Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Post #7 - Literary Analysis Writing

Objective: Learn the elements & structure of a well-argued literary analysis
Materials: Practice Essay Handout (to be marked up); Teacher Notes
(You'll also need highlighters & pens/pencils, but I ain't made out of money. Get 'em yourself.)

It has been a long-term goal of mine this year to introduce my students to literary analysis. By now, they have a steady grasp of what the basic literary elements are. Now the challenge is getting them to see & talk about how those elements are significant to a text.

I thought my students knew how to write a basic comparison & contrast essay. They've been writing 5-paragraph essays for several years, so I thought they would easily adapt that knowledge to this. Uh-huh. Nope. I sometimes forget that even though my students are The Honors Kids, they are only sophomores. There's still some foundation to lay.

Their compare/contrast theme essays brought all this to my attention last week. I knew we had to get down to some basic Writing 101; and, boy, it was absolutely worth it! The light bulbs over their furiously whirring brains went on one-by-one --sometimes in sudden bursts all together! Which, as any teacher knows, is the ultimate reward.

1. To do this, we looked at a good (but imperfect) literary analysis: Practice Essay handout, below.
2. I made copies of this practice essay, which we marked up in class. You'll notice on the handout I post that page one is the write-up (copy/paste it into a Word Document & double-space it), and the 2nd page outline the steps.
3. Since this was a "learn as we go," I guided them through those steps as a class.
4. Each time the steps require them to write a new sentence, I wrote one, too! I made sure they were working on their own first, and then I turned to the board and created mine. Then we shared - offering candy to the willing volunteers (it's my ultimate motivator!)
5. The directions on the back are great because it allows absent students to perform this activity as well.

This was totally worth the day - it took us all class period to do (roughly 45 minutes) - but the students definitely had a better understanding. Though I hate having to make all the copies, I love when we can mark up a writing, and it was absolutely necessary. Their homework that night was to look at another literary analysis and break it apart into a graphic organizer. The links to those are also posted below.

Compare/Contrast Theme Literary Analysis Practice Essay
Compare/Contrast Theme Literary Analysis Teacher Notes

Literary Analysis Essay #2 Homework
Literary Analysis Essay Graphic Organizer Homework

Source: my brain

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