Reading and Writing Alcove
Welcome to the reading and writing alcove, where you will develop your ability to deeply comprehend any text worth reading, following fundamental principles of critical thinking. As you work through these activities, you will also develop your ability to write clearly and to focus on issues and concepts of substance.

There are a number of levels, or degrees, of close reading and substantive writing. In this diagram we highlight five degrees, each of which entails systematic critical reading and writing processes.
In the reading and writing alcove, we give you exercises in the first two levels – paraphrasing short quotes and texts, and explicating a thesis. (For exercises in the third level – Explicating the logic of a text, see the Wheel of Reason activities).

In many of the exercises in this section, you will type in your answers, then see specimen answers written by our scholars. Keep in mind that there are many ways to articulate interpretations of texts; still our specimen answers will be the ”better” or ”best” of the many possible interpretations. You will need to decide how accurate or logical your interpretation is. A good “acid test” is this– if the author of the original text would wholeheartedly approve of your interpretation of her or his work, then you are on the right track.
For further reading and exercises on close reading and substantive writing, see the Thinker’s Guide to Close Reading and the Thinker’s Guide to Substantive Writing by Richard Paul and Linda Elder.

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