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Task sheet in connection with Writing Techniques Faculty of Education, D.

Spiteri

The short summary


(The principles below can be applied to original texts of any length and any degree of
complexity).

Step 1 The short summary in note form


What is this text about?
Write one single, very broad statement, as if notifying a friend of the article.

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........................................................................................................................

Step 2

What are the 6 main points.


Write in brief note form, but keep the sequence of the original. If there appear to be more than
six, then join some together under a new, broader heading

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Step 3 What is the author’s conclusion, or the major, most distinctive general statement
in the article?

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·..................................................................................................................................

·..................................................................................................................................

Step 4 The short summary in prose


Put away the original and combine the single statement from Step 1, the six dot
points from Step 2, and the conclusion from Step 3 in a paragraph of continuous
prose (in your own words). Check back for accuracy.
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Task sheet in connection with Writing Techniques Faculty of Education, D. Spiteri

CRITIQUING
Look at the following verbs and discuss how each gives a different flavour to how you
introduce Jones and his ideas.

Jones (claims, asserts, agrees, suggests, states, theorises, argues, denies, refutes)
that ...

Look again at the part of the journal article on National Literacy and Numeracy
strategies. Look also at other parts of articles that we have used in previous
sessions, like the one on Formative Assessment and the one in praise of educational
research. See whether you can find the following verbs and complete the sentence by
reporting authors and their views/findings. Did you find any others?

……………… insists that ..............................................................…………………….............

……………… agrees that ............................................................……………………...............

……………… asserts that ..............................................................…………………….............

……………… remarks that ..............................................................…………………….............

……………… claims that ..............................................................……………………………….

……………… points out that..............................................................……………………………

……………… affirms that..............................................................…………… …………………….

……………… adds that ..............................................................……………………......................

……………… reports that ..............................................................……………………..................

……………… disagrees that ..............................................................……………………...............

……………… doubts that .................................................................................................................

……………… emphasises that ..............................................................……………………............

……………… maintains that ..............................................................……………………...............

……………… indicates that ..............................................................……………………................

……………… shows that ..............................................................…………………….....................

……………… proves that ..............................................................……………………......................

……………… finds that ..............................................................…………………….........................

……………… stresses that ..............................................................…………………….....................

……………… feels that .............................................................……………………............................

……………… concludes that ..............................................................…………………….............


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Task sheet in connection with Writing Techniques Faculty of Education, D. Spiteri

Critiquing – comparing and contrasting

It is part of the critiquing process to assess and point out the similarities and
differences that you have discovered between writers in relation to theory,
hypothesis, techniques, results, equipment, research design and other features of
research and reporting.

When you find commonality of experience, it is useful to be able to show that a


number of researchers have found the same thing. This adds considerable strength
and credibility to your reporting of the experience itself.

On the other hand, polarisations within your field are likely to be based on differences
in approach and experience amongst researchers. You can use techniques of
contrasting to explain the details and implications of any such differences.

Paraphrasing, reporting, and quoting are three techniques for


achieving this. (refer to Voice in notes)

Read the following and identify which of the above is being made.

1. …………………………………..

As Black and Wiliam (1998b) point out, these changes are hard to implement
even in ideal conditions:

Thus the improvement of formative assessment cannot be a


simple matter. There is no ‘quick fix’ that can be added to
existing practice with promise of rapid reward.

2. ……………………………………..

Reviews of research by Natriello (1987) and Crooks (1988) and more recently
by Black and Wiliam (1998a) have demonstrated that substantial learning
gains are possible when teachers introduce formative assessment into their
classroom practice.

3. ……………………………………….

This is because, although work by Nuthall and Alton-Lee (1995) has shown
that teaching for understanding, rather than rote recall, results in better long-
term retention, attempts to maximize student and school scores appear to
result in a lack of attention to the kinds of higher-order thinking involved in
formative assessment. Indeed, it appears as if there is a widespread belief
that teaching well is incompatible with raising test scores.

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Task sheet in connection with Writing Techniques Faculty of Education, D. Spiteri
Reducing text by paraphrasing, reporting and quoting

Read the passage below and try reproducing the ideas using the three
different techniques described above.

In a three-year study of schools in the mid-west of the USA, Newmann et al. (2001)
found that students whose teachers used authentic classroom tasks (defined as
requiring construction, rather than reproduction of knowledge, disciplined inquiry,
and value beyond school) out-performed students not given such work, and that the
size of the effects (as measured by standardized effect size) was substantial. In
reading, writing and mathematics, the standardized effect sizes were 0.43, 0.52 and
0.64 respectively, with significant aptitude-treatment interactions favouring high-
achievers in reading and low-achievers in mathematics. In another three-year study
of two secondary (11–16) schools in England, Boaler (2002) compared two schools.
One school (Phoenix Park) used a ‘reform’ approach to the teaching of
mathematics, emphasizing higher-order thinking, and students’ responsibility for
their own learning, while the other (Amber Hill) used a ‘traditional’ approach
emphasizing practice of test items. Although matched in terms of prior
achievement, students at Phoenix Park outperformed those at Amber Hill in the
national school-leaving examination (the General Certificate of Secondary
Education, or GCSE) by, on average, one third of a grade, equivalent to a
standardized effect size of 0.21.

These studies are useful in pointing out that attention to higher-order goals in
teaching can result in higher attainment, even when such attainment is measured
principally in terms of lower-order goals. However, since these studies were not
based on direct experiments, there is always the possibility that, in Newmann et
al.’s (2001) study, the teachers using more authentic activities were just better
teachers, and that the choice of authentic activities was incidental to their success.
Similarly, in Boaler’s (2002) study, it could be that the teachers teaching at Phoenix
Park were just better teachers, drawn to the school by its progressive ethos.

Paraphrasing (use another sheet of paper for these three tasks)

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Reporting

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...................................................................................................………………………………..
Quoting

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...................................................................................................………………………………..

...................................................................................................………………………………..
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Task sheet in connection with Writing Techniques Faculty of Education, D. Spiteri
 We can use a variety of words to compare and contrast. Look at the
following list of connecting words and phrases and place each in either of
the two columns.

however, in addition, but, whereas, also, therefore, on the other hand, moreover,
and, whilst, as well, by contrast, because, furthermore, conversely

Words that indicate a change of Words that indicate same direction,


thought or opinion similarity of feature or intent

The following lists a range of verbs used for reporting on previous


literature:

add, affirm, agree, argue, assert, challenge, claim, clarify, conclude,


deny, describe, determine, disagree, doubt, elaborate, emphasise, feel,
find, indicate, maintain, outline, point out, present, question, refute,
remark, report, show, state, stress, suggest, warn

• Position each word from your list of verbs above in an appropriate position
on the following table:

You (as writer) agree with You (as writer) disagree with the
the viewpoint of the author viewpoint of the author

The author agrees The author disagrees with another


with/adds to another author's opinion/results/findings
author's questions/
results/findings

The author expresses strong The author expresses no


judgment that they are correct/that judgement
their results are significant

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Task sheet in connection with Writing Techniques Faculty of Education, D. Spiteri

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Task sheet in connection with Writing Techniques Faculty of Education, D. Spiteri