Your notebook should demonstrate thoroughness of reading, active participation with the text, and thoughtful evaluations and questions.
A standard notebook might include:
Pre-class notes - These notes are taken while you read the texts and are, in relation to your grade, used to demonstrate at Don Rags that you read your texts well. More importantly, however, they are expected to be useful to you during and after class for reference, quotations, tracking arguments, etc.
Pre-class notes do not have a set type; they can be whatever is helpful to you that also demonstrates your active and thorough engagement of the text. There is no set length, but generally half a page is too little, whereas eight pages is probably a bit much. If you would like some ideas to get started, here is a brief guide to the sorts of things that are useful:
- outline arguments
- follow the argument by commenting and asking questions
- define words
- summarize chapters
- make brief character biographies
- note cross-references to other passages or books
- track themes, words, characters, or repeated references
- note questions and thoughts you would like to bring up in class
It is important that your notes enhance your education and that of your fellow students. Feel free to experiment until you figure out what is most helpful to you, and talk with your mentor for any further suggestions.
In-class notes - Like pre-class notes, they do not have a set type. Your mentor will provide you with guidelines, which the tutor for any given class session can modify. For example, some tutors will not allow the students to take In-class notes.
Pull questions – A "Pull Question" is a question which requires further thought and synthesis, pulling together the text and the ideas discussed in the session. They are provided by the tutors at the end of each session, or you may write and answer your own questions on the text. Your response should be type-written and between 300 and 600 words These essays are short, but should demonstrate clear writing in your grammar and precision of thought. They allow you to further interact with a particular aspect of the text and to briefly work out an idea or thought. If they become unhelpful to you, discuss alternatives with your mentor.
Plagiarism in Notebook:
Be diligent. Plagiarism can occur within the notebook. Both pre-class notes and pull questions must be your original work. Whenever you use words, ideas, or concepts from another author you must clearly acknowledge the source of the information within your pre-class notes or pull question. It is plagiarism if a student's pre-class notes or pull questions contain work that was taken from another source and is not explicitly identified as such. For a complete understanding of Torrey’s plagiarism policy please click here.