The Powerful Passages Strategy

By Brandon Marshall of Contra Costa College

Description #

All college essays require that you demonstrate how your reading and your sources inform your understanding of a topic. I expect you to effectively integrate source material into your arguments. Using this strategy, find and transcribe quotes to be used while writing, while also recording your critical thoughts about those quotes. And, best of all, this information is collected in one easy-to-access page!

Procedure #

Read silently and Talk to the Text. Pay particular attention to these places in the text:

  • Where the text raises questions for you
  • Where it confirms what you already believe
  • Where it makes you say “aha!”
  • Where it conflicts with your beliefs
  • Where it causes you to reconsider prior assumptions
  • Where it reminds you of other things you have read
  • Where it reminds you of class discussion

Choose three different powerful passages that you want to share with the class. #

  • Identify at least three passages that you find powerful, and then annotate the word, phrase, sentence or sentences, using the Powerful Passages strategy to explain your connection to the text.
    • Explanations for each passage should contain a minimum of 50 words and explain the significance of the passage.
    • Think critically and move beyond summary here. Responses that regurgitate the text will not earn full marks.
  • After posting your annotations, reply to the annotations of at least three classmates in an additive fashion.
  • Lastly, respond to at least one person who replied to your annotation. The goal here is to keep the conversation going.
  • So you should net a total of seven posts.