You are here

ELA G7:M1:U2:L11

Analyzing a Model Essay: “Challenges Facing a Lost Boy of Sudan”

You are here:

Long Term Learning Targets

  • I can write informative/explanatory texts that convey ideas and concepts using relevant information that is carefully selected and organized. (W.7.2) 
  • I can quote or paraphrase others’ work while avoiding plagiarism. (W.7.8) 
  • I can use correct capitalization, punctuation, and spelling to send a clear message to my reader. (L.7.2) 

Supporting Targets

Learning TargetsOngoing Assessments
  • I can analyze a model literary analysis essay to determine its strengths.
  • I can use quotes effectively in my writing.
  • I can punctuate quotes correctly in my writing.
  • Student contributions to What Makes a Literary Analysis Essay Effective? anchor chart
  • Student responses to observations of how quotes are used in text


AgendaTeaching Notes

1. Opening

A. Entry Task: Introducing Learning Targets (5 minutes)

2.  Work Time

A.  Examining a Model Essay: First Read and Partner Discussion (15 minutes)

B.   Building Criteria: “What Makes a Literary Analysis Essay Effective?” (10 minutes)

C.  Using Quotes in Essays (10 minutes)

3.  Closing and Assessment 

A.   Examining “Tips on Using Quotes” Handout and Revisiting Learning Targets (5 minutes)

4.  Homework

A.   Select three quotes from Reader’s Notes and put them in sentences, punctuating them correctly. Continue with independent reading. 

  • This is the second lesson to prepare students to write their analytical essays for the End of Unit 2 Assessment. In this lesson, students are introduced to a model essay on A Long Walk to Water. Using a model essay is a way for to demonstrate what is expected of the students. No coach would expect an athlete to learn a new skill such as dribbling a basketball without demonstrating it first. Models are crucial for students who are learning a new skill such as writing a literary analysis essay.
  • The model essay is about the challenges that Salva faces but not the factors that enable him to survive. The model essay is intentionally about the book that students also will write about. Students will be familiar with the context. The model, however, will not use exactly the same examples and information that the student essay on factors will use. 
  • The model uses the text that students have read and part of the information they have been gathering on the Survival anchor chart (students’ notes), demonstrating the process they will go through to write their own essays. 
  • Over the next few lessons, students will use this model essay to look at the writer’s purpose/thesis and how the writer supports his or her claims. 
  • Discussing the model essay will give students a concrete example to help them understand the components in the NYS Expository Writing Evaluation rubric, which they examine over the next four lessons. 
  • A major part of examining the NYS rubric will be looking at the academic vocabulary words in the rubric. In Lessons 12–15, these words will be collected in a Writer’s Glossary. Preview this document in the Lesson 12 supporting materials.
  • In this lesson, students also look at the use of quotes in the model essay to learn how to incorporate quotes as well as punctuate and cite them correctly. The lesson has students notice uses of quotes that are sometimes more complex than what students will be expected to do in their essays. In this way, students are exposed to more sophisticated uses of quotes, and, if they wish, they can expand their own use of quotes beyond the minimal requirements of using correct punctuation and page citations. 
  • The chart the class creates today on Using Quotes in Essays is a way to capture their observations. It will be compared to the Tips for Using Quotes and can be left up for students to use as a reference when they write their essays. These lessons use the MLA format for citing and documenting quotes.
  • For homework, students work with their Gathering Textual Evidence graphic organizers, which they have been filing out while rereading as a part of their homework. This routine was begun in Lesson 3. By this point, students should have completed Gathering Textual Evidence graphic organizers for Lesson 6-18 with evidence and quotes from A Long Walk to Water). Emphasize to students that these notes serve as the foundation for their essay. 
  • Read through the model essay “Challenges Facing a Lost Boy of Sudan.”
  • Decide which Discussion Appointment partners to use for this lesson.
  • Have chart paper displayed and titled for the new anchor chart: What Makes a Literary Analysis Essay Effective?
  • Have chart paper displayed and titled for the new anchor chart: Using Quotes in Essays.
  • Post: Learning targets. 
  • If you like, post some pictures of the landscape of Sudan, especially the desert. These photos can catch the students’ attention and act as background for the model essay they read in this lesson.



quotes (n), claim, effective; despite, hostile, brutality, fend, daunting, parched

NOTE: These words come from the model essay “Challenges Facing a Lost Boy of Sudan.”

