Writing a Literary Essay: Drafting a Conclusion | EL Education Curriculum

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These are the CCS Standards addressed in this lesson:

  • RL.4.1: Refer to details and examples in a text when explaining what the text says explicitly and when drawing inferences from the text.
  • RL.4.2: Determine a theme of a story, drama, or poem from details in the text; summarize the text.
  • W.4.2: Write informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas and information clearly.
  • W.4.2a: Introduce a topic clearly and group related information in paragraphs and sections; include formatting (e.g., headings), illustrations, and multimedia when useful to aiding comprehension.
  • W.4.2b: Develop the topic with facts, definitions, concrete details, quotations, or other information and examples related to the topic.
  • W.4.2c: Link ideas within categories of information using words and phrases (e.g., another, for example, also, because).
  • W.4.2d: Use precise language and domain-specific vocabulary to inform about or explain the topic.
  • W.4.2e: Provide a concluding statement or section related to the information or explanation presented.
  • W.4.4: Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development and organization are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.
  • W.4.5: With guidance and support from peers and adults, develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, and editing.
  • W.4.6: With some guidance and support from adults, use technology, including the Internet, to produce and publish writing as well as to interact and collaborate with others; demonstrate sufficient command of keyboarding skills to type a minimum of one page in a single sitting.

Daily Learning Targets

  • I can write the conclusion of my literary essay that restates the focus. (RL.4.1, RL.4.2, W.4.2a, W.4.2b, W.4.2c, W.4.2d, W.4.2e, W.4.4, W.4.6)
  • I can provide kind, specific, and helpful feedback to peers about their essays. (W.4.5)

Ongoing Assessment

  • Literary essay conclusion (RL.4.1, RL.4.2, W.4.2a, W.4.2b, W.4.2c, W.4.2d, W.4.2e, W.4.4, W.4.6)
  • Stars and steps on sticky notes (W.4.5)


AgendaTeaching Notes

1. Opening

A. Reviewing Learning Targets (5 minutes)

2. Work Time

A. Independent Writing: Writing a Conclusion Paragraph (25 minutes)

B. Peer Critique: Literary Essays (20 minutes)

3. Closing and Assessment

A. Making Connections to Real-Life Events (10 minutes)

4. Homework

A. Accountable Research Reading. Select a prompt and respond in the front of your independent reading journal.

Purpose of lesson and alignment to standards:

  • Work Time A follows the same structure as in Lesson 12: Students analyze the model literary essay and then plan and write the conclusion for their essays. (RL.4.1, RL.4.2, W.4.2a, W.4.2b, W.4.2c, W.4.2d, W.4.2e, W.4.4, W.4.6).
  • In Work Time B, students participate in a peer critique of their essays using the criteria on the Informative Writing Checklist (W.4.5).
  • In the Closing, students read an informational text about The Hope Chest to better understand that although the book is fictional, many of the people and events they read about were real.
  • In this lesson, students continue to focus on working to become ethical people by showing respect when providing peer feedback.

How this lesson builds on previous work:                                                                                                                                    

  • In Lessons 10-12, students wrote the introduction and two proof paragraphs of their literary essay. In this lesson, they write the conclusion.

Areas in which students may need additional support:

  • Continue to provide sentence frames and small group writing support as needed.

Assessment guidance:

  • Review students' conclusion to ensure that they have included all the necessary information. Use common issues as teaching points for the whole group before the assessment in the next lesson.
  • Consider using the Writing Process Checklist for Writing and Language Skills during the independent writing in the Closing and Assessment (see the Tools page).

Down the road:

  • In the next lesson, students will write an on-demand essay about another theme in The Hope Chest for the end of unit assessment.

In Advance

  • Prepare technology necessary for students to word-process their essays (see Technology and Multimedia).
  • Consider working with a technology teacher to help students word-process their essays.
  • Post: Learning targets and applicable anchor charts (see materials list).

Tech and Multimedia

  • Work Time A: Prepare technology and tools necessary for students to word-process their essays, one device per student.
  • Closing and Assessment A: Students use sharing and the comments feature on word-processing software to note their stars and steps to peers.
  • Continue to use the technology tools recommended throughout Modules 1-3 to create anchor charts to share with families; to record students as they participate in discussions and protocols to review with students later and to share with families; and for students to listen to and annotate text, record ideas on note-catchers, and word-process writing.

