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Dialectical Notes. Or active reading. Reading is too often a passive experience for students. You sit down with a book, pass your eyes over the words, and say that you have done the reading assignment.

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Dialectical Notes

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dialectical notes

Dialectical Notes

Or active reading


Reading is too often a passive experience for students.You sit down with a book, pass your eyes over the words, and say that you have done the reading assignment.


This year, you are going to do dialectical notes with each novel.Here’s how it works. Every 3-4 pages, you find a significant quote, tell what literary technique the author is employing, and write two commentaries about it.


You may do this in one of two ways:If you have purchased your own novel, you may highlight the passages in the novel, and write your notes in the margin – or on post-it notes.If you checked a novel out from me, you need to divide your notebook/page into columns. You need to have the page # where you found the quote, the quote itself, then your notes.


When you finish, you will have a summary of the material you have read.As you read, your commentary can include questions, comments, and ideas that have piqued your interest.This becomes an intellectual history of your reading experience


This material will become the basis for much of the writing you will do about what you have read.It will also be a great reference for those of you who need to have a background in literature for an AP exam, or college class.


Commentaries are the most difficult part -------- so let’s practice:On page 4 in Wuthering Heights it says:“Wuthering Heights is the name of Mr. Heathcliff’s dwelling. “Wuthering” being a significant provincial adjective, descriptive of the atmospheric tumult to which its station is exposed in stormy weather.”foreshadowing – 1.Naming the house after stormy weather – 2.this foreshadows the stormy relationships that will take place here.


From Song of SolomonP. 17 – “Nobody both dared enough and cared enough to tell him.”characterization:1. This shows what Macon Dead is like – (which is not the greatest comm)2. He is a cold person who no one likes


From 1984P. “Thoughtcrime does not entail death: thoughtcrime IS death.”aphorism1. In the world of the Party, this is a simple truth about life2. Anyone who has committed thoughtcrime is eventually killed, it’s only a matter of time


When I say a quote from the book ----- it doesn’t have to be something a character says in the book. You are quoting a line or two from the book. It can be a description, an example of imagery, etc.


If you give the same commentary for every quote – you are just giving one commentary.Likewise,if your commentary is so general that it will fit any novel, your grade will suffer.For example:This gives the reader a visual------Well, duh!!!!!!!!!

and speaking of grades the following will be considered in grading
And speaking of grades, the following will be considered in grading:
  • Quotes found every 3-4 pages – if yours fall every 8 pages, you’ve only done ½ the work
  • Did you pick out a quote that has some significance?
  • Did you tell the literary technique?
  • Do you have 2 commentaries?
  • Do your commentaries have some depth, show some insight?