2010 Workshops by Lee Carleton...

"Digital Reading & Research Strategies"

Is online reading significantly different than reading a physical book?
If so how? and why is this significant?
What new tools do we have access to when reading online?
How can we sort out the relevant, reliable resources from thousands of search engine hits for more efficient searches?
How do we cite our sources properly and how can we cite the text most effectively to support our writing?

This video "Help Desk" is an amusing look at the challenge of learning how to use new technologies - at one time, even the book was new and unfamiliar.
The humor of the situation can help to disarm our hesitation to dive in to using new technologies to begin increasing our digital literacy and enhancing our alpha literacy.

"The Digital Reading Revolution" from The Guardian
by Victor Keegan

"Digital Reading Spaces: How expert readers handle books, the Web and digital paper."
by Terje Hillesund

Using MS Word, Wikis or Google Docs as your super-scribe

Citing sources effectively:

TADS - title, author, date, source = key info when first introducing a text

ICE - introduce, cite, explain = effective citation involves brief intro and specific explanation of relevance

Writer's Web

Call on your legion of "find" tools and search engines in Google, .PDFs, Word documents, your favorite browser...

Resources on NEWS sites: compare media offered, amount & type of advertising, story length & word choice.


Wikipedia List of file formats

Familiarity with the 'suffixes' on files or the "file format" designation can be important and useful, especially for multimedia work and digital collaboration.


Never ever to be cited as a source - but a good place to begin to get an overview or a few leads for other resources.

College or University Library

Don't forget that consulting the research librarian is still a powerful tool for research. Browse journal collections like JSTOR and note how search terms are highlighted in each document in the search list and note that you can download a .pdf file or search the document online.


Refine your searches to filter out the weakest or least relevant sources, click "advanced search" and enter search terms or filter you results according to domain: .com, .net, .org, .gov, .edu

"Critical Reading for Writing"

What is "critical reading?" How can we read challenging texts in order to

maximize our retention and harvest the most useful information to enhance

our writing? In this workshop we will outline a few key reading strategies

for writing before applying them to some short texts during the workshop.

Note the image at the right - what does it imply about critical reading?

cuneiform.jpg HTML_screenshot.jpg

In every communication situation, the concerns that guide your reading & writing decisions can be summarized with the acronym


Context: where are you and why are you writing?

Audience: who is the intended or potential recipient of your writing?

Purpose: what do you hope to accomplish or what response would you like in your readers?

Reading is always a central preparation for writing, even when the reading is unrelated.

One of the first strategies to apply is that of deliberately noticing "markup" in the texts you read.

Markup is anything done to a text to assist the reader's comprehension and this includes punctuation,

paragraphing, subtitles, layout, images and annotation. Early texts like Cuneiform,did not include the standard markup

we have come to take for granted. The code behind this web page is called "HTML" or Hypertext Markup Language

indicating that even in the digital age, readers continue to require assistance to maximize comprehension. Below

is an excerpt of an essay I wrote with all markup removed - it is readable but would take much longer to "decode."

The next important strategy for critical reading is "active reading" or reading with annotation and highlighting.

When we read with pen & highlighter in hand we are more engaged and more alert to the meaning of the text as well as our understanding of it. During active reading you can highlight unfamiliar vocabulary to look up, mark passages that are confusing or passages that you find relevant to your writing task. Using different colored highlighters strategically can make a text much easier to access. For example, yellow could mark words or references to research, green could mark passages you might cite for support in your writing and blue could highlight passages that are not fully clear that you would like to discuss or explore further - you can invent your own system. Other aspects of a text to highlight or annotate include key terms, assumptions, claims, metaphors, structure, repetitions and descriptions. When a text offers little markup other than paragraphing you must look for other cues like spacing, asterisks, or super capitalization. In the absence of such subtle cues readers can enhance the text by writing their own outline in the margins to help orient their reading.

Any notes, questions or comments you write in the margins of a text are your "annotations" (sometimes called a "gloss") and these too can become useful tools for expanding your understanding. Annotations can include questions or challenges to the claims of a text, information or perspectives overlooked, notes of agreement, personal categorization of ideas, key terms, ideas for writing or observations about significance that can help you get your ideas flowing later when you begin to write. When you write about a text, it is important to know and convey a minimum of the "4 keys" or four pieces of key information: Title, Author, Date & Source (TADS) when you first introduce a text. Afterward, you can simply refer to the author or an abbreviation of the title. Use of these key specific details gives a writer greater credibility with readers. For certain types of writing requiring bibliographic information additional specific information may be required but is usually not cited within the text.


Do a quick reading of the first three pages of "The Eureka Hunt" from The New Yorker and don't worry if you do not complete the entire article. Use your highlighter to mark unfamiliar words & references as well as passages that are not clear to you. In your annotations, mark passages that demonstrate evidence of research and try to categorize the general subject area the writer might have researched to find this information such as "history," "biology," "psychology," etc.

Your annotations can also be questions written next to the unclear passages you have highlighted.

What is this essay about? How would you paraphrase its thesis?

How does Lehrer begin the article and why?

What do you notice about the way he introduces his main source of information?

What are the markup cues that reveal the basic structure of the article?

What subtitles could you insert and where would you place them?

Read "Living Like Weasels" in its entirety and use your highlighter in the same manner as you did for "The Eureka Hunt."