Supporting English Language Learners

Supports guided in part by CA ELD Standards 4.I.B.6, 4.1.C.10, 4.1.C.11, 4.1.C.12, 4.II.A.1, 4.II.A.2, 4.II.C.6, 4.II.C.7

Important points in the lesson itself

  • The basic design of this lesson supports ELLs with opportunities to work closely with an essay structure, building on their understanding one paragraph at a time. In this lesson, students focus exclusively on the conclusion paragraph of their literary essay. Students continue to benefit from the color-coding system established in prior lessons for visual support, and from building on previous lessons of analyzing a model, planning an essay, and drafting an introductory paragraph and Proof Paragraphs 1 and 2. Additionally, the opportunity for students to receive feedback during the peer critique is particularly supportive of ELLs.
  • ELLs may find writing the conclusion paragraph challenging, because it varies from the informational and persuasive writing styles they used in previous modules. Provide time for students to explicitly practice language to restate and reflect on their themes, becoming familiar with language they can use to write their paragraph. Additionally, consider working with a small group after working with the class, and help them create their paragraph together.

Levels of support

For lighter support:

  • During the Mini Language Dive, challenge students to generate questions about the sentence before asking the prepared questions. Example: "What questions can we ask about this sentence? Let's see if we can answer them together."
  • Encourage students to use the sentence practice from the Mini Language Dive, "This book shows us how __________, __________, and _________ it can be to _______________," to reflect on their theme during Work Time A. Challenge students to think of more than one way they could complete the sentence frame.

For heavier support:

  • During Work Time A, consider providing an outline for students to organize their conclusion paragraphs. (Example: [Restate Theme with Points 1 and 2] __________. [Example of Theme from Book] _________.  [Reflection on Theme] __________.) 

Universal Design for Learning

  • Multiple Means of Representation (MMR): Continue to reduce barriers to metacognition in this lesson by providing a visual reminder of the focus for each activity.
  • Multiple Means of Action and Expression (MMAE): Continue to help students build their writing stamina and effort by providing scaffolds that build an environment that is conducive to writing.
  • Multiple Means of Engagement (MME): Students who may need additional support with writing may have negative associations with writing tasks based on previous experiences. Continue to help them feel successful with writing by allowing them to create feasible goals and celebrate when these goals are met. Celebrate students who meet their writing goals, whether it is length of text or sustained writing time.


Key: Lesson-Specific Vocabulary (L); Text-Specific Vocabulary (T); Vocabulary Used in Writing (W)

  • restates, focus (L)


  • Devices (one per student; used by students to type their essay in Work Time A)
  • Model Literary Essay: "Do Something Meaningful" (from Lesson 9; one per student and one to display)
  • Literary essay (begun in Lesson 10; added to during Work Time A; one per student)
  • Painted Essay(r)template (from Module 1; one per student)
  • Essay planners (from Lesson 10; one per student)
  • Summarizing The Hope Chest, Chapters 8-14 (from Lessons 1-7; one of each per student)
  • Informative Writing Checklist (from Lesson 9; one per student)
  • Informative Writing Checklist (from Lesson 10; example, for teacher reference)
  • Linking Words and Phrases (from Module 1; one per student)
  • Theme anchor charts (begun in Unit 1, Lesson 6)
  • Working to Become Ethical People anchor chart (begun in Module 1)
  • Sticky notes (two different colors; one of each per student)
  • Peer Critique anchor chart (begun in Module 1)
  • Directions for Peer Critique (one to display)
  • The Hope Chest (from Unit 1, Lesson 1; one per student and one to display)

Materials from Previous Lessons

New Materials


Each unit in the 3-5 Language Arts Curriculum has two standards-based assessments built in, one mid-unit assessment and one end of unit assessment. The module concludes with a performance task at the end of Unit 3 to synthesize their understanding of what they accomplished through supported, standards-based writing.



OpeningMeeting Students' Needs

A. Reviewing Learning Targets (5 minutes)

  • Direct students' attention to the posted learning targets and read them aloud:

"I can write the conclusion of my literary essay that restates the focus."

"I can provide kind, specific, and helpful feedback to peers about their essays."

  • Focus students on the first learning target and underline the words restates and focus. Turn and Talk:

"Thinking about what the prefix re- means, what do you think restates means?" (says again)

"What is the focus? What does it mean to restate the focus?" (The focus is what the essay is about--the focus statement. Restating the focus means saying it again.)

