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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.”

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

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.

Step-by-step Guide to Blogging Close Readings

Students sign up to blog for a given class day, chosing a short passage

This assignment was designed to get students to practice their close reading skills in a short, condensed format of a blog post.  Students sign up to blog for a given class day, chosing a short passage from the assigned reading for that day.

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. 

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. 

Using Storify to Analyze Poetry

Screenshot of Storify page, with YouTube video of "The Second Coming"

Students often conceptualize poems as monolithic objects from the past.  This lesson plan helps encourage them to visualize and conceptualize the content and influence of a poem in different registers.

Close Listening

Do the assignment

Close Reading YouTube and Cultural Archives

A pencil and notebook ready to take notes; a laptop screen playing a video of kittens.

Start close-reading on day one by using YouTube videos and considering their archives.

Using TV Tropes to Teach Narrative Devices

Using the wiki TV Tropes encourages students to think about how issues arise across media

Incorporating TV Tropes (a wiki that catalogues narrative devices used across a variety of media) into your discussion of literary devices and encouraging students to talk about how narrative techniques across different genres and forms of media can assist in making these concepts intelligible and "real" to them. 

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.

Close Reading Through Interactive Storytelling

students create games based on scenes or passages from a novel

In this assignment, my students used a game-authoring platform called ARIS (Augmented Reality and Interactive Storytelling) to create augmented reality games based on scenes or passages from novels studied in our course.

Workshopping Student Claims for Close Reading

Students' various thesis statements of a particular passage are compared

Students are given a passage to close read and asked to compose a short analysis paper.  After submitting the paper, all claims/thesis statements are compiled anonymously and discussed in an in-class workshop.

Instructions for Daily Blogging of Class Readings

Blog Screenshot

Every day one student posts a blog entry covering the reading for the day.

Special Topics Blog Post and Presentation

Students present blog post to the class

Once students in my literature class achieve a basic skill set in textual analysis, I require them to take the reins of the course by providing the class with a blog post on the upcoming reading and presenting their findings to the class.

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