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2.3: After Reading Strategies

  • Page ID
    225892
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    Creating Text-Based Questions

    WHAT ARE DISCUSSION QUESTIONS?

    After you have finished reading a text, whether it is an article, a chapter, or an entire book, you can pose open-ended questions based on what you have read. Open-ended means that the questions do not have only one answer and are not factual questions, but instead they invite discussion and multiple opinions.

    WHY USE THEM?

    Discussion questions are useful in helping readers explore different levels of meaning and interpretation in a text. Because there isn’t one answer, discussion questions trigger many different angles and perspectives, promoting critical thinking and enhancing your engagement with the subject matter. Also, answering good, complex questions can lead to strong and interesting thesis statements.

    HOW DO I CREATE THEM?

    • Start by reviewing the text you have just read, using your annotation and marginal notes as well as any notes you may have from classroom activities or from your own reading.
    • Next, focusing on the main ideas and events in the text, think about what you don’t know but would like to understand better and/or what you have an idea or a hunch about, but would like to explore further.
    • Then, start writing a series of questions that do not have one answer and are open-ended. Make sure you are not asking factual questions; make sure they are questions that inspire more than one perspective or opinion to answer.
    • Use these words to begin your questions: Why, How, What, If. You can begin a question with Who if there can be more than one answer.
    • You can use these questions to deepen your own understanding by thinking about the way you would answer them. You can share them with other students in the class in pairs or in groups.
    Example

    Here are some examples of open-ended discussion questions based on Chapter VII in Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass:

    Why didn’t Fredrick Douglass accept his role as a slave and stop trying to learn to read and write?

    How did Frederick Douglass create changes in his life?

    If Fredrick Douglass hadn’t read Sheridan, would he have been a different person?

    What makes a person decide to break out of a system that is oppressing him/her?

    Who do you think was the most influential person in Douglass’ life?

    WHAT ARE QUESTIONING CIRCLES?

    Questioning circles are used to create complex, open-ended questions that involve different levels of critical thinking.

    WHY USE QUESTIONING CIRCLES?

    When discussing a text/topic or when preparing to write an essay, beginning with a question has several advantages:

    1. Good questions lead to rich discussions that can strengthen understanding of a text/topic.
    2. Questions require answers. Answering questions with opinion forms thesis statements and leads you to look for evidence which is necessary to prove a thesis.
    3. A clear open-ended question calls for real investigation and thinking. Asking a question with no direct answer makes research and writing more meaningful to you and your audience.

    HOW DO YOU CREATE THEM?

    There are 3 areas to include when forming questions. Each of these areas is represented by a circle:

    1. Subject-Text: represents the subject and/or text(s) under discussion or questioning
    2. Personal reality: represents the individual’s experiences, values and ideas
    3. External reality: represents the “world”: the experience, history, and concepts of larger society

    clipboard_e4d1a9456c7f23832a76d020ff4cc99f1.png

    While each circle represents a different area of cognition, the circles overlap—as does knowledge—and are not ordered. Further, in one area where all three circles intersect lies the union of the subject being explored, the individual’s response and experience, and the experience of others. The intersection of the three circles, the area we term “Dense,” contains the most significant (higher-order) questions.

    Example

    Using The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

    Single Questions

    Subject-Text: What does Huck say when he decides not to turn Jim into the authorities?
    Personal reality: When would you support a friend when everyone else thought s/he was wrong?
    External reality: What was the responsibility of people who found runaway slaves?

    Double Questions

    Subject-Text/ Personal reality: Would you, like Huck, break the law for a friend?
    Personal reality/External reality: Given the social and political circumstances in the U.S during slavery, to what extent would you have gone against the law?
    Subject-Text /External reality: What were the issues during that time which caused both Huck’s and Jim’s action to be viewed as wrong?

    Dense Question

    Subject-Text/Personal reality/External reality: When do you think it is right to go against social and/or political rules as Huck did when he refused to turn Jim in to the authorities and what issues of morality should be considered?

