Lesson Plan

Incorporating Textual Support in Literary Analysis

In this lesson, students will practice smoothly incorporating textual support when writing about literature. Mark Twain's Huckleberry Finn will be used as the source text, though the same process could be used with other novels or short stories.
Angela A.
Classroom teacher
Barat Academy
Chesterfield, United States
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My Grades 9, 10, 11, 12
My Subjects English Language Arts, English Language Learning

Students will be able to...

  • choose appropriate quotes from literature for support in writing
  • extract the most important parts of quotes for inclusion in writing
  • smoothly incorporate extracted text into their own sentences
  • appropriately cite sources according to MLA format for in-text citations
English Language Arts
Grades 7 – 12
All Notes
Teacher Notes
Student Notes


Using either the NY Times or another news source, locate a news article that incorporates quotes from an interview or another published source. Using a projector, show them an excerpt from the article that incorporates quoted material. Note how the author "wove" the quoted text into his/her own writing by selecting just an excerpt and inserting it into his/her own sentence. Explain that using textual support this effectively is an important skill for any writer. 


Using the presentation tool of your choice, offer some background on the process for choosing textual support to include in academic writing.  Consider the following points:

  • When writing an academic paper, you strengthen your position by using quotes from sources of authority: research sources, literature, etc.
  • Choose the sentences or phrases that best support your point.
  • Often, you will not need the author’s whole sentence, just some words or a phrase.
  • In this case, you choose only the part you need from your source, and “weave” the quote into the rest of your sentence.
  • Then, put “quotation marks” around the words you choose when you put it in your writing.
  • If you need to omit a word or phrase, use ellipses ...
  • If you needed to change part of a word to make pronouns or verb tense consistent, put [brackets] around the word or part of the word you need to change.
  • Finally, cite the source from which you took it by using an in-text citation -- see Purdue OWL or another trusted sourced for format of in-text citations.


The next step is to guide students through the process of incorporating textual support into their writing by working with a passage as a whole class or small group.

Begin by having students access the text through Project Gutenberg (or use a text copy if available to your students). Use the guidelines for students to walk them through the process. 

When finished, have them share and correct any errors as appropriate.

Student Instructions
  1. To practice this skill ourselves, we are going to discuss how Mark twain characterizes Pap through his physical appearance.
  2. See the passage below from Huckleberry Finn
    He was most fifty, and he looked it. His hair was long and tangled and greasy, and hung down, and you could see his eyes shining through like he was behind vines. It was all black, no gray; so was his long, mixed-up whiskers.   
    (from The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain, page 20)
  3. Identify a portion of the text that could support the conclusions you draw about Pap from his physical appearance.
  4. Now, write a sentence making an inference about Pap from his physical description, incorporating the text you marked as support.  Use ellipses or brackets as needed and appropriate to adjust the original text.
  5. Add an in-text citation in MLA-style.


At this point, students should be ready to try this on their own, choosing their own passage and incorporating it into their writing.  Use the student instructions provided to assign this step to them. 

Student Instructions

Using the e-text on Project Gutenberg or the book itself, choose a passage in which Twain describes one of the characters. Write a short paragraph explaining how Twain characterizes this character, using an appropriate quote as support.  Remember to "weave" the quote smoothly into your writing, using ellipses or brackets if necessary and appropriate. Also, remember to cite appropriately with an MLA-style citation. When finished, show your teacher for review and feedback.


Free, Paid

Using Socrative or another polling tool of choice, create an exit ticket asking the following question: Do you feel prepared to use textual support as quotes in your own writing?  (Use the results of the exit ticket to follow up in future classes as necessary.)

At the end of class make available to students (in Google Classroom or another site) copies of the notes from your presentation and links to tools (e.g. Purdue Owl, Project Gutenberg) for their future use.