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Lessons
Exploring Literature through Letter Writing Groups
Discipline
Reading
Grades
9, 10, 11, 12
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Professional Commentary

In this lesson, students discuss literature through a series of letter exchanges. Though not a new idea, this lesson provides an alternative to traditional literature discussion groups. The author also encourages the use of electronic media. Exchanged letters can be used with email, discussion boards, or weblogs. The letter writing series may be used in conjunction with any work of literature and any other assignment. The content focus may be adjusted to more closely match literary text benchmarks and to address particular aspects of literary analysis in which some students may need additional practice. Students can even be asked to carry on a year-long discussion in which they make connections among a number of literary works. It is recommended that teachers research ideas for managing and monitoring the electronic discussions. Specific ideas are not provided at this website. (author/ncl)


Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts
Grades 6–12
Reading: Literature
Grades 9-10
Key Ideas and Details
RL.9-10.1 
Cite strong and thorough textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text.
RL.9-10.2 
Determine a theme or central idea of a text and analyze in detail its development over the course of the text, including how it emerges and is shaped and refined by specific details; provide an objective summary of the text.
RL.9-10.3 
Analyze how complex characters (e.g., those with multiple or conflicting motivations) develop over the course of a text, interact with other characters, and advance the plot or develop the theme.
Writing
Grades 9-10
Text Types and Purposes
W.9-10.1 
Write arguments to support claims in an analysis of substantive topics or texts, using valid reasoning and relevant and sufficient evidence.
  1. Introduce precise claim(s), distinguish the claim(s) from alternate or opposing claims, and create an organization that establishes clear relationships among claim(s), counterclaims, reasons, and evidence.
  2. Develop claim(s) and counterclaims fairly, supplying evidence for each while pointing out the strengths and limitations of both in a manner that anticipates the audience’s knowledge level and concerns.
  3. Use words, phrases, and clauses to link the major sections of the text, create cohesion, and clarify the relationships between claim(s) and reasons, between reasons and evidence, and between claim(s) and counterclaims.
  4. Establish and maintain a formal style and objective tone while attending to the norms and conventions of the discipline in which they are writing.
  5. Provide a concluding statement or section that follows from and supports the argument presented.
W.9-10.2 
Write informative/explanatory texts to examine and convey complex ideas, concepts, and information clearly and accurately through the effective selection, organization, and analysis of content.
  1. Introduce a topic; organize complex ideas, concepts, and information to make important connections and distinctions; include formatting (e.g., headings), graphics (e.g., figures, tables), and multimedia when useful to aiding comprehension.
  2. Develop the topic with well-chosen, relevant, and sufficient facts, extended definitions, concrete details, quotations, or other information and examples appropriate to the audience’s knowledge of the topic.
  3. Use appropriate and varied transitions to link the major sections of the text, create cohesion, and clarify the relationships among complex ideas and concepts.
  4. Use precise language and domain-specific vocabulary to manage the complexity of the topic.
  5. Establish and maintain a formal style and objective tone while attending to the norms and conventions of the discipline in which they are writing.
  6. Provide a concluding statement or section that follows from and supports the information or explanation presented (e.g., articulating implications or the significance of the topic).
Production and Distribution of Writing
W.9-10.4 
Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience. (Grade-specific expectations for writing types are defined in standards 1–3 above.)
W.9-10.6 
Use technology, including the Internet, to produce, publish, and update individual or shared writing products, taking advantage of technology’s capacity to link to other information and to display information flexibly and dynamically.
Ohio English Language Arts Standards (2001)
Reading Process: Concepts of Print, Comprehension Strategies and Self-Monitoring Strategies Standard
Benchmarks (8–10)
A.
Apply reading comprehension strategies to understand grade-appropriate text.
C.
Use appropriate self-monitoring strategies for comprehension.
Benchmarks (11–12)
A.
Apply reading comprehension strategies to understand grade-appropriate texts.
C.
Use appropriate self-monitoring strategies for comprehension.
Grade Level Indicators (Grade 9)
1.
Apply reading comprehension strategies, including making predictions, comparing and contrasting, recalling and summarizing and making inferences and drawing conclusions.
3.
Monitor own comprehension by adjusting speed to fit the purpose, or by skimming, scanning, reading on, looking back, note taking or summarizing what has been read so far in text.
Grade Level Indicators (Grade 10)
1.
Apply reading comprehension strategies, including making predictions, comparing and contrasting, recalling and summarizing and making inferences and drawing conclusions.
3.
Monitor own comprehension by adjusting speed to fit the purpose, or by skimming, scanning, reading on, looking back, note taking or summarizing what has been read so far in text.
Grade Level Indicators (Grade 11)
1.
Apply reading comprehension strategies, including making predictions, comparing and contrasting, recalling and summarizing and making inferences and drawing conclusions.
3.
Monitor own comprehension by adjusting speed to fit the purpose, or by skimming, scanning, reading on, looking back, note taking or summarizing what has been read so far in text.
Grade Level Indicators (Grade 12)
1.
Apply reading comprehension strategies, including making predictions, comparing and contrasting, recalling and summarizing and making inferences and drawing conclusions.
3.
Monitor own comprehension by adjusting speed to fit the purpose, or by skimming, scanning, reading on, looking back, note taking or summarizing what has been read so far in text.
Writing Applications Standard
Grade Level Indicators (Grade 9)
6.
Produce informal writings (e.g., journals, notes and poems) for various purposes.
Grade Level Indicators (Grade 10)
6.
Produce informal writings (e.g., journals, notes and poems) for various purposes.
Grade Level Indicators (Grade 11)
6.
Produce informal writings (e.g., journals, notes and poems) for various purposes.
Grade Level Indicators (Grade 12)
6.
Produce informal writings (e.g., journals, notes and poems) for various purposes.