Activity Summarizing by EQl2Wvp


									Liberal Arts Seminar

                                       ACTIVITIES: SUMMARIZING

The passage below and the summary to follow provide an illustration of principles to apply in
summarization. The exercises give students opportunities to evaluate several summaries and select the
ones that adhere to the “rules.” This activity could be done in small groups or as a class before students
are assigned passages to summarize on their own. (The information and examples are taken from
McWhorter, pp. 189, 195-198).

To write a good summary you need to understand the material and identify the writer’s main points. Here
are some tips to follow:

   1. Underline each major idea in the material.
   2. Write one sentence that states the writer’s most important idea. This sentence will be the topic
      sentence of your summary.
   3. Be sure to use your own words rather than those of the author.
   4. Focus on the author’s major ideas, not on supporting details.
   5. Keep the ideas in the summary in the same order as they appear in the original material.

Read the following passage and the example of a summary:

            Political participation encompasses the many activities in which citizens engage to
       influence the selection of political leaders or the policies they pursue. Although the line is
       hard to draw, political scientists generally distinguish between two broad types of
       participation: conventional and unconventional. Conventional participation includes many
       widely accepted modes of influencing government—voting, trying to persuade others, ringing
       doorbells for a petition, running for office, and so on. In contrast, unconventional par -
       ticipation includes activities that are often dramatic, such as protesting, civil disobedience,
       and even violence.
            For a few, politics is their lifeblood; they run for office, work regularly in politics, and
       live for the next election. The number of Americans for whom political activity is an
       important part of their everyday life is minuscule; they number at most in the tens of
       thousands. To these people, policy questions are as familiar as slogans on TV commercials
       are to the average citizen. They are the political elites—activists, party leaders, interest group
       leaders, judges, members of Congress, and other public officials.
            Millions take part in political activities beyond simply voting. In two comprehensive
       studies of American political participation, samples of Americans were asked twice at 20
       year intervals about their role in various kinds of political activities. Included were voting,
       working in campaigns, contacting government officials, and working on local community
       issues. Voting was the only aspect of political participation that a majority of the popula tion
       reported engaging in, but also the only political activity for which there is evidence of a
       decline in participation in recent years. Substantial increases in participation were found on
       the dimensions of giving money to candidates and contacting public officials, and small
       increases are evident for all the other activities. Thus, although the decline of voter turnout
       is a development Americans should rightly be concerned about, a broader look at political
       participation reveals some positive developments for participatory democracy.

           —adapted from Edwards, Wattenberg, and Lineberry, Government in America, pp. 196—197

                                                                 Prepared by Mrs. Janet Ruddy, Spring 2010
Liberal Arts Seminar

Read the summary below and the comments that follow:

       Citizens participate in different political activities to influence political leaders and their policies.
       People participate in conventional ways and unconventional ways. The "political elites" are a
       relatively small part of the population for whom political activity is part of their everyday life.
       Studies indicate that a majority of the American population participates in voting and that
       participation has increased in other aspects of political activities.

       Comments: Notice that the summary contains only the most important ideas. Details are
       not included. The first sentence shows why people participate in political activities, the
       second sentence lists the two basic types of participation, and the last sentence lists
       general trends in political participation.

A. Directions: Indicate whether each of the following statements is true (T) or false (F).

            1. When writing a summary, you should focus on the author's major ideas.
            2. The ideas in a summary should be in the same order as in the original material.
            3. A summary is usually much longer than an outline.
            4. A summary should be in your own words rather than those of the author.

B. Directions: After reading the following paragraphs, circle the letter of the choice that best
   summarizes each one.
   1. The tourist potential of any spot depends upon its "three A's": accessibility, accommodations, and
      attractions. The rich bird life on the islands of Lake Nicaragua, the lions of Kenya, and the tropical
      vegetation in many countries are important tourist destinations. Overall, the countries best
      endowed for tourism have both natural and cultural attractions, pleasant climates, good
      beaches, and reasonably well-educated populations. Political stability is a necessity. Despite
      Africa's wealth of ecological and cultural attractions, political instability and lack of
      accommodations have restricted its income to only 2.2 percent of global tourist dollars.

      —adapted from Bergman and Renwick, Introduction to Geography, pp. 495—496

           a. The tourist potential of a place depends upon its accessibility, accommodations, and
              attractions. Important tourist destinations include Lake Nicaragua, Kenya, and tropical
              countries. However, despite Africa's many attractions, its income is only 2.2 percent of
              global tourist dollars due to political instability and lack of accommodations.

           b. Tourists typically want to visit places that offer the three A's. They also want pleasant
              weather, nice beaches, and an educated population.

           c. A country's ability to attract tourism is determined by how accessible it is and by the
              accommodations and attractions it provides. Countries that are tourist destinations offer a
              variety of activities, mild weather, attractive beaches, and a population that is educated
              and politically stable.

                                                                     Prepared by Mrs. Janet Ruddy, Spring 2010
Liberal Arts Seminar

           d. Tourists are interested in places that offer political stability, excellent beaches, nice
              weather, and well-educated people. A tourist spot has to have natural and cultural at-
              tractions and a variety of accommodations.

   2. The common cold is responsible for more days lost from work and more uncomfortable days spent at
      work than any other ailment. Caused by any number of viruses (some experts claim there may be
      over 200 different viruses responsible for the common cold), colds are always present to some degree
      among people throughout the world. In the course of a year, Americans suffer over 1 billion colds.
      Cold viruses are carried in the nose and throat most of the time. These viruses are held in check until
      the host's resistance is lowered. It is possible to "catch" a cold—from the airborne droplets of another
      person's sneeze or from skin-to-skin or mucous membrane contact—though re-cent studies indicate
      that the hands may be the greatest avenue of colds and transmission of other viruses. Although many
      people believe that a cold results from exposure to cold weather or from getting chilled or
      overheated, experts believe that such things have little or no effect on cold development. Stress, al -
      lergy disorders that affect the nasal passages, and menstrual cycles do, however, appear to increase

      —adapted from Donatelle, Health: The Basics, p. 350

      a. More workers are affected by the common cold than by any other illness. Colds are caused
         by viruses and result from exposure to another person's virus through the air or by physical
         contact. Stress, nasal allergies, and certain stages of the menstrual cycle may make people
         more susceptible to colds.

      b. People who suffer from the common cold often miss work or are uncomfortable at work.
         Experts say that over 200 different viruses may be responsible for the common cold, which
         is always present in people all over the world. In America, people suffer over 1 billion colds
         every year.

      c. The common cold is caused by different viruses that are carried in the nose and throat most
         of the time. These viruses wait until a person's resistance is low; then the per -son may catch
         a cold from someone else, through either a sneeze or some other contact.

      d. Cold viruses exist all over the world, and Americans suffer more than 1 billion colds each
         year. More than 200 different viruses may be responsible for causing the common cold.

         Source: McWhorter, Kathleen T. Active Reading Skills. 2 ed. New York: Pearson Longman, 2008.

                                                                   Prepared by Mrs. Janet Ruddy, Spring 2010

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