listed are from the This I Believe webpage. Please keep these guidelines near as you start
constructing your piece.

Tell a story: Be specific. Take your belief out of the ether and ground it in the events of your life. Consider moments
when belief was formed or tested or changed. Think of your own experience, work, and family, and tell of the things you
know that no one else does. Your story need not be heart-warming or gut-wrenchingit can even be funnybut it
should be real. Make sure your story ties to the essence of your daily life philosophy and the shaping of your beliefs.

Name your belief: If you can't name it in a sentence or two, your essay might not be about belief. Also, rather than
writing a list, consider focusing on one core belief, because three minutes is a very short time. Be positive: Please avoid
preaching or editorializing. Tell us what you do believe, not what you don't believe. Avoid speaking in the editorial "we."
Make your essay about you; speak in the first person.

Be personal: Write in words and phrases that are comfortable for you to speak. We recommend you read your essay
aloud to yourself several times, and each time edit it and simplify it until you find the words, tone, and story that truly
echo your belief and the way you speak.

Questions to consider in the planning of your draft

What is my belief? Why is it important?
Who is my audience?
What does my audience already know?

What is my position?
How should I write my introduction to grab my readers attention?

Revision: Revision is an important step in the writing process which is often skipped by students. You should
begin the revision step with a self-review in which you can use the following questions to evaluate your
personal narrative. These questions should help you to evaluate your writing and identify where you need to
refocus or revise:
Does your essay tell a story? What is the story?
Is your belief clearly stated in a sentence of two? What is the belief?
Does your essay have sufficient details and imagery? Provide textual evidence.
Does the essay meet the list of characteristics for a personal narrative?

Assessment: Student essays will be assessed using the rubric below.

Essay Requirement: Exceeds Expectations Meets Expectations Below Expectations Not attempted
(20 points) (15 points) (10 points) (0 points)

Content 2-page essay has a 2-page essay has a Less than required Essay does not meet page
strong personal belief stated personal belief page count. Essay length requirement and
with clear personal with personal does not clearly does not provide even a
examples to support examples so support state its purpose weak belief with
your purpose your purpose. Belief and/or provide examples
and examples could be necessary examples
more clear.
Organization Essay is organized Essay is organized and Essay is somewhat Essay is not organized;
and well-planned planned uses some organized and unclear introduction; no
with transitions transitions between somewhat planned connection between
between introduction, support and uses few introduction, support and
introduction, support and conclusion transitions between conclusion
and conclusion introduction,
support and
Language Essay includes several Essay provides some Essay provides few There were no examples
examples of imagery examples of imagery examples of imagery of imagery, figurative
that help illustrate that help to illustrate that help to language
the event, emotions the event, emotions illustrate the event,
and values of the and values of the essay emotions and values
essay of the essay
Conventions/Editing Essay was edited and Essay includes Essay was not edited Essay was not edited and
including notes from appropriate notes, but and errors distract unable to read.
peer review and some errors are still from the essay
instructor conference present

Podcast Recording The speaker reads in The speaker speaks The speaker speaks Podcast not attempted
a calm voice, calmly, narrator may in a rushed manner,
enunciation is clear pause. stumbles over
and the narration is words.
Grading Scale 90-100 (A), 80-89 (B), 70-79 (C), 60-69 (D), 59 below (F)

Assignment Timeline

Tuesday, October 9 Assignment Instructions & Guidelines handout given and reviewed in class.

Monday, October 16 Monday, October 23 Instructor Conferences

- Sign up for a time on the sign-up sheet passed around during class.
- Conference with the instructor will last for approximately 30 minutes. Please plan to stay the entire 30 minutes.
There will be point reduction in the final grade for arriving late or leaving early from the conference.
- Be on time and prepared for your conference.
- When you come for your conference please have the following: completed essay planning document, at least
three paragraphs written. Those who fail to adhere to these requirements will receive a zero for the conference
point of the grade.

Thursday, October 25 Peer Review

- Please bring a completed draft to class. All students will participate in a peer review.
- Please complete the Peer Review form as you participate in the peer review session.

Tuesday, October 31 Final Submission

- Bring a copy of your completed, edited draft to class on Tuesday, October 31.
- Submit an electronic copy of your completed, edited draft to the link on our courses Blackboard page.

Tuesday, November 6 Podcast due

- Submit your podcast to the link on the courses Blackboard page.

This I Believe (Personal Narrative) Essay

Planning Document

Title of Essay:

What is your belief? I believe

How did you come to this belief? Identify three events that led you to this belief. Be specific and use details:



What is your introduction plan? What is your hook?

How has your belief had a positive impact on your life or on the lives of those around you? Explain or tell a story why
it was positive. OR tell how not following this belief has had a negative impact on your life or on the lives of those
around you.

What lesson(s) lessons have you learned by practicing your belief? Be very specific! How do you incorporate this
belief into your daily living? Give at least two examples from your life that demonstrate your belief.



Are there any examples from the real-world that support your belief? Can you point to anyone else (family member,
friend, sibling, celebrity) who shares your belief? When and how have you seen this person carrying out his belief?
Again, be very specific in your example and provide concrete detail that supports your statement.

Why should your audience care about your belief? What can your readers learn from your belief?