In an effort to prepare our students for the coming standards that mandate a much higher level of text analysis, we decided to borrow a close reading technique that I learned from the educon conference. Try the link for a number of excellent text based discussion methods.
We used the story, Liberty, by Julia Alvarez, though any text would work. Students were asked to complete the reading outside of class. While reading, they had to find and underline examples of each of the following:
- [RL.9-10.1] Find, underline, and mark a sentence that requires you to use inference to understand the meaning. In other words, find a sentence in which you need to read between the lines.
- [RL.9-10.2] Find, underline, and mark a sentence that shapes or refines the theme of the story. In other words, find a sentence that drives the underlying meaning of the text.
- [RL.9-10.3] Find, underline, and mark a sentence that shows the development of a character from Liberty. How does the author develop that character? How does that character advance the plot or develop the theme?
- [RL.9-10.4] Find, underline, and mark a word or phrase that impacts the meaning or tone of the story. It can include a figurative or connotative meaning. (e.g how the language evokes a sense of time and place; how it sets a formal or informal tone).
- [RL.9-10.6]Find, underline, and mark a sentence that shows a point of view or cultural experience from outside the United States.
The text and assignment were given out on Monday. On Wednesday, the class brought their materials and gathered in groups of four. One student presented their inference quote. Each student in the group commented on that quote. When everyone had cited and discussed their choice, the group had to decide which example best elucidated the requirement.
After the small group work, we discussed their final choices as a class. This lesson really helped my sophomores understand how to find text to support their assertions. It also helped them to do a close reading to analyze for language, theme, and plot. We deliberately chose a reading that would be easy for them to comprehend because the concepts we were teaching were complex. In the future, we plan to implement this lesson with more challenging texts.