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READ 104 Reading Mastery (Johnson): Start with Background Info.

Start with background information to explore the conversation

What does "explore the conversation" mean?

reasonable protest sign

When we examine current social issues, we find that there are multiple points of view involved. In order to be well-informed, you want to learn what the major issues are, who the different individuals and groups involved are, how the issue developed, where it is happening, when and why. You also want to learn what those different stakeholders have to say about the problem.

When you explore these different viewpoints, you are exploring the conversation around the problem. You will want to look at different views in a non-judgemental way, even if they do not agree with your own opinion or feelings on the problem.

Your first step is to gather factual information about the issue.

Image soure: Reasonable Protest Sign. 2015. David Putney Blog. Web. 1 Apr. 2015.

Begin your research

Use reference books and articles:

  • to get factual background information on an issue or topic. Learn the "who, what, when, where, why's."

  • to get statistical information (be sure it's current enough)

  • to quickly scan a topic for keywords 

  • to get leads to other sources (bibliographies)


Reference Books on Activism in Holman Library

Reference Databases (for Background)

EXAMPLE - Reading a reference article

Use reference articles to understand the general view of what is happening with an issue, who is involved, and why there is debate over it. 

You can use important words or ideas (see the highlighted words in the example below) as keywords to build more focused or related searches.

GVRL Global Warming reference article

Reference Books on Issues/Subjects @ Holman