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LauraBeth475

Literature Analysis Essays

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Does anyone here who follows WTM suggestions for logic stage literature discussion have some sample sixth grade essays they’d be willing to share?

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You might listen to WTM author Susan Wise Bauer's "What is Literary Analysis and When to Teach It" audio lecture, and the questions in the accompanying WTM handout to give you a feel for typical kinds of prompts for student literature discussion at this age. 😉 

As far as literary analysis essay examples... From my experience of teaching grade 7-12 Lit. & Comp. co-op classes, I don't see a lot of this type of writing done by 6th graders. That type of writing tends to most commonly happen at the high school level, with 8th grade often being the year of gentle beginning literary analysis essays. Persuasive essays, and esp. literary analysis essays, require not only solid writing skills and understanding of essay structure, but also require critical thinking and logical argumentation abilities that don't tend to develop until late middle school/early high school.

However, I could see using those questions linked above in the handout, plus Socratic discussion types of questions to discuss literature with a middle schooler, and to start building those skills orally to then transfer over later on into the writing...

Just my 2 cents, FWIW. BEST of luck in your 6th grade writing journey. 😄  Warmest regards, Lori D.

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I have some, but they are definitely not essays. The most I could ever get out of my boys was a paragraph or two. Let me know if you still want to see them.

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Hi Laura,

I follow the recommendations in TWTM fairly closely and I can share what I did for literary analysis during the logic stage with my oldest. I used notes I took form listening to the SWB talk on "Writing in the Middle Grades", notes I took from TWTM, as well as points taught in Writing With Skill Level 1. I plan to change things up a little once my next child hits the logic stage but here is an example of what my oldest did. I'm also including rubric I used as a guide. I made the rubric by using one that was included in WWS and adding some details to it. Let me know if you need me to clarify anything in the attachments. Hope this helps.

Literary Essay Example - Logic Stage.docx Literary Criticism Essay Rubric.docx

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20 hours ago, hollyhock2 said:

I have some, but they are definitely not essays. The most I could ever get out of my boys was a paragraph or two. Let me know if you still want to see them.


I’d love to see them.  That’s about the stage we’re at

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19 hours ago, stlily said:

Hi Laura,

I follow the recommendations in TWTM fairly closely and I can share what I did for literary analysis during the logic stage with my oldest. I used notes I took form listening to the SWB talk on "Writing in the Middle Grades", notes I took from TWTM, as well as points taught in Writing With Skill Level 1. I plan to change things up a little once my next child hits the logic stage but here is an example of what my oldest did. I'm also including rubric I used as a guide. I made the rubric by using one that was included in WWS and adding some details to it. Let me know if you need me to clarify anything in the attachments. Hope this helps.

Literary Essay Example - Logic Stage.docx 171.9 kB · 11 downloads Literary Criticism Essay Rubric.docx 28.26 kB · 9 downloads


Thanks.  This is extremely helpful.

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Here are a few examples from when my boys were in 6th grade:

In The Secret of the Old Mill, Frank and Joe Hardy want to catch Markel and his gang of counterfeiters. The gang operates around an old mill, and the Hardy boys start to get suspicious of the place, for nobody is allowed inside and it only operates at night. The Hardys and some federal authorities break in and round up the gang.

I did not like the book Baby Island because I do not like books about girls and babies and that the book was unrealistic in many ways. Two girls could not possibly take care of four babies on a desert island. The way they get the man to be friendly is also unrealistic and the last thing I didn't like was that the girls were too good at things.

The House of Sixty Fathers is about Tien Pao. He lost his family because the sampan that he was in drifted down the river. Then he saved an American airman from getting caught by the Japanese. Some other airmen find him and take him to their barracks. Then Tien Pao finds his mother and father working at a new airfield for the Americans.

The most interesting thing about Mover of Men and Mountains was that he made so many mistakes. I did not know you could make so many mistakes and still be successful. He did not give up when he made mistakes.

