The Literary Essay or Text Dependent Analysis Essay
Passage-Eleven by Sandra Cisneros
Exemplar-Literary Essay #1
Exemplar-Literary Essay Format
Exemplar-Literary Essay #2
Fourth Grade Text-Dependent Analysis Checklist
PSSA Text-Dependent Analysis Checklist in additional resources
Writer’s Checklist Text-Dependent Analysis
Goal Setting and Reflection Sheet
Mystery Club Passage
Mystery Club Multiple Choice Questions
Writer’s Checklist Text-Dependent Analysis-Mystery Club
Using Direct Quotes In Essays (TLQ)
Boxes and Bullets Outline
CUPS Editing Checklist
ARMS Revision Checklist
Trekking the Trail Passage 2, pages 33-34,
PSSA ELA Preliminary Item and Scoring Sampler 2014-15
Trekking the Trail Questions
Self-Reflection half-sheet paper-clippers
Questions for Analyzing and Evaluating Text-Dependent Analysis Essay
Top Hat organizer blank
Essay Analysis Recording Sheet
How to Create a Proficient or Advanced TDA Essay
Creating Questions for Close Analytic Reading Exemplars: A Brief Guide
Poems by Robert Louis Stevenson
The Land of Counterpane
Bed In Summer
Scary Shadows by Celia Berrell
A Bad Move
By Sandra Cisneros
What they don’t understand about birthdays and what they never tell you is that when you’re eleven, you’re also ten, and nine, and eight, and seven, and six, and five, and four, and three, and two, and one. And when you wake up on your eleventh birthday you expect to feel eleven, but you don’t. You open your eyes and everything’s just like yesterday, only it’s today. And you don’t feel eleven at all. You feel like you’re still ten. And you are—underneath the year that makes you eleven.
Like some days you might say something stupid, and that’s the part of you that’s still ten. Or maybe some days you might need to sit on your mama’s lap because you’re scared, and that’s the part of you that’s five. And maybe one day when you’re all grown up maybe you will need to cry like if you’re three, and that’s okay. That’s what I tell Mama when she’s sad and needs to cry. Maybe she’s feeling three.
Because the way you grow old is kind of like an onion or like the rings inside a tree trunk or like my little wooden dolls that fit one inside the other, each year inside the next one. That’s how being eleven years old is.
You don’t feel eleven. Not right away. It takes a few days, weeks even, sometimes even months before you say Eleven when they ask you. And you don’t feel smart eleven, not until you’re almost twelve. That’s the way it is.
Only today I wish I didn’t have only eleven years rattling inside me like pennies in a tin Band-Aid box. Today I wish I was one hundred and two instead of eleven because if I was one hundred and two I’d have known what to say when Mrs. Price put the red sweater on my desk. I would’ve known how to tell her it wasn’t mine instead of just sitting there with that look on my face and nothing coming out of my mouth.
“Whose is this?” Mrs. Price says, and she holds the red sweater up in the air for all the class to see. “Whose? It’s been sitting in the coatroom for a month.”
“Not mine,” says everybody. “Not me.”
“It has to belong to somebody,” Mrs. Price keeps saying, but nobody can remember. It’s an ugly sweater with red plastic buttons and a collar and sleeves all stretched out like you could use it for a jump rope. It’s maybe a thousand years old and even if it belonged to me I wouldn’t say so.
Maybe because I’m skinny, maybe because she doesn’t like me, that stupid Sylvia Saldivar says, “I think it belongs to Rachel.” An ugly sweater like that, all raggedy and old, but Mrs. Price believes her. Mrs. Price takes the sweater and puts it right on my desk, but when I open my mouth nothing comes out.
“That’s not, I don’t, you’re not . . . Not mine,” I finally say in a little voice that was maybe me when I was four.
“Of course it’s yours,” Mrs. Price says, “I remember you wearing it once.” Because she’s older and the teacher, she’s right and I’m not.
Not mine, not mine, not mine, but Mrs. Price is already turning to page thirty-two, and math problem number four. I don’t know why but all of a sudden I’m feeling sick inside, like the part of me that’s three wants to come out of my eyes, only I squeeze them shut tight and bite down on my teeth real hard and try to remember today I am eleven, eleven. Mama is making a cake for me for tonight, and when Papa comes home everybody will sing Happy birthday, happy birthday to you.