  • Model Essay: “Challenges Facing a Lost Boy of Sudan” (one per student)
  • What makes a Literary Analysis Essay Effective? anchor chart (new; teacher-created; see Work Time B)
  • Using Quotes in Essays anchor chart (new; teacher-created; see Work Time C)
  • Tips on Using Quotes (one per student and one enlarged to hang in the classroom)
  • Gathering Textual Evidence graphic organizers (students’ completed notes from all previous Unit 2 lessons)


OpeningMeeting Students' Needs

A. Entry Task: Introducing Learning Targets (5 minutes)

  • As students enter the classroom, have them write the learning targets on the top of a sheet of paper they will use for today’s class.
  • Once students have copied the targets, ask them to turn to a partner to discuss the following question:

* “Which of the targets are new to you, and what would you like to know about these targets?” 

  • Invite pairs to write their answers down on the paper where they copied the targets.
  • Cold call two pairs to share their responses. Listen for students to mention that, in fact, all three targets are new. Tell students that the first learning target is about using what they have already discussed about the prompt in Lesson 10 to look at an essay model, and that targets 2 and 3 are about how they use quotes (direct evidence from the text) when they write. Tell them that they will see different ways to use quotes in the model essay today. 
  • Address any clarifying questions about these targets. Tell students that they will be working on the first learning target for the next four lessons, and the other two targets for the next six lessons.

  • Posting learning targets for students allows them to reference them throughout the lesson to check their understanding. They also provide a reminder to students and teachers about the intended learning behind a given lesson or activity.

Work Time

Work TimeMeeting Students' Needs

A. Examining a Model Essay: First Read and Partner Discussion (15 minutes) 

  • Be sure students are sitting with the Discussion Appointment partner you chose for this lesson. 
  • Remind students that yesterday they spent time thinking about a prompt for an essay they will be writing. Tell them that in order to help them with this writing task, you are going to read a model essay similar to what they will be writing and that, over the next few lessons, they will use this essay to discuss what makes a good essay. Having a model will support all students by giving them a concrete example of what is expected. They will be creating an anchor chart on what makes a literary analysis essay effective.
  • Distribute the Model Essay: “Challenges Facing a Lost Boy of Sudan” to each student. Tell them that you are going to read this essay aloud and would like them to read along silently. As they read, you would like them to listen and circle any words that they are unsure of or want to talk about.
  • Read the essay aloud. 
  • Then invite students to raise their hands to share any words that they circled. List these words on the board. Likely words include those identified above as vocabulary: 

* despite = in spite of; notwithstanding 

* hostile = a person or thing that is antagonistic or unfriendly 

* brutality = brutal; savage; cruel; inhuman: a brutal attack on the village fend = to resist or make defense 

* daunting = to lessen the courage of; dishearten: Don’t be daunted by the amount of work still to be done.

* parched = to make dry, hot, or thirsty: Walking in the sun parched his throat.

  • If students do not mention these words, all of which are strong academic vocabulary, check to see that students do understand the meanings. 
  • When going over these words, point specifically to despite, which connects two thoughts. Consider paraphrasing the sentence in the model to demonstrate how the word is a connector word that shows the relationship between two things—Salva’s survival “in spite of” the challenges. Point out how words like this make it easier for a reader to understand a writer’s thoughts, which will be important for students to do when they write their own essays (through connectors and transition words). 
  • If you get other words, ask students to supply meanings or give brief explanations to the class.
  • Tell students: “Now you are going to work with one of your Discussion Appointment to reread the essay and answer the following question: 

* “What one sentence in this essay states the main point the writer is trying to make?”

  • Ask them to highlight this sentence in the essay.
  • Refocus students whole group. Tell them that the sentence that states the main point is in effect the author’s purpose for writing the essay. It is the essay author’s claim, focus statement, or main point about Salva’s challenges. Ask several pairs to share their opinion of what the author of the essay wanted them to know about Salva’s story.

  • Providing models of expected work supports all learners but especially supports challenged learners.

B. Building Criteria: “What Makes a Literary Analysis Essay Effective?” (10 minutes)

  • Post the chart paper for the new What Makes a Literary Analysis Essay Effective? anchor chart. Ask students: 

* “Was the author’s message clear to you?” 

  • Ask for a thumbs-up/-down for a quick show of their understanding of the essay. Tell them that if they could understand the author’s ideas, the essay was an effective literary analysis essay. In other words, the essay achieved the author’s goal. 
  • Invite students to discuss with their partner: 

* “What is one thing you think helped make the essay clear to you?”

