The following examples illustrate writing in each of the four levels of the discussion rubric. Please review the responses and feel free to contact me at pstevens@fairview.iu5.org if you have any quesions about the examples.


Rubric for online discussions 2011
Example Evaluations for Content and Conventions
Advanced
Example 1: "What's So Funny About That?"

Alexandra Fuller’s memoir of her African childhood is filled with tragic events and humorous scenes. The purpose of these scenes is to enlighten all the misfortune that seems to be occurring on every page. Although the number of humorous scenes may be scanty, they are ones I remembered until the end. Bobo helps us see that even during difficult and challenging times, humor can be found in simple words said or actions done. I do agree that the scene where the two missionaries drink the horrible tea and run out of the house with flea bites was pretty funny. There were a few others that really caught my attention.

For me, the most humorous scene occurs in the chapter titled Malawi. Bobo is returning from Arundel High School in Harare, Zimbabwe. She ha just reached Kamuzu International Airport when her school trunk is inspected. Bobo states, “The officials find my box of tampons, open the box, un-wrap a few tampons and peer down the tubes as if they were kaleidoscopes” (page 227). Bobo is very uncomfortable in this situation, and to add on to her embarrassment, her “brookies and training bras, awkwardly neither childish nor yet grown-up, are brought out and shaken, as if money might fall from their folds” (page 227). I found this part of the memoir to be pretty funny because the government officials, who I am assuming are mostly men, just rummage through a teenage girl’s belongings. Embarrassing as the situation would have been, it is one of those times you just have to laugh. Think of how much more embarrassing it is for the men who are looking through the tampons like kaleidoscopes. Each time I remember this scene, I cannot help but to laugh.

The second scene that I found to be humorous is after Nicola went charging through the squatters who were taking over Robandi. Some of the squatters must have reported Nicola to the army, and the Zimbabwean army soldiers visited the Fuller home. A few of the soldiers jumped through Tim’s bedroom window. One of the soldiers states, “You called us baboons.”

Mr. Fuller replied with, “You jumped into my bedroom window. That is not a civilized thing to do, that is a baboon thing to do.” Responding to Mr. Fuller’s statement, the soldiers eye them belligerently. Bobo holds back her statement of, “Dad was only joking about shooting him. And don’t be touchy about being called a baboon. I’m their kid and they call me Bobo. Same thing” (page 158). I found this scene to be comical because of Bobo’s thoughts. Even when they face being shot to death, Bobo is able to lighten the mood. Also until that time, I never would have compared being called Bobo to being called a baboon. Although she tries to sound offended in her thoughts, you can tell that she does not mind too much that baboon and Bobo sound so similar. I find her thoughts during such a dangerous time to be comical.

At the very end of the memoir, Bobo takes Charlie to meet her father. Charlie, Bobo’s future husband, had just taken Bobo camping. Vanessa had just married a Zimbabwean, pregnant before marriage, and Tim did not want Bobo pregnant out of wedlock. When Charlie arrived he asked him, “And how many tents, exactly, were there?”

Charlie answers the question without knowing where Tim was headed, “One.”

Tim soon remarks, “There’s a very good bishop up in the Copperbelt. The Right Reverend Clement H. Shaba. Anglican chap.”

After a moment, Charlie understands what Tim means and remarks, “Huh.”

Embarrassed, Bobo exclaims, “My God, Dad!”

To ease the tension, Nicola says, “I think we’d all better have a drink, don’t you?” This whole scenario unfolding reminded me so much of my dad. Whenever my dad brings up something embarrassing in front of others, I just have to laugh. And reading about someone’s dad who is so similar to my dad, made me laugh. The dialogue on pages 292 and 293 is so minimal, but how Bobo describes everyone’s reactions made this a comical scene. Also, Nicola’s statement about everyone having a drink just made me smile. She tried to divert any problems, yet Bobo’s dad was still furious about there being only one tent. Throughout the memoir, embarrassing moments occurred to Bobo, and these moments were the humorous scenes during a tragic time.
Analysis: This reply connects the writer’s life to Fuller’s memoir in a clear way, offering specific and substantive textual support to a focused thesis. The writer offers numerous examples of humorous situations, explains why she found them humorous, and provides scholarly reasons why Fuller may have included these events and dialogue in the memoir. The balance of personal analyis and quoted material is effective and shares the poster's own voice more than the author's voice. The language of the post is erudite, and any errors in conventions do not detract from the post.


Example 1: "What's So Funny About That?"
Despite the seriousness of this memoir, I did find myself smiling while reading certain parts of this book. One part in particular was the first chapter. The very first scene was funny to me, when Bobo and Vanessa have to pee. The whole scene was humorous, but there were a couple excerpts that I thought were particularly funny. One was when Vanessa was waiting for Bobo to finish peeing: “‘Hurry up, man.’ ‘Okay, okay.’ ‘It’s like Victoria Falls.’ ‘I really had to go.’” Another part I thought was funny, and don’t ask me why, is when Vanessa and Bo debate flushing the toilet and Vanessa says, “‘But that’s two pees in there.’ ‘So? It’s only pee.’ ‘Agh sis, man, but it’ll be smelly by tomorrow. And you peed as much as a horse.’”