But when the sick feeling goes away and I open my eyes, the red sweater’s still sitting there like a big red mountain. I move the red sweater to the corner of my desk with my ruler. I move my pencil and books and eraser as far from it as possible. I even move my chair a little to the right. Not mine, not mine, not mine.
In my head I’m thinking how long till lunchtime, how long till I can take the red sweater and throw it over the schoolyard fence, or leave it hanging on a parking meter, or bunch it up into a little ball and toss it in the alley. Except when math period ends Mrs. Price says loud and in front of everybody, “Now, Rachel, that’s enough,” because she sees I’ve shoved the red sweater to the tippy-tip corner of my desk and it’s hanging all over the edge like a waterfall, but I don’t care.
“Rachel,” Mrs. Price says. She says it like she’s getting mad. “You put that sweater on right now and no more nonsense.”
“But it’s not—“
“Now!” Mrs. Price says.
This is when I wish I wasn’t eleven, because all the years inside of me—ten, nine, eight, seven, six, five, four, three, two, and one—are pushing at the back of my eyes when I put one arm through one sleeve of the sweater that smells like cottage cheese, and then the other arm through the other and stand there with my arms apart like if the sweater hurts me and it does, all itchy and full of germs that aren’t mine.
That’s when everything I’ve been holding in since this morning, since when Mrs. Price put the sweater on my desk, finally lets go, and all of a sudden I’m crying in front of everybody. I wish I was invisible but I’m not. I’m eleven and it’s my birthday today and I’m crying like I’m three in front of everybody. I put my head down on the desk and bury my face in my stupid clown-sweater arms. My face all hot and spit coming out of my mouth because I can’t stop the little animal noises from coming out of me, until there aren’t any more tears left in my eyes, and it’s just my body shaking like when you have the hiccups, and my whole head hurts like when you drink milk too fast.
But the worst part is right before the bell rings for lunch. That stupid Phyllis Lopez, who is even dumber than Sylvia Saldivar, says she remembers the red sweater is hers! I take it off right away and give it to her, only Mrs. Price pretends like everything’s okay.
Today I’m eleven. There’s a cake Mama’s making for tonight, and when Papa comes home from work we’ll eat it. There’ll be candles and presents and everybody will sing Happy birthday, happy birthday to you, Rachel, only it’s too late.
I’m eleven today. I’m eleven, ten, nine, eight, seven, six, five, four, three, two, and one, but I wish I was one hundred and two. I wish I was anything but eleven, because I want today to be far away already, far away like a runaway balloon, like a tiny o in the sky, so tiny-tiny you have to close your eyes to see it.
Sample Literary Essay #1 A Literary Essay About “Eleven” by Sandra Cisneros
Children are often intimidated and fall silent when in the company of adults and they use coping strategies to deal with their inner frustration. In “Eleven,” the main character, Rachel, states, “…if I was one hundred and two I’d have known what to say when Mrs. Price put the red sweater on my desk.” Throughout “Eleven” Rachel frequently feels intimidated by Mrs. Price. Many times she becomes silent and tries to cope with her frustration.
In the beginning of “Eleven,” Rachel feels intimidated and is silenced by Mrs. Price. An example of this is when Mrs. Price says, “Of course it’s yours. I remember you wearing it once (the sweater).’ Because she’s older and the teacher, she’s right and I’m not.” Rachel is frustrated when Mrs. Price demands that she put the sweater on and does not allow her to explain that it is not her sweater.
Rachel, while still silent, attempts to cope by thinking about happy thoughts. She thinks about her birthday dinner that evening. She also thinks about the birthday cake Mama is making and everyone singing happy birthday. As I read I viewed her frustration and found another place in the text when this happened. “I squeeze them (eyes) shut tight and bite down on my teeth real hard and try to remember I am eleven, eleven.” This shows me that even though she is close to tears in frustration, she still tries to think about the happy family time that will happen later that day.
A few moments later, Rachel is intimidated even more when Mrs. Price says, “You put that sweater on right now and no more nonsense.” Rachel is still frustrated and tries to cope when she tells Mrs. Price that it is not her sweater. Another example of this is when Mrs. Price replied loudly, “Now!” Rachel is silenced again by an adult and now she’s feeling that she doesn’t even want to be eleven, while fighting back tears.
