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I am an English teacher, and  I am looking for topics for definition essays.Also, do...

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sharrons | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Adjunct Educator

Posted August 3, 2010 at 11:55 PM via web

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I am an English teacher, and  I am looking for topics for definition essays.

Also, do you know of any sites or books that discuss the definition essay?  It doesn't have to be free; I am willing to pay for it.

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akannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted August 4, 2010 at 12:27 AM (Answer #1)

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I found a couple of sites that might start the process.  They seem very rudimentary and the last one is a pay site for essays on extended definitions.  I think that you can run the gambit on definition essays.  It seems that one can take the concrete nouns or the abstract ones as points of commencement for essays.  I think that the latter would probably result in more fascinating to read essays.  Topics like having students define what justice means to them or what love means could be a start in the process.  I think that you have to set some parameters on how the definition process in writing should work as well as being able to present some sample ideas would help in the construction of such work.  It is going to be tougher for your more literal students to envision how this process looks and what it means to define something in terms of an essay.  They might posit the argument, "I know it when I see it," and this is where some level of clarification will be needed.  If you have older students, it might be an interesting discussion to engage in a sample definition process with something like "obscenity," in terms of what is the definition of obscenity.  Demonstrating the tendencies of a definition essay through discussion and discourse might be a good launch exercise in order to start the paper writing process.

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linda-allen | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

Posted August 4, 2010 at 1:01 AM (Answer #2)

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I think you are asking for prompts for expository essays. Purdue University's OWL (Online Writing Lab) defines this type of essay as

a genre of essay that requires the student to investigate an idea, evaluate evidence, expound on the idea, and set forth an argument concerning that idea in a clear and concise manner. This can be accomplished through comparison and contrast, definition, example, the analysis of cause and effect, etc.

That web site is a great resource for writing teachers. I've provided a link in the Sources section.

For essay prompts, if you do a Google or other search for "expository essay prompts," you'll get more results than you'll ever need. You need to narrow your search by grade level, which you haven't specified in your question. Do you want topics for middle school students or for high school students? Since you identify yourself as a teacher of 12th-grade English, I assume you want prompts for those students. Take a look at the other web sites linked in the Sources section.

I hope this helps you.

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