ELA B10: Ap 30 Literary essays – game on!!
- I had mentioned a few times before today that they would be writing a Literary Essay so they had time to adjust to the idea. Before getting into the details of what a literary essay is, though, we talked, and talked some more, and even talked more than that about writing essays in general, the best practice of how to approach an essay, their own strategies or comfort level with writing one, and discussed as well what went into introductory and concluding paragraphs, which they seemed a little unsure of. This is quite normal, at this age level.
- One of the most important distinctions of today’s discussion, though, is that an expository essay is quite different from a literary one. The basic structure they are used to of including a topic sentence and three supporting details for expository writing will not work for the essay they are about to write.
- I walked them through their future – they’ll write one or two literary essays before this course is over, they’ll definitely write one or two in their ELA 20, for their ELA A and B 30 they may write three or so and for their departmentals alone, combined together, they’ll write another three. That’s a total of ten literary essays in their future before graduation! Learning how to do it and do it well now, rather than only doing an adequate job may save them a lot of stress and frustration.
- We talked about some of the essay marking projects I’ve been able to be a part of. One task that was epecially helpful in my own approach to marking essays is based on a 1-6 point scale. First, I have to decide if it’s “thumbs up or thumbs down” – is that essay sufficient enough to have a passing mark. The levels go as follows:
- Wheels aren’t even on the bus – This type of essay would possibly be one paragraph with one sentence at the end for a conclusion, but the ideas aren’t related.
- Wheels are on the bus but it’s not going anywhere – There is some ideas tied towards the topic, but the formation is so scattered, it’s more like a conscious train of thought and does not attempt to include an introduction or conclusion.
- Almost adequate – There may be a recognizable pattern or structure, but there are several extra unrelated details, the formula may be extremely simplistic or repetitive and the language is very basic.
- Four – makes the grade – This essay satisfies the requirements of an essay, including intro, body paragraphs, and conclusion but is simplistic. This is on average where students generally are at, skill-wise.
- The structure is well-recognizable but the writing level and choice of words is more mature. There is some risk-taking with this level and confidence displayed through their writing. The introduction catches the reader’s attention and conclusion satisfies them. This is a level many students are capable of reaching.
- Students who write at a level six have writing skills already that cannot be taught. They may possibly even surpass their teacher, skill-wise and have highly insightful content. You cannot teach someone to write at a level six.
- To just get the ball rolling, but not overwhelm them, we looked at one body paragraph – start in the middle and just do it once. I showed them a powerpoint that broke down student examples of body paragraphs sentence by sentence to make it clear. I went slowly, carefully, and the students really settled in to follow along, so I am optimistic about their level of understanding with this.
See the PowerPoint here: formal-literary-paragraphs
- Tomorrow, they are going to pick a topic related to the novel and focus on writing one well-written body paragraph. If they can do it once comfortably and correctly, then the rest becomes much easier and we’re on our way!