3 Reasons Literary Analysis Must Be Authentic


Teachers from Farmington High School in Farmington, CT, armed with authentic literary analysis mentor texts and a game plan for bringing it to their classrooms!

Hello, friends! Oh, how we have missed you!

Allison and I are still in the midst of finishing our new book on teaching analytical writing, but we couldn’t resist a quick check-in with you to share some of what we have been up to!

Yesterday we had the great fun of doing an hour of virtual professional development  via Google Hangout with a department of teachers from Farmington High School who are searching for better, deeper, more meaningful ways to engage their students in writing literary analysis.

We all know that traditional, academic literary analysis — the kind of 5-paragraph themes you and I wrote in high school — don’t really work. Students hate writing them. We hate reading them. At best, students have successfully followed a formula that has allowed them to regurgitate what they have heard and discussed in class. At worst, students limp through the motions, inserting ideas pilfered from Spark Notes and badly-written Internet essays.

So, that doesn’t work. What does?

As in all writing, students’ process and writing products must be authentic if we are going to get buy in and engagement.  Here are just three reasons that the literary analysis writing we teach and students create must be authentic: Continue reading


Join us on Monday 3/28 for #engchat

Even though many of us experience the Sunday night blues, we always have #engchat on Monday nights to help kick off our week!

Rebekah and I hope you will join us THIS Monday, March 28 at 7PM for an #engchat discussion on teaching analytical writing. Here’s a post we wrote for the #engchat page, along with the guiding questions for Monday night’s discussion! As always, please let us know if there is something specific you would like to explore together.

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Analytical writing  is all around us — in political commentary, in TV/film criticism, in sports writing — and yet the only kind of analytical writing we teach in school is literary analysis. We all know how limiting and unsuccessful this can be. We believe there can be a better way — a way that builds students’ analytical writing skills but also builds on their passions. How can we help students use their interests and the places in which they truly are content experts to learn the universal skills of analysis?

Click here to read more on the #engchat website!