• Types of Responses to Recorded Communication

    If someone talks to you, you can listen or reply in the moment. But lots of communication—readings, speeches, videos—does not allow an immediate verbal reply. Here are some other ways people respond, to get something out of it.


    Summary and Paraphrasing

    The most basic level of response to a reading is to put it into your own words. The purpose of this is to make sure you understand it or make it easier for others like you to understand. This is also a basic building block of other responses, below.

    Summary gives the short version. This requires the skill of choosing what is important and what is not—basically reducing paragraphs down to an outline.

    Paraphrasing means translating something from difficult language to how you would say it. Go sentence by sentence without leaving things out.



    Analysis is identifying not just what the reading/video/speech said, but what you think it means. This generally begins with identifying the theme—the general idea it addresses, such as “growing up” or “war” or “love.” Then identify the speaker’s message about that theme. What’s the moral of the story, or the point of the essay or speech? What sentence with the word “should” in it are they suggesting? What does the writer want the reader to do or understand?

    In an analysis essay of an article or story, your guess of the writer’s point is your thesis. The rest of your essay will prove this point using quotes from the reading.



    If you read an argument, you may agree or disagree. Argument means taking a stand on one side or the other. Usually the word “should” is in there, expressing your opinion: who should do what? This is your thesis.

    There are 4 parts to a good written argument: a thesis, logic, credibility and emotional appeals. Logic means having more than one good reason. Credibility means using your experience or good sources such as scientists and historians. Emotional appeal means using storytelling techniques such as sensory details in moments to make people want to cry for victims and fight with you against evil in order to feel love.



    If a good story or message gets inside you, you can embody it and give it your own twist through creative projects such as writing a short story or poem or making a movie or play or some visual art. The connection will generally be through the theme, although your message about the theme may contrast with it. Your work and the original may share or have different characters, settings, or style elements.



    Criticism means reviewing something—in other words, judging it as a whole and in parts. Usually criticism is organized by category. For each category, you will describe and give examples of what the writer/speaker/moviemaker does, and then give your opinion on how much you like or dislike that. Categories for stories include things like theme, plot, characters, setting, structure, voice and other style elements. Categories for movies include things like theme, plot, characters, setting, structure, acting, directing, cinematography and soundtrack. Video games, music and other media will all have their own categories.


    Memoir/Personal Essay

    Of course the most natural way you’ll connect with any material is through thoughts of your own life. You may find the connection to your life through the theme, the plot (events), the characters or the setting. A memoir is a true story you write about your life. A personal essay is the true story plus focused reflections on what you learned from it.


    To Do

    These are the main genres of writing we’ll be doing this year. To break the ice in each, on your own paper, alone or in small groups, do the following for one of your latest readings:

    Types of Responses to Recorded Communication

    Pick a book or movie that you recently read or watched.  Its title: _________________________

    1. Summary: Summarize all the main events in as few complete sentences as possible:




    2. Paraphrasing (Done in class on separate paper)

    3. Analysis. a. Identify the theme: _________________________________

    b. Identify the writer’s message about the theme—the moral of the story: ___________________


    c: Give one quote or event that supports it: ___________________________________________


    1. Argument. a. Express the message (from 3b) as a “should” thesis: ___________________

    ________ should _______________________________________________________________.

    b. One event from history or your life that supports that thesis: ___________________________



    1. Creativity: Consider the theme/message in a different setting with different characters. Share your story idea below. First give it a title: _________________________________
      a. Character names, descriptions: __________________________________________________



    b. Plot: _______________________________________________________________________


    c. Setting (time, place described): __________________________________________________


    1. Criticism: Fill out the chart below. Use extra paper if needed.

    Category 1: (circle)  characters, plot, setting, style, theme

    Describe what the writer does

    Give an example

    Give your opinion







    Category 2: (circle) characters, plot, setting, style, theme

    Describe what the writer does

    Give an example

    Give your opinion







    Category 3: (circle) characters, plot, setting, style, theme







    1. Memoir: Summarize, in 1-2 sentences, an event from your life that connects to the theme/message (see 3b) of the reading: ______________________________________________



    Give it a title: ______________________________________________________________



    Types of Responses to Recorded Communication Score Sheet





    You did barely any, did it very poorly, or were up to a month late.

    You did not quite show understanding, or were up to 3 weeks late.

    You did well enough to show general understanding; under a week late.

    You did everything asked, showing clear understanding; on time.



Last Modified on August 2, 2019