Hello, Bill.  Thank you for bringing up an important lack -- students don't
know how to summarize information!

I read last year that some 70% of adults have difficulty picking out the
main idea from a common newspaper article, so I took in the article to my
WR121 composition class.  We talked about the article (I'm talking about a
short newspaper article), then I asked students to summarize the main idea
in aboutten minutes.  They couldn't.  So we spent the next six weeks
summarizing articles on various topics.  I moved them from what's the main
idea to what's your reaction to this main idea to reinforce the basic skills
of SUMMARIZING and INTERPRETING.  OK.  At the end of the class, I was more
confident they could do this, but it took a lot of time.

The real problem is it's now two terms later (we're on a 10 week quarter
system), and every time I get a new class, regardless of level, I don't
believe they can summarize.  So I agree it's a problem.  Maybe reading
journals help.  But I'm very open to other suggestions too!

Hi from Beth

Beth Camp, Linn-Benton Community College, Albany OR
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Here's the old email:

>Jim -
>I incorporate writing in the basic and developmental reading classes I teach at
>Cerritos College. Students have no trouble responding to a selection they read,
>but they are totally lost - even with my step-by-step approach to teaching them
>how to do it - when it comes to summarizing.
>Anyone else agree?
>Bill Broderick, Cerritos College