Response Papers

Here’s everything you need to know about how to write a response paper.

  • Topic
    • Your idea for each essay should begin with something we’ve read and talked about in class. The easiest way to make sure you’ve met this requirement is to actually include a quote or a description of a scene or character in your essay. If you’ve collected interesting stuff during the week, but don’t know what to say about it, you can still start your rough draft by summarizing or describing something we’ve been reading.
    • After that, just start “responding.” That means, you try to explain to your audience why the idea/character/scene impressed you, what it means to you, what it reminds you of, etc. Look at the reading from a new angle we didn’t consider in class. Here are some questions you might consider:
      • Why do I care about this?
      • Have I experienced something similar?
      • Have I ever seen anything like this?
      • What would I do if it were me?
      • What does the story say about the world? About “people”?
      • What lingering questions do I have about the plot/characters?
      • What questions does the author leave unanswered? Why? What are some possible answers?
      • What questions does the reading seek to answer? Do you agree or disagree with the text?
    • Be specific! Go deep into a specific detail from the reading, and be super-detailed in your connections to real life. Tell stories, use your descriptive powers and creativity in crafting your response.
  • Format
    • Double-spaced
    • 1″ margins
    • 12-point, Times New Roman font
    • Header flush left, includes: your name, teacher name, class name, due date
    • An original title, centered
    • 1-2 pages (250-500 words)
    • Here’s a sample document. Make your essay look exactly like this: Sample response paper
  • Tips
    • You don’t need to know what to say before you start writing. You do need to have a feeling, an impression, or an image from the reading in your head. If you don’t have that, take some time with the blog, another student, or me to brainstorm.
    • When creating a first draft, don’t worry about spelling, punctuation, or paragraph structure. A first draft is meant to collect raw ideas, which you can fix up later into a coherent essay.
    • Response papers aren’t meant to report about information or research you’ve done, but rather to help you create new ideas while you write. Let the ideas flow while you’re writing–get creative, take risks, allow yourself to get a little stupid.
  • Grade
    • To receive a grade, your essay must:
      • have proper grammar, spelling and punctuation, to the best of your ability—that means you (and possibly a parent/friend) proofreads before handing in
      • specifically discuss a text we’ve read that week in class
      • broaden or deepen the ideas we talk about in class (that means, you add to the questions and propose answers we haven’t talked about—often from your own personal experience

6 responses to “Response Papers

  1. it’s nice to know someone cares enough. to greet me, anyway.

  2. bwahahahahahahahah i am listening to you talk right now…….. i really need to wash my hands right now. LOL. you are probably annoyed by reading this, therfore i am very sorry that you have to waste you time reading my comment about nothing…….but this is time spent having fun 🙂

  3. HI MATT!!! So…… ok bye!!

  4. Um, how can I say this delicately… You are all spazzes. Seriously–five exclamation points? Really!!!!!??

  5. Thanks for sharing

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