Tuesday, February 11, 2014

A Peek into our Literary Essay Unit

To read my post that I wrote last year about our literary essay unit, click here. 

Each time we begin a new type of writing in writing workshop, we immerse ourselves in a whole class inquiry to read mentor writing pieces.  As we read an example together, we discuss what characteristics we notice in this type of writing as well as similarities and differences to the writing we did in our previous unit.  

Below are two charts we created in our first 2 days of our literary essay unit.  The first chart lists the characteristics we noticed while we read a literary essay mentor.  The 2nd chart, lists the similarities and differences students noticed between personal essays that we wrote in our last unit and literary essays.  This lesson helped students understand and see how writers transfer skills and strategies and carry them forward to new types of writing and units.  I think this type of work is so important for not just writers, but learners in all subject areas.  Students need to learn and understand how to transfer skills and apply them in the future, not only in one unit or subject, but across units and across subjects.  This type of work also makes increases students' confidence in themselves as learners because they notice how many skills and strategies they have learned so far!


Throughout the unit, we have created a class chart that lists the steps to writing a literary essay.  This chart was created with the students, as all of my charts are, and you will see the students name next to their contribution.  This chart has been a helpful resource to the students as they write their literary essays throughout this unit.  

Each year, I work with students on developing more sophisticated claims/thesis statements.  This year, I  read the new Literary Essay book in the TCRWP writing units and saw some new possible templates to introduce to students that they can use when developing thesis statements.  These have helped my students write more sophisticated claims this year and have given them additional ideas on how to frame their claims.

Stay tuned to hear more about our literary essays next week!


  1. Hi Melanie,
    I love your charts and struggle with how to find the space in my room to post these kinds of charts during units of study. I am in the beginning of my class' literary essay unit and noticed that you use The Table Where Rich People Sit as your mentor text. I previously have used literary essays from past students and also work on a class model. Would you be able to share your mentor text or suggest other resources for models?

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