Reading and Writing Modes of Rhetorical Development: The Modes Project



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Reading and Writing Modes of Rhetorical Development:

The Modes Project


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PART I: Read and present an introduction of one of the nine modes to your peers via PowerPoint. (Group Activity)
Power Point: Use Patterns for College Writing to create a power point that explains your assigned mode.

Required Content

  • Provide a brief description of the mode

  • Define academic vocabulary associated with the mode

  • Describe the essential elements needed to effectively write in this mode

  • Analyze real life examples of this mode including: 1) a widely read literary (fiction) example, 2) a visual representation and 3) a non-fiction essay published in a periodical or newspaper. Include in your presentation a detailed explanation of how each example exemplifies the rhetorical mode.

  • Create a handout that will review the mode with/for your peers

Class Handout for PPT: Create a handout that your peers can refer to when reviewing your mode.

  • Generate a reader friendly page “cheat sheet” that explains the essential qualities of your rhetorical mode of writing. Use key information in your power point. Please remember to use effective delivery to make your information easy to access and read.


PART II: Read two additional essays from Patterns or from the web on seven modes (must include the required essays) and write a précis for each. (Individual and Class Activity)

  • Submit one sheet of paper per mode with both précis.

  • Clearly label the top of the page with the mode. (Please use the format of the model provided)

  • Type and submit via Googledocs, along with your hardcopy in class. Refer to Mrs. Bailin’s website for instructions on précis writing.

  • Every précis must be followed by an MLA style bibliography reference.

    • ONLY reference the following website - http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/747/01/

Required Readings from Patterns for PART TWO

  • Narration, “Shooting an Elephant” by George Orwell

  • Description, “Ground Zero” by Suzanne Berne

  • Exemplification, “Why Looks are the Last Bastion of Discrimination” by Deborah L. Rhode

  • Process, “My First Conk” by Malcom X p. 285

  • Cause and Effect, “A Peaceful Woman Explains Why She Carries a Gun” by Linda M. Hasselstrom p. 371

  • Comparison and Contrast, “ Why Chinese Mothers are Superior” by Amy Chua

  • Classification and Division, “The Dog Ate My Disk, and Other Tales of Woe” by CF Segal

  • Definition, “I Want a Wife” by Judy Brady

  • Argumentation, “Letter from Birmingham Jail” by Martin Luther King, Jr.

Suggested Readings

All of these essays are on one topic:

"The Way to Rainy Mountain" by N. Scott Momaday (Narration)

"A Modest Proposal" by Jonathon Swift (Argument/Persuasion)

"Mother Tongue” by Amy Tan (Classification/Division)

"Once More to the Lake" by E.B. White (Description)

"Notes of a Native Speaker" by Eric Liu (Definition

"Arranging a Marriage in India" by Serena Nanda (Process Analysis)

"Two Ways to Belong in America" by Bharati Mukherjee (Compare/Contrast)

"What Makes a Serial Killer" by La Donna Beaty (Cause & Effect)


More sample essays on a variety of topics:

“Words Left Unspoken” by Leah Hagar Cohen (Description)

“The Human Cost of an Illiterate Society” by Jonathan Kozol (Exemplification)

“Chinese Space, American Space” by Yi-Fu Tuan (Compare and Contrast)

“Traditional Mother and Father” Still the Best Choice for Children” by Tom Adkins (Argument)

“Laws Should Support Loving Households, Straight or Not” by Birtha Becky (Argument)

“How to Mark a Book” Mortimer Adler (Process Analysis)

“Beauty: When the Other Dancer is the Self” Alice Walker (Narration)

“Only Daughter” Amy Tan (Definition)

“How to Get Better Gas Mileage” Katharine Mieszkowski (Process Analysis)

“The Ways We Lie” Ericsson (Classification and Division)

“Just Walk on By: A Black Man Ponders His Power to Alter Public Space” by Brent Staples



PART III: Write five essays on the same topic, each in a different mode. You must select one mode that requires research. (Individual Activity)

  • Each paper should clearly demonstrate the distinct characteristics of the mode. Before writing each mode you should review the different chapters for tips on purpose, audience, strategies, and, in some cases, potential pitfalls. Remember to review class handouts.



  • Choose a topic that is well known and interesting to you and broad enough that you can readily adapt it to five out of nine different treatments (modes**):

  1. Narration 2) Description, 3) Exemplification, 4) Process, 5) Cause/Effect1, 6) Compare/Contrast, 7) Classification, and Division, 8) Definition, 9) Argument

  • Topics that have worked well for students in the past include: shopping, a favorite sport, school, friends, teenagers, grades, parents, teachers, TV, movies, reading, dating, music, holidays, fashion, presidential elections, politics, religion, vegetarianism, health, food, nature, etc.

  • Each paper should be approximately 500 words, labeled with the mode of development, double spaced, typed, submitted to turnitin.com, have a creative title, and a word count at the end.


1**Some modes of writing may require research which would necessitate the proper documentation of sources and a work cited page. Cause/Effect and Persuasion/Argument must be researched.

Originated by V. Stevenson 11/03; updated by S. Montgomery 1/12; updated by C. Bailin 10/13


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