As you can see from Rachel’s experience, children are often intimidated and silenced when in the company of adults. In families and in school, children are silenced many times by older family members or schoolmates. As a reader I really empathized with Rachel and her struggle to communicate with Mrs. Price. Not all of us are as lucky as Rachel to have such great coping skills. I admired how she was able to control her frustration and her tears, so that she would not be further humiliated by her teacher and even more embarrassed in front of her peers. Schools and communities everywhere should reach out and teach adults that they need to be aware of the power they have, which can cause children to feel intimidated and fall silent.
Adapted by Katherine Casey for Marysville School District, 2010, from the work of the Hackensack Literacy Initiative, 2007.March.5th.wtg.SD.Literary Essay
Theme or big idea statement (general, broad statement without an “I” voice)
Audience needs to know where this essay is going – “Children are often intimidated and fall silent when in the company of adults and they use coping strategies to deal with their inner frustration.”
Quote the relevant text that supports your statement - In “Eleven,” the main character, Rachel, states, “…if I was one hundred and two I’d have known what to say when Mrs. Price…”
Statement connection (your opinion based on the text) - Throughout “Eleven” Rachel frequently feels intimidated by Mrs. Price. Many times she becomes silent and tries to cope with her frustration.
First specific point that connects to the statement – In the beginning of “Eleven,” Rachel feels intimidated and is silenced by Mrs. Price.
Quote the relevant text that supports your statement (use transitional phrases) - An example of this is when Mrs. Price says, “Of course it’s yours. I remember you wearing it once (the sweater).’…
Explain how the relevant text supports your statement - Rachel is frustrated when Mrs. Price demands that she put the sweater on and does not allow her to explain that it is not her sweater.
Second point that connects to the statement – Rachel, while still silent, attempts to cope by thinking about happy thought. She thinks about her birthday dinner that evening…
Quote the relevant text that supports your statement (use transitional phrases) - As I read I viewed her frustration, I found another place in the text when this happened. “I squeeze them (eyes) tight”
Explain how the relevant text supports your statement - This shows me that even though she is close to tears in frustration, she still tries to think about the happy family time that will happen later…
Third point that connects to the statement – A few moments later, Rachel is intimidated even more…
Quote the relevant text that supports your statement (use transitional phrases) - Mrs. Price says, “You put that sweater on right now and no more nonsense.” …Another example of this is when Mrs. Price replied loudly, “Now!”
Explain how the relevant text supports your statement - Rachel is silenced again by an adult…
Restate the statement, connecting it to the character - As you can see from Rachel’s experience, children are often intimidated and silenced when in the company of adults.
Connect the statement to the real world – In families and in school, children fall silent many times by older family members or schoolmates.
Support the statement with a personal connection - As a reader I really empathized with Rachel and her struggle to communicate with Mrs. Price.
Call to action! Show the issue matters to the real world - Schools and communities everywhere should reach out and teach adults that they need to be aware of the power they have, which can cause children to feel intimidated and fall silent.
Literary Essay Structure
Sample Literary Essay #2
A Literary Essay About “Eleven” by Sandra Cisneros
When students are bullied by classmates and teachers, they start losing their joy, their confidence – they lose themselves. Many people read Sandra Cisneros’s essay “Eleven” and think it is about a girl who has to wear a sweater she doesn’t want to wear. Instead, it is a story about a girl who struggles to hold onto herself when she is challenged by people who have power over her.
When Rachel’s classmate betrays her, Rachel begins to lose herself by losing her voice. One day Rachel’s teacher ask who owns a stretched out, itchy red sweater that was left behind in the coatroom. Sylvia Saldivar puts Rachel in the spotlight when she says to Mrs. Price, “I think the sweater is Rachel’s.” Sylvia is challenging Rachel, which makes Rachel feel lost. Sylvia’s betrayal is made worse when Mrs. Price agrees with Sylvia and puts the red sweater on Rachel’s desk. Being challenged by both Sylvia and Mrs. Price causes Rachel to start to lose herself by losing her ability to defend herself. “When I open my mouth nothing comes out.”
