Sunday, January 27, 2013

Close Reading and Literary Essays: Part 2

Each time we begin a new type of writing in writing workshop, we immerse ourselves in a whole class inquiry that allows us to read and discuss, "What do we notice about this type of writing? What are the characteristics of this type of writing?" I provide students with a few examples in a packet titled, "Mentors for......" and give students time to read a couple of the mentor writing pieces with their writing partner. As they read, they annotate them to keep track of what they notice about the structure, craft, and elements of the type of writing.  At least one of the mentors, included in their inquiry, is a writing piece I have written and will use during our mini-lessons.  The other mentors, are written by former students (I always keep student work examples for everything each year - great visuals to use as examples!)  Once students  read a couple examples and mark them up with what they notice, we come together as a whole class to mark up one of my mentors to label what we notice about the structure and parts of the writing piece.  

Below is a mentor literary essay that I wrote using Table Where Rich People Sit by Byrd Baylor.  We have used this mentor throughout our mini-lessons this week and continued to add to our annotations as we noticed more about the structure and elements of writing a literary essay.  
This is our chart we created as a class after reading literary essay mentors during our whole class inquiry.  We have also added onto this chart throughout the week as we noticed and learned more about writing literary essays during our mini-lessons.  
During our writing mini-lessons this past week, I used my mentor literary essay for my demonstration and our class literary essay for Pop's Bridge by Eve Bunting for our active engagement. During each mini-lesson, they were able to watch me model using my literary essay and then actively try it out in their class literary essay.  During each mini-lesson, we wrote a paragraph for our essay so we were able to finish it by the end of the week.  We wrote our class literary essay on Google Drive while I typed, using our wireless keyboard, and projected it onto the Smartboard for all students to see. During the active engagement, students turned and talked with their writing partner and co-authored the essay as a whole class.  Then students went off to work on their own literary essays about a text they chose - some chose a picture book or other short text read aloud, while others chose a short text they read independently.  The students love writing their literary essays using Google Drive so they can share with their writing partners and comment on one another's writing.  This coming week, we will draft our second literary essay :)


  1. How can I get a copy of your essay sample for my classroom? I'm having trouble finding ANY samples online.

  2. Hi Melanie, I am also a teacher. I really love your idea for literary essays. My students are not yet confident writers. Would you be willing to send me the essays that you use for your mentor pack? I think those would be excellent examples.
    Fingers crossed!

  3. Can you email me a copy of your example and any others?
    Thank you so much!
    Katie Floyd

  4. I too would love the packet. I would even be willing to purchase it!

  5. I'm new to this unit this year and would love your example of the essay you did with your class !