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500 Word This I Believe Essay

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This I Believe... what do YOU believe???

Based on a 1950’s radio program of the same name, Americans from all walks of life share the personal philosophies and core values that guide their daily lives through National Public Radio's "This I Believe." (npr.org) We will join in with this decades-old program to share what we believe. What do you believe? In your heart of hearts, when you strip away the outer husk, what do you truly believe? What could you possibly write about that would express what you believe...?
Tell a story: Be specific. Take your belief out of the ether and ground it in the events of your life. Consider moments when belief was formed or tested or changed. Think of your own experience, school, church and family, and tell of the things you know that no one else does. Your story need not be heart-warming or gut-wrenching—it can even be funny—but it should be real. Make sure your story ties to the essence of your daily life philosophy and the shaping of your beliefs.
Be brief: Your statement should be between 350 and 500 words. That’s about three minutes when read aloud at your natural pace. Name your belief: If you can’t name it in a sentence or two, your essay might not be about belief. Also, rather than writing a list, consider focusing on one core belief, because three minutes is a very short time.
Be positive: Please avoid preaching or editorializing. Tell us what you do believe, not what you don’t believe. Avoid speaking in the editorial “we.” Make your essay about you; speak in the first person.
Be personal: Write in words and phrases that are comfortable for you to speak. We recommend you read your essay aloud to yourself several times, and each time edit it and simplify it until you find the words, tone, and story that truly echo your belief and the way you speak. In introducing the original series, host Edward R. Murrow said, “Never has the need for personal philosophies of this kind been so urgent.”We would argue that the need is as great now as it was 50 years ago. NPR is eager for your contribution. Try reading or listening to these essays by children, teens, and adults as they express what they believe.
Sample Essays
Race … “Being Content with Myself”  “Why don’t you act black? Since my middle school years, I’ve been asked this question more than any other… and from Jackie Robinson "Free Minds and Hearts at Work."
Sports… “The Freedom of Baseball” “I believe in baseball. I believe in the strength it takes to…”
Duty ... "A Duty to Family, Heritage, and Country" "I am a good child, obendient. I grew up in China, a country where education is ..."
Kindergarten beliefs ... "Thirty Things I Believe" ... written by a kindergartenerThe lessons of poverty ... "Finding the Flexibility to Survive"Addiction… “The Choice to be Stronger”  A time when "what doesn't kill you will make you stronger' has unintended meaning...

Essay Requirements  Honors: 350 to 500 words, one-inch margins, TNR (Times New Roman), double spaced, header formatted with three lines of information aligned to the right. The header is to include these lines: 1. First and last name 2. Date 3. Course name. 4. Assignment
Unit Writing Lessons
1. Discussion about essays vs. memoirs vs. personal narratives
2. Terms review: purpose, tone, audience,  narrator, point of view, figurative language, imagery, sentence variety, flow, transitions, theme, subjective vs. objective.
3. What do you think? Do you "agree" or "disagree" with the statements from our gallery walk.
4. We will create webs for our brainstorming.
5. We will then add structure and sequence to our ideas by creating an outline or ordering our web items.
6. We will then review what a successful lead/hook is and how to write an effective lead.
7.  We will discuss the importance of strong word choices and transitions.
8. We will then write our rough draft.

9. We will then edit and proofread our drafts.
120. We will then make any needed changes and submit a final draft.


This I Believe
Essay-Writing Tips

Tell a story: Be specific. Take your belief out of the ether and ground it in the events of
your life. Consider moments when belief was formed or tested or changed. Think of your
own experience, work and family, and tell of the things you know that no one else does.
Your story need not be heart-warming or gut-wrenching – it can even be funny – but it
should be real. Make sure your story ties to the essence of your daily life philosophy and
the shaping of your beliefs.
Be brief: Your statement should be between 400 and 500 words. That’s about three to four
minutes when read aloud at your natural pace.
Name your belief: If you can’t name it in a sentence or two, your essay might not be
about belief. Also, rather than writing a list, consider focusing on a core belief, because
a few minutes is a very short time.
Be positive: Please avoid preaching or editorializing. Tell us what you do believe, not
what you don’t believe. Avoid speaking in the editorial “we.” Make your essay about
you; speak in the first person.
Be personal: This is radio. Write in words and phrases that are comfortable for you to
speak. We recommend you read your essay aloud to yourself several times, and each
time edit it and simplify it until you find the words, tone and story that truly echo your
belief and the way you speak.
Tips from the original series on National Public Radio: It may help you in formulating your credo if we tell you also what we do not want. We do not want a sermon, religious or lay; we do not want editorializing or sectarianism or
'finger-pointing.' We do not even want your views on the American way of life, or
democracy or free enterprise. These are important but for another occasion. We want to
know what you live by. And we want it terms of 'I,' not the editorial 'We.' But we do ask you to confine yourself to affirmatives: This means refraining from saying what you do not believe.


