Thursday, July 14, 2011

My First Professional Article

The Topic of My Article: Reading Professional Journals Quickly and Efficiently

The topic of my first published article was how to find time in a busy schedule to read professional journals in English education. Professional journals in any field are a valuable source of useful ideas. They shed light on important issues in teaching English.

No Time

However, as a teacher, I had little time for such reading, so I experimented and found a method that helped me gain the most ideas from the limited time I could allow for reading professional materials. I learned early that many professional articles were not worth my time, so I developed a method for sampling that helped me find quickly the main points of each article and just enough of the supporting details to answer my questions.

Title, Sub-titles, First paragraph and Last Paragraph

First, I would read the title, sub-titles, the first paragraph and the last paragraph of the article. Usually, this brief minute or two of reading was enough to tell me whether the article was worth reading in more detail. If I had no more interest in the article, I would jot a brief summary at the beginning of the article to help me remember its essential ideas and would move on the next article. This brief sampling of the article almost always gave me the main idea.

First Sentence of Each Intermediate Paragraph

However, if I wanted to know more, or, if I had questions to which I wanted answers, then I would read the first sentence of each intermediate paragraph between the first and last paragraphs. Again, the reading of the first sentences of paragraphs did not take long, but it often gave me the details that I needed to answer my questions. After reading the first sentence of each paragraph, if I did not want to know any more, then I would jot a brief summary at the beginning of the article and would go on to the next article. (If I was still intrigued by the article, and had more questions I needed to answer, I would go back and read the entire article, which happened almost never.)

The Result: Making the Most of My Time

This techniques helped me to sift through and identify the interesting ideas in lengthy articles. It enabled me to skim over lengthy explanations in which I had no interest. In a short period of time, I found the main ideas and answered my questions. This method worked for me. I was able to read through journals while waiting in the doctor’s office, during free periods, and for 15 minutes each night before going to bed, gathering valuable ideas.

But How Much Was I Missing?

I tested myself to see if I was really missing important ideas when I did not read the entire article to begin with. I would read the first and last paragraph, decide I did not want to know any more, but would go back and read the article any way. Almost always, my initial instincts were right. Reading the entire article would be a waste of my time. I learned little more than I already knew or needed to know.

Topic for My First Article

I shared this technique with my teachers in workshops. To gather background information on the topic of the workshop, they would read articles in professional journals dealing with that topic. They liked the sampling technique. They almost always found articles they wanted to share and even articles that they asked to have copied so they could take them home with them. As a result, I decided to write an article on the technique and to submit it to The Reading Teacher, an International Reading Association journal for reading specialists and elementary teachers.

Next Blog: A Judgmental Review of My Article: Not Very Helpful

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