Project #87304 - Summary and Response

Summary and Response Practice

This might be one of the most important modules of the course, but it isn't necessarily one of the most entertaining. (Writing a summary and stating an opinion about a text are two of the most common and important activities you will do as a college writer.)  It can be challenging to write a really entertaining summary or response paper.  However, that said, I do want you to write something that is interesting and important in both paragraphs of this assignment, the summary and the response.  This exercise below is meant to give you some practice with summary and response so that you feel more comfortable creating a strong and entertaining paper.

It is important to read the assignment above and to take the quiz over the Module 3 assignment before you go on with this assignment. It might be advisable to also return to Module 1 to look over the selection on paragraphing, for you will be asked to write solid paragraphs here and in the Module 3 summary and response.

Next please go to the Course e-Reserves and then read through the section of a workbook, entitled "Special College Skills: Summary and Quotation." I would also recommend that print this excerpt from a workbook chapter to allow you to read it carefully and underline, highlight, and comment in its margins.  In fact, this kind of writing on the text and responding to it is something I would recommend that you do with all college texts. (Links to an external site.)

(The password is the same one we have been using all quarter, 0921.)

This chapter not only goes over the basics of summary, but it presents some of the important concepts to response writing, such as the use of quotation.  (Remember that in the response, you are required to include at least one quote that you comment on thoughtfully, in a way that adds something vital to the response paragraph about the section of the book that you have chosen to write about.)

Exercise One: Write a summary of the information in the chapter "Special College Skills: Summary and Quotation," and then write another paragraph about the most important things you learned there, particularly in terms of the Module 3 assignment (as a response).

Exercise Two: Choose one of the two selections below, and write one summary and then a second response paragraph about it, including a quote that you comment on in the response paragraph.  Note that these two paragraphs might well be shorter than the Module 3 formal paper assignment because it is based on a much shorter text than the Module 3 paper assignment is.

After you have finished both exercises, make sure that you read the work of at least 2 of your fellow students, comment on their work, ask a question, and be sure to answer any questions asked of you for full credit on this assignment.

What It Feels like to Walk on the Moon

by Buzz Aldrin

On July 20, 1969, Apollo 11 landed  on the moon.  Astronauts  Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins, and Edwin E. Aldrin , Jr. (also known as Buzz Aldrin) spent two and a half hours walking on the Moon's surface.  In the next essay, Aldrin describes  that experience.  As you read this descriptive essay, notice how the writer also uses elements of process writing.

The surface of the moon is like fine talcum powder. It is very loose at the top.  At a deeper level, a half inch or so, it becomes much more compact, almost as if it were cemented together.  It seems that way because there are no air molecules between the molecules of dust.

When I put my foot down on the powder, the boot print preserved itself exquisitely.  When I would take a step, a little semicircle of dust would spray out before me. It was odd because the dust did not behave at all the way it behaves here on Earth.  On Earth, dust is sometimes puffy or sandy.  On the Moon, the powdery dust travels through no air at all, so the dust is kicked up and then it all falls down at the the same time in a perfect semicircle.

I am trying the best I can to put this into words, but being on the Moon is just different--different from anything I have ever seen. To use the word alien would mislead people.  Surreal is probably as good a world as I have.  When I looked out the window of the lunar lander as we touched down, the sun was out, the sky was velvety black, the engine was shut down, and everything was silent.  It was surreal.

When I was on the Moon, there was very little audio around, only the sounds of my suit--the hum of the pumps circulating fluid.  But I didn't hear any amplified breathing inside my mask: that is the Hollywood contrivance.  The name of the game on the Moon was staying cool and not exerting too much so that I would never be out of breath.

If you remember the television images we sent back, you know that I was attempting to demonstrate different walking motions, going back and forth in front of the camera. I tried what you might call a kangaroo hop, and then I demonstrated how I needed a few steps to change direction because of the inertia that was up there.  I found that the best way to move around a fairly good clip was not by using a jogging motion--one foot, then the other--but rather by moving more the way a horse gallops: one-two, one-two, two steps in rapid succession, followed by a lope, followed by two more rapid steps.

And then there is the picture where I was standing next to the flag.  I was leaning forward a good bit because of the center of gravity of the backpack that I was wearing.  On the moon, it was sometimes hard to tell when I might be on the verge of losing my balance.  As I leaned a little bit to one side or the other, I came in danger of falling.  But it was easy to right myself by pushing down one the surface with my feet.  The lunar surface was so easy, so natural, and so convenient to get around.  It was a really nice environment.

While we were on the Moon, were was no time to savor the moment.  It seemed as though what we were doing was so significant that to pause for a moment and reflect metaphysically was really contrary to our mission.  We were not trained to smell the roses.  We were not hired to utter philosophical truisms at the spur of the moment.  We had a job to do. 