    Using Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass

    Single Questions

    Subject-Text: What strategies did Douglass use after he was forbidden to read?
    Personal reality: Do you think that educating someone can make them dangerous?
    External reality: When else has denial of education been used to control people?

    Double Questions

    Subject-Text/ Personal reality: Would you, like Douglass, use the same methods to get your freedom?
    Personal reality/External reality: Do you think that education in all circumstances is a positive thing or can it in some cases lead to a less stable society?
    Subject-Text /External reality: Why did Douglass risk so much to learn to read and why did slave owners forbid slaves to read?

    Dense Question

    Subject-Text/Personal reality/External reality: Why was Douglass so determined to learn to read and how do you think reading and education connect to self-realization and breaking free from societal control?

    Exercise

    I. IN-CLASS EXERCISE: In groups, on a separate sheet of paper, create ONE question type for each category but only write the question down and do not state what question type it is.

    Single question:

    (Subject-text or personal reality or external reality)

    Double question:

    (subject-text/personal reality or personal reality/external reality or subject-text/external reality)

    Dense question:

    (subject-text/personal reality/external reality)

    II. When you are finished, pass your questions to another group for them to:

    (1) Guess the category type (i.e. if it’s a single question which area does it address?
    Subject-text? Personal? External? Or if it’s double, which two areas does it blend?)

    (2) The group will then answer your questions and your group will answer the
    questions from another group.

    (3) Take notes of good questions and answers as you can use these to create your own
    thesis on the topic.

    Understanding a Text

    WHAT IS MAPPING/CLUSTERING?

    Mapping/clustering is a visual system of condensing ideas after you read a text to show relationships and importance. A map/cluster is a diagram of the major points in a text along with their significant sub-points that support a topic.

    WHY MAP/CLUSTER A TEXT?

    Mapping/clustering offers a visual organization that appeals to learners with a preference for spatial representation, as opposed to the linear mode offered by other strategies, such as outlining and note-taking. The purpose of mapping/clustering as an organizing strategy is to improve memory by grouping material in a highly visual way. A map/cluster provides a quick overview of an article or a chapter.

    HOW DO I MAP/CLUSTER FOR A TEXT?

    1. Draw a large circle in the middle of a page and in it write the subject or topic of the material.
    2. Draw medium circles for each main supporting point that proves or illustrates the topic, and connect these circles to the central circle.

    Draw small circles for the significant evidence and analysis that prove each supporting point, and connect these circles to their related supporting point. The number of details you include will depend on the material and your purpose.

    clipboard_ea4e0fff814ae3d1bbe50127f35714882.png

    WHAT IS A SUMMARY OF A TEXT?

    A summary is a brief, concise statement in your own words of a text's thesis and major ideas. A summary can possibly include a few significant supporting details. The first one or two sentences should state the thesis, and subsequent sentences should incorporate the major ideas and, when appropriate, the significant details.

    WHY SUMMARIZE A TEXT?

    Learning to summarize a text helps you to grasp its meaning, recognize its thesis and to distinguish important details from less essential details. It also helps you to practice writing in a concise and focused way.

    HOW DO I CREATE A SUMMARY?

    • Establish a purpose for your summary; your purpose will determine which details are important enough to include.
    • Write in paragraph form.
    • The first sentence should include the title and the author
    • The first sentence should also include the author's thesis or controlling idea. Try to limit your restatement of the thesis to one sentence, two at the most. Then add the ideas that lend insight or support to the thesis.
    • Use appropriate transitional words and phrases to show relationships between ideas (i.e., compare/contrast words such as but, though, however…).
    • Delete irrelevant or repeated information in your summary.
    • Delete your personal opinion; summaries are only the author's ideas.
    • Review your summary to make sure you haven’t included too many details and that your summary is focused and brief.

