Synopsis and comparison: A 2-part activity

This posts is one of two that describe ELA activities that use as their starting point an essay by Josh Spilker titled “What to Do If You’re a Talentless Hack.” The shortlink is

Spilker writes to people who have discovered they haven’t the talent  to succeed at the career they envisioned for themselves.

It’s an unpleasant fact of life, that when they get to college, many students will make that discovery—or the discovery that they aren’t as brilliant as their high school teachers assured them they were.

Spilker lays out the options available to students who aren’t going to make it to the top of their chosen professions.

Part 1: Have students summarize the text

The first of the two activities students need to do is to  summarize the text. Here are the directions to give students:

Read Spilker’s essay on Medium. Condense his ideas into no more than 10% of the length of the original, which is 134 words. In your synopsis, retain:

  • The order of ideas.
  • The “voice” of the original essay.
  • Some distinctive wording from the original.

Next week, I’ll give you directions for having students use their summaries as half the research for a comparison.