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Hollyhock2 and Stlily -- thanks for sharing those examples! Those are great! 😄 

In case it helps... comparing those essays to ones from my gr. 7-12 co-op student: the essays from Hollyhock2 are much closer to what I get as a first literary analysis from my very beginning 7th graders, while the example from Stlily is much closer to what I get from my very advanced writer 7th-8th graders. Actually, Stlily's example is much more typical of what I get from high schoolers -- it is rare for me to get that long of an essay, and that well composed, from middle schoolers.

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I guess I would need a definition of what a literary essay is supposed to be.  I see literary essays as analyzing a piece of work, not retelling the plot or writing a character sketch.  (I actually will not accept literary essays from my kids that describe the story line.) I have only ever had one 6th grader capable of writing very, very simple essays.  I had posted one back when my college jr was a 6th grader but I can't find it anymore so it may have been deleted from the site.  Her essay was rudimentary analysis and include supporting quotes (all in a very bad format 😉 ).  But, my current 8th grader has yet to write an essay.  She has finally mastered solid report writing of more complex topics and will probably write her first actual essay in the spring. 

Eta: I found it.  

 

Edited by 8FillTheHeart
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I honestly don't see the above as examples of literary analysis at all. They're examples of good literary summary. Stlily's example, for me, reads like a classic book report. A piece about literary analysis would be either a reflection paper or paragraph that would go above and beyond the summary level analysis that's in the examples above to reflect on the greater themes, meaning, structure, or some other aspect of the work. Or it would be a thesis based paper with a thesis.

Which is not to say that the examples above aren't great! They are. I'm actually not arguing that middle schoolers need to engage in writing formal literary analysis at all. I would focus a lot more on discussion and being able to reflect on the book or work.

Edited by Farrar
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As far as length goes, I just looked at my SWB literary analysis lecture notes, and I've got "half page / 5 sentences" written down. So I don't think she actually meant for kids this age to write a full, real essay.

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2 hours ago, hollyhock2 said:

As far as length goes, I just looked at my SWB literary analysis lecture notes, and I've got "half page / 5 sentences" written down. So I don't think she actually meant for kids this age to write a full, real essay.


Adding on to this comment, and to the comments about literary analysis from Farrar and 8FillTheHeart (in case it helps)...

For my middle schoolers (7th-8th graders),  I have them do very short paragraphs, as Hollyhock2 is saying. And the assignments are very structured/guided -- a detailed/explained assignment, a rubric/checklist, and an example for them to see what kinds of sentences need to be included.

For the first semester we work on things like complete sentences; complete paragraphs; paragraph structure; and paragraphs of more simple/straight forward types of writing such as description, narrative, "factual info" paragraphs, the "how to" (process) paragraph, etc. In the second semester, we start moving towards very basic literary analysis, first with persuasive paragraphs (having a thesis claim, building an argument of support in the body), then with reader responses from prompts, and work up to a semester finale multi-week project of a 3-5 paragraph essay of literary analysis (more along the lines of what Farrar and 8FillTheHeart are talking about).

Edited by Lori D.
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56 minutes ago, Lori D. said:


Adding on to this comment, and to the comments about literary analysis from Farrar and 8FillTheHeart (in case it helps)...

For my middle schoolers (7th-8th graders),  I have them do very short paragraphs, as Hollyhock2 is saying. And the assignments are very structured/guided -- a detailed/explained assignment, a rubric/checklist, and an example to see what kinds of sentences need to be included.

For the first semester we work on things like complete sentences; complete paragraphs; paragraph structure; and paragraphs of more simple/straight forward types of writing such as description, narrative, "factual info" paragraphs, the "how to" (process) paragraph, etc. In the second semester, we start moving towards very basic literary analysis, first with persuasive paragraphs (having a thesis claim, building an argument of support in the body), then with reader responses from prompts, and work up to a semester finale multi-week project of a 3-5 paragraph essay of literary analysis (more along the lines of what Farrar and 8FillTheHeart are talking about).

So when are you publishing this as a curriculum I can buy?

