Advanced Composition

Master the Essay

Half Year Course – Fall; 90 minutes

This class aims to improve essay 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 entry-level college writing courses. Students aiming towards work or a career will hone their written communication skills through the essay form.

This course will help students attain understanding and competency in writing essays, focusing on expository essays with an introduction to the persuasive essay. Students will practice choosing appropriate topics, developing ideas, organizing their thoughts using graphic organizers or outlines, and conducting research. Before submitting a final paper, students will receive feedback on content, mechanics, and style at various checkpoints.

Since academic writing requires appropriately quoted, summarized, and cited sources, students will progressively learn and integrate the MLA 9th citation format throughout the semester.


  • This course requires at least 30 minutes, four to five days a week, for the student to keep up with the assignments.
  • Most weeks have at least one assignment due online on Friday.
  • Since class time 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 can read their essays in class or ask someone to read a paper aloud, but it is not mandatory.

Class participation is expected in exercises and group activities. Students are encouraged by reading and hearing each other’s work within small group class activities.


  • Ability to write a solid paragraph and previous experience writing an essay or short research paper.
  • Students who have not completed previous writing assignments for courses at the 10th-grade level or higher will find this class challenging. Parents should contact the instructor if they have questions.



  • 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)


  • MLA Handbook Ninth edition – ISBN: 978-1-60329-351-8; recommended for college-bound students anticipating many courses requiring research papers.

Required Resources:

  • A spelling and grammar checker, such as one available in most word processing programs. Websites with grammar explanations include, Grammarly Handbook,, or another authoritative site.
  • Student is able to upload and submit assignments online as .docx documents and .jpg or .pdf picture formats.

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)
  • A small pack of index cards
  • Two or three colors of medium-sized sticky notes

Additional Fee:

  • $30 fee for content handouts and in-class materials

Instructor: Carolyn Graessle

Revised: 01 July 2023