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7th/8th Grade: Writing Resources: 7th Grade

Resources for writing including expectations, guidelines, charts, and checklists.

Basic Guidelines

In 7th grade we expect that your work is:

  • Typed
  • Double-spaced
  • Has the Town Heading
  • In Times New Roman, 12 pt font
  • Submitted on time to Schoology

The Town Heading includes:

Full name

Date (the date should be the date on which the assignment is due, not that of a prior draft)


Title of Paper


An example:

Structure and Organization

Always begin your essays with an introduction that logically and clearly sets up what the essay will cover, and end with a conclusion which sums up your main points.  It must be very clear from your introduction what your thesis is; the introduction must introduce the essay itself, not the book generally.  Along the way in the essay you must have a narrative flow to your discussion – that is, your points should transition from one to the next in a logical way.  For these reasons, I strongly suggest that you write an outline before beginning, dedicating one main idea per paragraph.


Examples, Examples

Always attempt to include specific textual references to support your ideas and opinions.  When in doubt, include a reference from the text, but also be sure to discuss and analyze that reference; it doesn’t do much good to simply drop a quotation into your paper if you don’t say what point it demonstrates.  Page number references are executed as follows: (p. 34); more importantly, your discussion should provide adequate context to place the reference – the page number alone is not sufficient.


Textual Fidelity

Your knowledge of the text must be accurate; mistakes as to which character is responsible for certain actions or statements, or how and when an event takes place, are unacceptable.


Depth of Analysis

Never stop asking “Why?”  Remember, this is literary analysis, not fill-in-the-blanks.


Get Advice

    If you are not perfectly clear about what needs to be improved in your writing after reading my comments, you are strongly encouraged to set up an appointment to talk with me and review each comment on your papers.  Don’t remain in the dark and make the same mistakes over and over again.

  1. Write in complete sentences assembled into complete paragraphs; remember the basic rule that you need to begin a new paragraph with the start of a new idea.
  2. Check your spelling over and over again. Simply using the Spellcheck device on your computers is not enough, since it will not cure problems with homonyms or proper nouns from the text; there is absolutely no excuse for a misspelled word from the text, especially character names.
  3. In formal writing it is not proper to use contractions, so you should not at any time.
  4. When referring to people you must use “who,” not “that” or “which.”
  5. Underline or italicize the titles of books, including in any headings and always in the text of your essays.
  6. Quotations of 25 words or more must be indented on both sides of the page and single-spaced; if less than 25 words it is your option to so treat them.  When you indent and single-space you do not include quotation marks. It is not necessary or proper to change the type size within the quotation.
  7. Quotation marks -- “ ” -- must be placed outside of the comma or period in the sentences in which you use them:  “Do not make that mistake again,” said Mr. McCartney, “or you will pay.”
  8. Expository essays should be written in the third person, so do not include personal pronouns such as “I” or “My.”
  9. Literature should always be referenced in the present tense, to keep the discussion more lively, so the proper phrasing would be “Holden says…” not “Holden said….”


Here’s a simple 3-pronged strategy for your analysis:

  1. What does it say?
  2. How does it say it?
  3. Why does it support your argument?

Here are some more details to consider:

  1. Start with the meaning. What does the quote mean? Do you need to explain the author’s use of language?
  2. Next, show us how the author gets his or her meaning across. Here you might want to point out literacy techniques (figurative language, italicized words, etc) or significant word choice.
  3. Finally, connect the quote back to what you’re trying to prove.
    1. How does it support your topic sentence for this paragraph?
    2. How does is support your thesis?
    3. What’s the significance of this idea being expressed by this speaker?
    4. Spell out your argument clearly and convincingly! Don’t leave the reader to draw his or her own conclusions!

If you use one sentence for each of those analysis tasks, you’ll have three sentences of analysis. But you should use two to three sentences just to connect back to your argument! That means this technique will easily get you between three and six sentences of analysis. THAT IS AWESOMESAUCE.

To guarantee that your reader clearly follows your writing, you MUST introduce your quotes with a signal phrase, reporting verb, or both (as shown in the quote sandwich) rather than simply plopping the quote down. If you add in a quote without any sort of introduction, your reader may not understand how the quote connects to your paragraph, even if it makes sense to you (think of it as similar to a random thought in a conversation).

(click to chart enlarge)

In addition to incorporating quotes with the quotation sandwich and introducing them with signal phrases and reporting verbs, there are a few punctuation rules to keep in mind.

The first time you reference a book (or other text) you need to give the full name(s) of the author(s) and the title of the book. The next time you use a quote from that book, only use the last name of the author.

Example: In the novel, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, Sherman Alexie writes about the experience of a teenager struggling with poverty. Alexie uses humor and sarcasm to write about the hardships of living on the Spokane Reservation.


• Put quotation marks “ ” around the quote and use the author’s/character’s exact words

• After the quote, put the page number in parentheses.

  • Example: “Gigantic. I bet he could take Rowdy down.” (p. 68)

• Insert ellipses (…) wherever you delete any words from the original quotation

  • Original Quote: “You punched me,” Roger said. His voice was thick with blood. “I can’t believe you punched me.” (p. 65)
    • You should shorten the quote to: “You punched me…I can’t believe you punched me.” (p. 65)
  • Original Quote: “And let’s face it, most of the white boys ignored me, too. But there were a few of those Reardan boys, the big jocks, who paid special attention to me. None of those guys punched me or got violent. After all, I was a reservation Indian, and no matter how geeky and weak I appeared to be, I was still a potential killer. So mostly they called me names. Lots of names.” (p. 63)
  • You only need the very essence of this quote – so what’s the most important part? You should shorten the quote to: “…most of the white boys ignored me, too. But there were a few of those Reardan boys…who paid special attention to me….mostly they called me names. Lots of names.” (p. 63)

• Use brackets ([ ]) to add words or substitute words in the original quotation.

Lastly… ADD IN YOUR EXPLANATION! Once you’ve made sure to punctuate your quotes correctly, explain them!! (The last part of the quote sandwich.)

Proofreading Checklist

  • Is there a brief summary and overview of the topic?
  • Is your thesis CLEAR and CONCISE?
  • Does your thesis CLEARLY tell me what your three body paragraphs will be about?

  • Does the topic sentence preview the main idea for the paragraph?
  • Does the topic sentence relate back to the thesis?
  • Does the paragraph support and prove your thesis?
  • Does your paragraph focus on ONE aspect of your thesis and THOROUGHLY discuss and analyze it?
  • Does the paragraph contain a minimum of ONE textual reference from the novel?
  • Have you properly put in page numbers to cite your source?
  • Have you adequately explained/analyzed your textual reference?
  • (Have you used a quotation “sandwich”?)
  • Have you linked your evidence back to your thesis statement?
  • Is there a concluding sentence that wraps up the main argument of this paragraph that DOES NOT REPEAT THE TOPIC SENTENCE?

  • Does the paragraph find a new way to summarize your thesis and main points WITHOUT simply repeating previous analyses?
  • Have you broadened your focus to end your conclusion?
  • Have you answered the questions: So what? Who cares?

  • Have you checked your punctuation?
  • Have you checked for repetition (words and ideas)?
  • Have you checked for appropriate grammar?
  • Have you eliminated all uses of personal pronouns?
  • No I, me, you, we
  • Have you checked for contractions?
  • Have you checked your spelling?
  • COMMAS!!

Quotation Sandwich: The Visual