Another thing that made me smile was some of the English slang that was used like “keeping boogies” for each other, which meant “keeping an eye out” for each other. The Fullers also say “hey” a lot, usually after a sentence. This reminded me of the stereotypical Canadian saying “eh” after a lot of things he or she says.

Along with the English slang, I thought some parts were funny that I otherwise wouldn’t if they were not told from the point of view of an innocent child such as Bobo. One such example, which I know has been mentioned already, was the Scope magazine picture as described by Bobo. I’m not perverted, but when Bobo described the woman’s breasts as “cow udders”, I couldn’t help but smile. Another part that I, as well as some of my classmates, thought was funny was when Bobo talked about some of the teases she was getting at school for being white. Some teases were, “‘Argh! I smell roasting pork!’” and “‘Who fried the bacon?’” as well as “‘Burning piggy!’”. (This is a little off topic, but I found it different that black Africans were making fun of a white African for their race. Usually, it is the other way around. There shouldn’t be a usual type of racism, but I’m just saying I found it strange.)

Though Nicola Fuller’s alcoholism is sad, I did find it funny sometimes when she was drunk. Of course, it was only funny when she was happily drunk, not depressed from the loss of her children. Such examples include the fishing trip to the lake and Vanessa’s wedding. At the lake, when the whole family is in the water, Nicola says to Richard, “Get yourself a drink, Richard.” Then Richard says “The beers are a bit warm, I’m afraid.” Then Nicola says, “‘There’s nothing worse than warm beer’ – she pauses – “except no beer.” I thought this was such a typical thing Nicola would say. At Vanessa’s wedding, there was a paragraph I found humorous: “Mum, very glamorous in red and black, sweeps through the wedding with a cigar in one hand and a bottle of champagne in the other. She looks ready to fight a bull. She takes a swig of champagne and it trickles down her chin. ‘God doesn’t mind,’ she says. She takes a pull on her cigar; great clouds of smoke envelope her head and she emerges, coughing, after a few minutes to announce, ‘Jesus was a wine drinker himself.’”

Finally, there were two more parts I found humorous. One was when Mr. Fuller lit himself on fire at Bobo’s wedding reception. The other is when Mrs. Fuller says/sings “Olé, I Am a Bandit.” I found this the funniest part of all. I can’t explain why, but I think it is because it is so random. I’ve never heard that song before, but I don’t feel I have to. The title alone is hilarious.

The comedy in this memoir, I think, is like cream in your coffee. The sad memoir alone would be a little too sad for my taste. The comedy adds flavor to this otherwise bitter story, and makes the memoir more enjoyable. Eat your heart out Starbucks!
Analysis: Humor is uniquely individual; what one person finds funny, another may find crass. However, this thread response warrants an advanced evaluation initially because the essay offers very effective, specific, and substantive examples of supporting text and dialogue. The reader’s understanding of content is insightful and fairly sophisticated in sensing irony within the examples. Additionally, this post has a clear thesis in the first paragraph that sets the reader for what is to follow, uses effective and subtle transitions, and contains relatively few grammatical or mechanical errors. With only one or two exceptions, the vocabulary is scholarly and mature. None of the errors in conventions detract from the reading. The balance of quotes and personal analysis leans more toward the quoted material than the analysis and this writer might improve the post by revising the response to include more explanation.


Proficient:
Your Perceptions
After reading this book about Africa and the family that lived in and survived it, I was absolutely sure that Alexandra Fuller feels nothing but love for this continent. She has even said in the book that she would like to live there now. Africa was not only her home then but still is today. She has made many memories of this wonderful, horrible, twisted, interesting continent, Africa. When she was young, she did not know any home besides Africa but she now holds it dear to her just for that reason. She grew up with her family in Africa and they are still living there today. Even though she has experienced many painful, awful things while living there, this has only made her a stronger, more intelligent person. She welcomes Africa into her heart, arms wide open, because she knows Africa is a huge part of who she is.
Truthfully, I had no idea what Africa was about at all. I knew it held a lot of pain, diseases, and wars but besides from glancing at newspapers and watching Hollywood blockbusters on Africa, I really didn’t know much. This book was so interesting because it was something that was very new to me. Instead of just reading about AIDS and poverty, I really got to experience was Africa was truly about. I got to live with a real African resident for a little while. Alexandra Fuller told the readers about wars between countries in Africa happening all the time. She told us of leaders doing whatever they want and governments creating “land redistribution” for their own good. She also told us a story of young black boys and girls being recruited into the wars. Hearing these things just makes me want to be more involved in trying to help. Although, Africa is not something you can just fix; it holds so much history in its Earth.
Analysis: This writer’s response demonstrates an evaluation of proficient because he clearly understands Fuller’s own perceptions of Africa and is able to recall several specific events from the memoir. Offering additional textual support would provide evidence of a more insightful connection to the memoir.