Rachel loses herself even more when Mrs. Price claims to have seen Rachel wearing the sweater saying, “Of course it’s yours… I remember you wearing it once.” Rachel protests, trying to tell Mrs. Price it is not hers, but Mrs. Price does not believe her. Rachel reacts to Mrs. Price’s actions by escaping into her imagination where her family loves her, daydreaming of her birthday party. She daydreams about getting her power back. “In my head I am thinking how long till lunch time, how long till I can take the red sweater and throw it over the school yard fence, or leave it hanging on a parking meter, or bunch it up into a little ball and toss it in the alley.” Because she is challenged by people who have power over her, Rachel is forced to lose herself into her imagination.
Rachel completely loses her composure when Mrs. Price forces her to put on the sweater. “That’s when everything I’ve been holding in this morning, since when Mrs. Price put the sweater on my desk, finally lets go, and all of a sudden I’m crying in front of everybody.” She doesn’t feel special like it’s her birthday. Instead she feels humiliated and betrayed by Sylvia and Mrs. Price. School is no longer a place where she can learn. Rachel is so upset she wishes she could become invisible by running away like a tiny, tiny balloon.
In “Eleven” Rachel is betrayed by her teacher, Sylvia Saldivar, and her entire class because they did not come to her defense. The bullying causes Rachel to lose voice and her composure, to be unable to concentrate on learning, and to wish she could escape to be surrounded by her loving family or to a place where she could regain her power. “Eleven” helped me realize that bullying is not just done by students, teachers can bully children, too. Unfortunately, people like teachers and popular students in positions of power humiliate many students. Schools spend a lot of time talking about student bullying. It is time to raise awareness about teachers bullying students, too, so that students can feel safe and learn at school.
Adapted by Katherine Casey for Marysville School District, 2010, from the work of the Hackensack Literacy Initiative, 2007.
Fourth Grade Text-Dependent Analysis Checklist
addressed the task
I wrote about all parts of the task to show my understanding of the text(s).
As the school bus rumbled toward home, Marisa thought about the reasons she didn’t want to go to Penmark School. First of all, she’d had to leave all her friends in California to come to Maine. Second, her family needed to move two weeks after the school year started so that Mom could start her new job at the medical center. And third? Well, Marisa couldn’t think of a third, but she figured those two were enough for her first day.
Marisa stared out at the fields rolling by. She sighed and reached into her backpack. At least she had a good mystery to read. But she hadn’t even read a whole sentence from her book before a voice next to her made her jump.
“Hey, I’ve read that one. It’s great.”
Marisa turned to see a girl in a fuzzy purple sweater. “I’m Shelly,” said the girl, and she grinned so hard her gums showed.
Marisa felt herself smiling back. “I’m Marisa,” she said. “We have the same homeroom, right?”
Shelly nodded. Then she pointed to the book Marisa held. “I have to tell you—,” she began.
“No!” Marisa covered her ears with her hands. “Don’t tell me how it ends!”
Shelly laughed. “I was just going to say that I have the next one in that series. You could borrow it.”
“Oh,” said Marisa. “Thanks.”
“Besides,” said Shelly, “you never give away the ending of a mystery. That’s one of the first rules of Mystery Club.”
Marisa wasn’t sure that she had heard right. “Mystery Club?” Shelly leaned across the aisle. “There’s a bunch of us from school who like reading mysteries, solving puzzles, decoding messages, that kind of thing.”
“Could I join?” Marisa asked.
“Sure,” said Shelly. “But to become a member you have to solve a mystery.”
PSSA ENGLISH LANGUAGE ARTS
Marisa sat up straight in her seat. “I could try.”
“OK,” said Shelly. “I’ll talk to the others.” Shelly didn’t waste time.
The next day at school Marisa found a note on purple paper tucked into her history book:
Find the message
in the mirror. This must be my mystery—to find a hidden message, thought Marisa. That shouldn’t be so hard.
In the girls’ bathroom, Marisa looked at the mirror over the sink. It looked like a plain old mirror with a stainless-steel frame. There wasn’t any note stuck to it.
Well, what did I expect?Marisa thought. A big sign written in red crayon?This was a mystery, after all.
She read the note again. Find the message in the mirror. Marisa tried to remember any mirrors she had read about in mystery stories. Sometimes there was something behind a mirror. She tried lifting it away from the wall, but it was fastened tight and didn’t budge.
Maybe the message was reflected in the mirror somehow. Marisa peered into the mirror from every angle. She could see the bathroom stalls, the white-speckled tile floor, and the fluorescent lights on the ceiling. But no message.
