Summary-Response Essay Responding to Reading Reading Critically

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Summary-Response Essay

Reading Critically

  • Not about finding fault with author
  • Rather engaging author in a discussion by asking questions as you read an article or essay
  • Requiring author to meet certain demands that employ good writing techniques:

Reader Demands

  • Clear text
  • Logical thoughts and arguments
  • Reliable, credible information
  • Thoughtful and thought provoking
  • Honest writing
  • Often objective, non biased or well supported argument

Other reader demands

  • Readers want to know about the author, his background, experience, expertise
  • Occasion, purpose, audience of writing situation
  • Cultural context
  • Writer’s claim or argument
  • Logical use of evidence, adequate evidence
  • Style, voice, tone, word choice

How to read critically

Author’s Name and title of Article

  • Summary: List main ideas, key features, examples, and evidence the author may provide

Or create a critical rereading guide -take note of:

  • Purpose
  • Audience, reader
  • Occasion, genre, context
  • Thesis and main or supporting ideas
  • Organization and evidence
  • Language and style

Purpose of this Essay

  • To understand an author’s main idea and purpose for work
  • To recognize the main points that support that main idea
  • To be able to summarize(paraphrase) author’s main ideas
  • To be able to respond or react to what the author has to say (to support or defend your point of view)

Preparing the Summary

  • Cite the author and the title of the text
  • Indicate the main ideas of the text
  • Paraphrase main ideas; quote sparingly, use key words, phrases, and sentences
  • Include author tags
  • Avoid summarizing specific examples or data
  • Be objective


  • Your opinion of the author’s ideas
  • Do you agree or disagree
  • How well is the essay or article written?

Structuring Your response

1. Analyzing the effectiveness of the text

  • Use this approach if you do no have an opinion on the topic
    • Do an analysis of the structure of the writing, the clarity of the main idea, use of logic and reasoning, strength of argument, use of supporting evidence
    • Overall effectiveness of the piece
    • Good writing

2. Agreeing or disagreeing with text

  • A response of this nature will react to the ideas or the argument
  • Simply do you agree with the author
  • Why or why not
  • Provide evidence to support your reaction

3. Interpretation and Reflection

  • Writer will explain or examine the text by looking at the underlying assumptions or implications of the author’s ideas.
  • You may add your own experience, attitude, and observations as they relate to text

3 ways to provide evidence to support your response

  • Your response requires that you provide evidence to support your opinion, whether you agree or disagree with the author
  • Consider what sort of evidence will best support your statements

1. Personal Experience

  • Use personal experience as examples to demonstrate why you interpret the text the way you do, why you react the way you do, why you agree or disagree
  • I strongly disagree with Tannen’s first point based on my own high school experience, especially in my History class.

2. Evidence from the text

  • Cite specific phrases or sentences from the text to support your
    • explanation of the text
    • analysis of the effectiveness of the text
    • To support why you agree or disagree

3. Evidence from other texts

  • Acceptable to bring in ideas and information from other texts
  • Your prior knowledge
  • No research required for this assignment
  • Cite sources if you do use borrow material from other sources

Include these elements in your essay

  • Brief introduction that will state these items:
    • Title of the article or essay;Name of author; Place of publication
    • Any key information you might know about author to help establish author’s credibility
    • State author’s main idea
    • Thesis: a well thought out statement stating your main point about the article or essay.

Example: (introductions are brief)

  • In her essay “The Way Men and Women Use Language ” author Deborah Tannen argues that teachers should be aware of the vast differences in how men an women communicate in order to be more successful in the classroom. Based on my experience in the classroom as, I have to disagree with Tannen.

The Summary: Discuss the Points that Tannen makes

  • (Students will list)

Respond to each point:

  • Points you agree with(Students will list)
    • 1.
    • 2.
    • 3
  • Points you disagree with
    • 1
    • 2


  • End essay with a summary of your response
  • You can add a new perspective about the article, author, or topic

Organization: Outline Patterns: Block

  • Pattern 1
  • I. Introduction with thesis
  • II. Summary of main point
  • III. Points You agree with
  • IV. Points you disagree with
  • Conclusion

Pattern 2: Point by Point

  • I. Introduction with thesis
  • Summarize point 1; agree or disagree
  • Summarize point 2; agree or disagree
  • Summarized point 3; agree or disagree
  • Conclusion
  • Note: you do not need to agree or disagree with all points

Important things to remember

  • Summarize or paraphrase= brief explanation, omit author’s supporting evidence or examples unless one is vital in understanding author’s point
  • Make sure to give reasons why you disagree
    • Give examples, personal experience, facts, any previous experience or knowledge you can draw upon to support your opinion:
  • Based on my experience with boys in class in high school. . . .
  • Try to avoid over using “I agree” and “I disagree”

Documenting the Summary Response

  • Know what type of documentation system your teacher requires
  • Add a correct bibliographical citation (MLA in this class)
  • If you take direct quotations form the article, put the page number in () at the end of the quotation with a [.] at the close of the ().

Keeping your work original: Avoiding Plagiarism

  • Document any borrowed material--any material that does not come from your own experience:
    • Words, images, language, visuals, ideas, concepts
    • YES ideas can be plagiarized
      • Students sharing ideas--one comes up with an idea and others say “yeah, I like that idea too.”

Shaping the Summary

  • Summary should:
    • Present the author’s main idea accurately and objectively
    • Use description, paraphrase, and direct quotation


  • Describe the main features of the essay:
    • Author and title
    • Place of publication
    • Key text features
    • Author’s thesis or main point


  • Recreates or restates author’s passage using your words
  • Retains the original meaning without plagiarizing
  • Same length as original text
  • Read text until you write the passage in your own language
  • Be sure to add an author tag and cite page in () at end of borrowed material

Direct Quotation

  • Presents author’s words exactly as stated in the text.
  • Introduce with an author tag
  • Enclose in quotation marks
  • Cite page number () at end of quotation

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