For this week, I would like you to summarize the prompt for “Essay #1: ‘practicing the most important template'” (the essay on “Hidden Intellectualism” that we’re currently working on) in a summary of at least 250 words. Think of your audience for this summary as fellow ENGL 1102 students. In fact, try to imagine a student who says to you: “I don’t understand this assignment.” Help this student out by explaining the assignment in your own words. Remember that your job is to play “the believing game,” as Graff and Birkenstein call the move of summarizing. Your job is not to offer a viewpoint or opinion about the assignment. Instead, you need to make the assignment crystal clear to our hypothetical lost student. In doing so, you should also use what they call “signal verbs.” This is an essential part of a good summary. Phrases like “he said,” she argues,” “according to the author” and the like literally “signal” to the reader both the author that you’re summarizing AND the fact that you’re writing a summary. It shows that it’s not your material, but that you are explaining the author’s material in your own way. You don’t have to begin every single sentence with a signal verb, but it’s good to include one every few sentences or so to remind your reader as you move along that you are still in summary mode. For the sake of this exercise, use at least 3 signal verbs. If you’re not sure how to begin, start with this one: “In the prompt for the first essay assignment of ENGL 1102, Dr. Janssen states that…” Keep going until you are satisfied that you have covered all the essential information in the prompt.
For your responses this week, review one another’s work, using the criteria of clarity and accuracy. It’s okay to say that someone did a wonderful job, but if that is what you think, be specific about that. What was so wonderful about the post you are responding to. You can also helpfully and kindly critique one another’s work by pointing out places where the summary does not quite work so well. Again, evaluate them according to clarity and accuracy, and feel free to employ any of the ideas from Chapter 2 in your critique as well.
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