How would you categorize or describe this essay? In what specific ways does it differ from "The Eureka Hunt?"

Examine Dillard's essay for claims, metaphors, structure, repetitions and descriptions.





2010 Workshops

2011 Workshops


Research Tips




Compositions on Air and Paper

How is listening to a scary story around a campfire different than reading

that same story alone in your house? Why do we struggle with writing but

we rarely have "speaker's block?" What is the relationship between speech

and print? An exploration of the fertile boundary between speech and

writing to expand our understanding of language and enhance our ability to

gather and organize our thoughts for verbal or written delivery.


What stories do you remember from childhood (or more recently) shared around a fire or a kitchen table?

Have you ever memorized something for recitation? Can you recite it now?

What do you remember about when you first started talking?

We have all had "writer's block" but why don't we get "talkers block?"

Do you move your lips when you read? Did you know that writing was not originally meant for silent, personal reading?

see Alberto Manguel: Chapter 2 "Silent Readers" from A History of Reading(New York; Viking, 1996).


"Ambrose was an extraordinary reader. "When he read," said Augustine, "his eyes scanned the page and his heart sought out the meaning, but his voice was silent and his tongue was still. Anyone could approach him freely and guests were not commonly announced, so that often, when we came to visit him, we found him reading like this in silence, for he never read aloud....To Augustine, however, such reading manners seemed sufficiently strange for him to note them in his Confessions. The implication is that this method of reading, this silent perusing of the page, was in his time something out of the ordinary, and that normal reading was performed out loud. Even though instances of silent reading can be traced to earlier dates, not until the tenth century does this manner of reading become usual in the West."

Graphemes vs. Phonemes

a "grapmeme" is a logogram or a symbol that represents a word

a "phoneme" is a phonogram or a symbol that represents a sound

Which of these words describes our alphabet?

How does Twitter teach us about our symbol systems?



Word Nerd notes I
Dictionaries of prescription vs. description
Denotations vs. Connotations - knowledge of language & audience
Differing connotations for “gun” and “rhetoric”
Scan passage from Morton’s 1637 “Revels” to note pre-Webster flexible spelling
1828 Noah Webster fixes spelling

OED – the authority, English language from 1100 - present, 600,000+ words - intro: definitions and etymologies
monster, hybrid, write, educate, instruct, student
Regular consultation can clarify meaning, surprise and suggest ideas for writing
Suggestions for words to look up?

Thesaurus exercises: what are the synonyms for the words writing, learning & knowledge?
begin to reflect upon nuances of meaning and sonic qualities of your diction

Metaphors – etymology “to carry” – dangers of over application
what do they do?
metaphors of analysis: decode, unpack, deconstruct, mine
useful for writing, creates interest, clarifies and organizes when extended, as in Hamlet’s answer to Rosencrantz and Guildenstern below.

Hamlet 3.2.355-365
(act 3, scene 2, lines: 355-365)

  1. Why, look you now, how unworthy a thing you make of
  2. me! You would play upon me; you would seem to know
  3. my stops; you would pluck out the heart of my
  4. mystery; you would sound me from my lowest note to
  5. the top of my compass: and there is much music,
  6. excellent voice, in this little organ; yet cannot
  7. you make it speak. 'Sblood, do you think I am
  8. easier to be played on than a pipe? Call me what
  9. instrument you will, though you can fret me, yet you
  10. cannot play upon me.

Word Nerd notes II

Deliberately developing an enthusiasm for words and language can be a fun and useful way to enhance writing effectiveness and rekindle the joy of creativity. The Oxford English Dictionary is a valuable resource for mining maximum meaning from language and etymology can be a powerful tool for developing an essay. Conscious and considered use of metaphor can serve not only to clarify an idea, but help organize an essay. Reading aloud is also a crucial practice for editing as well as developing an ear for the music of language. These and other approaches can improve our writing and enhance our enjoyment of language.

Words & their enhancements...

Books & Journals: maximizing their useful features to speed research.

Abstract, contents, notes, index, bibliography.

Strong's Exhaustive Concordance is now digital and more powerful than ever.

A digital version of the old concordance is the "tag cloud" that signifies word frequency according to font size.

One website TagCrowd offers a free service that lets you generate such a visual for any text.

How might this be useful?

Using "find" in Word, or search windows in .pdf documents to enhance navigation.

Try it with "The Interpreter" from The New Yorker [[file/view/New Yorker Interpreter.pdf|New Yorker Interpreter.pdf]]

You can also do this with your browser. In Firefox, I click on Edit, then Find and the

search bar opens at the bottom. In Safari, it is the same procedure but the bar is on top.


The first writing was called cuneiform and it was done with pointed sticks and clay tablets.

The distinctive markings were run together without breaks, punctuation or other "markup."

Early texts would have looked much like this:











univocalitywheneveroneplacesatextwithinanetworkof othertextsoneforcesittoexistaspartofacomplexdialogueinasocial


kinda gives ya' new respect for punctuation and all them annoying formatting practices, don't it?

(what am I doing with grammar in this sentence? what do you call this?)

For more appreciation of the power of markup and the importance of proper punctuation, punctuate this sentence:

woman without her man is nothingWoman, without her man, is nothing.Woman, without her, man is nothing.




2010 Workshops

2011 Workshops


Research Tips