Example 2: How does the narrator change and grow?
Children often learn their basic behaviors from the examples of their parents. In Alexandra's case, she behaved as her parents did, until experiences of her own adjusted her perspective. It is often said that a child should respect their elders. Despite this saying, Bobo's parents taught her to respect her race. For this reason, as a child, Bobo treated black Africans as unworthy. Examples are spread throughout the book, but one in particular occurs between young Bobo and her nanny. When Alexandra's nanny explains that blacks are people just as she is, Bobo retaliates by saying she can and will fire her. This account shows a particular amount of immaturity and selfishness.
Throughout the book, Alexandra begins to depend more on blacks than she had in the past. Cephas is a black African tracker that at first appears to mean little to Bobo, but when the Fullers need impala for food, or to find a thief, Cephas is the most important person. These experiences allowed Bobo to understand that blacks are important and can be helpful as well.
The next step in Alexandra's racial awakening occurs when she meets a poor black family in Malawi. This family has little money, poor sources of food and water, and a modest home. Yet this family invites Alexandra into their home, offer her food, and express hospitality. Not only was this act of kindness unnecessary, but it showed Bobo that love does not solely accompany race or money. This interaction taught Bobo that black Africans are human beings and have the same needs and desires as she does. By the end of the book, Alexandra grew to respect people not for money, race, or breeding, but instead for personality and character.
Analysis: This writer demonstrates an insightful understanding of Fuller’s growth and offers several examples from the memoir to support it. The thesis suggests that Fuller’s parents teach her about race, but the writer does not provide an example of her parents’ implicit teaching of racism. Examples of Fuller’s initial treatment of blacks and her growth beyond her own racism are clearly offered. Recognizing Fuller’s growth through personal experience also demonstrates an understanding of wisdom.

Emerging
Example 1: Why Do They Stay?
I think that the Fuller family stays in Africa, because that is where they are most comfortable. I think that even though it seems really bad, once you are there you learn to get used to it. The Fuller family probably realizes that if they leave Africa, the place that they would move could be a lot worse. Also they are familiar with the African climate and know when it is the right time to plant tobacco, so that they can produce a plentiful crop, one that will earn them a lot of money. Even though the Fuller family might have had "bad, bad luck," they also had some good luck. If the Fullers left Africa, it would be like having to leave a place where you once had a lot of good memories. In my opinion, no matter how bad something seems there is always something good that comes out of it. I think if you did not grow up around the African surroundings, Africa would look really bad and dangerous. But on the other hand, if you grew up around that kind of culture and geography you learn to get used to it, and once you live there for a long time it would be hard to leave. I think that the Fullers were much too comfortable with the African surrounding to leave.
Analysis: On a positive note, this writer recognizes and states a reason why the family stays in Africa in the topic sentence. However, specific supporting details are evident in only one sentence: “Also they are familiar with the African climate and know when it is the right time to plant tobacco, so that they can produce a plentiful crop, one that will earn them a lot of money.” The writer displays a good understanding of the memoir, and the response could be improved with added insightful examples. Additionally, several noticeable errors in convention interrupt the reader.
Novice
Example 1: Your Perceptions
The difference between the blacks and the white is huge. The white have more say and have more power in the country because they have blacks working for them and there is not whites working for blacks in the book. The blacks are treated as if they are nothing and the whites are treated as royalty even if they don’t have a lot of wealth.
The schools are a good example of segregation. The schools are divided into different schools from A through C. A is the best school and C is the worst. The whites would go to the A school with the best teachers and the best schools. The blacks would go to the not as well educated teachers and the rundown schools. These are some examples of the racial segregation in Africa.
Analysis: Although the writer offers two reasons why there is a difference between the treatment of the two races, this posting is evaluated at a novice level because the vague nature of second sentence, the general thesis, the lack of elaboration, the issues with grammar and convention, and a failure to address his own perceptions (rather than simple facts) of the memoir.

Example 2: Why Do They Stay?
I think the fullers stay in africa because this is were they have lived for most of their lives and they dobnt fell lke changing it. Both of Bobo's parents had lived in Africa for their lives and when they moved to England it was diffrent. Their lives in Africa are diffrent from when they lived in England because there probaly was not as much racial tension. Even tho the place were they lived had some hard times they had got used to living there and moving would not seem the same. In Africa the whites are treated as royalty and in England its mostly the weathly that are treated on royalty. This is why the Fullers wanted to stay in Africa.
Analysis: This post warrants an evaluation of novice because the writer offers only a vague sense of understanding of the motivations of the Fuller family. Also, the errors in conventions distract the reader from any point that may have been made. The spelling errors, typos, use of non-standard writing and the claims that there was less racial tension in Africa all suggest a need to confer with another to revise the response.