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Lesson Plan

Modeling Academic Writing Through Scholarly Article Presentations

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Modeling Academic Writing Through Scholarly Article Presentations

Grades 9 – 12
Lesson Plan Type Unit
Estimated Time Six 50-minute sessions, plus additional sessions for continued presentations
Lesson Author

Laura Hennessey DeSena

Sparta, New Jersey


National Council of Teachers of English


Student Objectives

Session One

Session Two

Session Three

Sessions Four and Five

Session Six and Beyond


Student Assessment/Reflections



Students will

  • research a work of literature by accessing literary criticism through a database.

  • identify the thesis of a scholarly article.

  • analyze the structure of a scholarly article, noting the†balancing of interpretation against evidence that is academic argument and identifying rhetorical devices such as narration, description, analysis, etc.

  • present the article to the class for discussion.

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Session One

  1. Introduce the activity by explaining to students that they will be exploring what scholars have said about the text they have recently read by looking for a scholarly article in an online database. Let them know that this search should make them aware of what a wide range of interpretations of the work scholars have put forth, but that you also want them to explore the diversity in the way they presented those thoughts through writing, specifically through the academic essay form.

  2. Using the transparency of the unannotated Sample Scholarly Article or an article you select, ask a student to read the first three paragraphs aloud.† Engage students in the following discussion points:

    • Has the thesis been stated yet by the scholar?† If so, where exactly is it stated?†

    • How did they identify the thesis: by placement or by language choice?† That is, does the author indicate the thesis with language ("I want to prove..." or some other phrasing) or by placement (within its own paragraph, for example)?

    • Did the title of the essay prove useful in identifying the central argument?

    • Has the writer embarked upon the body of evidence and interpretation yet or are all three paragraphs introductory paragraphs?†

    • What is accomplished in the introduction:† definition of terms, background/context, specific illustration as example, or some other rhetorical goal(s)?
  3. Select one or more paragraph(s) of the essay's body to read closely with the class. Have students identify one of the author's interpretation or arguments and engage students in the following discussion points:

    • Does the author provide evidence for this claim, and if so, where is the evidence?†

    • Is the evidence from the primary source (the work of literature itself) or is the scholar citing and documenting another critic's ideas.

    • How can they tell the difference between claim and evidence?†
  4. Place the concluding paragraphs of the essay on the overhead projector and engage students in the following discussion points:

    • Where is the restatement of thesis (if it is, in fact, restated)?† How did they recognize it? How close is it in language to the actual thesis provided in the intro?†

    • Is a final thought offered?† (If so, what is it?)†

    • What is accomplished in the offering of a final thought for consideration as the reader finishes the essay?
  5. Give each student a copy of the Guide to Annotating the Scholarly Article handout and explain that they will use it to work through a reading of their article and to prepare for their presentations. Go over the Guide to Annotating the Scholarly Article and explain that the class will look at the same article, this one prepared for presentation according to the guidelines.

  6. Now place the Annotated Sample Scholarly Article or an article you selected and annotated on the overhead and discuss it as a model for what they will be doing over the next several days.†

  7. Explain that in the next session, students will be looking for their own article to read, analyze, annotate, and present.

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Session Two

  1. Review with students the process for accessing articles through the database(s) that they have available to them. Because students are embarking on an exploration of a new genre (and because the success of their presentations rests on their selected article), provide ample assistance to them as they are making their selections. †Help students find an essay that matches their interests and is an appropriate fit for their reading and learning style.

  2. Allow students access to databases. (If students do not have access to such databases, you can make collections of criticism available in the classroom as described in the Preparation section.) Encourage students to take their time in searching for an appropriate article for their in-class presentations, resisting the temptation to settle for the first article they find.

  3. Remind students to read abstracts as short cuts to identifying the article they wish to select. They should be looking for an article that approaches the literature in a way that interests them.

  4. For homework, if students can access these databases remotely, have students continue to review their choices.

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Session Three

  1. If necessary, give students an additional day to search the database(s). By the end of the session students should have selected and printed an article to annotate for their presentation.†

  2. As students select and print their articles (or for homework, depending on when they have a printed copy of their article) students should read, but not mark up, their selection. They may wish to use the ReadWriteThink Essay Map to guide their thinking about essay structure. Instead of preparing for writing their own essays, they should apply the Map in consideration of the selected article's organization/structure, looking for ways the published essay fits and/or deviates from the format of the Map.

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Sessions Four and Five

  1. Have students get out their Guide to Annotating the Scholarly Article as you place the Annotated Sample Scholarly Article or an article you selected and annotated on the overhead. Review for students what they are to do to prepare the article for presentation.

  2. Provide students with a copy of the Rubric for Presentation of a Scholarly Article and answer any questions students have about the expectations for the activity.†

  3. Give students time to begin the process of annotating the text of the article.

  4. Assist students in preparing their articles for presentation. Encourage peer collaboration at this point of the task.

  5. For homework (after Session Five) students should complete the preparation of their selected article for presentation.

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Session Six and Beyond

  1. Have students present their essays, beginning with title and author, in the format of the Guide to Annotating the Scholarly Article.

  2. You may wish to shorten the presentations by varying the items to which you wish a student to respond. For example, you can ask one student to respond to four selected elements on the handout and then direct the next student to respond to a different set of four items, providing variety and taking up less time in actual presentations.† All students should, of course, still annotate all items so they benefit from the entire experience.

  3. After each presentation, allow students to ask the presenter any questions they may have regarding the content and structure of the article.

  4. Individual presenters should respond to the Scholarly Article Presentation Reflection Questions after each presentation.

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  • Students can discuss the multiple interpretations of a literary text as not being mutually exclusive.† Have them review all the approaches to a text they discovered in their presentation assignment.

  • Students can apply the Guide to Annotating the Scholarly Article handout when reviewing their own critical essays, or in offering feedback on essays written by their peers in the workshop setting.

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