    WHAT ARE ORGANIZATIONAL CHARTS?

    An organizational chart helps readers to organize information from texts like concepts, key terms, characters, and/or arguments. They can also be used to compare ideas from multiple texts.

    WHY ARE THEY IMPORTANT?

    Organizational charts can help readers synthesize information, get better overviews of complex material, see thematic connections between texts, and they are excellent study guides.

    HOW DO I DO IT?

    To make an organizational chart, choose the categories of information you want to focus on. These will depend on your text and writing or studying task. Below are some sample organizational charts to give you an idea of what they could look like:

    Example "Just Say No to Drug Legalization" from Drugs
    “Against Legalization of Drug” (49) by James Q. Wilson “Should Drugs be Legalized?” (63)
    by William Bennett
    “Legalizing Drugs: A Dangerous Idea” (73)
    by Charles B. Rangel
    “Just Say ‘No!’ to Proposal to Make Drug Use Legal” (75) by Joseph R. Biden Jr.

    Thesis:







    Key Arguments:








    Your views, reaction and analysis:

    Thesis:







    Key Arguments:








    Your views, reaction and analysis:

    Thesis:







    Key Arguments:








    Your views, reaction and analysis:

    Thesis:







    Key Arguments:








    Your views, reaction and analysis:

    Example: Who's who is Terrence Poppa's Drug Lord?

    For each character describe his/her actions, personality, motivations, and your analysis of his/her significance in the story—include page numbers where appropriate:

    Terrence Poppa

    Young Pablo Acosta

    Fermin Arevalo and Family

    Ojinaga (the town as a character in the story)

    Older Pablo Acosta (after becoming Drug Lord)

    Sammy Garcia

    Manuel Carrasco

    Shorty Lopez

    Becky

    Acosta family

    Victor Sierra

    Marco DeHaro

    Practice

    Here is a blank organization chart you can label and adapt to your own reading assignment.

     
       
       
       
    Practice

    Here is a blank organization chart that works well for comparing non-fiction essays or to break down a text by chapter:

    Essay Title or Chapter:

    Essay Title or Chapter:

    Essay Title or Chapter:

    Essay Title or Chapter:

    Thesis:











    Key Arguments:












    Your views, reaction and analysis:

    Thesis:











    Key Arguments:












    Your views, reaction and analysis:

    Thesis:











    Key Arguments:












    Your views, reaction and analysis:

    Thesis:











    Key Arguments:












    Your views, reaction and analysis:

    WHAT ARE LEVELS OF COMPREHENSION?

    To use critical thinking to examine a text, you want to apply different levels of comprehension in your analysis from a basic level (summary) to the more complex (interpretation, analysis).

    WHY EXAMINE DIFFERENT LEVELS OF COMPREHENSION IN A TEXT?

    This will better enable you to react to and understand the complexities of a text. This will also help you think of interesting and more complicated ways to discuss, analyze, and write about the material.

    HOW DO I DO IT?

    First, you want to get a firm understanding of some of the different levels of comprehension:

    Literal Level—What did the author say?

    At the literal level you understand the facts that are clearly stated within the material. This is the beginning and also the least sophisticated level of reading. At this level you might be able to answer detail questions such as who, what, when, and where, but not understand the overall purpose of the message (the why).

    Interpretive Level—What did the author mean by what was said?

    At this level you make assumptions and draw conclusions by considering the stated message, the implied meaning, the facts, and the author’s attitude toward the subject. You combine the stated and unstated clues in order to answer why questions to figure out relationships, connections between ideas and events, character development, figurative language, and complex sequences of events.

    Applied Level—How does the author’s message apply to other situations?

    This level calls for reaction, reflection, and critical thinking. This highest, most sophisticated level involves analyzing, synthesizing, and evaluating. You integrate what is said with what is meant and apply it to new situations and experiences, thus making wider use of what you have just learned. You are aware of the author’s style and technique and of your own level of appreciation. You judge the value of the information and of the writing as a piece of literary work.

