Below you will find a sample assignment, given by a real teacher, in a real classroom. The assignment is presented free of comment to allow you to take it in as if you were a student seeing it for the first time. Once you’ve had a chance to review the assignment, use the interactive icon menu at the top of your screen to toggle comments on or off. Lastly, scroll all the way to the bottom of the page to see additional comments based on the four domains of our Literacy Analysis Framework.


This culminating writing assignment came at the end of a five week ELA unit during which students read and analyzed two texts – The Outsiders and I am Malala – through the lens of making one’s voice heard. From the onset, students knew of the final writing assignment which would focus on I am Malala. Thus, all lessons leading up to it were intentionally sequenced and planned.

Students first read The Outsiders, focusing on both comprehension of the story itself and on the universal “bid idea” of speaking up about one’s ideas and beliefs. Each reading segment was anchored in comprehension strategies that supported these areas. As they moved through the text, students annotated key points, took specific notes, and had moments of both formal and informal discussion. During the writing portion of the unit, students were taught the key features of a literary essay. These features were first modeled and practiced using The Outsiders. Students then applied these techniques on their own by writing a literary essay using their independent reading text. The teacher provided feedback and support (through writing conferences).

The final weeks of the unit centered on I am Malala. The reading was completed during class with students focusing on the key points of her life and on the unit’s essential question: How do we make our voices heard? Students also viewed video clips of Malala, which portrayed her story and her subsequent public life. During the final two days of the unit, students were given the assignment presented here. They worked on their own (without teacher support). They were prompted to use everything they had learned and practiced about literary essays throughout the five-week unit. Additionally, they were encouraged to use the text and any notes they had taken.

Summary of Lesson Topics

Reading Lessons

  • Comprehension Strategies for Close Reading
    • Saying what a text means – in your own words
    • Paying attention to text structure
    • Asking questions as you read
    • Addressing key vocabulary
    • Note-taking strategies (read, think, write)
    • Using graphic orgnizers
    • Thinking within the text
    • Thinking about a text
    • Thinking beyond a text
  • Considering author’s purpose

Writing Lessons

  • Understanding a summary
  • Key features of a literary essay
  • Differences between summary & literary essay
  • Selecting a topic for a literary essay (character, theme and setting)
  • Crafting a strong thesis statement
  • Organizing reasons that support a thesis
  • Gathering evidence that support a thesis
  • Analyzing evidence & connecting to a thesis
  • Writing a strong introduction
  • Writing a satisfying conclusion
  • Editing & conventions (using checklists)

I am Malala

by Malala Yousafzai with Patricia McCormick

Over the past five weeks we have thought about the discussed what it means to “make our voices heard” as we read the text, I am Malala by Malala Yousafzai with Patricia McCormick. In this book we learned about Malala and her remarkable life in Pakistan and around the world. During the next two days, you will write a literary analysis about this text.


How can we make our voices heard? After reading I am Malala, write a literary essay in which you answer this question. In order to write your essay, select and analyze any one of the following areas:

  • a key person from the text
  • the setting
  • a theme from the text

Support your argument with evidence from the text.

In your piece be sure to:

  • Write at least five paragraphs
  • Follow the Structure of a Literary Analysis
    • introduction & thesis
    • acknowledgement of an alternative/opposing claim
    • reasons, evidence and analysis
    • conclusion
    • Use correct spelling, punctuation, and capitalization

*You may use the text and any of your unit notes or graphic organizers as you plan and write your piece.

Literary Essay Checklist

  • I introduced the text and author in my opening paragraph
  • I include a thesis statement in my introduction
  • I acknowledge an opposing view in my introduction
  • I include an engaging lead
  • I support my position using reasons and evidence (key details or quotes) from the text
  • My evidence is organized in a logical way: it makes sense
  • I analyze my evidence and connect it back to my thesis
  • I use linking words to connect my opinion with my evidence (because, for example, such as, also, etc.)
  • I use specific words/vocabulary that relate to my thesis and the text
  • I use a variety of sentences that will help my readers understand and appreciate my writing
  • My conclusion restates the thesis statement
  • My conclusion will satisfy the reader; it is interesting

Editing Checklist

  • I used a dictionary for words I didn’t know how to spell
  • I capitalized the first word in my sentences, dates, holidays, people’s names, or specific places/things
  • I used correct punctuation at the end of my sentences
  • I used commas for words in a series and to show a pause in my sentences
  • If I included quotations from the text, I used quotation marks and commas
  • My verbs and subjects agree
  • I used the same verb tense – past or present – for my whole paper
  • I used the correct form for irregular verbs
  • I used complete sentences
  • I have a variety of sentences
  • I used adjectives to describe nouns and adverbs to describe verbs