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Reading for Writing

Reading and writing are complementary activities, and many of your assignments will combine them.  You maybe asked to write responses to reading assignments or to do various readings in order to complete a paper.  In order to complete such work successfully, you need to understand how to read critically, annotate a text, and extract important ideas or quotes.

Critical reading involves actively engaging with the text: thinking deeply about the content, asking questions, making observations, and drawing conclusions.  Harvard University lists some common strategies for critical reading here.  You will usually need to read a text multiple times to fully understand it, and it can be very helpful to mark up the text as you read.  More details on this process, which is known as annotation, can be found here.

Another important of reading critically is choosing important quotes that you can use in class discussions, discussion board posts, or formal writing assignments.  Your annotations can be helpful for this and can be used in conjunction with other productive methods such as the double entry notebook or the quotation-comment-question worksheet.  Beyond helping you to understand what you read, those tools can prepare you to choose appropriate quotes and integrate them into your writing.  There is also a guide to the three ways you can use source material in your papers: quoting, paraphrasing, and summarizing.

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