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Following the response format suggested by Bartholomae and Petrosky (1986, buy psychology papers 53), I asked students to freewrite for at least an hour on what they found to be important or significant after completing a book. All too often, however, the responses were either simplistic summaries or responses so personal that any connection to the text was indiscernible. They needed in- struction in how to find meaning in what they read. Ann Berthoff (1984) encourages her students to use the type of reading, thinking, and writing that Bartholomae and Petrosky describe through keeping a double-entry journal: the reader takes textual notes on one page of a journal and interprets these notes on a facing page (30).
Having to collect and transport bulky journals, however, did not appeal to me. A three-step focused reading re- sponse, based on the process Berthoff suggests, eventually emerged as a compromise solution. Put the author and page number(s) in parentheses at the end of the quote. Step 2: (Association) Write a paragraph explaining how the meaning of the quote relates, to what is happening or being said on the page or in this section of the text. In other words, summarize the context of the quote and then explain its rel- evance in the text. Students are required to write one or two focused reading responses each week, although they may do more if they so choose. Step 2: This passage is significant because it tell a little bit about Mamaw personality towards Sam. It also tells how Sam feels about Mamaw and the way Mamaw act like she knows Sam all her life. Step 2 needs to tell ( summarize ) enough of the plot to explain why Mamaw does not know her granddaughter very well. In my experience in this, I felt the same way a little spooky. You must give some specific examples or at least one account of when you experienced something similar to the way Sam is feeling. The stu- dent could have written step 2 just by pulling that one sentence out of the text without any attempt to understand why the char- acters speak and feel as they do. In step 3, the student attempts to make a connection to his own experience but gives no detailed example. Because this is a developmental reading and writing class, I want the students to become accustomed to using the vivid, concrete examples that will be required for their essay as- signments. During the first weeks of the semester, I require students to revise their focused responses until they illustrate an under- standing of the process.
For those few who continue to have dif- ficulty with either step 2 or step 3 into the third or fourth week of the semester, individual conferences may become necessary. By midterm or soon after, I expect my students to realize the necessity of editing their read- ing responses just as they do the final drafts of their essays. The student samples and my responses given here are just as the stu- dents wrote them and just as I responded.
Step 2: This sentence is significant because it prevents the characters in the story from reaching their destination. They are having to stay at a hotel 100 miles from Washington. The transmission keeps slipping out of fourth gear. While the car was in motion Sam held the stick in gear. It must of been pretty hard to do because she was tired when they arrived at a Howard Johnson. They are now going to get the transmission fixed so they can continue on their trip to Washington.
I heard this noise about three differ- ent times because I would hear it and then it would go away, so I ignored it.
Later, we were almost at the exit, about five miles away, when we heard the noise again and that is when we had to stop. At first my Dad had no idea what was wrong, but when we tried to take off from the emergency lane he had trouble getting started.
To make a long story short, the transmission was stuck in third gear because we had a trans- mission fluid leak and by that we had destroyed the working parts inside the transmission. Sam, Emmett, and Mamaw are in about the same situation as we were and I thought that was weird.
Also, remember that you must give the au- thor and text page in parentheses cheap paper writing services immediately after the quo- tation. Step 2: Malcolm X is buy psychology papers saying to us that a formal education is not the only kind. Being buy psychology papers self taught can be just as well as going to buy psychology papers a formal school. He also explains to us that self motivation is a powerful tool to possess. This type of moti- vation is not taught and can not be read in a book. My grandfather lived and worked on a farm in North Georgia.
I always re- member him as being very articulate and wise. He only at- tended school through the fourth grade and worked on the family farm the rest of the time. After the last year of his formal education, he began to teach himself math and he learned to read. It was this ambi- tion and self motivation that made him a successful farmer and person. I hope that I contain some of his motivation and drive.
You may want to use your grandfather as the sub- ject for a character sketch, or profile, of a family member for an essay we will write later this semester. The focused responses of these two students illustrate that they are not only making meaning from the texts, but also mak- ing connections between what they have read and their own lives, connections they may decide to use for a future writing assign- ment.
One of the writing assignments for this class, for example, asks students to narrate an autobiographical experience from which they learned something significant, and another asks for a profile of a family member. Step 3 of the focused reading re- sponse can help jog their memories. As the semester progresses, students keep their responses chro- nologically organized in a loose-leaf notebook. We call this response packet a dialogue journal be- cause the students are engaging in dialogue with the text, with themselves, and with me as I respond to what they have written as though in dialogue. When I return the response packets, stu- dents replace them in their notebooks to provide a record of their reading, thinking, and writing throughout the semester, a record - 174 - The Focused Reading Response they use for their end-of-semester reflective letter.
The thorough- ness and thoughtfulness with which students complete the fo- cused reading responses constitute a significant percentage of their semester reading grade.