  • Remind students they have participated in many peer critiques over the course of the year.
  • For students who may need additional support with comprehension: Invite students to restate the learning targets in their own words. (MMR)
  •  For ELLs: (Noticing Homonyms) Invite students to notice the root word in restate (state) and to review its multiple meanings (examples: the condition of something; a territory; to express something clearly in writing or speaking). Consider explicitly pointing out that students will be using two meanings of the word state today: to express something clearly in writing, and to discuss the different states, or territories, where women were fighting for the right to vote. Remind students to use context to determine which meaning of state is being used at different points in the lesson.

Work Time

Work TimeMeeting Students' Needs

A. Independent Writing: Writing a Conclusion Paragraph (25 minutes)

  • Organize students on devices and follow the same routine from Work Time A of Lesson 12 to guide students through reading the applicable paragraph of Model Literary Essay: "Do Something Meaningful" and retrieving the following materials in preparation for writing the concluding paragraph of their literary essay:
    • Painted Essay template
    • Essay planner
    • Summarizing The Hope Chest, Chapters 8-14
    • Informative Writing Checklist
    • Linking Words and Phrases
    • Debrief the conclusion of the model literary essay. (The conclusion restates the theme in conjunction with points 1 and 2, and suggests other characters whose actions have shown evidence of the theme as well as Violet and Chloe. It finishes with a reflection on the theme. The author reflects on the theme by writing about what readers can learn from the theme in the text.)
    • Invite students to consider and make notes on their essay planners for how they might restate their focus statement in conjunction with points 1 and 2 about the two characters they chose to write about.
    • Focus students on the appropriate Theme anchor chart for their theme. Think-Triad-Share:

"Who else in the book said and did things that showed evidence of the theme you chose?" (Responses will vary, depending on the theme.)

    • Invite students to make notes on their essay planners.
    • After 2 minutes, refocus whole group. Think-Triad-Share:

"What can you learn from the way this theme is presented in The Hope Chest?" (Responses will vary, depending on the theme.)

    • Invite students to make notes in the appropriate place on their essay planners.
    • Invite students to mark/highlight the following criteria on their Informative Writing Checklist and to read each one chorally with you:
      • "W.4.2c: I use linking words to connect ideas."
      • "W.4.2d, L.4.6: The words I use show that I am knowledgeable about this topic."
      • "W.4.2e: I have a conclusion that is clearly related to the focus and the information presented."
    • Think-Triad-Share:

"What is specific to this writing for each of those criteria you have highlighted? What is the topic? What information does the reader need in the introduction to understand the piece?"

    • Invite students to update the third column of their checklists accordingly. Refer to Informative Writing Checklist (example, for teacher reference) as necessary.
    • Invite students to begin writing.
    • Circulate to support students as they write and to identify common issues to use as whole group teaching points. Ask questions to guide student thinking:

"Which other characters have said or done things to show evidence of this theme?"

"What can you learn from this theme in The Hope Chest?"

  • For students who may need additional support with self-regulation: As students work, support time-management strategies by using a timer. (MME)
  • For ELLs: (Enlarged Model Literary Essay: Annotating) Display the enlarged model literary essay (see Lesson 9, For heavier support) as students talk through each sentence of the conclusion paragraph. As they share out the purpose of each sentence, record it above the corresponding sentence in the conclusion paragraph. Invite students to refer to these annotations for support as they draft their conclusion paragraphs.
  • For ELLs: Mini Language Dive. "This book shows us / how difficult, important, and satisfying it can be / to do meaningful work."  
    • Deconstruct: Discuss the sentence and each chunk. Language goals for focus structure:
      • "What does this chunk tell us?" This chunk tells us what we can learn from the theme "do meaningful work" from the model literary essay. It tells us doing meaningful work can be very difficult, important, and satisfying. (adverbial phrase)
      • "Can you figure out why the author wrote how?" How is used to express the extent or degree of something. In this chunk, how is used to emphasize that doing meaningful work is very difficult, important, and satisfying. (adverb)
      • Students can take 30 seconds in pairs to list as many synonyms for difficult, important, and satisfying as possible (examples: challenging, significant, fulfilling). Then they can switch pairs and share antonyms for this feeling, discussing how the meaning of the sentence would change if the words difficult, important, and satisfying were replaced with their antonyms (example: easy, unimportant, and unsatisfying).
    • Practice: Students can practice using this structure to speak or write about their own lives. "I want to share how _____, _______, and ______ it can be to ________."
    • Reconstruct:

"What is another way to say this sentence?" (Responses will vary.)

