In college I was the highlighter queen. Pages would end up full of green (or pink or blue or yellow) as I highlighted like crazy. Later when I worked in a study skills center and eventually taught an effective study skills course I learned more effective ways to study where I learned to limit the use of the highlighter. Eventually I stopped using a pen or highlighter all together when I read.
Because I read very quickly (often skimming and reading topic and end sentences of paragraphs and ignoring the rest of the text) I often use a piece of paper or ruler to slow myself down when I have to read something for a test or something I need to remember or analyze. When reading the two articles I forced myself to read with a pen which I used to write questions and comments in the margin. When reading Takaki I read it as if I were reading a novel without a pen or highlighter.
In terms of Takaki the thought that I took away from reading the book was that the world would have been better off had the Europeans stayed in Europe and not gone off exploring. I found it a very frustrating read and when I talked to my husband about what I read he asked me if this book would be used in a typical high school social studies or American History class. I thought it might not be used especially in more conservative school districts especially those that disagree with the idea of encouraging the study of a multicultural America or world.
I compared a lot of Takaki to what I know about those who explored the Americas and the information I know about the early Americans and the impact on the cultures already living here. I will admit to finding Takaki a bit difficult to digest. His comparisons to fiction books and plays (like the Tempest) are interesting but I wonder why his opinions were so one-sided? Were the Europeans that bad???
As I read the assignment that came to my mind was to have students write what they think would have happened to the world had the explorers not come to the Americas and Africa. What would have happened to the people and the culture? Would we have the technology we have today? the poverty? the conflicts? I would then want them to do library research to see if they could prove the information in their assignments and possibly look at the research done on the cultures that were visited and see what these groups had created before the explorers came to their lands.
I might also see if I could collaborate with the English teacher and have the students read the Tempest at the same time as they were reading this chapter. I would have them show the comparison and contrast of the explorers to the characters in the Tempest, moving beyond what is shown in the Takasi book.
I would have the students look at items such as the Huexotzinco Codex http://www.loc.gov/exhibits/treasures/tr00.html#huex, material from the Kislak http://www.loc.gov/exhibits/kislak and the World Treasures http://www.loc.gov/exhibits/world/ exhibits to document the cultures of the groups that were changed by the impact of the explorers.