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When you do research for a piece of writing, it is tempting to copy. After all, you have just found the perfect webpage with all the information you need. What's more, the author writes far better than you can, so why spoil it? Oh, and you've only got 10 minutes so it would be so easy to just copy the whole thing and paste it into a Word document ...
No, no, no! Don't even think about it! It's wrong to steal someone else's work; you'll probably get caught; and you'll learn nothing. So if you're a lazy, unprincipled cheat with no wish to get better at writing, go ahead - be a loser. But if you respect yourself and want to improve your writing skills, then take the time to read the webpage and understand it. Make notes. You can use the notes to write your own text later.
Imagine that you have been asked to write a biography of Ray Kroc, the man who made MacDonalds so successful. Your biography is to be published in a magazine for 11-13 year olds. There's already a good biography at www.biography.com but it's too long and the language is probably too difficult for your readers. I have taken notes from the original biography. Study how I've done this below.
Notice how I have not just copied the original biography. Instead, I have made notes. My notes include only the main details of Ray Kroc’s life; they are much shorter than the original sentences; and they often use simpler language than the original biography. When you do research, you should try to make notes in a similar way. Do not just copy and paste!
TASK: Use the notes below to write a shorter biography of Ray Kroc, aimed at an audience of 11-13 year olds. You will need at least three paragraphs, so think carefully about how to separate your information into chunks.
Ray Kroc(owner of the McDonald’s fast food restaurant chain)
- b. 1902, Oak Park, Illinois
- ambulance driver in WW1 at 15 yrs old
- after war, sold paper cups
- worked for a while as a jazz pianist and in real estate in Florida
- in 1937, met the inventor of a food-mixer, bought the marketing rights and spent 17 years selling it all over USA
- in 1954, heard of two brothers, Mac and Dick McDonald, who ran a v. successful burger restaurant in San Bernadino, California - cheap burgers, french fries, and milkshakes produced in fast, assembly-line style
- did a franchise deal with the brothers and opened a branch in Des Plaines, Illinois in April 1955
- in 1961 there were over 130 McDonald’s restaurants and Kroc bought the chain from the McDonalds for $2.7 million
- Kroc emphasised cleanliness, quality, speed and low prices
- introduced a number of gimmicks – e.g. Ronald McDonald, the happy-go-lucky clown
- at the time of his death in 1984, the McDonald’s chain had over 7,500 international outlets with annual sales exceeding $8 billion
- Kroc gave a lot to charities, esp. ones supporting research into multiple sclerosis, arthritis, and diabetes (he himself suffered from diabetes and it killed his daughter)
- Kroc was married three times – his third wife, Joan, has continued his spirit of helping the less fortunate – e.g. over $100 million to the Ronald McDonald House Charities, which provides temporary housing to the families of children undergoing cancer treatment