Teaching Literary Essays

Writing commentary is undoubtedly the most difficult part of writing any essay.  All other parts of the essay are more formulaic in nature.  There are standard rules for how to write a thesis statement, a topic sentence, a blended quotation, etc.  But when it comes to commenting on evidence, there isn’t one set way to do it.  In fact, there are many, many comments one can make about a piece of evidence, and no two people will explain the same piece of evidence in the exact same way. Likewise, the exact same piece of evidence can be used to prove two disparate arguments. Nothing shows this is true more than the literary analysis essay.  

If you were to give your students the exact same thesis statements and quotations to use for an essay, you would be amazed at how different the essays would actually turn out!  How can this be?  This occurs because the writer’s voice comes through the commentary.  It is within the commentary that students share their original thoughts and unique insights about a piece of literature.  This presents a challenge for students who are often left asking what to write, and it can be tricky to teach students how to write commentary without putting words in their mouths.  

Product Description

LITERARY ESSAY: Students struggle with the literary essay, often because they don't look at it as a thinking process. The lessons in the package will slow them down and have them follow steps that will lead them to better written essays.

The first lesson is one you can use if you want students to choose their own topic. The lesson takes them through the thinking process they should follow to develop a strong argument about their text. A slideshow and graphic organizers are included.

The remaining lessons take students through the process of writing the essay. After a brief introduction to the purpose of a literary essay, students will work on developing a strong thesis, using exemplars to guide them. Next there are lessons and/or handouts on the following: the structure of the essay/paragraphs, writing an introduction, summary vs analysis, developing ideas, using quotations and transitions, and writing conclusions.

There are opportunities for students to do some revision during the lessons, as well as a revision checklist they can use themselves and/or with peers. Finally there is a rubric for you to use to assess the essays. Editable versions of the checklist and rubric are included.

Other Products for Writing:
Persuasive Writing: Guide Your Students Through the Process
Writing Introductions & Conclusions
Variety in Sentence Structure, Length & Openings
Awkward Wording: Help your students write strong sentences
Essay Planning Stations
Learning Stations for Essay Revision
Reminder Booklets for Reading,Writing & Close Reading

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Total Pages

40 pages, 68 slides

Answer Key

Included with rubric

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