Commentary for Literary Analysis: 4 Square Strategy for Success 

 

Commentary for Literary Analysis: Four Square Strategy for Success

Crafting commentary for literary analysis is one of the most difficult aspects of analytical writing.  The reason this writing skill is so difficult for students is because it is the part of literary analysis that contains the original thoughts of the writer.

Commentary for Literary Analysis: Four Square Strategy for Success —  Bespoke ELA: Essay Writing Tips + Lesson Plans | Teaching writing, Literary  analysis, Literary analysis essay

All other aspects of essay writing have standard formulas to follow—except for this one skill.  We cannot tell students what to think, and we cannot tell them how to analyze a text.  So where does that leave us as teachers?  What can we do?  How can we help our students go deeper with analysis?

 

THE FOUR SQUARE STRATEGY

The Four Square Strategy is a graphic organizer activity that helps students visually map out a “chunk” of writing.  Borrowing from “old school” pedagogical vernacular, a “chunk” of text consists of an opinion, evidence, and commentary to explain how it fits together.  A body paragraph should, in the traditional sense, contain at least two “chunks” in order to prove the topic sentence and the overarching thesis statement of the essay.

The Four Square Strategy can help students piece a “chunk” of text together in order to develop their analytical skills.  This activity also gives students two specific entry points to discussing a text: characterization and word choice.

Success stock illustration. Illustration of strategy - 91046109

Commentary for Literary Analysis: Four Square Strategy for Success 

HERE’S HOW THE STRATEGY WORKS:

  1. STUDENTS TAKE A PIECE OF PAPER AND DIVIDE IT INTO FOUR SQUARES.  THEY CAN EITHER DO THIS WITH A PEN OR BY FOLDING THE PAPER.  OR—CLICK ON THE IMAGE BELOW TO DOWNLOAD A FREE TEMPLATE

I have my students keep their four square activities in their Writer’s Notebooks throughout the school year.  At the end of the year, I have them go back and look at how they have developed their analytical abilities over the course of the year.

  1. STUDENTS WRITE A THEMATIC CLAIM AT THE TOP OF THE PAGE.  THIS IS THE THEMATIC CLAIM THAT WOULD APPEAR IN THE THESIS STATEMENT OF THE ESSAY.

Example = Ambition leads to corruption.

  1. STUDENTS THEN LABEL THE FOUR SQUARES AS FOLLOWS:

First, draw a large square at the top of the page. Then divide it into four equal smaller squares by drawing a line up and down in the center of the square and another line in the center left to right. Finally, draw a circle right in the middle of the square.

In that circle, write your new vocabulary word. Now in the top left square, jot down the word’s definition. Don’t just copy from the dictionary. Instead, write a new definition in your own words. You’ll remember it better if you have to get a little creative.Using the Four-Square Strategy to Identify & Define Key Vocabulary - Video  & Lesson Transcript | Study.com

In the top right square, use the word in a sentence. This is a very important step in making the word your own. Words are made to be used, not just defined, so knowing how to actually use the word is crucial.

In the bottom left square, jot down one or two words that mean just about the same thing as your word. These are called synonyms. Then write one or two words that mean the opposite of your word. These are antonyms.

Finally, in the bottom right square, draw a picture, print one from the Internet, or cut one out of a magazine to illustrate the word. Sometimes a visual element will stick in your head better than anything else.

Follow this process for every new word you meet in your reading. Yes, it will take time and work, but you’ll be surprised by how easily you’ll remember your Four-Square Strategy words. You’ll have made them your own by interacting with them in such a thorough way.

  1. SQUARE SHARE!

Students share their four squares either with a partner, a small group, or the entire class.  It is imperative that students see multiple examples of these chunks in order to expand their realm of commentary possibilities.

  1. RINSE AND REPEAT AGAIN AND AGAIN!

The only way for students to become skilled at crafting commentary is through practice, practice, practice… and through seeing example after example.  The Four Square Activity is ONE strategy for helping students know what to write about in their sentences.

 

This is a visual technique that will help you learn vocabulary words more efficiently and remember them for the long haul.

 

Four Square: History, Rules, Game Play, Fun Facts and Winning Tips

Commentary for Literary Analysis: Four Square Strategy for Success

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Commentary for Literary Analysis: Four Square Strategy for Success