Friday, December 26, 2008

Topic: Reading Professional Literature

Question: Why don’t teachers read articles in professional journals?

10-second review: Author finds that teaching assistants in writing rejected professional articles on writing because they were too difficult to read. They blame the article, not themselves, for their not understanding the articles or not being interested in them. Therefore, they did not discuss the ideas in the articles.

Title: “Teachers As Students, Reflecting Resistance.” D Hesse. College Composition and Communication (May 1993), 224-231. A publication of the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE).

Summary: Graduate students rejected professional articles because they were difficult to read (“convoluted sentences”), filled with jargon and theoretical. They spent so much time complaining about the quality of the writing that they paid no attention to the ideas in the articles.

Comment: I can empathize with the students about the writing of professionals who are writing about writing. One solution to the problem is to tell students not to read every word of the articles from beginning to end. They should preview. They should read the title, subhead, the first paragraph and last paragraph. What have they learned? They will be focused on the main ideas in the article. Now they should go back and read the first sentence of each intermediate paragraph and tell what they have learned. They should have picked up the important details of the article.

After reading the first and last paragraph and the first sentence of each intermediate paragraph, what questions do they have? They should skim to find the answers

To become interested in professional articles, readers should preview in order to gain the main ideas and the supporting ideas. Raise questions. Skim to find the answers. Readers will not then be distracted by the jargon and complicated sentences that cloud the ideas in the articles and focus on the main ideas and supporting details. RayS.

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