Most of us use critical reading strategies everyday to effectively process all of the information we are consistently bombarded with. This assignment allows you continue to explore ideas of reading and writing rhetorically, as you will use different strategies to write your summary and your strong response.
This assignment will have two parts:
Summarize in 150-200 words the article your instructor has chosen from the assignment: “Children Need to Play, Not Compete,” on pages 250-255 of your 10th edition textbook (or pages 270-274 of your 9th edition textbook).** In this summary, you should relay the article’s main points, completely and accurately, in your own words. If you find yourself in a situation in which the author’s words needed to be quoted directly (perhaps for emphasis), you must make it clear that these words are the author’s by using quotation marks appropriately. You will not want to quote anything over one sentence in length, and you will want to limit yourself to no more than 2-3 direct quotes, if you use any at all. Remember that the whole point of this portion of the assignment is for you to restate the author’s points objectively in your own words.
In general, I recommend you structure your first sentence something like this:
In “Children Need to Play, Not Compete, Jessica Statsky…
This will function as the thesis statement of your summary, so this first sentence will need to convey the main point(s) of the article to give your reader an overall view.
Write a 1 ½ to 2 page response to “Children Need to Play, Not Compete.” Before you even begin drafting, you will want to decide on the terms of your response. Once you decide on the terms (or grounds) of your response, you’ll want to figure out how you can support your points—using logic, outside evidence, examples from your personal life—whatever is appropriate.
What is a summary?
A summary is simply a recounting of the main points of an article. But what should it really include? How is the summary formatted? The best way to learn how to write a summary is to read and examine someone else’s summary.
Before you read the rest of this lecture, please read the short essay entitled “Sticks and Stones and Sports Team Names” from the bottom of page 255 through page 257 in your 10th edition textbook (pages 275-276 in your 9th edition textbook).** After you’ve read this essay, then please continue with the lecture.
A Sample Summary
The following is an example of how one student summarized the article “Sticks and Stones and Sports Team Names.” (Remember: “Sticks and Stones” is not the article that you will be reading and responding to. However, this example does provide a good example of how to craft summaries in general.) As you read this example, ask yourself what you notice about the summary—in terms of purpose, focus, tone, organization and formatting.
Summary of “Sticks and Stones and Sports Team Names”
In “Sticks and Stones and Sports Team Names,” Richard Estrada argues that sports teams should not be allowed to continue using ethnic-based names and mascots. Estrada claims that teams such as the Braves, Indians, Seminoles, and Redskins—no matter how established or popular—should change their team names and mascots, which are degrading to Native Americans. He further suggests that the stereotypes accompanying these mascots, such as “tomahawk chops and war chants,” dehumanize and single out Native Americans, setting them aside from the rest of society. “Nobody likes to be trivialized or deprived of his or her dignity,” Estrada asserts, and yet allowing ethnic-based mascots enables—and even promotes—such trivialization. What makes matters worse, according to Estrada, is that such mascots target one of our nation’s least politically powerful ethnic groups. He provides examples of other possible team names based on other ethnic minorities (such as the “New York Jews”), which would never be tolerated in our society. As a result, Estrada concludes that Native Americans should be treated with simple human dignity, just like everyone else. 178 Words
So what did you notice? What does the summary include? How is it formatted?
Perhaps first you noticed that the student writer’s opinion of “Sticks and Stones and Sport Team Names” is not included. Rather, the student is trying to simply convey the main points of Estrada’s original article. Remember: Whether you liked the article or didn’t like it, whether you agreed with the author or disagreed, your opinion does not belong in the summary.
Second, you may have realized that the first sentence is very important in the summary. The first sentence must to three things clearly and concisely: 1.) Mention the name of the original article; 2.) Identify the author of the original article; 3.) give a sense of the overall claim or point the author was trying to make.
Maybe next you observed that the original author was referred to in some way in every sentences. Richard Estrada argues, Estrada claims, He further suggests, Estrada asserts, according to Estrada, He provides examples, Estrada concludes—these are all called “attributive tags.” Attributive tags are designed to remind the reader that these are Estrada’s ideas (not yours), and thus give proper credit where credit is due. Notice how the student writer in the example above has varied his attributive tags, using different ways to refer to the author (Estrada and he), and using different verbs to explain what Estrada was communicating. The student writer also varied the placement of the attributive tag in several places. (Often the attributive tag comes at the beginning of the sentence, but sometimes an attributive tag will fit into the middle or end of the sentence. You will also want to include an attributive tag in each sentence of your summary, and you will want to vary these references.
You may have also noticed that the student writer who is summarizing Estrada’s work has used direct quotes very sparingly. Any time he did use even a phrase of Estrada’s word-for-word, he put it in quotation marks to indicate this. **NOTE: While in most papers you would need to use intext parenthetical citations with the author’s last name and page number such as (Estrada 280) any time you summarized any ideas or material from your source, these are not necessary in a contained summary such as this. They will be necessary in future assignments such as the research paper.
Next, you may have observed how the last sentence of the summary really seems to wrap things up and provide a sense of conclusion. You will want the last sentence of your summary to provide the reader with a sense of conclusion as well.
Finally, you probably noticed the word count, included at the end of the summary. Sticking within 150-200 words is important in the summary, so I will want you to include your word count.
But how do I get from here to there?
I recommend you use the concepts discussed in your reading from Chapter 12 as a sort of step-by-step guide to get you organized to write your summary.
1.) Annotate. Read and re-read the essay “Children Need to Play, Not Compete,” and take notes. Mark things in the text that you think are important, especially noting what seem to be the main points of the article. Write questions you have in the margins, and note places where you are convinced or skeptical. (This will also help you in the next unit when you’re trying to get ideas for your strong response.)
