Summary of Assignment:
This assignment is intended to be a summative assessment at the end of a short story unit within a freshman English class. The students will have a choice between several stories that they can choose to write about. The assignment itself will be a literary analysis paragraph over the universal theme found in their chosen story. The reason they are writing a paragraph instead of a complete essay is because it will be a new skill that isn’t normally addressed at the freshman level and I want to ease them into the process. The shorter writing assignment will also allow me to give them better feedback while they are still learning how to analyze the literature and compare it to their own lives. I am hoping to have them complete several different paragraphs of this nature before they complete a full essay towards the end of the year. The students will complete a draft of their paragraph and then have to revise and edit with teacher and student feedback to create a final draft. The final draft will be graded on how well they completed the analysis and whether or not they related the theme to their own lives but I am not using an actual rubric to assess the assignment. I will mainly be looking at the growth they make from the first draft to the second draft and not just completing tasks on a rubric.
The Scarlet Ibis by James Hurst
The Cask of Amontillado by Edgar Allan Poe
The Most Dangerous Game by Richard Connell
The Gift of the Magi by O. Henry
Instructions to Students:
Students will begin the short story unit by analyzing each of the stories together in class. When we have reached the end of the unit we will talk about theme. I will present a presentation over theme to help them better understand the concept.
Once we have talked about possible themes from each of the stories and we have looked at the two sample paragraphs provided they will choose a story and start writing.
Prompt: What is the universal theme that you relate to from your short story? How does it relate to your own experiences? Explain the theme with evidence from the story and give personal examples showing how it relates to your own life. Your response should be a half a page to three quarters of a page in length.
After you have completed your response you will have a fellow classmate answer the following questions about your response and then conference with your teacher. All answers must be in complete sentences.
- What is the theme presented in the response? ______________________________________________________________________
- Does the evidence from the story support the theme? Why or why not?
- Did the writer offer personal examples that relate to the theme? Why or why not?
- Is there anything that you find confusing about the response? Why or why not.
Once they have completed the peer editing and teacher conference they will revise and edit their writing and complete a final draft of it to be turned in.
My goal is to be able to help my students improve their writing through the focused feedback and the teacher conferences. I want them to think about their writing and not just try to complete a task.
As students write a number of these paragraphs over various types of literature and literary elements, they will be better prepared to compose a literary analysis essay over a novel later in the year.