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Oxford English Dictionary (OED)

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.

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

Locating Bias Within A Dictionary

A portrait of Samuel Johnson by Joshua Reynolds

In the course of discussing David Foster Wallace’s essay “Tense Present,” I asked my students to compare and contrast the en

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. 

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. 

Mapping Poetic Word Choice to Discover Literary Themes

Creating a mindmap of key words can yield a list of important themes

The assignment allows students to discuss their literary close-reading essays with each other, while also attempting to coordinate those close-readings with larger thematic issues discussed in class. The idea is to use individual words to learn more about global concerns in a literary text.

Editing Poetry: Manuscript to Printed Page

Manuscripts offer an opportunity to discuss editorial decisions.

Students work on transcribing an Emily Dickenson poem from manuscript form into print. Their transcriptions are then compared with each other and with several printed editions of the same poem and used to discuss editorial decisions.

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