Thursday, December 22, 2016

Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston

Carl Van Vechten [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

My oldest son is finished his first, freshman semester of his advanced English course with an exam on Their Eyes Were Watching God, which was written by Zora Neale Hurston, who is one of my favorite authors. When he informed me that he needed the book, I became excited and disappointed.  I was excited because he would be experiencing real literary talent from the Harlem Renaissance. I was disappointed because even though I own numerous copies of this book, all of them are packed away deep in my storage unit.  ( I really miss seeing my books.)

Hearing my son say that he enjoyed reading Their Eyes Were Watching God, I felt all warm and fuzzy inside. I appreciated how my son was able to recognize the work of a writer, who had inspired authors like Maya Angelou and Toni Morrison.

Due to traveling for my job and dealing with family emergencies, I have been unable to engage in "book talk" with my son about Their Eyes Were Watching God. I am hoping that during the holiday break, I am able to engage him in literary conversation about his analysis of the text.  I want to compare my analysis of the book with his and just chat about it.  Engaging in in-depth discussion about various literary texts is something that I miss since I no longer teach English.

I must say that my son was never tempted to watch the movie version of the book.  I even mentioned it once to him, and he did not take the bait.  I was so proud of him. He wanted to read the book, and he finished it without being entangled in the web of comparing the book to the movie.  So many students fall deep into this trap. He did not. He wanted to devour the text, and knowing this fact makes me very proud.

My children know that my love for reading is very serious.  Give me a book, as a  gift, and I am overjoyed.  Take me to a bookstore and allow me to sit undisturbed for hours, I am forever grateful.  However, when my children share my love for a book(s), like my son did for Their Eyes Were Watching God, "my cup runneth over."

Purchase Book
My love for books was instilled in me by my mother and father. When we traveled, we always found a bookstore or a library.  Because of this habit, I do the same thing when I travel.  My parents always read.  They read to us. They taught us how to read. They read in front of us.  To this day, I love seeing my father fall asleep with a book in his hand.  He is always reading and always learning.  To be able to share my love of Zora Neale Hurston and Their Eyes Were Watching God with my oldest son is such a blessing. I am trying to savor each and every moment with him.  Before I know it, he will be in college, and he will be away from "my nest."


Have you read Their Eyes Were Watching God? Who do you share you love of reading with?

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Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Guest Post: How to Be a Successful Adult Student - Taking Notes While Reading


How to Be a Successful Adult Student - Taking Notes While Reading

How to Be a Successful Adult Student - Taking Notes While Reading
By John Steely


An adult student needs to be able to read a paper or a chapter and understand the material on their own, outside of the classroom. One of the best ways to make sure that this happens effectively is to take notes while reading, writing down the ideas and thoughts inspired by what is being read.

Most students are taught to highlight while reading. This can be somewhat useful, but simply highlighting does little to improve the understanding of what is being read. Highlighting is an effective method of finding a passage later, as is underlining and even making comments in the margin. However, none of these are as effective as taking notes.

The Purpose of Taking Notes While Reading

The reason the student is reading something is, usually, to gain an understanding of something that was previously not understood, or at least to improve the existing understanding of the material. Often, the reading assigned to an adult student is more condense and full of information than reading done in grade school. Thus, the reading can be more difficult.

The purpose of taking notes while reading is two-fold. On the one hand, the student is trying to understand what is being said, and to incorporate that understanding in a larger picture of the course or goal of the reading. This purpose means that the student must understand not just the content but also the structure of what is being read. By taking notes while reading, this structure can often become clearer, more easily understood. On the other hand, the student does not want to read the material more than is necessary; after all, the student is working within a time frame that can sometimes put constraints on the amount of time spent in the reading. Being forced to read the material more times than is necessary can be a waste of time. This does not mean that the student will read the material only once; in many cases, multiple readings are needed. But readings should not be wasted. By taking notes, the material can be understood faster and more effectively.

How to Take Reading Notes

Unlike the classroom, the student has the opportunity to read the material more than once. This fact means that the method of taking notes can be more deliberate; the student can take the time needed to create a set of structured notes, rather than using a method of note-taking that minimizes time. For this reason, probably the best method of taking notes while reading is to use an outline. By creating an outline, the structure of the material can be more easily understood.

The outline should be constructed as a sequence of layers, rather than trying to get the entire outline done with one pass. The first layer should be based on the structure of the reading; if section headers are provided, these can provide a readily available initial structure. Within each section, the first thing to determine is the purpose of the section. Is this section putting forth an argument? Is it explaining an idea? Providing an example? Once the purpose is determined, this should be written under the section heading.

After the section's purpose is determined, the reader then needs to put in the details. I have found that doing this twice and comparing the results creates the most effective notes. Read the section through, creating an outline based on the reading. After the section is done, the student usually has a better understanding of what that section of reading is doing. Then reading the section a second time, creating a fresh outline can provide a fuller understanding. Whether this second reading is done immediately after the first is entirely up to the student. With particularly difficult sections, taking a break between the readings can provide a fuller perspective on the reading, creating a better outline.

Once the outline is created, it should be reviewed for completeness. Is anything in the outline unclear, confusing? If so, then the student has two options. Either he can reread the material, looking for a clearer understanding, or a question can be created for the next class, looking a clearer understanding from the instructor.

Reading Technical Material

This technique works best in material where claims are made and supported, such as in economics, design principles, or surveys. Technical writing, such as mathematics and electronics, need a slightly different approach. The key sections for technical material are often not the sections provided by the reading material but the formulas being presented. Once the formulas are presented, then the outline should provide first an explanation of what is in the formula then at least one example; more examples are useful if the material is not clearly understood the first time.

Practice makes Perfect

If there is any academic activity which improves with practice, it is reading and taking notes. Initially, the student will find the endeavor difficult and fraught with uncertainty. Working with others, comparing notes and examples, can be of immense help when learning how to take notes on reading material. As the student practices, however, she will notice a remarkable improvement. As in many other efforts, persistence in reading and taking notes pays off.

John Steely has been teaching mathematics, study skills, and habits of success for over 25 years. You can access a number of free resources he has found and made at Steely Services

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/expert/John_Steely/330623
http://EzineArticles.com/?How-to-Be-a-Successful-Adult-Student---Taking-Notes-While-Reading&id=7795431



Let's connect on Goodreads.
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my currently-reading shelf:
Cassandra Hawkins Wilder's book recommendations, liked quotes, book clubs, book trivia, book lists (currently-reading shelf)
Check out my other blog: Transitioning to Me: Life after Divorce

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