Today's lesson is when students start to see the big idea of this literary analysis. I begin by handing back the Anticipation Guide that students filled out before reading The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. I also hand back the Prewriting Graphic Organizer they started yesterday.
I tell them that we are going to be our own psychology experiment to see if reading a novel has changed our beliefs about telling lies and playing tricks!
Their starter assignment is simply this:
I display the second screen of the presentation, so they can view the instructions.
Now it is time to formulate a thesis statement. Since we are dealing with seventh graders here, and this is our first formal essay of the year, I walk them through how to create a thesis statement in a detailed manner (read: painfully slow)
The first thing we do is look at the writing prompt on the outline assignment. I will explain to them that, not only is your thesis statement a preview of your entire essay, it should also answer the question asked in a writing prompt.
We then review the writing prompt. We talk about what the ideas "strengthened," "challenged," and "called into question" mean.
As I continue to go through the PowerPoint, students are able to write a thesis statement that reflects the evidence they gathered on their prewriting graphic organizer.
Once every student has a thesis statement, we begin to build our outlines.
I ask students to highlight the three types of lying they mentioned in their thesis statement. I want them to see how to take each of those ideas, separately, and create topic sentences for each of their body paragraphs.
To create a topic sentence for each paragraph, students will simply use the sentence frame on the outline form to create a basic topic sentence.
The first piece of evidence in each paragraph comes from the anticipation guide. I ask students to describe where they placed their "x" on the agree/disagree continuum. Then, for the warrant sentence ("i" on the outline), they write a sentence that explains why they placed their "x" in that particular spot.
For the second and third pieces of evidence and accompanying warrants, I direct students back to their prewriting graphic organizers. Their evidence is the event they described from the novel that appears on the table they are focusing on for this essay. Their warrant is a sentence explaining why this was either acceptable or unacceptable to them.
It is entirely possible that creating the first body paragraph's outline will take you one entire class period. This is okay. It is time well spent, I promise!
Once your students have completed an outline for the first body paragraph, you can set them free to work independently on the remaining two body paragraphs. Remind them to use the one you created together as a model.
This remaining work can be something you do during the next class period (if your students need more guidance and reassurance) or it can be homework (if you have those awesome, self-driven kids).
I always pump kids up at this point and let them know that the thesis and outline are the most difficult parts of an essay. Once they know where the paper is going, all they have to do is put all of the pieces together!