This first summary/response is designed to help students make the connection between their own experiences and the writing of others, as well as to start working on critical reading strategies that will play a large role in their success in CO150. Since you've prepared them for this assignment by having them read & respond to several responses on the Web forum, the next step is to talk about the differences between that kind of informal response and an academic summary/response. You can do this by showing them a sample essay written for CO150 and talking about the differences, discussing the conventions of academic summary, and reviewing what they've already learned about writing an academic essay.
Note: The essay you assign can be critical to the student's success on this essay. If you choose an essay that is not an argument, be sure to point that out to the tutee. You might also generate a key question that the student can respond to with an argument. You and your tutee should look over the collected readings on selected topics--cultural snapshots, science & technology, environment, and current controversies--to choose a prompt essay you're both interested in. If you can't find one, have the tutee do some browsing in the journal room in the library to find a starting prompt. Working on a topic and using an essay that the student cares about will help the student respond meaningfully to the essay, so choose carefully!
The goals for this assignment are:
Suggestions for responding to this assignment: As always, be positive and encouraging. Let the student talk about how s/he approached the assignment and why s/he approached it this way. Encourage him or her to compare this experience with the experience of responding on the Web forum informally, directly to the writer (different audience). Have the student compare the summary to the original essay (by doing a backwards outline of the original essay, for example, and then looking at the summary to see if it captures all of the main ideas). Then, you might ask the student to compare his or her own essay to a sample essay & discuss relative strengths and weaknesses. Come up with a revision plan together, if at all possible. Focus on the major writing elements through at least the first revision, and then look at sentence-level revisions as necessary.
How long to stick with this assignment: The sample semester guidelines have this essay going through three revisions. Depending on your student's reading/writing ability, you could do more or less with this assignment. Again, the essay doesn't have to be perfect, so work with it as long as you and the student think it's productive. Be sure to balance the benefits of further work on this essay against the benefits of reading more essays for practice (especially if you think reading is the main difficulty). The general guideline is that this essay is "finished" when the writer has produced an accurate summary and a focused response that is developed with some relevant personal experience.
So far, you've written an informal narrative and an academic narrative about a significant experience, and responded informally to some other students' narratives. Now it's time to write an academic response to an academic narrative. This kind of summary/response is an assignment you'll see in CO150, and is also common (in varying forms) in other disciplines like education and business.
The questions you'll answer ("Purpose") are (1) What are the purpose and main points of this writer's essay, and (2) Do you agree or disagree with one of his/her points based on your own experiences?
You're answering these questions for ("Audience") that same academic audience as for the last essay you wrote (Narrative 2). This audience is more specific, in that they have not read either the essay you're summarizing or your previous narrative. You'll have to give them enough information so that they can understand the author's essay by reading only your summary.
The goals are (1) to accurately summarize an article using the conventions of academic summary (your tutor will discuss these with you), (2) to provide a focused response to the article with a clear thesis statement, and (3) to develop your response using examples from your personal experience that are clearly related to examples/ideas from the article itself.
If you're having trouble getting started, take a look at the "Summarizing" section in the back of this resource packet. You might also revisit the section on "Reading Strategies." Be sure to use your notes on the article itself and your two-column log for ideas. Before starting to write, you might look again at the sample summary/response in this packet & any notes you made on it when you discussed it with your tutor.