    Divergent Level— Are there other perspectives that have not been considered or addressed?

    This level requires you to move out of the author’s and your own point of view and look at the text from other perspectives. Are there points of views that have not been addressed? Are there other ways of looking at the issues raised that have not been considered?

    Practice: Applying different levels of comprehension to a text

    Literal Level—What did the author say?

    Interpretive Level—What did the author mean by what was said?

    Applied Level—How does the author’s message apply to other situations?

    Divergent Level—Are there other perspectives that have not been considered or addressed?

    Reacting to a Text

    WHAT IS CONTEXTUALIZING, REFLECTING, EVALUATING, AND COMPARING?

    Here is what each of these concepts means when responding to a text:

    Contextualizing: Placing a text in its historical, biographical, and cultural contexts

    When you read a text, you read it through the lens of your own experience. Your understanding of the words on the page and their significance is informed by what you have come to know and value from living in a particular time and place. But the majority of the texts you read are written in the past, sometimes in a radically different time and place. To read critically, you need to recognize the differences between your contemporary values/attitudes and those represented in the text.

    Reflecting on challenges to your beliefs and values: Examining your personal responses

    The reading that you do in college might challenge your attitudes, your unconsciously held beliefs, or your positions on current issues. As you read a text for the first time, mark an X in the margin at each point where you feel a personal challenge to your attitudes, beliefs, or status. Make a brief note in the margin about what you feel or about what in the text created the challenge. Now look again at the places you marked in the text where you felt personally challenged. What patterns do you see?

    Evaluating an argument: Testing the logic of a text as well as its credibility and emotional impact

    All writers make assertions that they want you to accept as true. As a critical reader, you should not accept anything on face value but to recognize every assertion as an argument that must be carefully evaluated. An argument has two essential parts: a claim and support. The claim asserts a conclusion -- an idea, an opinion, a judgment, or a point of view -- that the writer wants you to accept. The support includes reasons (shared beliefs, assumptions, and values) and evidence (facts, examples, statistics, and authorities) that give readers the basis for accepting the conclusion. When you assess an argument, you are concerned with the process of reasoning as well as its truthfulness (these are not the same thing). At the most basic level, in order for an argument to be acceptable, the support must be appropriate to the claim and the statements must be consistent with one another.

    Comparing and contrasting related readings: Exploring likenesses and differences between texts to understand them better

    Fitting a text into an ongoing larger discussion helps increase understanding of why an author approached a particular issue or question in the way he or she did. Looking at other texts on the same or similar topic can help you see a different or perhaps a broader range of viewpoints on the topic that may not have been expressed in looking at a single author’s text.

    WHY USE THESE APPROACHES?

    When working with a text, you can use these approaches to deepen your understanding and advance your own critical thinking of what you are reading.

    Practice: How Do I Do It?

    Complete the following chart based on the text you are currently reading:

    Contextualizing: Placing a text in its historical, biographical, and cultural contexts.

    Questions: When was the text published and/or when does the story take place? What were the most influential historical events of this time? Who is the author and what is his/her personal history? Political agenda? What is the cultural climate of the text? Where is it set?

    Reflecting on challenges to your beliefs and values: Examining your personal responses.

    Questions: Did you agree with the arguments, attitudes or behaviors described in the text? Were there areas that shocked, challenged or threatened your belief system? Do you think the author consciously tried to evoke a reaction in his/her reader?

    Evaluating an argument: Testing the logic of a text as well as its credibility and emotional impact.

    Questions: Does the author use fairness, reasonableness, and logic? Does the author provide details and evidence to prove or illustrate assertions? How is emotion used and what is the intended or unintended impact on the reader?

    Comparing and contrasting related readings: Exploring likenesses and differences between texts to understand them better.

    Questions: Have you read other texts that addressed similar issues? What approaches or arguments did those authors use that this one did not? Were there any similarities? What can you learn by comparing this text to others?