I do remember that one realization wafted through my mind when I was up there.  I noted that here were two guys farther away from anything than two guys had ever been before.  That is what I thought about. And yet, at the same time, I was very conscious that everything was being closely scrutinized a quarter of a million miles away. 

Everything and anything we did would be recorded, remembered, and studied for ages.  It felt a little like being the young kid in the third or fourth grade who is all of a sudden asked to go up on stage in front of the whole school and recite the Gettysburg Address.  And as he tries to remember the words, he has got gun-barrel vision.  He does not see what is going on around him; he was focused on that particular task, conscious only of his performance.  It was like that but even more so.  The eyes of the world were on us, and if we made a mistake, we would regret it for quite a while.

I guess, if I look back on things, there was one little moment of levity, a bit of unusual extemporaneousness.  When the countdown came to lift off from the moon, when it got to twenty seconds, Houston said, "Tranquility Base, you're cleared for liftoff."  And I said in response, "Roger, we're number one on the runway." Now comedy is the absurd put on a natural position.  There was no runway up there.  And there certainly wasn't anyone else waiting in line to lift off. I was conscious of that, being first.

Or you could summarize and respond to this article:

Shopping for Religion

Ellen Goodman

Ellen Goodman is a columnist for the Boston Globe.  She has also authored many books.  In 1980, she received the Pulitzer Prize for distinguished commentary.  As you read this argumentative essay, also look for elements of comparison and contrast.

Just below the text there was a Google ad inviting me to a quiz.  "Christian? Jewish? Muslim? Atheist? See Which Religion Is Right for You." Aside from the eccentricity of listing atheism as a religion, I couldn't help wondering what my grandparents would make of this religious matching service.  For that matter, what would they make of the idea that they could choose their religion at all? To them, religion was part of their identity, if not their DNA.  They were born into it, grew up in it, and died with its prayers.

I noticed this ad because it was attached to the story of a new report on religion in America released by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life.  The researchers interviewed 35,000 Americans.  Their figures show that Protestants now comprise a bare majority--51 percent--of the population, and that the fastest-growing group is the 16 percent now self-described as "unaffiliated." But what is most fascinating is that 44 percent of Americans left the religious traditions in which they grew up.  They left the religion of their parents with the frequency that they left their old neighborhood.

In my grandparents' day, Americans were divided between the big three religions, sort of like the big three TV networks: Catholic, Protestant, and Jew.  Now they have fragmented across a spectrum more like cable TV with satellite radio thrown in.  The researchers describe a "vibrant marketplace where individuals pick and choose religions that meet their needs." They surf their options.  "We are shopping for everything else, so why wouldn't we shop for religion?" asks religion professor Donald Miller of the University of Southern California. Pew's John Green adds, "It's not surprising that we have a marketplace in religious or spiritual ideas. What's qualitatively different these days," he says, "is that we have much more religious diversity."

I realize that for many Americans the idea of shopping for eternal truths is still jarring, even contradictory.  The movement from one "tradition" to another many even suggest a kind of promiscuity--a faithless pursuit of faith. Yet the idea of religion as a personal choice seems thoroughly American--as American as religious tolerance. And increasingly these two ideas may be related. 

American has long been regarded as the most religious of Western nations.  Six in ten Americans say that religion plays a very important role in our lives.  Polls show that Americans are more willing to vote for a woman, a black, or a Jew, than an atheist.  Secular Europeans who look at those figures regard Americans as unthinking believers--conservatives following orders delivered from the pulpit.

At home the culture wars are often polarized between the religious right and the secular left.  Leaders of both sides often characterize--perhaps caricature--religious members as people rooted in old ways and immutable ideas.  But a huge number of Americans are mobile in pursuit of the immutable.  "We are, as a country, people who want to choose their own identity in a lot of areas of life, and religion is one more part of it," says Alan Wolfe of  Boston College.  There's a difference between an identity that's achieved rather than ascribed.  Those who leave their childhood religions largely regard themselves as making their own individual choices.  In this cultural contest, even straying becomes and active decision.

When religions was cast in stone, we were more likely to cast stones. It may be the new pluralism and the framing of religions as a choice that make us more accepting.  "You are the artist of your life when it comes to religion," says Miller.  "This enables people to be more thoughtful about what they perceive to be true and right rather than inheriting what passes down them them."

Indeed, if we've left our childhood traditions, if our children may leave ours, there is good reason to nurture what Wolfe calls "intolerance insurance." The Pew study also shows that 40 percent of all marriages are of mixed religious traditions--including "none of the above."  We take coexistence pretty literally.

I don't think Americans are just shopping for their beliefs in a trivial sense, trying on creeds like this year's vestment, searching for the latest spiritual fashion.  But we are a people on the move.  About 40 million of us move to another home every year.  So too, we drop in and out of church, U-Hauling our beliefs off in search of a better fit.  Today, we may shop in a spiritual mall but with the good fortune to find the mall paved over the old religious battlefields.


Subject English
Due By (Pacific Time) 10/19/2015 10:00 am
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