Close Reading: the practice of careful, analytical reading whereby a reader strives to understand what a text means and how it operates. In other words, reading slowly and purposefully, using active reading techniques to understand the meaning of a text.Two techniques will help you move beyond a superficial first reading: (1) annotating the text with your observations and questions and (2) outlining the text’s key points (Bedford p. 86). (Close Reading Handout)
Annotation: a central part of close reading whereby a reader engages with a text by taking notes in the margins, underlining or highlighting key important words, sentences, or passages, or summarizing sections. (Annotation Handout or Annotation Prezi)
Thesis: an arguable assertion that is the central idea of an essay and which often ends with a because-clause, an assertion which also needs to be supported/demonstrated. In other words, a statement that previews the position of your paper, that others may dispute, and that you will defend with support. (Thesis Handout or Thesis PowerPoint or A Closer Look at Thesis Statements)
Assertion: a declaration or claim that requires support in order to be convincing. (Assertions Handout)
Evidence: material used to support claims or assertions, often in the form of facts, statistics, examples, testimony/expert opinions, etc. (Click here for more information)
Support: the combination of evidence and explanation used to strengthen an assertion.
Analysis: A form of critical thinking whereby an object (text, problem, or phenomenon, etc.) is broken into its constituent parts and the relationships among the parts are explained. (Critical Thinking Handout)
Synthesis: A form of critical thinking in which parts of an object that may have been analyzed are put back together with other materials to create something new. (Critical Thinking Handout or Synthesis Matrix Activity)
Evaluation: A form of critical thinking in which an object (text, problem, phenomenon, etc.) is argued to have merit or not based on a set of reasonable standards, called criteria.
THE WRITING PROCESS
Prewriting: Also known as invention, this preliminary step for writing an essay is comprised of strategies such as brainstorming, mapping, listing, clustering, researching, annotating target texts, free writing, etc. In this step, students generate ideas in free form, learn more about their topics, think about issues in advance of drafting, and generate preliminary theses. Spending time thinking about their topics in advance of writing will often prevent writer’s block and lead to well-developed essays.
Brainstorm your paper: read the prompt; list multiple ideas; collect notes and research; begin thinking about a thesis.
Planning: Also known as organizing, this step includes strategies such as reviewing the assignment, forming a preliminary thesis, sketching a plan, and outlining. In this step, students take the ideas that they have generated and begin to shape them to address the goals of the writing assignment. Forming a tentative thesis is essential to successful planning because the thesis articulates their argument in miniature.
Organize your paper: review the assignment, narrow your topic, gather evidence or support, clarify your thesis, and outline your paper.
Drafting: For many students, drafting is the one-step process for writing an essay. They think that writing an essay in one sitting will lead to an effective essay. Drafting is essentially translating ideas into written, essay form. Effective drafting usually comes only after students have spent time pre-writing and planning. (“Charrette”)
Write your paper: put your outline into sentences and paragraphs, expand your ideas and support, and clarify your thesis and assertions.
For more information on Prewriting, Planning, and Drafting, click here.
Revising: Drafting and revising go hand-in-hand. After students produce a draft for a formal essay, they will need to revise the draft. Revising is re-seeing their work with fresh eyes to understand its strengths and weaknesses. Revision is concerned with substantive issues (thesis, development, organization, etc.) and not sentence-level issues (see editing below). Strategies for effective revision include critical re-reading of the draft and annotating the draft by the writer; peer review by a classmate using a peer response sheet; conferencing on the draft with the professor; and visiting the writing center for feedback. After students receive feedback, they return to the drafting step to produce another version of their draft and should then go through revision again.
Re-read your paper: look for strengths and weaknesses in the content, get feedback from others, make sure your evidence effectively supports your thesis.
Editing: Sometimes students equate editing with revising; however, revision is concerned with substantive/content/organizational issues while editing relates to sentence-level and formatting issues—mechanics, grammar, spelling, style, documentation, and document design. Proofreading is the primary strategy we teach here. We encourage students to edit near the end of creating their essays because they sometimes obsess over these details at the expense of content.
Polish your paper: look for errors in grammar, mechanics, syntax, verb tense, spelling, style, formatting, and documentation.
For more information on Revising and Editing, click here.
CAC Shared Vocabulary: Spanish