Summary Writing Worksheet

Copy This Worksheet to a Word Document and Delete Directions and Lines

Fundamentals of English ENG 098

Section 20515

Winter/Spring Semester, 2011

Submitted by _________________ Score ____________ Date __________

Summary Writing Worksheet

Part One

1. Write your opening sentence here for “Wilderness”. Be sure to include the following data:

a. the author's name

b. the title of the work

c. the work's structural organization

d. the controlling idea

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2. Now, write out the major points the author used to develop the controlling idea.

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You may have observed some of the following as key words or concepts: “Wilderness survival,” “remain calm,” “stay put,” “someone is already looking,” “be conspicuous,” “make noise,” “fend off irrational fear and exposure,” “control hunger and thirst,” “don't eat or drink anything.” Note here also that when you choose to include words or phrases from the original text you must enclose them in quotation marks.

Whatever specific words or phrases you focused on is important only in so far as you are able to formulate them into a meaningful statement of the controlling idea.

Compare your opening sentence to this one:

John H. Corbin, author of the essay, “Wilderness Survival for the Small Child,” discusses three basic skills that children lost in the wilderness need to survive until they are rescued.

Copy your opening sentence and complete your version of “Wilderness Survival for the Small Child.” Enclose quoted words or phrases in quotation marks.

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Now compare your summary with the author's.

John H. Corbin, author of the essay, “Wilderness Survival for the Small Child,” discusses three basic skills that children lost in the wilderness need to survive until they are rescued. First, the author claims that a child facing the fact of being lost must not panic but rather calmly plan to help searchers locate her/him by being conspicuous. He suggests such noise making devices as a whistle or sharply struck rocks as effective. Second, he advises that children should be taught how “to fend off exposure and irrational fear.” The real danger of exposure can be avoided by use of natural insulation and shelter. He offers a “healthy, realistic understanding of the outdoors” as a substitute for superstition. Finally, he cautions against eating or drinking anything until the searchers arrive since more danger exists from poisonous plants and berries than from starvation.

This summary reduces an essay of 750 words to around 135. Count your words and see how you did. If you have an opportunity to compare your summary with a classmate's summary, by all means do so. Note especially that even though your summaries will differ to some extent, each will be satisfactory. Remember, there is no such thing as the summary. A thousand different writers will produce a thousand different yet acceptable summaries.

Part Two

1. Write your opening sentence here for “Earth Days”. Be sure to include the following data properly punctuated:

a. the author's name                             b. the title of the work

c. the work's structural organization     d. the controlling idea

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2. Now, list the major points the author used to develop the controlling idea.

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For Items 3 and 4. Prepare opening sentences for any two essays or editorials that you choose. You do not need to write a summaries, only the opening sentence in proper form. Any deviation from the standard form devalues the assignment to zero (0). Absolutely every dot and jiggle counts. Fail to enclosed a title in quotation marks or underlined, and you get zip for your efforts.  

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Locate on the www two professionally written essays or editorials (NOT news stories or narratives) and prepare an opening sentence as though you were writing a summary following exactly the model provided above. That is, include the title of the work enclosed in quotation marks, the title of the source (book, journal, newspaper) underlined (or in italics) the name of the author, the structural clues like the ones you provided in your own thesis sentences and then the controlling idea. The next sentence would ordinarily begin your summary of the main topics.

You may locate articles of interest to you from any source or you may choose from the list below. Here is a list of editorials on a variety of topics from The New York Times that you may look over.

A Jagged World by David Brooks
Believing in Doubt by Austin Dacey
Evolution as Zero-Sum Game by Kenneth L. Woodward
The Holy Capitalists by David Brooks
Longer Lives Reveal the Ties That Bind Us by David Brooks
Faith in Science by The 14th Dalai Lama
Links to Essays by Barbara Kingsolver
The Broken Yardstick by Nicholas Eberstadt

Print a hard copy of the original essay or editorial and then prepare your summary of each. Follow the manuscript form requirements for the final two summaries. Staple them to this worksheet.  

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