  • Invite a few pairs to share their thinking with the class. Add their ideas to the new What Makes a Literary Analysis Essay Effective? anchor chart. You might get responses such as: “The author’s main idea was in the beginning,” or “The author gave examples of challenges.” 
  • At this point, it is fine if students do not have many items listed. If they are giving good, solid elements of a clear essay, add what they offer. Tell them they will be adding more items to this chart as they talk about how to write a clear essay over the next several lessons. By doing this, they are working on learning target 1.
  • Ask students to thank their discussion partners for good thinking and return to their own seats.

  • Anchor charts provide a visual cue to students about what to do when you ask them to work independently. They also serve as note-catchers when the class is co-constructing ideas.

C. Using Quotes in Essays (10 minutes)

  • Tell students that one thing that makes a literary essay effective is using quotes from the book to support your ideas. Say: “There are rules for how to use quotes, and writers have to pay attention to those rules to make their work clear and correct. To see some good ways to use quotes, we will look at the model essay again and focus on the quotes and how the author of the essay used them.”
  • Point out that looking at the essay for using quotes is the beginning of working on learning targets 2 and 3. Ask students to reread the model essay and complete the following analysis of the text: 

Underline quotes in the text. 

Discuss the following with a partner:

* “How did you identify the quotes?” 

* “In which paragraphs did you find quotes, and why do you think the author used these quotes from the novel 
in these places?”

  • Be sure to distinguish that in this context, quotes means any words taken directly from the novel, not just what a character says out loud. Give students 5 minutes to reread, annotate, and discuss with their partner. 
  • Cold call a student or two for responses to each of these items. List their responses on the new Using Quotes in Essays anchor chart. Be sure the class notices the following:

* All quotes are words taken directly from the text.

* All quotes begin and end with quotation marks.

* The quotes give details to support the ideas in a paragraph.

* Quotes are followed by a number in parentheses indicating the page number in the book from which the quote was drawn.

* If a character said the quote, that character is named. 

* Every quote has some thinking (analysis/explanation) around it. 

  • Some students may notice other things such as that some of the quotes are things someone said and some are what the author described, and some quotes are not complete sentences but are part of the essay’s sentence. List these items on the anchor chart as well; however, these things will not be an expectation for use of quotes in their own essays at this time. 
  • For students who are more sophisticated in their writing, noticing and listing these items will give them ideas for expanding their work beyond the basic criteria for this first literary analysis essay.
  • Point out that in their essays, students will need to use quotes correctly. Emphasize the purpose of using quotes: It helps writers prove what they are thinking in a way that is specific enough that readers can understand. This is a skill students have been working on throughout the module. Using quotes also proves to the reader that the writer has read carefully and thought deeply about the text. Relate this back to the work students did in Unit 1 about “Things Close Readers Do” and the Odell Education resource students have used related to “Reading Closely for Details.” Give students specific positive praise for ways they have been developing this skill of “reading for evidence” throughout the module. 
  • Keep this Using Quotes in Essays anchor chart to refer to in Lesson 12, when students will share some examples of their own sentences using quotes. 
  • Providing a model that is clear enough to illustrate the criteria for all students, but also a bit more advanced than what students are actually expected to do, helps push even the strongest writers.

Closing & Assessments


A. Examining “Tips on Using Quotes” Handout and Revisiting Learning Targets (5 minutes) 

  • Distribute the Tips on Using Quotes handout. Ask students to look at it with their partner to see if these tips match their list of observations and if they have any questions about what the sheet says. (Note: students will use the MLA format for citing and documenting quotes.)
  • Listen for a student to ask about the use of an ellipsis with partial quotes. Explain the use of ellipses but tell them that using partial quotes and ellipses will not be required in their essays this time. They can use them if they wish, however.
  • Preview the homework: students get to practice using quotes correctly with some of the quotes they have collected on their Gathering Textual Evidence graphic organizers (from their prior work throughout Unit 2). Point to learning targets 2 and 3 and say that their homework will let them work on these targets.




  • Select three important quotes from A Long Walk to Water that you have on your Gathering Textual Evidence organizer or your Reader’s Notes. 
  • Put your three quotes into sentences smoothly, punctuating them correctly and giving the page number from the book in parentheses after the quote. 
  • Use your Tips for Using Quotes handout to see some of the rules for using quotes.

Note: In Lesson 12, students will examine the NYS Grade 6–8 Expository Writing Evaluation rubric, which can be found in the New York State Educator Guide to the 2013 Grade 7 Common Core English Language Arts Test, page 14 (

Preview this rubric thoroughly in advance. Look at what students have added to their What Makes a Literary Essay Effective? anchor chart so that you can make connections between the two documents.

Supporting Materials


Our newest K-5 curricula is available on a new site,
This website will be decommissioned in June 2018. Sign up for updates.