Yosemite at sunrise

Dear America Short Papers

Dear America: Letters of Hope, Habitat, Defiance, and Democracy

Here’s how to write a short paper. First, do the reading from Dear America. Then you have to choose what your response to their reading will look like.

Your response could include:

  • Questions for class discussion
  • Your opinion on a topic the writer brought up
  • A summary of what you read
  • Observations about what you read
  • A list of topics you think the piece covered
  • Questions you might have for the author
  • An interesting tangent inspired by the piece
  • Something you researched about the author
  • Something you researched about the topic

You could:

  • Share a relevant experience from your life
  • Share relevant information from other courses you’re taking
  • Share insights you had while reading
  • Connect what you read to a topic we discussed in class
  • Explore a worthwhile tangent
  • Ask questions about things you didn’t understand in the reading
  • Critique the text
  • Analyze some part of the text that seemed interesting
  • Relate the reading to current events
  • Relate the reading to environmental issues

Most of the time your response will be a full page of writing, done on a computer. Single-space the lines, but double-space between paragraphs.

There are exceptions to this, of course. Sometimes your response might be a work of art. Or you might want to write your own Letter to America.


Special thanks to Janine DeBaise, Terrain.org education editor, for assembling these resources.

Terrain.org is the world’s first online journal of place, publishing a rich mix of literature, artwork, case studies, and more since 1997.