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Last Chance Essay Contest 16 July 2007

Posted by Jason Bowman in Essays, Writing.
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The last Summer Essay contest of this year is now posted! The deadline is 30July07. Write an essay and join my contest. This is your last chance to win a book from your teacher before school starts.

  • Topic: Although we receive much advice from family and friends, much of it is unheeded and forgotten. Some advice, however, sticks with us and makes a lasting impression on us. What words of wisdom from friends and family have made the greatest impact on you? Write an essay explaining the impact of a relative’s advice on your own life.
  • Prize: a copy of In His Steps by Charles Sheldon
  • Submit your essay by email to Mr. Bowman!

Visit the 2007 Summer Essay Contests page for more information.

Hit, Catch, and Throw! 26 June 2007

Posted by Jason Bowman in Announcements, Family, Writing.
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David and I played baseball this morning while Sarah was at Vacation Bible School. While teaching him to hit, catch, and throw, I thought of the title for newest website: Hit, Catch, Throw. The target audience for this website is fathers like myself who enjoy spending time with their sons. (Hmm, Dr. Johns, are you reading this?) Since I already had another blog which was not being used, I took that blog and redesigned it and published my post about this morning’s baseball practice with David. It’s entitled “Ready to Hit,” which is a great title not only for David’s whole outlook on life and the article itself, but it also suggests my attitude and outlook for writing about my own personal experiences.

Hit, Catch, Throw is distinguished from this website by its purpose and audience. While The Précis is designed for students, parents, and teachers, Hit, Catch, Throw is designed for fathers and its purpose is to encourage fathers to play with and to read to their sons. Thus, material on the site will be narrowly limited to those episodes from my personal experience which fit with that purpose. The Précis, in contrast, has a wide range of material and reflects the many aspects of interaction with students, parents, and other teachers. Personal posts on this site allow me to share with my family life with my students, their parents, and my friends and family.

Although some content may appear on both sites, I plan to keep the material on Hit, Catch, Throw unique. This offers me a personal and professional challenge with my writing. I am writing for a purpose, as well as for recreation and personal growth. One could say that my websites are my journal (really, they are). Instead of a composition book, which is required for my students, I am writing online!


You’ll find links to my other websites in the sidebar to the left. By the way, I moved it from the right to the left side of the page to make viewing easier for certain of my readers, and I welcome comments on the readability and usefulness of this site!

  • How do you use The Précis?
  • Does it help you spiritually?
  • Does it help you in English or Bible classes?
  • Is there something missing from the site which would be a great help?

Send me an email or Leave a comment!

How to Write a Précis 6 May 2007

Posted by Jason Bowman in Questions, Reading, Writing.
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A précis (pronounced “prā – sē”) is a short summary of a book or short story. Usually it is one-sixth the length of the original story. That is, it should have one page for every six pages in the original book or story. In one sense a précis is similar to a book report — the student recounts the basic narrative of the story or the basic arguments of the paper.

The précis is valuable because it forces the student to express a story or a thesis in his or her own words. This the level of comprehension. Being to able to restate something using one’s own words indicates an understanding of the original story or paper. Teachers therefore use a précis to determine whether a student understands what has been read.

The précis also provides the student with a concise review of the material read. It is by definition a summary and often there is not enough time to study the original story or paper; a précis gives the student material to study to refresh his or her memory about the original text read.

Here are some things to consider when reading a text and then writing a précis:

  • Take notes while reading, especially when reading nonfiction. The topic sentences of nonfiction articles can be collected and will form the skeleton of the précis.
  • When reading fiction, look for the plot structure: exposition, inciting moment, crisis, moment of final suspense, and denouement. These events constitute a précis of a story.
  • Identify the conflict(s) in the story. Include only those things which develop and/or resolve the conflict.
  • Avoid interjecting personal opinions. The purpose of a précis is to summarize another person’s story or argument, not to tell about your “favorite part” of the story! (A précis is not the same thing as a “response” paper.)
  • Do not use any examples not used in the original paper; do not add support or question the author’s arguments
  • The précis is meant to be a summary; however, make sure the key points of the paper or the important events in the story are included and clearly explained (without changing the intent of the original paper or story).
  • The précis is meant to a summary; therefore keep it simple and short.

Writing a précis is an excellent study skill. It forces the reader to wrestle with the story or the argument and read for comprehension. It gives the reader material to review later in preparation for tests. It also aids in the preparation of later papers in response to the original text. And, of course, it makes a great name for a classroom newsletter and companion website!

Here are some other helpful articles online:


[Email Mr. Bowman with any questions!]