If you could only teach one writing genre this year that would have the biggest impact on your students’ growth as writers, what would it be? Narrative? Argumentative? Expository? Persuasive? Research? Descriptive? Hands down, the writing genre that has the single greatest effect on students’ growth as writers is literary analysis, or what we call the EBW Approach (evidence-based writing).
Why Literary Analysis
Literary Analysis writing is the foundation for all the other writing genres. Once students learn how to effectively craft a literary analysis response, where they include a summary, a claim, a premise, evidence, and justification, then they have the basis for an argumentative, persuasive, compare and contrast, or problem-solution essay! (And so many more.)
Yes, you’ll have to tweak a few things, but the heart of the essay, no matter the genre, is rooted in a literary analysis response. And because literary analysis writing is writing about literature, it’s more accessible and engaging for students. Before they write a literature analysis essay, they’ve likely read the text, participated in class discussions about the text, and completed standards-aligned activities connected to the text.
So, they are stepping into their writing assignment with a healthy amount of background knowledge. It makes the writing process a lot less daunting because they are familiar with the topic.
Add that to the fact that they can follow a familiar writing framework (you can learn more about this in our EB Writing Program), and you’ve got a recipe for success! Students will be writing focused, evidence-based essays that just keep getting stronger and stronger!
How to Implement This in Your Classroom
So, what exactly does this look like in the classroom? Before you read any text, you would give your students a text-dependent writing prompt so that as they read they can search for relevant evidence that supports their answer to that prompt!
For example, a basic example we always use is: Which character trait best describes (fill in the blank)? Obviously, you will have more complex essay questions, but this is a good one to see how a literary analysis response works.
Provide students with this essay question, then read the text. Students will write down evidence that supports their answers. Maybe you do a characterization activity. Then there might be a class discussion or Socratic Seminar and this same question might be asked. All the while students are sharing character traits and evidence to back up their choices. By the time the essay comes aground, students are ready to write!
And as the year progresses and the writing assignments get more complex, students are still finding evidence, discussing it, participating in activities, and then writing.
Continually and consistently having students write literary analysis essays will be the single most effective thing you can do to transform your students into rockstar writers who naturally weave evidence into well-structured essays that actually make sense and are easy to grade!
And the ripple effects that occur when students are consistently writing literary analysis responses are amazing! So, if you are ready to revamp your writing curriculum this year and see your students confidently write organized essays with relevant evidence, then hands down it’s time to focus on literary analysis responses.
Check back next week when we’re going to talk more about a framework you can use with your students so they can effectively write these essays!