This week, the class worked on an Owl Online Writing Lab worksheet on the
topic of paraphrasing. Each group tried to write an accurate
paraphrase, capturing the essential information of the quotation in
their own words. See the original
assignment here. Teacher comments in italics.
The Original Quotation:
1. "The Antarctic is the vast source of cold on our planet, just
as the sun is the source of our heat, and it exerts tremendous control
on our climate," [Jacques] Cousteau told the camera. "The cold
ocean water around Antarctica flows north to mix with warmer water from
the tropics, and its upwellings help to cool both the surface water and
our atmosphere. Yet the fragility of this regulating system is now
threatened by human activity." From "Captain Cousteau,"
Audubon (May 1990):17.
(Group One: Morning)
The Antarctic is very important in the regulation of global
temperature, just like the sun is giving the earth warmth, the Antarctic
is giving it coldness. The Antarctic covers a large area of the earth,
and has a lot of cold sources, so it can make the warm water from the
tropics cold. The "upwelling" of the mixture makes the surface
of the water colder and then cools the climate.
There is added information here and the idea of "threat"
is missed. However, the essential information is given, though a bit
(Group Two: Morning)
The Antarctic supplies the coldness to cool the warm tropics from the
sun's heat by mixing the water. This weak balanced system of the cool
and the atmosphere is facing big trouble because of human
It is the cooling and not the "mixing" that is most
important, so the first sentence is not quite correct. The system itself
is not "weak" as "fragile" is more like "easily
damaged" or some substitute like that.
(Group Three: Morning)
The sun is a huge source of heat; likewise, the Antarctic is a source
of cold water. And the cold water around the Antarctic gathers with the
cold water from the north and influences the level of water in the
atmosphere enough for life on earth. This is not a strong system, which
is controlled by humans.
There is an added idea here about the effect of the Arctic, and
not only of the Antarctic. Also the idea that water levels will be
affected by the Antarctic, while true, is not given in the original
quote. The final sentence is unclear as well.
(Group One: Afternoon, Version 1)
The Antarctic and the sun are playing the important roles to control
our climate. The cold Antarctic water moves up to the tropics to cool
down the water and the surface above it. Also, this system is in danger
by human activity.
Pretty good, though the transition word should be "but"
or "however" rather than "also." One can omit the
reference to "sun" as it is only used to emphasize how
important the cold water is to our climate.
(Group One: Afternoon, Version 2)
The Antarctic and the sun are the two controlling bodies of our
climate. The cold Antarctic water mixes with the warm tropical water and
cools down the surface water and the atmosphere. The ecosystem is
endangered by humans.
Cousteau has not said that sun and Antarctic are the only two, but
the paraphrase makes it seem so. Use "this ecosystem" rather
than "the ecosystem" to make last sentence clearer. Not too
(Group Two: Afternoon)
The Antarctic plays the most important role in controlling the
Earth's cold. This cold water flows to the north and then mixes with
warm water from the tropics. But now, this kind of regulating system is
threatened by human activity.
Cousteau does not say it is "most important" but one
could say "very important." The effect on the atmosphere is
omitted here, but the overall message of a threat is effectively
(Group Three: Afternoon)
Mr. Cousteau told the interviewer that the Antarctic plays an
important role to control the climate of our planet. The cold water from
the Antarctic provides a huge amount of cold water to the south to mix
with the warm water from the tropics. But now we have human activity
that threatens this climate system.
Good paraphrase to say "an important role" and the
mixing of the water is appropriately conveyed. Effect on atmosphere
could be added, but otherwise a good paraphrase here.
Jacques Cousteau argues that an essential climatic regulating
mechanism, which depends on the vast resources of cold water in the
Antarctic and serves to moderate the temperature of the ocean and
atmosphere in the tropics, is at risk due to human actions. (Brad)
Owl's Sample Paraphrase
1. According to Jacques Cousteau, the activity of people in
Antarctica is jeopardizing a delicate natural mechanism that controls
the earth's climate. He fears that human activity could interfere with
the balance between the sun, the source of the earth's heat, and the
important source of cold from Antarctic waters that flow north and cool
the oceans and atmosphere ("Captain Cousteau" 17).
Some students noticed that there is no evidence in the original
excerpt for "the activity of people in Antarctica" as being
the cause of the threat. Otherwise, a very good paraphrase.
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