There’s almost always a prompt that asks a few related questions, and helps focus your attention on the readings, and you should answer them. HOWEVER, if you were really into the readings/topic and want to riff on a related theme, GO FOR IT! You don’t need to answer each question one by one, although you can always do that. You can also
In either case, the main point of these responses is to show me that you’ve done the readings carefully enough that you can compose a thoughtful response to the prompt BASED ON THE READINGS.
Please resist the urge to simply summarize the readings. Of course answering questions in the prompt you’ll end up restating and paraphrasing ideas that you want to address. That’s important! But this exercise is NOT about just regurgitating the readings or identifying the “most” important points—everyone will learn something different from them. The goal is show me you can think critically about the quesitons USING THE SET OF READINGS!
As a way of trying to faciliate some kind of interaction, I’m asking everyone in the reading responses to include 1-2 (or more) thoughtful questions about the day’s topic. Ask for clarification on a particular argument or claim by an author. Ask about a contradiction between different readings (or within the same one!).
What NOT to do: Don’t just ask if I agree with a reading. That’s TOO VAGUE. However, a good question is for you to paraphrase a particular point/claim/statement and ask what I think about that. That’s something we’d surely do in class if we could have actual conversations.
Good questions also show me you’re reading carefully!
We use a consistent grading rubric for basic reading responses—and this should always be visible to you on Learn—but the criteria are:
Length/Relevance: Have you come close to the word count? Are you actually responding to the prompt or discussing something similar? These are grouped together as criteria because writing a lot that’s off topic or writing a little that’s on topic are pretty much the same to me as far as grading goes.
Clarity: Can I understand what you’re trying to say? This includes basic grammar issues like using clear paragraphs, avoiding run-on sentences, not starting every sentence with “this”, etc. It also includes a logical progression of sentences within paragraphs. If your post looks like a giant text message, you won’t get many points in this category.
Familiarity: Do you communicate a sense of what’s in the SET of READINGS? Not mentioning topics that take up a lot of space and are obviously central to the set of readings is the most common way to lose points.
Originality: You don’t need to win an award for creative non-fiction with your essay, but you shouldn’t just repeat what the readings say. Anyone with basic literacy can repeat what they read, and that doesn’t show any kind of learning or thinking. Real learning means understanding the reading well enough to have something to say about it. You don’t need to say something that’s never been said! Originality here means saying something ABOUT the readings beyond what’s in the readings themselves.