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1 hour ago, Paradox5 said:

So when are you publishing this as a curriculum I can buy?


lol. Just when I think I've almost got a handle on teaching writing to my classes, I realize I need to *yet again* totally re-vamp it... So, nothing publishable on the immediate horizon... 😉 

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8 hours ago, Lori D. said:

For the first semester we work on things like complete sentences; complete paragraphs; paragraph structure; and paragraphs of more simple/straight forward types of writing such as description, narrative, "factual info" paragraphs, the "how to" (process) paragraph, etc. In the second semester, we start moving towards very basic literary analysis, first with persuasive paragraphs (having a thesis claim, building an argument of support in the body), then with reader responses from prompts, and work up to a semester finale multi-week project of a 3-5 paragraph essay of literary analysis (more along the lines of what Farrar and 8FillTheHeart are talking about).

Lori, I know you are teaching in a coop and have no influence on prior exposure, but from my teacher-at-home perspective, I want my kids to have mastered those first semester skills well before 7th grade.  Just adding that perspective for people reading the forum in general and wondering what is age appropriate. (Not directing this toward you at all!!!!) Complete sentences, basic paragraphs, etc should be elementary level skills. Early middle schoolers should be working on more advanced writing skills.....multiple paragraph compositions with opening and closing paragraphs would be appropriate writing goals. Expanding stylistic techniques should also be a focus.

In terms of the OP's question, I think we create confusion about what an essay is if we lump simple report writing under the category of essays. I think that is why there is such panic when parents hear that 3rd graders are writing "essays." Book reports are, well, book reports. Literary analysis essays, as specified by the question, should be clearly delineated as something different. They should require analysis, not comprehension of storyline. 

Edited by 8FillTheHeart
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5 hours ago, 8FillTheHeart said:

Early middle schoolers should be working on more advanced writing skills.....multiple paragraph compositions with opening and closing paragraphs would be appropriate writing goals. 

Am I misunderstanding your definition of middle school? If you are talking 7th and up, then I completely agree, but if we're talking about 5th graders, I think it's normal for them to still be working on single paragraphs.

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Regardless of what different individuals require or how they define essays, the OP was asking specifically about the guidelines in TWTM.  According to TWTM, the above examples are appropriate. 

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2 hours ago, hollyhock2 said:

Am I misunderstanding your definition of middle school? If you are talking 7th and up, then I completely agree, but if we're talking about 5th graders, I think it's normal for them to still be working on single paragraphs.

I consider 5th graders elementary students and define middle school as 6th-8th grade.

1 hour ago, KeriJ said:

Regardless of what different individuals require or how they define essays, the OP was asking specifically about the guidelines in TWTM.  According to TWTM, the above examples are appropriate. 

 I don't follow WTM guidelines, so I have no idea about the context of the question. Does the WTM definition classify those types of examples as literary analysis essays or appropriate writing for 6th grade? I am trying to understand what is exactly being discussed. I have a difficult time seeing how those could be described as analysis which is specifically included in the title.

ETA: I followed Lori's link above to the handout. According to the handout, basic book report summaries do fit the WTM definition of literary analysis. Based on that definition, the examples are what is being asked about.

 

Edited by 8FillTheHeart

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On 10/24/2019 at 11:32 AM, hollyhock2 said:

Here are a few examples from when my boys were in 6th grade:

In The Secret of the Old Mill, Frank and Joe Hardy want to catch Markel and his gang of counterfeiters. The gang operates around an old mill, and the Hardy boys start to get suspicious of the place, for nobody is allowed inside and it only operates at night. The Hardys and some federal authorities break in and round up the gang.

I did not like the book Baby Island because I do not like books about girls and babies and that the book was unrealistic in many ways. Two girls could not possibly take care of four babies on a desert island. The way they get the man to be friendly is also unrealistic and the last thing I didn't like was that the girls were too good at things.

The House of Sixty Fathers is about Tien Pao. He lost his family because the sampan that he was in drifted down the river. Then he saved an American airman from getting caught by the Japanese. Some other airmen find him and take him to their barracks. Then Tien Pao finds his mother and father working at a new airfield for the Americans.

The most interesting thing about Mover of Men and Mountains was that he made so many mistakes. I did not know you could make so many mistakes and still be successful. He did not give up when he made mistakes.

Thanks for sharing!  That helps

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