How to Write a 10-Point Response

(or at least a better response)

You are required to post a response to one of the weekly discussion board forum questions at least 10 times during the semester. These responses should be brief essays of at least 150 words in which you present your ideas thoroughly and support your ideas with quotations ans other specific textual references. Each weekly posting will be graded, receiving a maximum of 10 points. If you respond to more than one question from a particular week's forum, I will count the highest grade, but the best strategy is to concentrate your energies on fully developing one response rather than writing several. If you respond to questions from more than the required 10 weekly forums, I will count the best 10 grades. You can check your grades on these responses at the course's Blackboard site. The following suggestions might help you improve your scores.

What do numeric response grades indicate?
10 - This grade equals a perfect score of 100%. Obviously no one writes "perfect" answers, but a 10-point answer will exceed expectations by (1) being free of any writing errors (2) using specific details, including carefully selected and integrated quotations, with great effectiveness and (3) presenting convincing, honest, and fresh reactions to the work of literature.
9 - This grade equals a 90% grade or A-. Like a 10-point response, a 9-point response will be free of writing errors. It will use details effectively and present a clearly focused and intelligent response to the question. A 9-point response is "A" work that only lacks the remarkable "something extra" that distinguishes a 10-point response.
8 - This grade equals an 80% grade or B-. It is an above-average response that it generally well written and avoids serious writing problems. It responds to the question in a sensible manner, but either (1) its focus is not as sharp as it should be or (2) its use of supporting details is weak or (3) it seems to evidence some slight misunderstanding of the literature.
7 - This grade equals 70% or a C-. It is slightly below average and indicates some problem such as (1) a serious writing problem or (2) a sparse or ineffective use of supporting detail or (3) a significant misunderstanding regarding the literature

6 - This grade equals 60% or D-. It is nearly failing and indicates (1) multiple serious writing errors or (2) no effective use of supporting details (3) retelling the "story" rather than responding to the question or (4) a serious misinterpretation of the literature.
5 - This grade equals 50% or F. I don't expect to give this grade often. If I do, it will indicate (1) multiple serious writing errors or (2) a complete absence of supporting details or (3) no effort to respond to the question.

Do spelling and grammar count?
Of course! You might want to write your response in a word processing program and paste it into the discussion board forum after you have run it through the spell checker. In any case, look over your submission carefully before you click on the Submit button. I have made it possible for you to go back and edit a response after you have submitted it, but if I have already graded it, I won't go back and change the grade.

Can I read other people's responses to the same question before I write mine?
Please do! Reading other people's responses can be helpful. Just be sure that you don't plagiarize from them, and be sure that you understand that copying even a part of a sentence from someone else without using quotation marks to show that they are not your words is plagiarism. You can, however, refer to comments made by others in your response.

If my response has no grammatical or mechanical errors will I get 10 points?
Not necessarily. Other than correctness, the two factors that will be most important in determining your grade will be a clear sense of focus and sufficient, effective use of supporting detail, including carefully selected and integrated quotations. Starting your response with a topic sentence might help you to achieve this sense of focus as well as help me to see the unifying purpose of your response. Make your writing convincing and interesting by supporting your judgments with brief quotations or specific references to the facts of the story. Do not simply retell the story.

How many students can write on a single topic ?
I limit the number of students who are allowed to write on a single topic. Check the specific instructions in the Blackboard shell to see the limit for this course. I penalize students who respond to topics that already have the allowed limit of responses by deducting one point from the grade they would otherwise receive for hte response.

A Sample 10-Point Responses

The following responses, which were written by students in previous semesters, are excellent because they are correct, focused, and detailed.

Question: In "The Slaughter of the Pigeons" from Cooper's The Pioneers, Leatherstocking views the townspeople's slaughter of the migrating pigeons as a "wasteful and unsportsmanlike execution" (p. 444). What is man's proper relation to nature according to Leatherstocking?

Response: In Cooper's The Pioneers, the character Leatherstocking, also known as Natty Bumppo, expresses his distaste towards the townspeople and their selfish destruction of nature and all of its beautiful creatures. When he approaches the site of the shooting, he is filled with contempt at the "wasteful and unsportsmanlike execution" (p. 444). Leatherstocking believes that humans should live in harmony with the natural world. During the migration of the pigeons, all the townspeople, young and old, are running out of the houses with their weapons hoping to send the birds to a hurtling death. However, oddly enough, "None pretended to collect the game, which lay scattered over the fields in such profusion, as to cover the very ground with the fluttering victims" (p. 446). Leatherstocking sees this act as an immense waste of God's creatures. He'd rather kill the pigeons only "for man's eating," (p. 446) and not simply for pleasure or sport. Instead, the townspeople are shooting aimlessly into the sky without even looking; they even decide to use an old canon for a more fatal and sure assault. Leatherstocking proclaims to the old sportsman, Billy Kirby, that when he craves pigeon flesh he simply goes into the woods and shoots down one bird to suit his fancy, but he leaves the rest unharmed. This practice shows that Leatherstocking wants man to coexist equally with the creatures of nature in the cycle of life. He knows that food is a necessity of life, but he also knows that the townspeople are acting way outside their realm of need when they engage in this massacre.

Question: At the end of Suzanna Rowson’s “Charlotte Temple” chapter 12, Charlotte elopes with Montraville with great sadness for the unbearable wrong she has done to her parents. Prior to meeting Montraville, Charlotte had resolved “to recede from the brink of [this] precipice” (386) from which she had almost jumped and have “reason triumph over [her] inclination”. However, Charlotte’s “resolution wavers” (386) and she falls prey to Montraville’s words when he is given the opportunity to convince her contrarily.

Response: Suzanna Rowson gives no details of Montraville’s persuasive words that cause the young Charlotte to give up her stance and come with him. She writes only that he “used every argument that had formerly been successful” (386). There are several points of high interest in “Charlotte Temple” where the author decides to leave out details. By doing this, Susanna Rowson writings suggests that the reader insert their own life experiences in the void. She does not want to limit these moments in the story with details that might isolate her audience from relating to this story. For example she also leaves out the details of the letter that Montraville handed her in Chapter 6 and tells us “any reader who has the least knowledge of the world, will easily imagine the letter was made up of encomiums on her beauty, and vows of everlasting love …”(375). It matters not exactly what words were said as long as we know what the effect was. In this instance of eloping, the result of Montraville’s arguments are that Charlotte wavers and is dissuaded from her position to stay, eventually being abandoned, giving birth, and dying. Rowson chooses to leave some of these specifics to the imagination of our own lives and situations when it suites the purpose of the story.

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updated June 11, 2021