Set students up for success. The literary letter provides an engaging, non-intimidating approach to the traditional formal literary analysis essay while still using the skills we want students to demonstrate (i.e. embedding quotes, thoughtful analysis, etc.). After completing scaffolding activities while they read the novel, students write an essay which includes a personal reaction, analysis of theme, and a response to a notable passage.
To prepare, as students read Anthem by Ayn Rand, they collect quotes related to theme and begin thinking about their significance as a preface to thoughtful analysis. Instructions and an example are provided. During the reading of the novel, students practice paraphrasing and embedding quotes with a detailed handout.
Once the novel is finished, detailed instructions and a sample literary letter provide students a clear understanding of how to successfully complete the essay assignment, using the skills of analysis, paraphrasing, and embedding they have already practiced. The provided powerpoint gives another tool for explaining the process.
If you choose, students can read and respond to each other's letters. (This part is especially effective, as it gives students another audience.) Brief instructions for letter responses and a holistic rubric for the completed essay are included.
Literary letter essay instructions can be adapted for other novels.
-Powerpoint with instructions and an example for collecting theme quotes
-A three-page worksheet which includes instructions and practice with writing paraphrases and embedded quotes
-Detailed student instructions for literary letter essay
-An example of a literary letter (I used Romeo and Juliet for the model since most students have read it; that way, I'm not stealing their ideas for Anthem.)
-Powerpoint with the literary letter example to talk students through the expectations
-A holistic rubric
-Brief instructions for responding to a classmate's letter