"How does your understanding of this sentence add to your understanding of how you can restate and reflect on the theme you have chosen for your literary essay?" (Responses will vary.)

    • Practice: "This book shows us how __________, __________, and _________ it can be to _______________."

"How can we use this sentence structure when reflecting on our themes in our conclusion paragraph?" (Responses will vary.)

B. Peer Critique: Literary Essays (20 minutes)

  • Invite students to find a new partner and to label themselves A and B.
  • Tell students they will now participate in a peer critique. Focus students on the Working to Become Ethical People anchor chart and remind them specifically of the respect criteria. Remind students that when providing peer feedback, they need to be respectful.
  • Remind students to be looking for evidence of the criteria on the Informative Writing Checklist in their new partner's work.
  • Distribute sticky notes and use the Peer Critique anchor chart and the Directions for Peer Critique to guide students through a peer critique.
  • When 2 minutes remain, use a checking for understanding technique (e.g., Red Light, Green Light or Thumb-O-Meter) for students to self-assess against the second learning target and how well they demonstrated respect today.
  • For students who may need additional support with comprehension: Invite students to brainstorm different words and phrases they could use to provide kind, specific, and helpful feedback to their partner. Write the words and phrases on chart paper and encourage students to refer to it as they work with their partners. (MMR, MMAE)
  • For ELLs: (Fishbowl: Peer Critique) Invite a confident pair to fishbowl the process of providing feedback during a peer critique. Consider further supporting students by modeling and thinking aloud specific examples of feedback as necessary. (Example: "I don't see many linking words and phrases in your essay. Have you thought about adding linking words and phrases from the Linking Words and Phrases handout? Perhaps this would help connect your ideas.")
  • For ELLs: (Home Languages) Invite students to share kind, specific, and helpful comments in their home languages. Example:
    • "How would you say 'excellent point' in Spanish?" (excelente punto

Closing & Assessments

ClosingMeeting Students' Needs

A. Making Connections to Real-Life Events (10 minutes)

  • Invite students to retrieve their copies of The Hope Chest and to turn to page 261. Display this page and read aloud to the bottom of page 265.
  • Focus students on the top of page 262. Think-Triad-Share:

"What does it tell you about the author's opinion of these people when it says, 'History has been too polite to record the real people's names'?" (The author thinks those people did bad things and deserve to have their names known, but they have been lucky enough for people not to know their names.)

Conversation Cue: "Do you agree or disagree with what your classmate said? Why?" (Responses will vary.)

  • Reread the paragraph on page 262, from "American women regained ..." to "... New Jersey, in 1807."
  • Think-Triad-Share:

"What does this paragraph tell us about the history of women's right to vote? How would you say it in your own words?" (A long time ago, women were able to vote. Then the right was taken away, before it was won back again in 1920.)

 "How does this informational text help you better understand The Hope Chest?" (Responses will vary, but may include: It includes more information about what came before The Hope Chest, which sets the context of the book more clearly.)

Conversation Cue: "Who can tell us what your classmate said in your own words?" (Responses will vary.)

  • Emphasize that a lot of the characters in The Hope Chest like Chloe and Violet, and the suffragists took action on the issue of women's right to vote to make a difference, which means they did things to change life for the better. Tell students they will be doing the same thing themselves in Unit 3 for current issues.
  • For students who may need additional support with auditory processing: Display the questions and responses during the Think-Triad-Share. (MMR)
  • For ELLs: (Previewing Vocabulary) Consider previewing unfamiliar vocabulary words with students before reading pages 261-265. Additionally, invite students to share synonyms of key words to help them comprehend this informational text (examples: vanish = disappear; invented = made up; regain = to get back).
  • For ELLs: (Morphology: Prefixes) Remind students of the prefix re- in restate from the Daily Learning Target. Invite them to use their understanding of the meaning of this prefix (again) to determine the meaning of unfamiliar words with the same prefix on pages 261-265 (e.g., regain). Explain that some words start with the prefix re-, but that the prefix re- has a different meaning: completely (e.g., resentment). In addition, re- can also be part of the root, rather than a prefix (e.g., read). In both cases, re- does not mean again. Invite students to distinguish between words on pages 261-265 where re- means again and where it does not.


HomeworkMeeting Students' Needs

A. Accountable Research Reading. Select a prompt and respond in the front of your independent reading journal.

  •  For ELLs: (Oral Response) Read aloud, discuss, and respond to your prompt orally with a partner, a family member, or a student from Grades 3 or 5, or record an audio response.

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