Advanced Composition

Master the Essay

Half Year Course – Fall; 90 minutes

This course aims to improve writing and written communication skills for upper-level high school students preparing for college writing or aspiring towards an immediate career. Students heading to CSM or other colleges will be prepared for an entry-level college writing course. Students aiming towards work or a career will hone written communication skills using the essay form.

Students will attain understanding and competency in writing essays, focusing on expository essays with an introduction to the persuasive essay. The course teaches a five-stage writing process that practices choosing appropriate topics, developing ideas, organizing their thoughts using graphic organizers and outlines, conducting research, and editing their writing.

Students will regularly share their ideas and writing work in small group activities. The instructor will provide feedback on content, mechanics, and style at various checkpoints in the five-stage writing process.

Since academic writing requires appropriately quoted, summarized, and cited sources, students will progressively learn and integrate the MLA 9th citation format and a process to avoid plagiarism.



  • This course requires at least 30 minutes, four to five days a week, for the student to keep up with the assignments.
  • Most weeks include multiple assignments, including some due midweek, i.e., Thursday, Friday, or Monday.
  • Since class is devoted to instruction and practice activities, most of the student’s writing work must occur at home.
  • FAQ – Will students be required to read aloud or write on the board during class? Students will have the opportunity to read completed essays aloud to the class for extra credit, but it is not mandatory.


  • By July 1, submit a short writing sample demonstrating readiness for this course. Email Mrs. Graessle at to receive step-by-step instructions for the Student Writing Sample prompt and Word document template.
  • Recommended: Completion of a 10th grade level writing course or equivalent with a C or better. (10th grade, C-level writing means competent writing, including completion of a multi-paragraph report or narrative/story focusing on a single topic.)
  • Students can create a double-spaced, typed document in Microsoft Word.


  • MLA the Easy Way: Updated for the 9th Edition by Peggy M. Houghton and Timorthy J Houghton – ISBN: 978-17330079-6-2 (~$7.95 at Amazon)

Required Resources:

  • Students will upload and submit assignments online using their CCT student ThinkWave account. (Mrs. Graessle will teach you how to do this in class.
  • Ability to PRINT assignments each week for use in class.
  • Access to the Kahoot website via laptop or phone for review activities

Required Materials:

  • 1” to 1.5” 3-ring binder with six tabs
  • 10-20 pieces of lined paper in the binder
  • Blue/black ink pen
  • Set of 6 color highlighters (yellow, pink, blue, green, orange, purple)
  • Two or three colors of medium-sized sticky notes
  • Optional: A laptop computer, as students will occasionally share screens for demonstrations or short in-class activities

Additional Fee: $30 fee for instructional and in-class handouts

Other: While the pace of this class is rigorous, even students who find writing challenging will earn an A if they submit assignments on time and complete them to the best of their ability.

Students need not be “good writers” or “like writing” to succeed in this class. I teach a structured process to build confidence in writing. Regardless of your current writing level, diligent students will grow and mature their writing ability by the end of the semester.

Instructor: Carolyn Graessle