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A Guide to Writing Informal Response Papers
First, read the assigned material carefully and completely. Taking notes while you read will help you identify key ideas and concepts, retain information, and organize your thoughts about the text. Since these papers are informal, you do not need to be concerned about writing your best academic prose. You should, however, try to express yourself clearly enough that I can understand what you mean to say. Your responses are meant, in part, to help you prepare for discussion in the classroom. Show me that you have read carefully and thoroughly and that you have thought about the content in your own unique way. This does not mean that you must write something that nobody else would write, but that you are using your own words, responding to the material out of your own experiences and understanding, and finding your own meaning or significance in it. Some approaches include • comparing information from this assignment to what you have learned before, in this class or elsewhere. • evaluating any claims made by the authors or comparing with others. • identifying statements, concepts, or arguments that are not clear. • identifying approaches that help you understand how this author works as a scholar (using evidence, building arguments). • identifying statements or concepts that surprised you or gave you new insight on the topic. • sharing questions that the reading raised for you. These are only suggestions. You cannot go too wrong with this exercise as long as you can show that you have read the assigned material and that have thought about it and what it means to you.