Lesson plan

Literary Argument: Drafting Your Essay

Once students have selected a topic related to a piece of literature they have read and mapped out their argument, this lesson will help them turn their prewriting into an essay.
Grade Subject View aligned standards

Students will be able to draft a literary argument essay using their prewriting.

(10 minutes)
  • Read the classic picture book, "The Three Little Pigs," to the class. Use a standard version, not one with a fun twist.
  • Explain that a literary argument is a piece of writing that makes a claim about the characters, events, or theme of a piece of literature (short story, novel, or poem) and supports that claim. It allows you and your reader to consider the literature in a new, deeper way. Tell them that today they will be using the prewriting that they have prepared to write the first draft of their literary argument essay.
  • Advise students that a great strategy to writing a quality piece of writing is to use a mentor text. You can analyze it and borrow the skills, words, strategies, and structure the author used. You many want to clarify that you are using the mentor text to borrow strategies, not ideas -- that would be plagiarism.
(10 minutes)
  • Pass out a copy of the literary argument essay, "The Importance of Community," about "The Three Little Pigs."
  • Read through the mentor text together as a class.
  • Ask students to note their observations about the essay and share them after. This could include word choice, ideas, organization, etc. There are no wrong answers.
(20 minutes)
  • Ask students to examine the introductory paragraph. Note that the essay included a hook, story background, and the claim, or thesis statement.
  • Have them highlight the hook in yellow (or underline).
  • Have students highlight in green (or circle) the sentences that give background about the story.
  • Have students highlight in blue (or put a box around) the claim, or thesis statement.
  • Ask students to examine the body paragraphs. Ask them to highlight (or circle) the reason that supports the claim in each paragraph.
  • Ask students to highlight (or underline) at least one piece of evidence from the story in each paragraph that supports the reason.
  • Now, have students identify the transition words used in this essay. What words, phrases, or strategies did the author use to tie the ideas together and help the writing flow? Record these on the board, brainstorm more to add to the list if you have time.
  • Lastly, have them draw an arrow from the evidence to the reason, and then arrows from the reasons to the claim so they can see how the argument is supported.
(45 minutes)
  • Now, ensure that students have their completed prewriting -- a completed template with their thesis about the literature, two reasons that support the thesis, and two pieces of evidence from the text that support each reason. This could be the "Literary Argument Writing: Supporting My Claim" worksheet.
  • You may also want to provide a list of transition words that they can have handy while writing.
  • Encourage students to use the mentor text and transition word bank to reference when they get stuck or need inspiration.
  • Instruct students to begin their first draft of their literary argument essay.


  • Lead a writing circle at a separate table to work more closely with struggling students.


  • Provide a more challenging mentor text for students to analyze.
  • Have students use computers to draft their writing.
(10 minutes)
  • After students have finished their essay, have them share their drafts with a small group. Circulate the room or have them turn the drafts in to you to evaluate who needs additional support before moving on to the editing and revision process.
(10 minutes)
  • Ask students to share what parts of writing their first draft were the most challenging. Have them share how they worked through those challenges.
  • Ask students to share their hooks or their whole introductory paragraphs with a partner or the whole class.

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