2.) Take Inventory. Group your notes in a way that makes sense to you.
3.) Outline. This does not have to be a formal outline in any sense of the term. But it can be a good idea to try to list or map the main points of the article, before you actually start drafting your summary.
4.) Write your summary, restating the article’s main points in your own words.
A Sample Strong Response
The following is an example of how one student responded to the article “Sticks and Stones and Sports Team Names.” (Again, remember: “Sticks and Stones” is not the article that you will be reading and responding to. However, this example does provide a good example of how to craft the strong response, in general.)
As you read this example, ask yourself what you notice about the strong response—in terms of purpose, focus, tone, organization and formatting.
Sticks and Stones and False Concerns
I strongly disagree with Richard Estrada’s article, “Sticks and Stones and Sport Team Names.” As a Native American myself, I have no real problem with the use of ethnic mascots. In my opinion, this is the least of our problems. Further, I feel Richard Estrada has no authority whatsoever in writing about this subject.
First, allow me to discuss my own Native American heritage. I am only one-quarter Native American; my father is half. My adopted brother, Reeve, is also half Native American. In other words, our family has a strong sense of heritage when it comes to our respective tribes. (My father’s side is Cherokee; my brother’s tribe is Cheyenne Arapaho.) All three of us are registered with our tribes, and we still occasionally attend tribal events. So I am sensitive—and actively engaged with—Native American issues.
Unappealing mascots, however, are the least of our problems. Most of the Native Americans I know have a sense of humor about the whole mascot issue. They’re surprised people even bother to talk about it. Who cares if a bunch of white people want to flap their arms in public and pretend they even know what a “tomahawk chop” is? Who really cares what goes on at a football game? Who really believes that a bunch of beer-drinking ball-following hicks are seriously capable of demeaning us?
The answer is simple: Not Native Americans. At least not any of the Native Americans that I know.
Our tribes face must bigger problems in the real world. We have been pushed to the corners of this country, environments and economies unsuitable for sustaining our livelihoods. We have sought solace wherever we could get it through generations—including in the bottle. What does Richard Estrada have to say about this? Nothing.
Estrada would claim that mascots are a symbol of cultural appropriation—white society taking what it wants from Native American culture. I agree that the appropriation of our culture is a problem. However, once again, unappealing mascots are the least important aspect of this phenomenon. How many white people own dream catchers, turquoise necklaces, trickster figures and the like? How many of those people know anything about the traditions that are behind all of these “cute little trinkets”? How many of those people know anything real about Native American heritage?
But this, again, is a minor problem in reality. The real problem we as Native Americans face is the appropriation of our voices. How many Native Americans have been asked if they are offended by mascots? How many articles on Native American issues are actually written by Native Americans? The answer is practically none. Instead, the Richard Estrada’s of the world are doing all of the talking. Is Richard Estrada a Native American? I highly doubt it.
As a Native American myself, I’m tired of the false concerns of all of the non-Native-American liberal do-gooders. If you really want to know about the problems of Native Americans, stop talking. Try listening.
Again, what did you notice? What does the strong response include? How is it formatted?
The first paragraph of this section defines the terms of the response and the student’s claims. In the example above, for instance, the student is focusing on his own Native American heritage and how Estrada’s article challenges his beliefs and values. Please note that you do not necessarily need to disagree with the article at all. Perhaps your own observations are contrary to Statsky’s–or perhaps your experiences are similar and further validate the author’s perspective. Whether you agree or disagree, however, you will want the terms of your response to be clear in the first paragraph as well, so that your reader will know where you’re going.
The last paragraph of this section provides a sense of conclusion and restates the student’s claims/terms of response. You will also want your closing paragraph to wrap things up and reemphasize your points.
Between the first paragraph and the last paragraph, however, what’s happening? The student is devoting at least one paragraph to each of his claims. For instance, paragraph 2 describes the student’s own Native American heritage. Paragraphs 3-6 offer examples of the kinds of “real problems” that the student believes Native Americans face. Paragraph 7 offers examples and explanation to support the student’s claim that Estrada’s lack credibility. I recommend you use this 1-3 paragraphs per claim structure, which should help keep you organized and the reader on track.
But how do I get from here to there?
As with the summary, I recommend you consider the materials in your chapter as a guide in crafting your strong response. In particular, the last five reading strategies in Chapter 12 offer a helpful guide to determining the grounds of your response.
Ask yourself the following questions:
1.) Do you want your response to focus on the patterns of opposition within the article, and the ways these challenge or support your values and beliefs? In other words, do you want to reflect on the values and assumptions made by the author and how these compare/contrast with your own?
2.) Do you want your response to focus on evaluating the logic of the argument? In other words, do you want to critically analyze whether the reasoning and support offered in the article is believable and sufficient?
3.) Do you want your response to focus on the issue of emotional manipulation? In other words, do you want to discuss areas in the article where the author seems to be exaggerating or using other tools inappropriately to gain your sympathy or compliance to his/her point of view?
4.) Do you want your response to focus on the credibility of the author? In other words, do you want to consider whether the author seems appropriately knowledgeable and fairly considers other arguments or points of view?
You may be able to focus your entire response on just one of the above issues. Or you may decide to discuss two or three issues that seem related. (For instance, in the sample strong response, the student chose to discuss his own beliefs—number 1 on this list and the author’s lack of credibility—number 4 on this list.)
Please keep in mind that while the strong response must be “analyzing” the article in some way, this does not mean that it has to be negative. Despite the example above, a strong response may discuss the ways in which the article is successful and convincing (or the reasons why you agree with the author).
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