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Thinking about on-demand lit. essay writing

When my students return from vacation they’re going to be spending a week in their notebooks before we start our memoir unit of study. (We’re saving poetry for last since I didn’t feel we HAD to do Poetry now just b/c it’s National Poetry Month. I’ve always done it in April, but wanted to change-it-up this year since my kids are exposed to poetry all year long.) That being said, I realized it’s really important for me to assess their literary essay writing skills by giving them an on-demand piece of writing to do.

Last year I gave my students Cisneros’s “Eleven,” 45 minutes and said, “Go ahead and write a literary essay on this text.” I gave them “Eleven” since they knew it well and none of them had chosen to write about “Eleven” for their own literary essay. However, I used “Eleven” in all of my demonstrations this year, so I’m questioning what I should use as the text they’re going to write about for their on-demand pieces. So…

Do I present them with a piece like “The Marble Champ” that they’ve never heard before and really see what they do with it? (That feels so mean.) Or do I give them a text like Uncle Peter’s Amazing Chinese Wedding, which we’ve read a couple of times as a class, and see what they do with it. I’m leaning towards the latter option, but I’m not quite sure what is the best idea to really assess them and the way they think about/grow ideas about a text. (All I know is that my vacation is coming to an end and I’ve gotta figure this out soon!)

Stacey Shubitz View All

Literacy Consultant. Author. Former 4th and 5th Grade Classroom Teacher.

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