This is a sample reading response essay to an article titled “Cell Phones are Dangerous" by Mary Johnson, agreeing with the article and extending one of the ideas.
Paragraph 1: Dramatic re-telling of a personal story of picking up my cell phone and then realizing that I am going to crash into another car. Stop the story right before the crash.
Paragraph 2: Like most people, I thought I was a good enough driver to handle using a cell phone while driving. I found out I was wrong. It turns out I’m not unusual. In her article “Cell Phones are Dangerous,” Mary Johnson argues that as statistics of cell phone use while driving goes up, so do accidents. According to Johnson, we should not use our phones while driving and should educate others not to use them either. Johnson cites statistics showing that talking on a cell phone is as dangerous as driving drunk. Moreover, she points out the increasing number of accidents caused by cell phone use. Her conclusion is that we need to personally decide not to use a cell phone while driving and that we need to educate our friends and family to give up using cell phones while driving too. I agree with Jones that cell phones are dangerous and that we should personally choose to not use one while driving; however, I’d go further than Jones by adding that we need to have laws that prohibit anyone from using cell phones in cars.
Each of these statements would be the topic sentence of one of the body paragraphs. For the first one, I also give examples of the type of arguments and support I would use to write that paragraph and prove my point.
1. Laws make people realize that cell phone driving is dangerous. (Below is an example of some support I could use to back up this idea—you can use ideas from the article but do not repeat the article.)
- support with an anecdote of friends or family thinking a call is more important than driving
- use statistics from article
- argue some people will be convinced by being educated, but not everyone
- use example of seatbelt laws saving lives
- argue that using a cell phone endangers others and not just yourself
2. New technology requires changes in public policy.
3. People in my generation feel obligated to take a call, but if it is illegal to call while driving, they won’t feel that pressure.
4. Using hands-free headsets won’t work because it is the call which is distracting, not holding the phone.
5. This law will save a lot of lives.
I would return to my personal story and pick it up where I left off. I do crash and there is a lot of damage to my car, but no one is hurt. I can explain my great relief that my cell phone use did not end more tragically, and my personal decision to put my cell phone where I can’t reach it while driving. End with an appeal to the reader to do the same, but to also support legislation to prohibit cell phone use while driving.
Motivation and Prior Knowledge:
Think, Pair, Share Exercise: Ask the class, "Who wants to be a writer? Why?" Have the class think quietly about this question for a minute. Ask students to pair up with a partner or in groups and share their thoughts. Then have the students share with you. Record their answers on a blackboard, making sure to write the child's name after each shared idea.
Ask the class, "What are some of the different types of professional writing in the world?" Record the responses of the groups, which may include:
Types of Writing:
- Short stories
- Public relations
On the board write the title: What is it like to be a writer? Underneath the title have two columns:
1) Good and
2) Not so good
Ask the class, "What are some good and not so good things about being a writer?" Record their answers, which may include:
- Meet interesting people
- Learn new things
- Get to create
- Many readers
- Can influence people
Not so good
- Editors change things
- People may not like what you write
Think, Pair, Share Exercise:
Ask the class, "What does it take to be a writer?" Have the class think silently about the question for a minute. Have students pair with a partner or in groups and share their thoughts. Then have them share their thoughts with you and record them on the board.
Being a Writer
- Good knowledge of English. Think of CUPS: Capitalization, Use of words, Punctuation, Spelling.
- Good knowledge of your field, general knowledge of everything.
- Good observational skills: What did the team do after they won? What did the woman say when she got her lost dog back? Remember colors, sounds, sequence of events, and words of people what you need to create the event.
- Persistence: Write and rewrite until you think it's perfect. Go after the story, dig for facts, get quotes to make it interesting, do your best for the readers.
- Thick skin: Not every teacher or editor or reader will like everything you write. Get used to it.
- Hard work. Writers are made, very seldom born. Tiger Woods has a great natural swing but he works out a lot and hits at least 1,000 practice shots a day.
How to Read a Newspaper - Bring newspapers to class and ask students why reading a newspaper is important. When that has been discussed, hand out the newspapers. Go through the "Before-During-After" reading strategies below for understanding and getting the most out of a newspaper story.
- Preview the text
- Read captions
- Look at subtitles
- Predict what the story might be about
- Look at the bold print words
- Look up unfamiliar words in a dictionary
- Clarify information by rereading text
- Summarize the text
- Create a visual image
- Think of prior knowledge
- Connect new information with prior knowledge
- Share new information with someone
Have students practice these strategies with their newspapers, then share what they've learned with you and the class. The test of whether you understand a newspaper story is: "Can you explain it to somebody else?"
Importance of Newspapers - Ask the class, "Why are newspapers important to our community? What kind of information do they provide to link us to our political and social structure?" Have the class think silently about the question for a minute, then ask them to pair with a partner or in groups and share their thoughts. Have them share their thoughts with you and the class and record them on the board.
Scavenger Hunt - Prepare a list of items students will have to locate in the newspaper (headline, a sale price, comic strip, sport scores, movies review, etc.). Give a time limit for the scavenger hunt.