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Close Reading

Teaching Close Reading through Short Composition/Revision

A black and white image of WEB Du Bois

This lesson teaches close reading by having students compose, and then analyze, openings to biographical narratives about “great Americans.”

Bridging Summary and Analysis with Standup Clips

Aziz Ansari Comedy Poster

This assignment uses clips from standup comedy specials to hone student skills of summary and synethesis, for the controversy map essay assignment.

Bridging Summary and Analysis with Standup Clips

Aziz Ansari Comedy Poster

This assignment uses clips from standup comedy specials to hone student skills of summary and synethesis, for the controversy map essay assignment.

A Structured Approach to Teaching the OED as a Close Reading Tool

a person in a black shirt holding up a book. On the left-hand side of the book is a yellow page that read "step one" in white font. On the right-hand site is a white page with the word "one" written in large brown font.

Using a structured worksheet, students explore a word of interest from one of the course readings through the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) online. The worksheet asks them to consider how the definition(s) of the word can help inform their textual analysis/close reading of a text.

Introducing Rhetorical Analysis with Contemporary Advertisements

The aim of this lesson is to provide students with an accessible and engaging introduction to rhetorical analysis. Students will view four brief texts—three thirty-second videos and one print advertisement—and try to identify the audience, the speaker, and the argument contained in each.

Annotation and Analysis with (Formerly Rapgenius)

A page from Rapgenius, now called Genius, that includes an excerpt from Junot Diaz's Drown annotated by my students and a portrait of the author.

This lesson plan builds on Andrew Uzendoski's lesson on teaching close reading using Rap Genius (now called Genius), focusing on teaching students the process of annotation, as well as how to articulate the building blocks of

Teaching Credibility with Twitter

Introducing the concept of credibility by analyzing tweets.

Shifting Focus from Content to Medium

an illustration of a tv with "the message" written on the screen.

Using various records of the Hindenburg disaster, this assignment encourages students to engage with medium over content, especially in terms of literary studies.  

Rap Genius Close Reading Exercise

Screen shot of the first chapter of "The Great Gatsby" by F. Scoot Fitzgerald, with an example annotation and the cover of the novel.

This close reading assignment uses “Rap Genius”, an Internet annotation website, to connect each student with multiple audiences while also creating a forum where the entire class can pool their knowledge together in order to better analyze and understand the work of a specific author.

Using Twitter for Class Reading and Participation

twitter image

Instead of required blog posts or reading quizzes, I require my students to interact with each week's reading and each other by "live-tweeting" their reading process.

Student Digital Activism as Rhetorical Advocacy/Analysis

Social media logos juxtaposed with solidarity fists

This assignment challenges students to become digital activists/advocates for a cause of their choosing, and aids them in developing a portfolio of work in the service of that cause.

Google Images and Book Covers - Tracking Cultural Change

Various covers of the novel Lolita

Images on book covers, blurbs or reviews on dust jackets, and publishers’ summaries all provide constructed argumentation about the text within that is designed to provoke an emotional and analytic response.

Banned Books Virtual Read-Out

Students videotape themselves reading 2-minute-long passages from a banned book of their choice. They then upload their readings to the Virtual Read-Out Youtube channel, sharing them nationally.

Using Music Videos to Explore Historiography

Members of the band 'N Sync hang from strings in a still from the "Bye Bye Bye" music video.

This assignment encourges students to think about how they can read and piece together primary sources to create a descriptive narrative.

Using Juxta to Compare Editions

Manuscript Revision

This lesson plan prompts students to use Juxta (collation software) to compare different witnesses or instances of a text.  Students compare multiple versions of a literary work, locating revisions in order to discuss word choice and textual instabilities.  Most useful for literary works with full-text editions available online. 

Teaching Ethos Using Online Dating Profiles

Students analyze portions of profiles excerpted from online dating sites to discuss ethos

Students analyze portions of profiles excerpted from the free online dating site, OkCupid, in order to talk about ethos, values, ideology and goodwill.  The exercise, in turn, encourages students to consider their own online presences, their values, and the ways in which rhetoric has “real world” applications.

Creating OED Word Constellations

Magnifying Glass

In this assignment students use the Oxford English Dictionary to make individual mindmaps of the multiple definitions of related words, then the class together creates a constellation of meanings surrounding a seemingly simple topic that becomes more and more complex. 

Generating Consensus on Textual Interpretation Through Circulating Critique

worksheet showing two rounds of exercise

This exercise has groups of three students answer questions about an assigned reading; read and revise other groups' answers; consider other groups' revisions of their first answer; and revise their first answer--all in preparation for class discussion.

Blogging Research from the Oxford English Dictionary

A picture of an open dictionary page with eyeglasses on top.

In two short blog posts, I asked students to choose an interesting or perplexing word to look up in the books we'd just finished reading. After conducting their research, students blogged about their findings and made a quick effort at applying their research to a passage. 


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