    WHAT ARE DOUBLE-ENTRY JOURNALS?

    A double-entry journal is a writing-to-learn strategy using a simple two-column format. The left side of the journal often comes from the “text.” This can include anything from an unknown vocabulary word, a short quote, what stands out for you as a reader, or passages that you find difficult or important. The text can be copied word for word or paraphrased. The right-hand of the entry is often used for the reader’s “response.” Readers can record interpretations, questions, reactions, or difficulties in response to the text.

    WHY ARE THEY IMPORTANT?

    A double-entry journal keeps track of your learning. It can help you accomplish many reading goals. By regularly using a double-entry journal you can:

    • keep track of what stands out for you and what confuses you about your reading.
    • react to a writer’s main claim and arguments.
    • identify significant passages and then interpret those specific passages.
    • seek answers to your own questions.
    • make personal connections to the reading.

    HOW DO I DO IT?

    Simply divide your paper into two columns. Below are some options you can use for each side of the double-entry journal:

    TEXT RESPONSE
    Details from the text - (I saw, read, heard in the text) Interpretation (I wondered, I made a connection, I thought)
    What do I know or can infer? What do I still want to know
    A specific quote Connections to major themes that a text addresses
    Predictions
    Questions
    Reflections
    Comparisons
    Interpretations
    Details, facts, and statistics Connections to major themes that a text addresses
    Predictions
    Questions
    Reflections
    Comparisons
    Interpretations
    Example: Double-entry Journal Example
    TEXT RESPONSE
    Douglass observes, “she had bread for the hungry, clothes for the naked, and comfort for every mourner” (1).

    Can’t tell if this is all literal. But at least it shows what a generous-hearted woman she was to start

    What sparks her reversal?

    “Mistress had given me the inch, and no precaution could prevent me from taking the ell,” explained Douglass (2).

    Just a little bit of learning was enough to start him on his path to self-sufficiency and intellectual freedom.

    What’s an ell? Like a mile?

    How does a little freedom lead to unlimited freedom?

    Douglass’ story of the neighborhood white kids

    Shows how cunning he is – realizing that he can take something he has a lot of (bread) and get something he wants (learning – and later, freedom)

    What about reading compelled him to learn more about how to read?

    NOTE: Some instructors may ask you to write a more extended response to a key passage. To analyze or respond to the key passage, you will have to consider questions like:

    • What insights do you gain about the theme from the quote?
    • Why do you find the passage to be thought provoking?
    • What do you think about the idea expressed in the quote? Do you agree or disagree? Why or why not?
    Practice

    Using your currently assigned text, create a double-entry journal using some of the approaches described:

    TEXT RESPONSE
     

    WHAT ARE READING RESPONSE JOURNALS?

    A Reading Response Journal is a companion to your reading and a way to promote active, rather than passive, reading. It helps you to remember what you have read and to come up with content that you can use for class discussions and essay assignments.

    WHY ARE THEY IMPORTANT?

    Reading Response Journals can provide the template for an essay assignment. You can use ideas, quotes, examples and even whole sections of writing from your RRJ in an essay rather than starting from scratch. Because RRJs are more informal than essay assignments, students are often more relaxed when working on them. For this reason, the writing and generation of ideas often flows more freely than at the beginning stages of writing an essay, thus providing a great first step in the essay writing process.

    HOW DO I DO IT?

    Each professor will have his or her own format for a Reading Response Journal. Here is one method of doing a RRJ:

    Practice

    (1) Freewrite a response to your assigned reading – not a summary -- but your thoughts after
    reading the text. You can include personal experiences, opinions and/ or connections to
    other readings or events.

    (2) Write down 3 short quotes from the text and your responses.

    (3) Write down 3 questions you have after completing the reading.

    (4) Paraphrase in 1-2 concise sentences one main idea in the text that interests you.

