Grading Variables

Grading Variables


You earlier have learned that—

    • Old Information: A variable the audience probably already knows about OR is unlikely to be interested in.
    • New Information: A variable the audience probably does not know much about AND is likely to be interested in.

The Importance of a New Variable

Having at least one New variable is extremely important. It keeps you from boring the reader.

Grading Variables

How do you know if a variable is Old information or New information?

1. Use Common Sense

Common sense usually tells us what readers probably already know about. For example, compare the topics on the left to those on the right:

Old Information

New Information


Ice worms







2. Grade the Possible Variables

A second way to check if your variable is New is to grade potential ideas. The variable must have a grade of at least a B to be eligible for being a subject of a piece of writing.




Your intended audience probably knows quite a bit about the subject


Your intended audience probably doesn’t know much about the subject


Your intended audience probably doesn’t know much about the subject AND is highly likely to be intrigued by it.

To Use the Grading System:

    1. Brainstorm (including using a computer or book) a lot of possible ideas
    2. Grade the ideas
    3. Choose the A idea that—
      • Has quite a good amount of information about it
      • You would like to learn more about

The Relationship

Once you have chosen a New variable, you will have the two ends, or variables, of a Communication Barbell. 

Small Group or Class Activity

Choose 10 animals that have not appeared in any of the Clarity lessons so far.  You can use computers if you wish.  Use the grading system to decide on the best animal for an essay.

Individual or Small Group Activity

Complete the exercise:    Dominican Republic

Optional Activity