What is a reader’s notes ?
One way to become a better writer is to become a more active, engaged reader. With reader’s notes, the goal is to become more aware of the process of building meaning through words. The notes are a way to think critically and explore and expand upon ideas.
Please make Reader’s Notes responding to each of the articles assigned throughout the course of the semester. Use the following two-step process with each article:
Active Reading: If you print out the article you can highlight or underline and write notes in the margins. You may want to use a straight line underlining the things you find interesting or important and a wavy line underlining the things that you find unclear or problematic. If you are reading from a computer screen you may need to devise another method for highlighting noteworthy segments (e.g. green ) for things you find interesting and meaningful, yellow for things you find problematic or confusing) Reflections: Jot down your observations and questions, etc. Please note: This is not meant to be a summary of facts or information, but a way to build comprehension, generate new ideas, notice your thought processes, and discover your reactions to different modes of written expression. You may want toask yourself:
§? What is being expressed?
Think critically; remember that authors choose what to focus on and what to
downplay or leave out. The writing may reveal a particular perspective or even a bias.
§? How does the author express it?
§? What do I think? Do I Agree? Disagree?
§? Does the content of the article cause me to think in a new way?
§? How am I reacting to the way it is written?
§? Is it expressed effectively? If so, how? If not, what changes might I suggest to the author? How might I discuss this subject differently?
Take 10 – 15 minutes minimum to do this.
Each time you record your responses to a specific reading, please date your writing and refer to thearticle. Be sure to keep all of your written work; you will turn in the notes at the end of the semester with your portfolio. Your grade for this project will be based on your effort and engagement with the readings,rather than “correctness” of ideas, style or usage.
Tip: Go beyond simply underlining the printed article and writing a few words in the margins.
Treat this as you do your free writing exercises, yet with the article as the subject and the questions above as the starting points for your thoughts.
Writer-educators Peter Elbow and Pat Belanoff’s Dialectical Notes serve as inspiration for this exercise.
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