Down to the Nitty-Gritty: High School Analytical Writing


Students get down to the nitty-gritty of a piece of literature, thinking analytically then responding with a piece of analytical writing, which prepares them to do the critical thinking and writing required for humanity courses in college.

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Students often wonder why learning to write an essay on a piece of literature is valuable or necessary. After all, they may not want to study literature after high school. It’s a good question! The critical thinking required to write an organized, well-designed, and effectively argued piece of writing prepares them for all the writing they will need to do in college. I used to work at a STEM high school and my students learned that the skills they mastered in writing an analysis of a piece of literature were preparing them to effectively communicate about various STEM fields of study they loved so much. Analytical writing is the key to having success in other disciplines. Even though we use literature, it’s not necessarily about the literature. They are learning to think and to communicate and to put forth a logical argument and then defend it with evidence and analysis.

In this introduction to upper high school analytical writing, students are introduced to literary analysis and argument writing that critiques a piece of literature in various ways. They will watch a short narrative sketch and I will model how to write an analytical response. Then we will read and discuss a short piece of literature in class. Finally, students will learn how to write a critical response that presents an argument and delineates between evidence from the text that supports that argument and analysis that explains how the evidence is relevant to the argument. This is hard for students and it is what trips them up on exams. Students learn how to do this in just one paragraph. Instruction focuses on how to organize the essay, how to incorporate quotes, and how to delineate between a claim, evidence, and analysis.

Feedback and evaluation will be provided in class and beyond as students turn in and edit their work. Students receive continued communication with Mrs. Lemons as they work to improve their written responses. This gives learners who desire a bit more time just what they need to master these skills.

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