From Reading to Writing: Double Entry Notebook

This exercise is designed to help you write strong, opinionated responses to assigned reading.

For this exercise, you will need:
– An assigned reading from one of your classes (preferably one that you need to write about on that class’s discussion board)
– A blank word processing document open on your computer
– A blank copy of the Double Entry Notebook worksheet open on your computer.

In the following exercise, you will complete these steps:

– Go through the process for previewing, summarizing, and annotating a text.
– Re-read text with the following questions in mind:
* What arguments does the author make?
* To which counter-arguments is the author responding?
– Identify specific quotes from the text that indicate an argument or counter-argument made by the author.
– Enter these quotes into your double entry notebook.

Let’s get started.

– First, read through your assigned text. As you do, write down the gist, summary, and any interesting aspects of the reading.

Step Two: Analytic Reflection

– Once you’ve reviewed the article, written a summary, and noted interesting points, ask yourself the following questions and jot down your answers in your open word processing document:
* What are the main arguments?
* To which counter-arguments is the author responding?
* What are other counter-arguments that can be made?
* What logic does the author use?
* What is the main evidence? What kinds of evidence does the author use?
* What is the goal of the article? Is the author arguing against another viewpoint?

Step Three: Information Gathering

– With the analytic reflection questions and your brief answers in mind, re-read the article and make entries in the double entry notebook (DEN).
– Each entry in the DEN should relate to one or more of the analytic reflection questions.
– Look at two examples of how to use the worksheet in the Model DEN document.
* How might each model be useful? For what kind of paper might you use either model?
* Read each paraphrase. How would you re-write each quote from the article in your own words?
* What struck you about each of these quotes? Would you use a different quote from the paragraphs in the models?

Step Four: Taking Notes in Your DEN

– Using the blank DEN worksheet, take notes as you re-read the assigned reading you’ve chosen for this exercise.
– Things you found interesting while annotating are likely to also end up in your DEN.
– Don’t forget to include a brief summary and paraphrase of each quote!

Step Five: Writing a Response

– The structure of your Discussion Board post will depend on the exact assignment given to you by your professor. However, a few general pointers can help:
– When you want to quote from a text, a good format is: The author, Name Here, writes, “Quote quote quote quote quote.” This tells your reader who you’re talking about and what statement they made to prompt your response.
– After the quote, you need to interpret and respond to the quote. If you think the quote is unclear, you can try clarifying by writing something likeThis means [however you put the quote in your own words for the DEN worksheet]. Then include your own opinion! Whatever struck you about the quote in the DEN worksheet will be a great place to start moving from the author’s ideas to your own ideas.
– Don’t be afraid to say “I.” You are the one writing, and you deserve credit for your ideas!


– Reflect on your experience with this exercise. How many entries do you have in your DEN? Does that seem like enough? Too many? Too few?
– Was this process useful or effective in gathering information?
– What differences did you notice between your summary of each quote and what struck you about each quote? What does that tell you about the difference between the author’s opinion and your opinion?
– How did you use the information you gathered to write a response for your class?

NEXT: Quotation-Comment-Question

Skip to toolbar