Writing Your Critical Response Essay


1) Find a controversial article or essay to read—look in your newspapers, online, or in your textbook. Also, you may use the response activity writing at



Remember to write in only third person.


In the Introduction:


Summarize the author's main points from what you've read. In this paragraph, also give me the author's name and the title of the article.


At the end of the first paragraph, you will give your thesis statement. This statement is one of three things. Either you'll tell the reader that you agree with all the points you just summarized, that you disagree with all the points you just summarized, or that you agree

with some of the points you just summarized but not with all of them.


In the Body:


The job of your body is to choose at least three points from the article you’ve chosen. Each point will get its own paragraph. And each paragraph will have a quote from the article, and several sentences of third person response from you.


In each body paragraph, restate the author’s point, directly quote a line of text which shows the specific point, and cite it in MLA style. Then, use you opinions, something you learned, or something you know and support how you feel about the points you summarized.


Remember, for each point summarized in the introduction, you need to have a response paragraph. If you have three points, you need to have three paragraphs in your body that explain your feelings about them.


                    Outside Support


Don’t forget that in at least one of your body paragraphs, you’ll need to bring in outside expert source support for one of the responses you make. So, that means in one of your body paragraph (at least) you’ll need to bring in another quote FROM SOME PRINTED SOURCE.  When you have delivered that quote from the outside source, offer a little response to it as well.

The conclusion:


In the conclusion, you need to do this. You need to restate your thesis. And you need to simply conclude in a way that ties up loose ends.


If you have any questions about putting together this essay, please ask me before it's due. I'll sure you'll do great on it.


Have a great day!






Short and Specific Directions about your

Critical Response Essay


General Directions: Write an essay in which you briefly summarize a controversial article, essay, or piece of writing, and then offer a strong personal response. Then bring strong expert support for your response into at least one of your body paragraphs.


You paper should be no fewer than five paragraphs (between 750 and 1,000) words.  It should have an introduction, at least three body paragraphs, and a conclusion. Also, it should have properly cited quotes from the article in which you are responding and at least one properly quoted and cited piece of support from an outside source.



If you have any questions about the assignment, please do not be afraid to ask. If you don’t ask, I won’t know you need assistance.






Please note that this sample essay has been color coded to assist you in identifying and understanding where the parts and different forms of support go. Also, please note that only two of the body paragraphs have outside expert support. The third one does not.


Green indicates the exact point the writer is responding to.


Blue indicates the writer’s third-person response.


Purple indicates the outside expert support.


Red denotes the thesis and thesis restated.


In an article about corporal punishment titled “Get your beat on,” by Cathy Barnum, she writes about the negative and positive effects of corporal punishment in schools. Barnum does a wonderful job in explaining the negative effects of corporal punishment. She notes that spanking lowers children’s self-worth, hinders their academic abilities. She also explains how she believes swats negatively alter their behavior while instilling fear in them. While the situation can be seen from the author’s point of view, her opinions are completely wrong.

First, the author notes that spanking may have a negative effect on a child’s self-image, but she is wrong.  Specifically she writes that, “Sociologists claim it can lower students’ self esteem” (1). While a good idea in principle, Barnum is completely incorrect in this point. Spanking has no affect on self-esteem. Rather, it is the way the spanking is doled out and the attitude of the disciplinarian that may lower some children’s self-esteem. If the one distributing the swats explains why he/she is doing that, and if he/she gives positive reinforcement after the spanking, self-esteem remains intact. Sociologist William Arcum uses the example of Sally in his book Spoil the Rod, to support this point. He notes, “Give children an explanation and a show of support before and after the experience. That reinforces the behavior modification and assists the child in seeing that, while disciplined, they are still loved” (1820).                                                                                                           Barnum also notes that spanking a child hinders a child’s academic ability by making the student too afraid to go to school. She shows this point when writing, “Some pupils may feel so afraid to go to school, for fear of being hit, that they are tempted to play truant”(1). However, she is completely wrong. It is unimaginable how anyone could see such results from spanking. Spanking can instill a fear in a child, but it is a healthy fear. If there is no ‘big’ punishment to fear, then children believe there is no limit to what they can get away with. Most children who would reach the point of receiving corporal punishment deserve it, and they know it. Child Psychologist Mary Zimmerman support this view in her article “Break the Molding Through Swats,” where she notes:

One such child is a young girl from down the street. Her mother says she gets swats every once in a while at school, because she had difficulty understanding when to keep her mouth shut. However, she says her daughter loves going to school because all of her friends are there, and she even says she knows that she deserves the punishment. (20-21)

While the above is just one example, a survey with parents would net the same results. Miss Barnum would be wiser to examine all the facts before jumping to such generalizations.

Additionally, while the author is right that spanking can alter a child’s behavior, one could easily disagree with Barnum when she writes that the behavior modifications are always negative. She is dead wrong in saying, “If you are genuinely trying to show pupils how to behave you will not heed to hurt or shame them. Behavior which is anti-social will bring with it its own uncomfortable consequences” (1). If a child is too young to understand why he/she is being hit, he/she responds in a negative fashion. However, if a child is school-aged, as described in the article, he/she is more than capable of understanding that he/she is being punished for his/her actions and will respond positively. Most children receive specific instructions from the start about what is expected of them and what the punishments are if those expectations are not met. They are also continuously reminded of what they are and are not supposed to do. Therefore, if children have reached the level of corporal punishment, in most cases, they have been told numerous times what they are doing wrong, and they will modify their behavior in a positive way so they are not punished that way again.                                                                                                       

So, an educated stance is clearly reversed to Barnum’s when it comes to corporal punishment and that she is completely wrong. It would be easy for one to see that if it is enforced properly, swatting is a good reminder to kids to behave. Additionally, schools systems should evaluate the steps teachers must take before corporal punishment is used, because if those steps are followed, then corporal punishment does not hinder student’s learning, negatively modify students’ behavior, nor does it lower a child’s self worth.