One of my goals this year is to share more materials and ideas from my classroom here. Today’s share is a very simple process for looking at one scene in a novel that works really well, allowing students to stretch in their zones of proximal development. Equally nice is that they are fun to read.

Over December break, I had my 8th grade students read for pleasure in their independent book, and I gave them this scene analysis assignment along with it. It gives them a lot of choice to write about something that interests them, and does not come across as a comprehension check, but it does help them go a bit deeper in their responses than they might otherwise do. Students get a chance to practice using literary vocabulary and concepts we’ve worked on so far this year, and also make connections among them in an authentic way. (See below for the process.)


Pick a scene from your book to discuss..

Paragraph 1: Describe what happens in this scene.

Paragraph 2: Explain why you choose this scene.

Paragraph 3: Explain how it’s significant to the book as a whole.

Paragraph 4: Discuss how the author develops one literary element to make this scene meaningful or impactful: (choose ONE below)

theme, conflict, setting, foreshadowing, figurative or descriptive language, dialogue, mood, symbolism, irony, point of view

Note, this is not meant to be a super in depth analysis. I don’t consider this a literary essay either. It’s more a way of writing a response focused on a particular scene, and it tells me a lot about how students are understanding the book and how they are able to think in literary terms.