Exercise #1: Summary and Reconstruction
This exercise involves reading, which, if done actively, can help you learn about writing itself.
Read the assigned essays and select the one that most interests you. You will be working with
that essay during this progression.
Keep up with the way you respond to the essay as you read and study it. Mark phrases or images
that strike you as interesting or important in some way. Think about the way the essayist uses
language to convey ideas. But most important, record your thoughts about what you are reading.
Make marginal notes or keep a reading journal. You are trying to find out what the essay means.
Your first task in this progression is to summarize or reconstruct the essay. A summary
(reader-based) or reconstruction (writer-based) presents the essence of the original essay,
and the essence obviously includes the essay’s controlling idea.
Manuscript Notes: Your summary should be about 100 words (no more than one doublespaced
typed page). This summary calls for MLA documentation; at a minimum, you must
include a “Works Cited” list. If you quote key phrases or clauses from the essay,
parenthetical documentation is also required. During this progression, documentation will
be discussed in class, but you should dig out the essential information on your own. There is
nothing mysterious or complicated about it. Consistency is the key. Consult your handbook