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Writing to Show Off Reading: Key Takeaways from Ananya Das Gupta's Writer's Workshop

I had the privilege of attending the ‘Writing to Show off Reading’, a writing workshop at Sunnyside last week. Our learners and educators assembled to gain some insight into reading and writing strategies. The workshop was conducted by Ananya Das Gupta, Director of Center for Writing and Pedagogy at Krea University. 

The students at Sunnyside are actively involved in extensive research on various topics of their choice. One of the challenges we faced was writing a clear and concise research report.  So Ananya’s question was, “Can we read in ways that actually help us to write?” 

The workshop began with reading three different texts and then to give a summary. We were then introduced to Reading for form and content. In the form, we need to look at the form of the text, what genre it is, what is special about the sentences, how are sentences different from each other and what do they convey, what is the form of the bigger write up etc. Ananya explained this clearly with a beautiful visual analogy that “Everything you read is a closed box that has to be opened.” 

The next step involved thoughtful scrutinization of the content of the boxes, i.e., subject matter to discover more information, what we know or call as Close Reading. It includes what the author is trying to convey through the specific words. The close observations help us understand that scientific language is precise and how it is balanced by the author with light text so as to not overwhelm the reader with just technical jargon but rather make it delightful to read. Close reading also helps us express our understanding rather than replicate what the author has already said.

Further, we learned the strategy of using quotes from our sources in our writing. We were acquainted to write a set up for the quote, then the quote, followed by the close reading of the quote. The close read helps us explain the quote further, helps make connections to our experience and express our thoughts to the reader and not just reiterate the author's thoughts and ideas.

The workshop had included interactive activities to put into practice the strategies we learned which helped us implement what we had learned to recapitulate our learning. We had this workshop just in time as our learners embark on a journey to learn Big History. The strategies of close reading and writing emphasise and foster critical thinking in the students and gives them the confidence to express their ideas concisely and confidently.

The mentor had chosen relevant and comprehensive content to deliver the key strategies. There was ample time for discussion and questioning at the end of the session which completed on time. She engaged the students to participate in the interactive activities, which were insightful and helped implement the learning. She referred to writing as reading made visible and how language of evidence is significant. The main purpose of research was not only to learn new things but to be able to contribute to new knowledge but that only happens when one immersed themselves in current knowledge.

It was an exceptional workshop on writing and we are thankful to Ananya for that. Her expertise and dedication to writing pedagogy was evident throughout the session and was motivating and thought provoking. With practice these strategies will have a lasting impact on the student's writing abilities and confidence.


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