This file contains a sequence of seven related essays from Jelani Cobb of The New Yorker. The topic, a current event that has dominated much of the public discourse lately, is the recently-completed George Zimmerman trial.
Cobb clearly has a point in mind while writing these pieces, even though he could not be certain how the trial in question would end. That in and of itself does not make his writing inappropriate for his form; in fact, you should have some idea of what you're trying to say while you write. It's become easy to dismiss targeted writing as "biased," but that criticism only works if the author's focus depends on him/her ignoring evidence they should have included. That, in fact, is why biased writing deserves criticism - because it leaves out information we deserved to know and, in doing so, intentionally misleads us - and why focused writing is worthy of praise. As a reader, you must ask yourself not whether the author is "biased," but whether they are properly informing you (and whether they're honest regarding their perspective - these essays are quite clearly commentary, not reportage). As a writer, you must ask yourself the reverse of each question - whether your perspective is evident, and whether you have provided your readers with the proper evidence.
Once you're done reading these, I want you to analyze these writings from an expository writer's perspective. What approaches and appeals does Cobb use? Does he use them effectively? What evidence does he include, and how does he include it? How does his structure work, both within each essay and across the whole seven-essay sequence? I want you, while reading these, to be able to discuss them with me from the perspective of a student, not simply a reader.
Next, here are the two Common Core rubrics we examined last Thursday: Informative and Argument. Using each rubric, assess Cobb's work. Explain how he would score in each category, and cite specific lines or passages that show why.
Finally, using a current event of your choice, I'd like you to write a series of expository pieces, similar to Cobb's sequence. This means starting at the beginning of your event and finishing by reflecting on its end, so events that span a bit of time are probably best. You are explaining what's going on to people who wouldn't know - so be informative! - but also remember that you are making a point about the event in question.