#SOL19: Day 22 SOLSC

Katie Clement’s session at #TCRWP’s 96th Saturday Reunion was titled Teaching Literary Essay as a Vehicle for Teaching High-Level Opinion and Argument Writing Skills” and it was packed with gems of information.

What is the purpose of the writing?  

When students are thinking about the audience for their writing, they are also thinking through the lens of what will appeal to that audience.  Sounds easy.  But is it?  This may be the part that gets messy and then means that the essay may become a blend of other formats including packing in some information or a microstory.  Mining a story for ideas for a claim/thesis and then supporting that claim/thesis would allow students to practice  building compelling opinions and arguments beyond just listing their ideas.

What mentor text might you use?

I love Katherine Bomer’s The Journey is Everything found here. This text helped me grow my own knowledge of an essay.  Katie also suggested this resource.  Have you seen it?

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What are some qualities of essays? 38 Total Essays.  Sounds like fun inquiry that I need to dig into! (I’m waiting for the book to arrive.)

How have you studied essay? 

What do your own essays look like? 

What do “essays in the world” look like?




Thank you, Betsy, Beth, Deb, Kathleen, Kelsey, Lanny, Melanie, and Stacey for this daily March forum from Two Writing Teachers. Check out the writers, readers and teachers here.

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9 responses

  1. I love the essays in The New Yorker; they are my “go to” models for myself, though I cannot see using them in many high school classrooms because of the content.
    Audience is everything.

    1. Diane,
      Yes, audience and appropriateness is always an issue. I’m VERY curious about the “kids” “go to” models. Where do they really go?

  2. litcoachconnection | Reply

    Thank you for this resource, Fran! So glad that you were able to enjoy an inspiring day at TC!

    1. Thanks! I am looking forward to continuing my learning!

  3. Audience does shape what we say and how we say it. Essay writing is an art. It is important for students to realize their essay needs to have a point and that point must be supported and not just by their own opinions.

  4. I got an email today from Heinemann and downloaded the first chapter of Beyond Literary Analysis by Rebekah O’Dell and Allison Marchetti. I like that they are proponents of bringing back the voice and interests of students for analysis. I get so discouraged when my students sigh at the word essay because most of the time, they are asked to write about something they care little or nothing about. Katherine Bomer not only showed us amazing mentor texts for real essay, she also encourages teachers to use a student’s interest for the topic of the essay. I need to remember this when assigning topics for my students.

    1. Margaret,
      Challenging the older students to write essays as models for even third graders might help fill the need for an audience and purpose. Even Which is a better friend: Frog or Toad? could be fun to write about!

  5. As I teach English Learners, writing essays is always a challenge. Students have ideas, but often not enough language to showcase in an essay format. Learning the skills of analysis is not easy when one’s language proficiency is limited. I’m always looking for ways to be a better writing/essay teacher. Thanks for your ideas.

    1. Jaana,
      So true. I think that is also hard for any students struggling with writing and really emphasizes how important TALK is FIRST!

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