Literary Analysis Essay: Build a "Case File" of Text Evidence for ANY Novel!

Rated 4.81 out of 5, based on 259 reviews
259 Ratings
Secondary Sara
Grade Levels
6th - 9th
Resource Type
Formats Included
  • Zip
15 pages & 10 slides
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Secondary Sara

What educators are saying

This is a great resource that allowed my students to practice gathering relevant evidence to help support their writing.
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NOW INCLUDES GOOGLE: Are you looking for a new, engaging way to teach literary analysis? Call the claim/thesis a "conspiracy theory", and tell students that they have to "prove" it!

Ideal for students who are new or intermediate with lit analysis, this project makes students use inductive reasoning without realizing it. In this Common Core aligned project, student groups choose a question about the novel and come up with a "conspiracy theory" (thesis) to answer that question.

DURING reading, small groups gather text evidence from the novel (with sticky notes) and analyze it using a four step method:

• What does it SAY?

• What does it MEAN?

• Why does it MATTER?

• How does it prove your THESIS?

Once they have completed the novel and graphic organizer, students give presentations on their thesis and the evidence they collected to support it. The class actively listens by following along with their own listening guide to track who said what (and get repeated practice hearing what it's like to prove a thesis!). CCSS speaking standards are clearly assessed on the rubric.

Finally, you can assign the optional follow-up essay assignment to individually assess literary analysis skills.

(Results: I did this project with my class of 8th graders, and they LOVED it. They really took ownership of their "theory" and scoured the novel for evidence more thoroughly than I'd ever seen. After this project, students were ready to move on to write their own literary analysis essays using the text evidence and thesis statement produced in their case files.)

This 15-page, 10-slide download includes:

• A Teacher Guide that provides essential questions, I Can statements, CCSS standards for grades 6-8, a sample calendar of lessons, and tips for successful implementation of the group project.

• Directions sheet and rubric

• Thesis statement development/approval sheet

• Case File Planning Sheet (chart to collect and analyze text evidence while reading)

• Listening Guide for presentations

• A sample PowerPoint template to give students so they know how to format and organize all of their evidence! (Plus, it helps them transition the PPT into an essay later!)

• Literary Analysis Essay assignment (directions and rubric)

NOW INCLUDES GOOGLE, Word, and PDF versions!

OPTIONAL Bonus Pages include:

• Nonfiction activity to research what conspiracy theories are

• Evaluating Evidence in a Theory mini-lesson

• Analyzing the Quality of an Essay's Claims mini-lesson (to answer the question "is this essay good?")

NOTE: This product is INCLUDED in my Essay Mega Bundle and in my Public Speaking Activity Bundle.


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Total Pages
15 pages & 10 slides
Answer Key
Rubric only
Teaching Duration
2 Weeks
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to see state-specific standards (only available in the US).
Cite textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text.
Cite several pieces of textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text.
Cite the textual evidence that most strongly supports an analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text.
Cite strong and thorough textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text.


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