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Social Studies: Letter Writing (Gov)

Guides for American History, Government, & Electives

Letter Writing

Remember that your Letter should follow formal business conventions.  Here are some resources to help you compose a formal business letter.

Crediting Sources

Letters  do not normally require an included list of Works Cited. However, it is always good writing practice to clearly identify the thoughts, work, ideas, information, etc. that you are referencing in your letter, even without an attached Works Cited.

Remember:  Citation makes you more credible by demonstrating that you are well read on the issue.  It also helps your audience understand where you are coming from, and could also give them additional options to investigate (or have their staff investigate).

Note:  Your personal anecdotes and observations are important, as this letter is expressing your own views, and Pathos can be Persuasive.  Just remember that strong Arguments [Logos] require strong factual information/evidence to support them.  And Ethos really wants you to use Argument to be Persuasive.

Reminders on how to Cite for an Annotated Bibliography/Works Cited

  • If you need a tool to help you format a citation, use OSLIS Citation Maker
  • Library Databases have pre-formatted MLA 8 citations
  • Your Letter is NOT in MLA format: but you still need to clearly identify where your stats and information come from, but you will not be using Parenthetical Citation, or including a Works Cited as part of the Letter.  How will you make sure your representative/official can double check you?
  • You will have a separate Annotated Works Cited that shows your Teacher where you got your information.  Your annotation should include Why you feel the source is reliable, What you used from the source, and How that information supported your argument.
  • Check the "Citations & Plagiarism" tab for help with citing, OR  ask Mr. Netzel for help (he will happily check citations if you "share" your annotated Works Cited and give him "comment" privileges)

Ask Mr. Netzel and FAQ

If you have a specific Question or would like Research Help from Mr. Netzel, you can submit a request here.  First, check the FAQ to see if your question has already been asked or answered (even if it hasn't other answers may give you tips). Once you've looked at the FAQ, you can submit a question via the form.  Please give him at least 24 hours to look at the question.

Questions like: 

"Where should I look for information on Legislation about Stem Cell Research at a Federal Level?"  or

"Where can I find information on how/if Stem Cell Research is funded at the Federal Level?" 

are useful questions.

General Resources

Library Databases

Where do you need to go to get passwords? Hint: it's CANVAS.

Mr. Netzel's tried to help you understand why and how to use these resources many times in your CCHS Career.

Gale Library Databases

You've learned about these resources many times in your High School Career.  Opposing Viewpoints and Global Issues Resource Center are ideal places to find issue information. Your task is to use their features to narrow down to local information if you can (Newspapers), or to identify possible solutions.

Opposing Viewpoints and Global Issues 

 

News Sources

Reminder that you can access many news sources via This "World News Sources" Page on the Social Studies libguide.   Newspapers are often best to find examples of local-level responses.

Note that many online newspapers do NOT offer free access to all of their articles.  If you identify an article of interest, you might check the library's Newspaper database to see if they provide access:  note the name of the paper, the author, the date it was written, and the title, as all are avenues you can search for in the databases.  Also note that Online Edition articles aren't always the same title or content in the print editions.

Topic Specific Resources

Some letter topics are very common. Not every possible topic will be addressed here, but use the examples as a model for the kinds of sites and sources that could be of value to any topic.

A few tips...

  • Look for Non-profits working on your issue. Do they track current legislation?    Be sure to check up on the quality of the non-profit:  not all ".orgs" are reliable.
  • You can write to encourage support of current legislation if it is in your jurisdiction  OR use examples of current legislation as an model of how would like your representation to act on the issue.

Homelessness:  A sample research process

Here are a series of links to sources on the topic of Homelessness  These don't represent all there is to know, but instead demonstrate one possible search path to become more informed about Homelessness.   In the "description" for each link, you will find some rationale as to why this source was listed or how it was discovered or what it's potential use is.   If you follow this model multiple times, and do additional searches, then you've Re-Searched.

 

Research Your Representation

It is a good idea to know your Elected Official's views and see their voting record (or other track record) in relationship to your issue. This will make you sound more informed (because you will BE more informed), and intersted in that official's work. This will increase your credibiity.

Earlier in the year you had practice identifying your Federal and State representation using Congress.gov, and locating information on bills and other professional action your representatives had taken using the Congressional Record.  See HERE for the guide to that assignment.

How can you apply those skills to this assignment?

Examples of Sites that might help you find more information on your Elected Representation and their political action.

This list is not exhaustive, but can act as a starting point to help you in discovery.