She looked again at the note and held both sides up to the mirror. Nothing.
Think mystery, she told herself. What about invisible ink? Marisa had heard of using lemon juice to write a message on paper, then heating up the paper to make it show.
What could you use on a mirror? Marisa couldn’t think of a thing. Marisa leaned her forehead against the mirror and sighed.
Her breath made a little cloud on the mirror, and on it Marisa could see streaks and smudges where people had touched the glass. She hadn’t noticed those before. Then she realized why she hadn’t. Because they’d been invisible!
Excitedly, Marisa breathed again on the mirror, then again, trying different spots. Finally she clouded up the mirror in one corner. An M, then a C appeared. Mystery Club!
Someone had simply written with a finger on the mirror! It took a few breaths to uncover the message:
PSSA ENGLISH LANGUAGE ARTS
“Hi, Marisa,” said Shelly with her big grin as Marisa arrived exactly at 3:00 on the library steps. “Welcome to Mystery Club. The others are inside.”
Marisa smiled. She thought of two reasons why she liked Penmark School. Shelly—and now Mystery Club. There were probably more, but those were enough for today.
1. Which detail from the passage shows that Marisa likes Shelly?
A. Marisa rides the same bus as Shelly.
B. Marisa feels better about the school after meeting Shelly.
C. Marisa and Shelly have read the same mystery book.
D. Marisa and Shelly share the same homeroom.
2. Read the sentence from the passage.
“But she hadn’t even read a whole sentence from her book before a voice next to her made her jump.”
What does the phrase “made her jump” mean?
A. She dove off.
B. She stood up.
C. She was amused.
D. She was startled.
3. Which detail from the passage shows that Marisa has a sense of humor?
A. “This must be my mystery—to find a hidden message, . . .”
B. “Well, what did I expect? . . . A big sign written in red crayon?”
C. “Find the message in the mirror.”
D. “Think mystery, . . .”
4. Why do Shelly and the rest of the Mystery Club most likely go to the library?
A. They usually go to the library to read books together.
B. They like to go to the library because it is quiet there.
C. They know that Shelly’s bus parks close to the library.
D. They hope that Marisa will eventually go to the library.
5. Which detail from the passage best shows that Marissa is good at solving mysteries?
A. She enjoys reading mystery books.
B. She is able to figure out the message on the mirror.
C. She makes a new friend the first day of school.
D. She knows how to write a secret message using lemon juice.
6. What is the best summary of the passage?
A. Marisa does not want to go to Penmark School. She meets a girl on the bus that she
thinks is going to tell her how her book ends. Marisa finds two reasons to like
B. Marisa moves from California to Maine. Her mom is starting a new job at a medical
center. Marisa finds a secret code on the bathroom mirror. She likes to read mystery
books when she rides the bus.
C. Marisa is upset about going to a new school. On the bus she meets a girl who also
likes mysteries. After solving a mystery Marisa is welcomed into the Mystery Club.
She is beginning to like her new school.
D. Marisa finds a note in her history book challenging her to find a message on the
mirror in the girl’s bathroom. She looks at the mirror. She tries to look behind the
mirror. She studies everything she can see in the mirror. Finally, she fogs up the
mirror and finds the message written there.
7. This question has two parts. Answer Part One and then answer Part Two.
Which trait best describes Shelly?
Which detail from the passage best supports the answer in Part One? Choose one answer.
A. “ ‘. . . you never give away the ending of a mystery.’ ”
B. “Then she pointed to the book Marisa held. ‘I have to tell you’ . . .”
C. “ ‘. . . I have the next one in that series. You could borrow it.’ ”
D. “ ‘But to become a member you have to solve a mystery.’ ”
8. This question has two parts. Answer Part One and then answer Part Two.
Part One What is the central theme of the passage?
A. Friendship starts as a mystery.
B. Moving makes it difficult to develop friendships.
C. Friendship begins with having things in common.
D. Reading books together creates friendship.
Part Two Which two details from the passage support the answer in Part One? Choose two answers.
A. “ ‘Hey, I’ve read that one. It’s great.’ ”
B. “ ‘Don’t tell me how it ends!’ ”
C. “At least she had a good mystery to read.”
D. “ ‘We have the same homeroom, right?’ ”
E. “Finally she clouded up the mirror in one corner.”