The Five Parts to your efforts:
1. Prewriting activities 
2. Brainstorming web
3. Ordered web or outline
4. Edited/proofread rough draft
5. Final draft



“This I Believe” ESSAY

Excerpt of Original Invitation from 'This I Believe':

This invites you to make a very great contribution: nothing less than a statement of your personal beliefs, of the values which rule your thought and action. Your essay should be about three minutes in length when read aloud, written in a style as you yourself speak, and total no more than 500 words.

We know this is a tough job. What we want is so intimate that no one can write it for you. You must write it yourself, in the language most natural to you. We ask you to write in your own words…. You may even find that it takes a request like this for you to reveal some of your own beliefs to yourself. If you set them down they may become of untold meaning to others.

We would like you to tell not only what you believe, but how you reached your beliefs, and if they have grown, what made them grow. This necessarily must be highly personal. That is what we anticipate and want.

It may help you in formulating your credo if we tell you also what we do not want. We do not want a sermon, religious or lay; we do not want editorializing or sectarianism or 'finger-pointing.' We do not even want your views on the American way of life, or democracy or free enterprise. These are important but for another occasion. We want to know what you live by. And we want it in terms of 'I,' not the editorial 'We.'

Although this program is designed to express beliefs, it is not a religious program and is not concerned with any religious form whatever. Most of our guests express belief in a Supreme Being, and set forth the importance to them of that belief. However, that is your decision, since it is your belief which we solicit.

But we do ask you to confine yourself to affirmatives: This means refraining from saying what you do not believe. Your beliefs may well have grown in clarity to you by a process of elimination and rejection, but for our part, we must avoid negative statements lest we become a medium for the criticism of beliefs, which is the very opposite of our purpose.

We are sure the statement we ask from you can have wide and lasting influence. Never has the need for personal philosophies of this kind been so urgent. Your belief, simply and sincerely spoken, is sure to stimulate and help those who hear it. We are confident it will enrich them. May we have your contribution?

Adapted from the invitation sent to essayists featured in the original 'This I Believe' series. Excerpted from 'This I Believe 2,' copyright © 1954 by Help, Inc.

Directions:Since this course focuses on learning about cultural beliefs, values, and behaviors of people in various places and times, I would like for you to consider your deepest beliefs and how they shape your values and behaviors.

  • Write a personal essay of no fewer than 300 words and no more than 500 words.
  • Include word count.
  • Your finished essay should be replete with an original title, credo, introduction, support for thesis, and conclusion.

Preparation:

  • Listen to and/or read the following 5 minute Edward R. Murrow essay(click here) introducing the “This I Believe” essay project launched in 1951.
  • Think about the importance of storytelling, what your purpose and audience is, and what style and tone best suit your topic.

Contemplation:

  • Take note of why Murrow began the project, the historical context of this project, and what he says to do and what not to do.
  • Write a credo of your deepest belief.
  • Here are some credos from the “This I Believe” website to give you an idea of what I’m looking for:

I believe in stories. Stories that live and breathe.Stories that are fruitful and multiply.That create stories within stories. Bring into being stories of my own. I want stories that provoke a powerful response be it tears, laughter, or thought. I desire a story to have a gravity of its own. If it’s not worth telling more than once, it’s not worth telling. It should continue to pull me back again and again . . .

* * *

I believe that music is a force that stands and beckons the souls of humans to step out of their secret places. I have seen the power of a guitar’s voice as it draws out the souls of strangers in a crowd from under their superficiality and holds them spellbound as one. I have felt an overwhelming sense of unity fall over a huge crowd of people when the insightful artist reveals his sorrow, his frustration, or his overwhelming joy with a melody.

I believe in closed eyes and dim lighting, in tapping feet, concert halls, and heads carried up and down by the rolling swells of a melody. . .

* * *

I believe in the wisdom of the ages. My happiest place was sitting on my grandmother’s counter, while she was cooking, trying to memorize her cornbread recipe. I would sit on her powder blue carpet and run my fingers over the hand stitches of her many old quilts, while the colored glass hummingbird feeders on her porch made patches of purple and green move slowly around her living room. Her wisdom slipped by so many, but I drank it in like sunlight. . .


Creation:

  • Write your own “This I Believe” essay.This website is designed to help you craft this essay: http://thisibelieve.org/essaywritingtips.html
  • You may complete the assignment in one of the two following ways:
    • Adhere to the guidelines provided for this essay project by Murrow in the following invitation to write a “This I Believe” essay
    • or your may choose the creative option and create your 300-500 word essay formatted as spoken word poetry or as song lyrics for any genre.
    • You may receive a 10 point bonus for creating a photo essay using photographs you took and images that illustrate your points.
      • Remember that you must include proper MLA citation for any and all work that is not your own.
  • Click here to read a former student's exceptional "This I Believe" essay that I provide as inspiration for your own.
    Click here to read an example of a student who chose to write the creative "This I Believe" essay.
    Click here for an example of Paul Farmer's "This I Believe" photoessay.

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