    (5) Wild card! Draw a picture, find a graphic – cartoon, drawing, etc. – bring in a poem or song
    lyrics etc. that connect to the text in some way. Write a one-sentence explanation of why
    you included it.

    Example \(\PageIndex{1}\)

    Reading Response Journal Example for Chapter VII of Frederick Douglass

    1. Freewrite a response to the chapter – not a summary -- but your thoughts after reading the chapter. You can include personal experiences, opinions and/ or connections to other readings or events.

    After I read this chapter I thought about the burden of ideas, how once you know something, it weighs on you and it can be painful until you move to the next step, which is to do something about what you know. Frederick Douglass felt tortured by what he realized about slavery. He almost wished to not know, but he couldn’t go back. But he saw the light of freedom under the dark clouds of oppression and that drove him forward. I like the way he learned – how he started with being taught by the mistress, then tried to read the newspaper and then sought help from the neighborhood kids who could already read and write. I like his resourcefulness, how he used everything around him to learn.

    1. Write down 3 short quotes from the text and your responses.

    “Slavery proved as injurious to her as it did to me.”

    This shows that slavery is so inhuman that it hurts even the people in power, the slave owners themselves. The mistress changed from being kind and generous to becoming mean and hard-hearted.

    “The moral which I gained from the dialogue was the power of truth over the conscience of even a slaveholder.”

    In the text by Sheridan that Douglass read, he learned a great thing: that the truth can be so powerful it can even change a slaveholder’s consciousness. The arguments he read had a huge impact on Douglass because he saw the power of truth and ideas.

    “Anything, no matter what, to get rid of thinking!”

    Douglass is tortured by what he has learned about slavery and its dehumanizing system. At times he wishes he were still ignorant because of the painful truth of his knowledge.

    1. Write down 3 questions you have after completing the reading.

    Why did the mistress allow herself to change so dramatically?

    Did other slaves at that time learn to read and write or is Douglass an exception?

    Who is Sheridan and when did he write “The Columbian Orator”?

    1. Paraphrase in 1-2 concise sentences one main Idea in the chapter that interests you.

    People’s consciousness can change radically. The mistress changed from being kind to being oppressive. On the other hand, the slave owner in the Sheridan dialogue changed from thinking he had the right to own slaves to voluntarily emancipating his slaves.

    1. Wild Card! Draw a picture, find a graphic – cartoon, drawing, etc. – bring in a poem or song lyrics etc. that connect to the text in some way. Write a one-sentence explanation of why you included it.

    WHAT IS ACADEMIC SPEED DATING?

    Academic speed dating is a method to facilitate discussion of a text and allows you to quickly get multiple points of view by rotating through focused discussion with your classmates.

    WHY DO IT?

    This approach breaks up the traditional sitting-down-in-desks set up of the classroom, it gets everyone up and out of their seats, and this brings a different kind of engagement and energy to the discussion. It also involves every person so even the quieter students get to share their perspectives, and we all benefit from hearing a wider range of viewpoints.

    HOW DO I DO IT?

    The class is divided in half and then half of the class stands with their backs to the wall around the room. The other half of the class then matches up to the students along the wall facing them. The students then have 2 minutes of focused discussion on the text. After 2 mins, the instructor calls out or turns the lights in the class on and off, and then the inner ring rotates right for another 2 minutes. This happens for the number of rounds that the instructor indicates.

    Example: Academic Speed Dating - undun by The Roots
    Round 1: Who is the main character, Redford Stevens, whose story is told throughout this album? How is he portrayed? What do you think of him?
    Round 2: Why do you think the Root’s chose to reverse the time order in telling Redford’s life? What is the effect? How would it have changed things to tell his story in chronological order?
    Round 3: What did you find out about undun from your Internet research?

    This page titled 2.3: After Reading Strategies is shared under a CC BY-NC-SA 4.0 license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by Skyline English Department.

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