Lesson plan

Close Reading Through Word Choice

Every great reader and writer knows that syntax matters. During this lesson, students will use the close reading strategy to focus on word choice, and use their understanding of syntax to develop theories about patterns in the text.
Grade Subject View aligned standards
  • Students will understand that good readers read closely, and pay attention to word choice to better understand the text.
  • Students will understand that good readers interpret words and phrases as they are used in the text.
(5 minutes)
  • As a class, review what you have learned about close reading, if this is a review. Otherwise, define close reading to the class as a strategy used by readers to help them view a text through a certain lens to find patterns.
  • Start a class discussion with questions. Great examples include: What is close reading? What is an example of a lens that a close reader can use while reading a book? What lenses have we paid attention to?
  • Review what the class has learned about paying attention to character actions and emotions. Some questions include: How do you determine how a character is feeling? How do character actions relate to their emotions?
  • Explain that today the class will be practicing reading through the lens of author word choice.
(5 minutes)
  • Review how students use the close reading strategy to read through a certain lens, and develop a new understanding of a text.
  • Explain that today, the class will be using close reading to examine author word choice.
  • Tell the students the strategies they will use for the day include reading through the lens of word choice, identifying patterns, and using word choice to better understand the author’s purpose in the text.
  • Some questions to pose can include: Which words stand out to you? Which words fit together? How do they fit together? What is the author’s purpose? Her tone? Her relationship to the subject or theme? What is the central idea of the text? What lessons does the text teach?
(20 minutes)
  • Read the book I Love You The Purplest aloud to the class.
  • Ask students questions about the text, such as: Why did the author use the color “purplest?”
  • While listening to the book, stop at places where there are interesting words. Encourage students to list these words in their notebook.
(30 minutes)
  • After you finish reading the book aloud, pass out copies of the book to every student.
  • Ask each student to find a partner to work with. Alternatively, you can assign partners.
  • Tell each team to work together and highlight places in the book where there are words that the students find interesting, or that the readers feel really add to the book.

Bring your students together to chart it out using the Close Reading Chart. Start a class discussion about:

  • Patterns, using the questions: Which words fit together? How do these words fit together?
  • Understandings, using the questions: What was the author’s tone, purpose or relationship to the subject/theme?
  • Texts: central ideas, issues, lessons, symbols/metaphors, motifs, and themes.

Remember, students can come up with their own ideas, as long as they support their thoughts!

  • Enrichment: Students who need more of a challenge should use their own reading books to fill out the chart with examples of word choice character actions.
  • Support: Arrange these students in a small group. Walk through how to use the chart with their “Independent Books” and find one example all together to help the group get started.
(10 minutes)
  • Ask students follow-up questions to assess their understanding of reading through the lens of author word choice.
  • Some possible assessment questions include: What patterns did you observe with word choice? For example, why did the author use “The lake slowed its thrashing to a slow even beat?" Discuss the description of the lake.
  • To assess whether or not students understand how to read through the lens of word choice, consider asking questions like: How would you use word choice in your own reading?
(5 minutes)
  • Conclude the lesson with what the students learned from the day about using word choice to identify patterns and themes in a text.

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