English language learning program (ell) Reading to Write: Summarizing Summarizing a text, or distilling its essential concepts into a paragraph or two, is a useful study tool as well as good writing practice. A summary has two aims: (1) to reproduce the overarching ideas in a text, identifying the general concepts that run through the entire piece, and (2) to express these overarching ideas using precise, specific language. When you summarize, you cannot rely on the language the author has used to develop his or her points, and you must find a way to give an overview of these points without your own sentences becoming too general. You must also make decisions about which concepts to leave in and which to omit, taking into consideration your purposes in summarizing and also your view of what is important in this text. Here are some methods for summarizing: a. Include the title and identify the author in your first sentence. b. The first sentence or two of your summary should contain the author’s thesis, or central concept, stated in your own words. This is the idea that runs through the entire text–the one you’d mention if someone asked you: “What is this piece/article about?” Unlike student essays, the main idea in a primary document or an academic article may not be stated in one location at the beginning. Instead, it may be gradually developed throughout the piece or it may become fully apparent only at the end. c. When summarizing a longer article, try to see how the various stages in the explanation or argument are built up in groups of related paragraphs. Divide the article into sections if it isn’t done in the published form. Then, write a sentence or two to cover the key ideas in each section. d. Omit ideas that are not really central to the text. Don’t feel that you must reproduce the author’s exact progression of thought. (On the other hand, be careful not to misrepresent ideas by omitting important aspects of the author’s discussion). e. In general, omit minor details and specific examples. (In some texts, an extended example may be a key part of the argument, so you would want to mention it). f. Avoid writing opinions or personal responses in your summaries (save these for active reading responses or tutorial discussions). g. Be careful not to plagiarize the author’s words. If you do use even a few of the author’s words, they must appear in quotation marks. To avoid plagiarism, try writing the first draft of your summary without looking back at the original text. Copyright © L. Freedman 2012, University of Toronto MICHAEL L. WEHMEYER University of Kansas Self-Determination: A Family Affair Due to the advocacy of families during the 20th century, children and youth with disabilities gained access to a free, appropriate education. Although people with disabilities have made significant strides in the past quarter century, in the United States and across the world, people with significant disabilities continue to experience disproportionate levels of unemployment, have few options other than to live with their families, and experience a diminished quality of life. To address this, the educational system has focused on supports and services to ensure that young people with disabilities transition from school to adulthood more successfully. Within these efforts, the promotion of self-determination for secondary students with disabilities has become best practice, and there exist evidencebased methods, materials, and strategies to achieve this outcome. This article discusses the importance of self-determination for youth with disabilities to achieve successful lives and the important role that families play in that process. For all adolescents, the process of individuation—the movement from being largely dependent on others to being largely dependent on oneself—and the movement toward autonomy constitute major steps toward adulthood (Wehmeyer, 2008). The support from families Department of Special Education, Kansas University Center on Developmental Disabilities, Beach Center on Disability, 1200 Sunnyside Ave., Room 3136, Lawrence, KS 66045 (email@example.com). Key Words: self-determination, transition, secondary education, family involvement, student-directed planning. 178 during adolescent development is critical in the development of greater self-determination, the emergence of which is an important aspect of becoming autonomous and self-governing. Selfdetermination is a general psychological construct within the organizing structure of theories of human agentic behavior. An agentic person is the ‘‘origin of his or her actions, has high aspirations, perseveres in the face of obstacles, sees more and varied options for action, learns from failures, and overall, [and] has a greater sense of well being’’ (Little, Hawley, Henrich, & Marsland, 2002, p. 390). Human agentic theories ‘‘share the meta-theoretical view that organismic aspirations drive human behaviors’’ (Little, Snyder, & Wehmeyer, 2006, p. 61). An organismic perspective views people as active contributors to, or ‘‘authors’’ of, their behavior, which is self-regulated and goal-directed ‘‘action.’’ Selfdetermined
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