Literary Analysis and #Engchat.

Phew! I just moderated my first #Engchat conversation.

Here are a few ideas that are resonating with me right now, regarding the topic of literary analysis:

eireprof @janineutell #engchat ask them to describe not what happens, but how it happens; not what it means, but how meaning is achieved +

John_DAdamo @lpahomov With some prep, I think the idea of multiple correct solutions to a mystery could be delivered. #engchat

mrlundblade This “quest for the right answer” is something that’s important to be mindful of, and help students get past

jgmac1106 If you are going to use writing to teach and/or track growth of analytical thinking you will really need to set individual goals

I gravitated towards the big picture commentary, maybe because that’s where my own struggle is in setting the tone for my students… I personally can scaffold and chart or graph the analytical writing process to death, but then I feel like I’m killing the spirit of the thing. (Ed note: feel like? I AM killing the spirit of the thing.)

There is one comment that kept bouncing around and I don’t think we addressed properly:

johncarmanz Most difficult for me to teach students is the difference between summary and analysis

This made me reflect on the typical writing process, and how that might encourage this problem (and I needed more than 140 Characters to describe what I meant.)

I scaffold the writing process as “context / quote / analysis.” So after students have hunted and collected and typed up that support, they have the evidence staring them in the face, and all they’ve got to do scribble down some analysis. Should be easy, right?

I’m reminded of the anti-plagiarism activity which has students paraphrase a text while looking at it vs. not looking at it — the first group invariably verges on stealing the original text’s phrasing. I theorize that the same thing happens when writing — you’re supposed to come up with your own words here, but you’ve got somebody else’s words staring you in the face, so it’s hard not to let those ideas seep in and take over.

If that logic holds, a potential solution would be to have kids step away from the draft in order to compose their analysis… maybe scribbling on paper (or a different piece of paper), maybe talking it out to a friend or an audio recorder. Having the thesis be within sight, but the exact evidence hidden.

I know I’ll be trying this in the future.


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