Category Archives: Response to Literature

Where a Letter, a Spoken Word, and a Novel Meet


“As a young boy in France, Jay Frankston witnessed the rise of Hitler’s anti-Semitism leading up to the war and the Holocaust. The experience of watching so many people stand by and do nothing affirmed his belief in speaking up against wrongs, no matter how small.”

Listen to Jay Frankston’s words heretib-frankstonj-105932-200.

This past week, we have read and analyzed an Excerpt from Martin Luther King Jr.’s Letter from the Birmingham City Jail.  To increase your understanding of this magnificent letter, watch A Reading of the Letter From Birmingham Jail – OFFICIAL TRAILER from Jamaal Bell on Vimeo.

What do these two works have in common?  What can they teach us today?

This week’s topic for your argument paragraph is as follows:  What is a common theme in Martin Luther King’s Letter from Birmingham City Jail, Jay Frankston’s audio recording Speak Up, and Lois Lowry’s historical fiction Number the Stars?

How do you write an argument paragraph?  Make a thoughtful claim!  Support your claim with evidence!!


Fact vs. Opinion

Facts can be proven, while opinions are personal feelings about a topic. Argument writers use both fact and opinion when developing pieces.

What Is an Argument?

An argument is an opinion supported by facts. Writers refer to opinions as claims and facts as evidence. The claim clearly states a stance on a topic or issue. Evidence to prove this claim can include reasons, personal experience, statistics, confirmed facts, and expert research.

Your paragraph should have:

  1. A topic sentence with a clear claim that states the common theme for all three works.
  2. Textual evidence (at least one example from each work) to support your claim.
  3. Explanation of your textual evidence that brings the reader back to your claim.
  4. Transitional devices that help organize and sequence your writing.
  5. A concluding sentence that reinforces your original claim.
  6. Proper grammar (in the present tense)
  7. Accurate spelling
  8. Proper punctuation
  9. Sixth-grade vocabulary
  10. Original, compelling ideas!

Here is our comparative analysis writing rubric.

Enjoy the thinking and writing process, Sixth-Grade Writers/Scholars!


What’s the Big Idea?


The big idea is this!  We are learning how to determine central ideas or themes of a text and summarize the key supporting details and ideas.  For the next two weeks, you will practice and apply your knowledge of theme.  (Two weeks?  Why, yes, alert readers, this is your Holiday Homework.  You’re welcome!)

To begin, review this Theme PowerPoint to learn about Big Ideas, what theme is and is not, and how to evaluate theme.

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Then, watch this Theme Tutorial to increase and solidify your understanding of theme.

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Now, it is your turn to create a story and determine its theme.  Click on Creating a Theme Practice to try it out.  Fun!!!

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After viewing these tutorials, practice what you’ve learned with this Theme Worksheet.  You may check your answers here to see if you are on the right track.

Finally, you are ready to apply your knowledge of theme and supporting details with your daily reading!

Your mission over Winter Break: Write a Response to Literature paragraph about the central theme of your book.

10 Steps:

  1. Choose a fabulous AR chapter book.
  2. Read for a minimum of 45 minutes daily.
  3. As you read, think about the “Big Ideas” or themes in your book.
  4. Make a List of Themes that appear in your book.
  5. Choose one central theme.
  6. Write notes on the details that support this central theme.
  7. Review how to write a Response to Literature paragraph.
  8. Write a Response to Literature paragraph on the book’s central theme.
  9. Evaluate your writing by completing the Central Theme Writing Rubric.
  10. Submit your paragraph on Monday, January 6, 2014. 🙂

Here are a few more tools to help you:

Sweet themes, sixth-grade scholars!

Ms. Rankin

Response to Literature Essay


In this mode of writing, you are asked to read a piece of literature and then write an essay in response to the text.

You will have a prompt to guide your writing.  The prompt may ask you to:

  • Describe characters and/or setting
  • Explain major portions of the plot
  • Identify the theme or the author’s message
  • Write from a character’s point of view
  • Explain a meaning of a poem

You must use evidence from the piece of literature to support your response. It is critical that you are able to “prove” that you are correct by using concrete details from the text (at least three examples from the story).

The topic sentence should be a restatement of the question and the name of the story should be included.

The essay should always be written in present tense.

Here are some tools to help you write a great literary response: